Labour Day


Once in a while I read where some plutocrat has complained that proposals to raise taxes – even a little – are class warfare. I like that. They are admitting that everything the Occupy movement said, everything unions have said for years, everything progressives have argued for decades is true. America is a class system. The old lie that social class doesn’t matter in the land of opportunity is exactly that – a lie. Class exists and the rich are determined that nothing occurs to change that or even to ameliorate it.

So it has ever been. The rich, some of whom obtained their wealth through innovation or organization – a few even through hard work or superior intelligence – have always defended their position. And why not? Being rich is a nice thing. Of course if they really believed that wealth was a reward, they would oppose inheritance and demand their children earn their own money. But that’s never going to happen – even Warren Buffet gave his kids a hand up if not a handout.

Many of the rich have done nothing to deserve their wealth – they are mere parasites feeding off the corpses of their parents’ or grandparents’ efforts.

But let’s get back to the idea of class war. It is after all, Labour Day weekend, the time set aside to celebrate the victories of organized labour over the worst aspects of an oppressive system. It is also a signal of the great accommodation that labour made with the rich: we’ll let you survive (unlike say the Romanoffs in Russia) in exchange for a fair share of the pie.

For a start we have a weekend – every week – not just on special occasions. Labour got us the five day week, the eight hour day, vacation pay and most statutory holidays. Labour fought on the streets and at the ballot boxes to get us pensions, and some form of health care (including the one brought in by Obama). They fought for the idea of ‘overtime’ to be recognized and they helped get our children out of chimneys and off of factory floors.

Virtually every positive benefit that average people have was fought for and obtained by union members and their supporters. The exact same fight is now going on right around the world.

With the same responses. Just as American and Canadian and European workers faced the violence of the state and the private police forces of the factory owners, just as many of them lost their lives to build a better world, union leaders and members face violence and persecution.

But they will win – for the simple reason that there are more of us than there are of them.

But the rich fight back – buying politicians like Scott Walker to break unions and roll back progress – while handing out more and more benefits to the parasitic plutocrats. And by paying media outlets to persuade people to back the side that doesn’t stand for their own self-interest. The great accommodation is at risk.

Time will tell whether they will succeed or whether they will end up on the trash heap of history.

Meanwhile, have a happy Labour Day.

And that’s ten minutes.


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