Thursday, March 16, 2017

No Simple Highway

I haven’t done any research. I am just shooting off my mouth as if I were smoking cigarettes over my third glass of wine in a late-night cafe. But I was reading a summary of the Progressive Period in US politics last night and I began to wonder at McKinley’s assassination.  The histories say the anarchist Leon Czolgosz killed him as a symbol of oppression. Those anarchists were certainly convenient when the swell of change started bumping ruling class ceilings.

Mostly I was impressed by the many years, in the face of the top 1 percent, it took to get from Hog Butcher of the World to actual political reform: building from the late 1880s through 1901, when McKinley, who didn’t put up much resistance to the moneyed interests, was replaced with his Vice President, Theodore Roosevelt.

Now HERE was a voice for the left!

Reform legislation began that, even with the vagaries of history, continued pretty much unabated until someone finally shot Our President to kill the dream; to close the jagged road toward mercy and justice for all. After Kennedy, our “progress” began to regress until the population was so uneducated it elected a movie star as President. Think about that! How stupid did we have to become to let them put in the fix? Why, Jerry Springer stupid, in fact, and our children see this kind of behavior as normal. Sigh.

But how do Trump & Co. in fact stack up beside the bosses of 1900? Are they any worse than the Robber Barons? In fact they want the same things, but in a nuclear, global world, the consequences seem monumental.  Our outrage is stronger because we have seen the better life, and we don’t want to lose it.

What does seem different is the speed at which this team expects to dismantle a century of progress, and that makes us feel desperate – desperate, afraid, and angry.

We must learn from the earlier Progressives that those emotions should be put in place as the generator of a long-term campaign to recapture the momentum. We must learn patience. It is hard for an angry person to be rational, but it is necessary for the long haul. Get people elected from the bottom up, file every lawsuit known to the free world, pester every personal appearance with protests and signs. Be public and participate.

What I read last night reassured me that the turn can be made, and that I should trust the energy of a new generation of righteous dissatisfaction to make this the last grasping stand of a dying class of greedy bastards. It is the beginning of their end.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Maggie's Farm

I’ve been thinking about International Women’s Day and the call this year for a general strike.  I saw a lot of posts from women who went to work that day instead, apologizing or explaining, seemingly a little guilty for not heeding the call. I don’t know which organization(s) came up with the idea of a general strike in the first place, but I think it was a big mistake.  Yes, resistance is very very important, but this is a huge country with a massive population and even if every concerned American woman left her workday and congregated in the street, it would not be enough. Besides, we already did that at the Woman’s March, thank you very much everyone. And, the diversity of the women that day should have tipped off the strike organizers that most women just cannot afford to jeopardize their jobs.

I am 100% in favor of labor strikes where they can be effective, but they invariably need to include ALL of the labor force for whatever the issue.  Single day strikes even when everyone walks off don't get anyone's attention in this country (unlike in unionized Europe), so most strikes go on for an extended time. Here management hires scabs to go over and around the picketers until it all actually hits their pocketbooks and they concede that they NEED their workforce. Having been a UMW family, I know what it looks like when a union has an upper hand, and even then those hands were often holding guns to get their point across. 

Getting treated fairly by the bosses is at best a grim undertaking and strikes should not be invoked by people who do not understand the losses required. Ask the nurses. Or does anyone remember P9 and Hormel? I still won’t buy their stuff.

That said, targeted strike days for unionized labor could be useful in our near future. Of course, hardly anyone is unionized any more, are they? The strength of numbers argument just got a lot weaker. Perhaps some of the women so eager to get us out from behind our desks and dustmops last week could spend that energy finding forces that could actually count. Bus drivers? Garbage workers? Airline pilots? Public school teachers might be pissed off enough by now to stand as a unit, at least in a single city, but truthfully most parents will just find alternatives and be done with it – surely emergency vouchers from the local Repugnicans would soon be available. 

The long road to domination that began at least with Ronald Reagan is lined with the carcasses of public protections that took centuries to put in place. I am afraid that all we have left is too little, too late.

I will leave you with a little history to sharpen your focus.

Friday, March 3, 2017

Back to Bricks and Mortar

One more time I have the task,
the opportunity
to build me from the ground.

Sound and sight, flex and shake,
muscles move and shape themselves
to the dance of deep intention.

Seeing only in the moment,
wrapped in the illusion
and the fabric that is time,

molecules intended roll
like quantum bricks to what I see,
what I hear around me.

All without my knowing.
All as if I’m dreaming
every part of my existence.

If I step back and focus wide
can I watch me how I build,
conscious of creation?

Gather up the elements,
harvest bricks of knowledge,
and, knowing, build again?