Today’s articles come from the May 1994 issue of the Industrial Worker. The first is an essay on the Worldwide War on the Working Class, next is a story of musical direct action, and lastly is a piece of political satire that is unsurprisingly but no less unfortunately relevant today. In 1994, the Democrats had a summit on the job crisis and ultimately did nothing about it. Sounds familiar to a certain debate over a one time $600 or $2000 “stimulus” check.
World Wide Class War
Lucy Parsons, even in old age, would tell crowds “What I want you to do is wait outside the homes of the rich with guns and knives and when they come out, kill them,” One wonders, on counting up the costs our class has paid for the fortunes of the rich, why more people haven’t taken up Lucy on her suggestions. Recently Louis Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam have been front and center on magazine covers and TV news as the corporate media fall over themselves to point out that there is race hatred in Amerika, and some of it is black vs. white. Corporate media slam the bow-tied NoI in our faces as the source of racism. African-American politicians are forced to disavow African-American religious leaders.
There’s something wrong with this picture. White politicians and corporados make policy, law, and money out of a racism much more powerful and dangerous than Farrakhan’s. Who can doubt that hating the oppressor is a reasonable reaction in an oppressive society? We can reject the hatred in Farrakhan’s message and still appreciate that it finds receptive ears among communities pillaged and plundered by a racist, classist, misogynist society. Style or substance, the lyrics of rap music abound with references to Nation of Islam teachings. White Americans would do well to try to understand what is going on. No Newsweek or Time expose of the fact that this entire society was built on racism– stolen land, slaves, genocide of the native people. No white politicians forced to apologize for racism from their colleagues. No Newsweek or Time cover extravaganza on the real problems facing U$ society, the villains Lucy Parsons pointed out.
Meanwhile in Chicago teachers in the city’s adult education programs are fighting wage concessions and cutbacks in service for adults needing GED, English as Second Language, and programs to make up for failures of the underfunded city school system. “The press and the school board didn’t pay attention until we stormed them with a Rainbow Coalition of teachers of every color, banging on the doors and being impossible to ignore,” says one teacher. The teachers challenged the mega-millionaire in charge with charges that the Chicago education system is being run in a way that keeps people uneducated so there will be more folks to take low wage jobs. Our work is important to the people we serve, say the teachers. It’s the rich that can do without it.
In Decatur, Illinois, the lockout of chemical workers at the Staley plant drags on. The Caterpillar workers are in their second year without a contract. Rubber workers at Firestone and chemical workers at Archer Daniel Midlands are entering contract negotiations with corporados hell bend on driving all into global economic total devastation. Mid-America, “Middle class,” middle of the road folks are the middle of the bullseye for budget slashing, profit pumping, corporate pirates. “We realized we needed nothing less than a labor movement to support us. We are at the front lines. We need to give and get solidarity,” says locked-out Staley worker Dan Lane. Since being fired a year ago for concerted, protected, direct action, Lane has spent much of the last year on the road. Traveling among union halls and community meetings in the midwest the AIW-UPIO Local 837 “Road Warriors” have raised money to survive, and consciousness to build a new union movement. The mainstream labor bureaucracies are like children who wandered away from home and were raised by sheep. They don’t know any other path than compromise with the shepherds who steal wool and lead us to the slaughter. There is a war on. A worldwide war to drive peasants and land-based peoples into the cash economy at one-tenth or one hundredth the wages of developed countries. A worldwide war to drive us in industrialized consumer countries into poverty, hatred, and desperation.
There is a war on. A worldwide war that is killing the life support systems of the planet, commodifying every minute, putting a price on every pleasure and pain of daily life. A worldwide class war. The front lines are in Decatur, Illinois; Chiapas, Mexico; Seoul, Korea; Gdansk, Poland. The front lines are the unemployment office, the union hall, and our neighborhood. There are no conscientious objectors, no deferments, no ways out of this war. It is class war. “They” tell us this is peace, even as they assault us. There is no middle ground. No police negotiations out of it. You were enlisted at birth. Can we win? Who knows. I do know we have no choice but to fight.
Molly Maguire & Ned Ludd – readers stories of direct action
Dear Ned and Molly,
I had the good fortune to learn the benefits of the wooden shoe at an early age. I have also been lucky to have spent quite a number of years working with several other practitioners of the art. Over the years music has been a specialty of one of my co-workers.
Every decent-sized workplace has some form of public address system. And this place was no different. Dave has a knack for wiring, and Einar had had an inspiration. Working late one night, after the various bosses have left for the day, they wired a cassette deck into the PA system. The next day we were all taken by surprise when we came to work, and a nice uptempo reggae beat filled the workplace.
Everyone was soon bringing their tapes into play during the workday. Management couldn’t think of a good reason to stop the public music. They already allowed people to listen to radio and walkmans. The PA could interrupt the music without trouble, and so management allowed the situation to slide.
At the same time unbeknownst to Management, the workers had been signing union cards. As we got closer and closer to a majority, the type of music heard on the PA, began to change. By the time our delegation presented management with a demand for voluntary recognition of our union, “Solidarity Forever”, “Power in the Union”, “Which Side are You On,” and “Mr Block” were daily repeat cuts.
Since everyone in the workplace by now played at least one tape a day on the deck, management’s attempt to remove the music was viewed by everyone as a blatant attack upon the union.
We won the union election by a 2-1 vote. The day after the vote when we got to work we once again heard an uptempo reggae beat coming over the PA.
We wore out several cassette decks in the years after that. Music was used as a means to rally the union to action, a signal to a struggle that demanded our attention. It helped maintain morale in bad times and inspired us to victory in more than one fight.
GREATEST HOAX OF THE 20TH CENTURY!
WASHINGTON – A team of top economic researcher has discovered that the famous 1932 photograph of the Democratic Party diving to rescue the working class is fake!
Leading political experts were hired by the Wage Slave World News to determine if the Democratic Party is, in fact, the party of the working class. Ever since this famous photo of the “People’s Party Animal” racing to rescue the working class from capitalist exploitation was released in 1932 workers believed that the Democrats were the “People’s Party.”
Boyd Alastair and Martin David of the Wage Slave Project in Washington, DC say the phoney photo is really that of a Republican elephant with a sock over his nose. Alastair and David call it “one of the greatest hoaxes of the 20th century.”
Officials at the Democratic National Committee deny that the photo is a hoax and claim that the Democrat Party is still part of the working people. As evidence, they point to the Jobs Summit that Democratic President Clinton held this March in Detroit where top labor and commerce officials decided to do nothing about the worldwide unemployment crisis.
The researchers say that the photo was part of a plot to fool American workers into thinking the U$A is really a two-party system. “The Democrats fooled people into believing that they were the working class party opposing the corporate Republican party. This worked for over sixty years until we discovered that the phoney photo is nothing more than the silhouette of a Republican Job Less Monster,” said Mr. Alastair.
The “People’s Party Animal” legend dates back to the New Deal era of Franklin Roosevelt when laws legalizing the right to organize unions were passed to fight the Great Depression.
Mike Konopacki is still creating fantastic labor cartoons and you can find them on the website he shares with fellow political cartoonist Gary Huck at Huck/Konopacki Cartoons.