“We wept, for after all, we were only children…” (A People’s History…Ch. 13)

If the workers of the world want to win, all they have to do is recognize their own solidarity. They have nothing to do but fold their arms and the world will stop. The workers are more powerful with their hands in their pockets than all the property of the capitalists…

Unions. Strikes. Armed conflict. Sacrifice. Death. Defeat. Denial. Endurance?

I had no clue the American worker had such a passionate, bloody history; the passion from their awareness and activism, the blood from our plutocratic government. Probably because I assumed socialism had always been anathema to American ideology. I wasn’t wrong in that assumption, just in my definition of “American” and who/what included.

Socialism indeed is a menace to certain “American” interests; namely, as Zinn keeps identifying them, the capitalists, i.e. the in-cahoots corporate leaders and politicians. I shouldn’t be surprised that America is replete with class-based rebellion, but I was encouraged by the extend to which socialist ideals had spread in the era leading up to World War I. Why? Probably because I lived and worked at a socialist school (in spirit if not always in practice and never by this label directly) and loved it; because people were fighting for their own humanity and transcending social boundaries (at times) in the process; because there was a pervasive social consciousness that begat direct action (the latter of which I’ve yet to truly summon myself).

Is the call of Brotherhood in the human race greater than any fear or discomfort, despite the efforts of the masters of life for six thousand years to root out that call of Brotherhood from our minds?

Loki (among other figures, like…anyone real) argued that the masses love their subjugation – it breeds ignorance, convenience, and comfort; when we can’t have self-actualization, we’ll take oblivion – but the American people proved consistently that they loathed their conditions and were willing to sacrifice everything (their lives) for the even the smallest possibility of changing them.

The Wobblies of the IWW (Industrial Workers of the World) were the most inspirational of the bunch, so relentless in their confrontations and demands, even if they ultimately achieved marginal effect.

Don’t waste any time in mourning. Organize.

Even in defeat – and that’s pretty much all the IWW and kin organizations experienced – they journeyed on, ever vigilant in their commitment to equality for all. They had their skin in the game. We have plenty of “rebel” units operating today in the midst of Trump’s Death Star politics, but how many of us – coddled by a lifetime of unparalleled domesticity – are actually willing to sacrifice our known world? We profess that we want a better world, but do we fully understand the implications of what our vision demands? Or are we simply taking the world we see right now and turning it slightly to the left? Are we really ready to transform it and ourselves, not knowing what anything will be like on the other end?

And who might we still be leaving behind in our social activism? Socialists and suffragists and feminists were caught in an interesting tango as they tried to navigate the “winners” of any potential revolution. Are we envisioning a future where everyone gets an equal footing? Or are we protecting only those we know and love?

As in the early 1900s, we might simply be participating in another “progressive period” where the system can “give enough of a share of its riches to enough of the working class to create a protective shield between the bottom and the top of the society…to create a middle-class cushion for class conflict.”

If the greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world that he doesn’t exist, I’d say he lives in the concept of the American middle class.

 


Quick love for Helen Keller:

Our democracy is but a name. We vote? What does that mean? It means that we choose between two bodies of real, though not avowed, autocrats. We choose between Tweedledum and Tweedledee…Have your men with their millions of votes freed themselves from this injustice?

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