Friday, January 8, 2016

What's Old is New Again: Attack on Labor

The class war struggle of yesterday and of today are eerily similar. The International Workers of the Word (IWW or Wobblies) believed implicitly that the class struggle was inherent in the very nature of capitalist society. The economic laws of capitalism, the IWW pointed out operated the same in America as in the rest of the world, and American society like all societies was divided into two classes: the exploiters and the exploited. The capitalists and the workers. Every segment of life was viewed by the IWW as reflecting the conflict of the two classes. They ran ads in newspapers for big class picnics, obituaries of dead IWW members, Wobblies spoke of the deceased as indefatigable warriors in the class war, and usually closed their solemn ceremony by saying, “Our duty is not to mourn, but to go on where fellow workers left off, determined to show the ruling class that his work has not been in vain.” In the eyes of the IWW, the capitalism class was the ruling class and the government was its tool. Existing laws and institutions were the creation of the owning class. The army, police and the militia were all allies with the capitalist class and against the wage slaves. So were the churches and lawyers who fed off of the workers’ money like parasites. The courts were agencies of the capitalists and many Wobbly defendants showed complete disdain for the courts by conducting a silent defense by refusing to defend themselves. Any Wobbly sent to jail for his views or acts was considered a class-war prisoner. The following excerpts from a speech by a Wobbly is typical: “I have seen you, judge and others of your kind, send the workers to prison because they dared to infringe upon the sacred rights of property. You have become blind and deaf to the rights of man to pursue life and happiness and crushed these rights so that the sacred rights of property should be preserved then you tell me to respect the law. I say to hell with the courts because I believe that my right to live is far more sacred then the sacred right of property that you and your kind so ably defend.” There is a lot in common with the yesterday and present day struggle, such as Black Lives Matter, life and income inequality, the right to keep and form a union, and the right for workers of the world to collect on our Commons, which have been stolen from them by greedy opportunistic corporations. Elect people who will stand for the people. We need change in 2016 – the change Bernie Sanders represents.