Archive for the ‘Socialism’ Category

Masque of the Red … Revolution?

May 7, 2020

¡Viva la huelga!

I’ve been wondering when someone in the mainstream media would write something about the potential for increasing union membership and labor strength in the Year(s) of the Plague.

Here’s a start. It’s short, focused largely on the so-called “gig economy,” and written before a Washington Post-Ipsos poll that indicates some laid-off and furloughed workers may be overly optimistic about whether they will be able to return to their old jobs.

How does an activist pitch a union to a worker with no job? Is a patchwork of small, decentralized, tightly focused labor organizations preferable to One Big Union? Are people ready to rethink their notions of who is an “essential” worker? Will stock clerks trump stockholders?

Nick French at Jacobin gives us a look at the protests that arose shortly after the Great Depression took hold. He argues that radical groups, among them the Thirties-vintage Communist Party, forged a bond of solidarity between the jobless and those still working that helped make FDR’s New Deal possible.

The conditions are different today, he concedes. But the public-health issue may give workers more leverage this time around. Writes French:

By forcing sick people to come to work, or by unnecessarily exposing people to coworkers or customers who might be infected, employers are hastening the spread of the coronavirus and putting everyone at risk. This means that all workers, employed or unemployed, have a common interest in these workers winning their demands.

Boy howdy. Dead broke is bad enough. I hear dead is worse.

• Addendum: As white-collar types join workers from the restaurant, travel, hospitality, and retail industries on the sidelines, experts say there’s no way to calculate how many jobs might come back as states consider lifting shelter-in-place rules. according to The New York Times.

Many businesses, particularly small ones, may not survive, while others are likely to operate with reduced hours and staff. The job search site Indeed reports that postings are down nearly 40 percent from a year ago.

“We don’t know what normal is going to look like,” said Martha Gimbel, an economist and a labor market expert at Schmidt Futures, a philanthropic initiative.

• Addendum the Second: How should unions organize? From The Nation.

• Addendum the Third: Comrades, identities, and attachments. Also from The Nation.

Socialist wheelism

May 2, 2020

Forward!

I actually shot this last May Day, but I don’t think I ever got around to using it for anything.

When Herself and I rode out yesterday for our own small International Workers Day parade, we were clad in red, but it was Mad Dog Media kit we were wearing, and I was aboard my red Steelman Eurocross, not the Co-Motion Divide Rohloff.

The People were out in force as well. With temps in the 80s, and there only being so many DIY home projects one can bear, we saw quite a few folks out and about, the highlight being a couple walking one Chihuahua and pushing the other in a baby stroller.

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham is relaxing some restrictions, allowing some retailers that had been closed to do business via curbside pickup and delivery; reopening state parks and golf courses; and allowing gun shops to resume operations via appointment only.

While short outings for grub and exercise are officially approved, the general stay-at-home order remains in effect through May 15, however. Socialist distancing remains a thing, as does masking. And while the GOP is raving that the gov’ is not doing enough to return New Mexico to Bidness As Usual®, the gov’ — who has been getting some ink for her work in response to the coronavirus crisis — says further steps depend on us continuing to tamp down the spread of The Bug.

“This public-health crisis has also become an economic crisis,” she said. “There’s great urgency to address both.”

Added Human Services Secretary Dr. David Scrase: “We have to move carefully. slowly, step by step.”

Sounds a lot like rehabbing a broken ankle, only a helluva lot harder. The trick is to lose the crutches without winding up flat on your back.

Comrades, come rally. …

May 1, 2020

… whilst observing the proper socialist distancing, of course.

• Labor Day demonstrations reimagined worldwide.

• Virtual May Day rally, live on Vimeo.

• Amazon, Instacart, Shipt workers plan walkouts.

• Thousands of Americans expected to join rent strike.

The indignity of labor

September 2, 2019

Holiday, schmoliday: The trash crews are on the job.

It’s Labor Day, but trash collection continues as scheduled.

This delights the neighbor kids, who jump up and down and shriek at the trash truck working our cul-de-sac until the driver toots his horn a couple of times.

I don’t know how much fun the trash guys are having. But I applaud them for their generosity to a couple of little girls.

We’re told that it’s easy to find a job these days. But what kind of a job? How much does it pay? What are the benefits? Is there a future in it? Will you need more than one of these jobs to make ends meet?

Our cul-de-sac does pretty well for itself. We work for Sandia National Labs, the University of New Mexico, the U.S. Postal Service, and local government. One loser scribbles nonsense for a couple bike mags, but every good neighborhood needs a bad example.

But I expect we all know a few people who aren’t eating quite so high off the hog.

Without even breaking a light sweat I can think of one colleague who hasn’t been paid for a few months while his corporate masters hunt for new suckers … er, investors. They didn’t ask if he’d work for free during the search. They just quit paying him. The work, of course, arrives as per usual.

Another quit a job he hated, only to go back to it for some reason. I expect it had something to do with paying the bills.

I’m a geezer and long since gone from the job market. My little bit of business doesn’t show up on anyone’s statistical radar. But I still identify with the working class, though I don’t work and have no class, and so I agitate, however feebly, on their behalf.

Thus, here are a few Labor Day notes from around the Innertubes. Chime in with your own notions in comments.

And remember, when you’re smashing the State, keep a smile on your lips and a song in your heart.

• One job is not enough. From The New York Times.

• Strike! From The Nation.

• General strike! Also from The Nation.

• A different approach to collective bargaining. From The American Prospect.

