Robert Stein 1924-2014

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Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Cockeyed Class Warfare

Tea-party politicians are accomplishing what Communists never could--dividing Americans by economic conflict--but in an upside-down way that Karl Marx never would have predicted.

Instead of masses revolting against the rich, it's the Far Right trying to turn back the clock by crushing organized labor.

Even as a Gallup poll shows 61 percent of the public favor bargaining rights for workers, new Statehouse Zealots, as ideological as American Communists ever were but even less realistic, persist in us-vs.-them efforts to take away union rights.

The sad irony in all this is revival of a cockeyed version of class warfare that never took root in an egalitarian U.S. For decades, unions have been losing power in the wake of post-World War II prosperity, the shift from a Rust Belt to a service economy and the overreaching and corruption of labor leaders from Jimmy Hoffa on.

Wisconsin's Scott Walker persists in his role as a hate-labor Lenin, but as he leads the charge, he might want to glance backward and find that some GOP governors are hanging back and trying to find reasonable ways of scaling down employee benefits without challenging the right of unions to exist.

"Some public sector unions have contracts and benefits that are too rich for these times," says a New York Times editorial, "but even when they have made concessions, Republican officials have kept up the attack. The Republicans’ claim to be acting on behalf of taxpayers is not believable...

"The game is up when unionized state workers demonstrate a sense of shared sacrifice but Republican lawmakers won’t even allow them a seat at the table. For unions and Democrats in the Midwest, this is an existential struggle, and it is one worth waging."

In the 1950's, a prospering country was in the grip of anti-Communist fever playing on anxiety that a rising middle class could lose what they have to Un-American subversion. Now, in a time that is far from prosperous, divisive figures are back to play on the same fears but from a different direction that Joe McCarthy et al exploited back then.

Who is Un-American now?

1 comment:

Octopus said...

Today's headline: Governor Walker snorts Koch.