May Day

May 1, 2019

So, comrades, come rally. …

Up the rebels, y’all. And when you’re smashing the State, don’t forget to keep a smile on your lips and a song in your heart.

Red menace

May 1, 2018

The intersection of Trails 341 and 342. I like to hang a left here
(because of course I do) and do a clockwise loop that tops out at the wilderness boundary.

There’s Revolution and there’s revolution.

With the masses otherwise occupied for May Day 2018, and all my rousing calls to action going to voicemail, I settled for a bit of the lower-case variety, pulling on the red-and-black Mad Dog Media kit, stuffing red water bottles into their cages, and rolling out for a short spin on the people’s trails.

Comrade Red Cap keeps the people’s air where it belongs.

There’s more than one way to lose a chain, and I know most of them. I lost one on Sunday after a rear puncture and got good and greasy (the Voodoo Nakisi has horizontal dropouts that open to the rear, and it’s easy to get filthy removing and replacing the rear wheel).

On Monday I punctured again, this time the front. It was a slow leak, like the proletariat losing political power, and I was able to make it home without overthrowing the bourgeois wheel.

But today, International Workers Day, went off without a hitch. Maybe it was the red valve caps.

 

Labor daze

September 4, 2017

A little learning is a dangerous thing.

Reg’lars here at the Chuckle Hut know I once was a fan of all the Marx Brothers (Groucho, Harpo, Chico, Zeppo, Gummo and Karl).

Well, not so much Zeppo and Gummo.

Groucho, Harpo and Chico I stumbled across early on. Karl and I became acquainted in my second stab at college, where I enjoyed a brief flirtation with non-comedic Marxism — the Young Socialist Alliance/Socialist Workers Party, a Trotskyite crew, and the October League, a Maoist group that later became the Communist Party (Marxist-Leninist).

I’m not sure why a middle-class white boy wandered so far afield from the Republicrat-Demublican game of musical thrones.

There was the war in Vietnam, of course, but I was a year too young for the lottery and wouldn’t have volunteered until the Viet Cong were actually in Colorado and executing dope dealers.

The Yippies’ street theatricality appealed to me — I even tried to register as a Yippie for Nixon-McGovern ’72 — but the SWP and CP(ML) were decidedly unfunny, like a Marx Brothers movie starring Zeppo and Gummo.

Maybe it was working as a janitor as a college dropout. (Check out this NYT story about janitors then vs. janitors now.)

I didn’t push the idiot stick for big outfits like Kodak or Apple, but for smaller shops that were already outsourcing their cleanup to even smaller shops, like the one that employed me. My work took me to a couple downtown banks, a northside UPS location, a Salvation Army youth center and a southside sales office. No car, so I pedaled from place to place on a Schwinn Continental, a bicycle commuter before it was cool.

There were no opportunities for advancement at that job, or any of the others I worked before finally landing a copyboy gig at the Colorado Springs Sun. I found I liked newspaper work, and wanted to stay, but the managing editor said I’d be going nowhere fast without that ol’ sheepskin, so back I went to college, where Karl, Leon and Mao were loitering around, waiting for me to turn up.

Then the war finally ended, the Revolution fizzled, and I moved on, eventually finding myself with a B.A. in journalism and a job at the other newspaper in Bibleburg, the Gazette Telegraph.

The GT was a libertarian rag, owned by Freedom Newspapers out of Orange County, Calif., and it leaned so far right it was almost left. As a consequence the wages were low and the hours illegal, but it wasn’t long before I was offered a chance for advancement: heading up the education desk, which consisted of two other reporters plus Your Humble Narrator, who was so wet behind the ears you could have raised goldfish in my hair.

It was at that moment that I knew management was incompetent, and perhaps insane. And my sympathies returned to labor, where they have remained ever since.

Happy Labor Day.

Adios, Fidel

November 26, 2016
From "Reminiscences of the Cuban Revolutionary War," by Che Guevara.

From “Reminiscences of the Cuban Revolutionary War,” by Che Guevara.

Fidel has left the building.

Say what you will about the man who tugged Uncle Sam’s beard through 11 U.S. presidencies — I’ll always remember him for his snarky offer to send observers to help oversee the recount of Bush v. Gore in Florida.

Revolutions are iffy things; they don’t always turn out as planned, as we have seen elsewhere. It’s not the initial cost, it’s the upkeep.

P’raps they should come with a warning label: “Be careful what you wish for. You might get it.”

So comrades, come rally. …

May 1, 2015

Some news of the day (to be updated as I find it):

• Some workers of the world really have united.

 

Two dogs, same bone

February 24, 2015
It's a gray morning in Duke City, and the wizards predict a chance of snow.

It’s a gray morning in Duke City, and the wizards predict a chance of snow.

Once again we are reminded that elections have consequences.

Scott Walker, by some accounts the foremost of the 2,375,296 Republicans running for that party’s 2016 presidential nomination, is going after working folks again with “right to work” legislation. He professed no interest in reviving this anti-union measure while campaigning to keep his present job, but that was so 15 minutes ago. A tricornered hat full of Tea Bagger gold is all he cares about now.

Elsewhere, Bill O’Reilly is flailing around like a big dumb mutt in the dogcatcher’s truck, trying to convince the suckers that he was a double Ernie Pyle with a side of Ed Murrow back in the day, doing it hand-to-hand with the bad guys in the Falklands when he was actually boffing a sheep in his suite at the Hilton Buenos Aires.

He’ll be successful, of course, for the same reason that Walker will get his latest union-busting tool. Larry’s wife can tell you why.