Today is May Day — International Labor Day. Even though this special day began here in the U.S., in Chicago, corporate powers and their politicians and media have made us forget that glorious history.
And they have created this notion that celebrating the globally recognized workers’ day would automatically mean you are a communist. Celebrating together with the world community automatically would mean you are for a violent overthrow of the government. And most people have bought into that propaganda.
No, I am not a communist, but I believe May Day is very special, as it created for the first time in modern history a new consciousness for the working men and women — not just in America, but around the world. It gave working people hope and strength.
I grew up in Calcutta, and we saw May Day celebrated in a big way. All over India: but with the rise of a Trump-like, race- and religion-bashing government, it has dwindled. In the most advanced and equalized countries in Europe and Latin America, May 1 is still a very special day. People celebrate it with much fanfare, parades, music, and yes, reading books, and watching pro-people movies and theaters.
People here do not know much about the history of the labor movement — either from a global, or an American point of view. People who blast unions ALL benefit from the long and hard struggles our brothers and sisters have took on for many years: 8-hour workday, overtime, weekends off, family leave, sick day…you name it.
The one percent is now 0.0001 percent (as calculated by some of our union brothers and sisters on the last weekend’s class I teach on Long Island) — roughly a few hundred, extremely rich, powerful and violent rulers have taken the country of 330 million over. Labor union here is only 8-10%.
The calculation was like this:
(1) 330 to 3,300 people — extremely rich — have influence the election system in America with their millions of dollar, under the leadership of Koch Brothers.
(2) 330 million people live in America.
Therefore, 330 or 3,300, divided by 330 million = 0.0001 to 0.00001 percent.
That is the ruling class — horrific, violent, cruel, anti-worker, anti-poor, and extremely rich and powerful.
Today, to be organized with new knowledge, education, and insight, it’s even more important to celebrate May Day — to feel solidarity with the labor movement worldwide. If the corporate powers and their media can unleash their global reign of terror, we can fight back together — globally — and nonviolently.
Apologies. This blog is not the place where I post hardcore political stuff.
However, given the urgent nature of it, I’m taking the liberty to digress from the “personal” and “apolitical” focus of my blog, to invite you to be a part of this critically important conversation — both here in the U.S. and worldwide.
I shall try to analyze some relevant social and economic scenarios that might prove useful in this conversation.
I hope you take a couple of minutes to go through this note, and think about it.
First, this. You might find it very relevant to the discussion below. Let me know if you need clarification. I’d be happy to speak or write more. Thank you for taking the time to go over this paper and workshop I presented last June in Granada, Spain.
Peer-reviewed paper on political alliance building at
Working people who consider themselves moderate “left” or ‘right” have more overlaps than differences. Below are a few examples – the moderate working people feel similarly and strongly about the following:
1. Economic disparity and frustrations on social mobility: living wages, unpredictable workplace, loss of health care, education costs for children, loss of home and savings, and consequent psychological trauma and depression are major issues.
2. Feeling of being left out: not being a part of the election-time promises to be included in democratic processes.
3. Discontent on lack of peace, right, justice and human dignity issues: state repression, global warfare and poverty issues hit the average home.
4. Helplessness on destruction of the earth and environment: the BP disaster, Hurricane Katrina, Afghanistan and Iraq wars are examples.
5. Fast-worsening stability and security situation for the children: terrorism and violence are all-time high.
Can the poor, working man and woman strengthen themselves to a position of power? Can we empower the Middle Majority – which I call the Second Circle – driven by coalition building across the working class, political education, and will power, in a non-violent way? What are the obstacles?
I propose a simple “spin wheel” model to create cooperation and collaboration across the moderate left and right working class spectrum, eventually empowering the Second Circle middle majority, and through the process, disempowering the iron-walled elite center and separatist and violent far right and far left. I believe that with evolving action plans (including but not limited to elections), moderate working people will win and assume power.
The artificial left-right divide is deliberately created by the forces in power aided by corporate media; it’s been detrimental for the working class people and families. It’s time we go beyond the archaic box and come together.
I’m writing my two little cents with hope that somebody at the OWS camp will notice it. The developments since November 15, when Bloomberg and NYPD violated the democratic rights of us the ordinary people to protest peacefully, have been greatly troubling. It is obvious — to me and a number of my friends who worked with me over the years as a grassroots political activist and peace and justice advocate – that with overt and covert support from the political establishment and corporate media, Wall Street crooks and their cronies are now preparing for major onslaughts on the movement. It is also quite likely that there will be violence traps to exploit.
Next time, the “radical” protesters might be taken in prison, and strip searched — courtesy U.S. Supreme Court’s newest ruling earlier this week (April 2012).
Maybe, none of the above will happen; without a serious leadership with pragmatic goals and achievable benchmarks, the movement might fizzle. There are already unfortunate signs of it. Street protests have become increasingly unsustainable. (But the May Day rallies across the U.S. today showed that the movement is still strong and perhaps coming back in full force. That is very reassuring.)
Upon this backdrop, this is my brief thought. This is what I urge you to do.
For heaven’s sake, find political support from the pro-people sections of Democratic and other political parties (Kucinich, Feingold, Sanders, Waxman, Levine…you know who I’m talking about; definitely not the Schumer or Clinton Democrats). More importantly, find support from parallel peace and justice groups. Find support from the labor movement.
Without that support, even sane Americans (and onlookers worldwide) will slowly get tired of the prolonged protests “without a clear goal” (I know you have solid demands), and both corporate America and elite-centrist Reps and Dems with their military and police and media will crush you.
Find that critical political support and find a clear time line to achieve certain goals. Have meetings. Talk about it. Call us.
Ideally, OWS with help from all rights, justice and peace groups (and special support from labor) should have their own candidates for the upcoming elections; however, I don’t believe it is anymore possible in 2012. It needs focused energy to achieve election goals; I am yet to see the movement contemplating that goal.
Some of us believe that Obama-Biden Democrats will eventually call. They’ll never call. Most of them do not want to lose their campaign contribution money anyways. Obama is one of them. It’s up to the protesters to show that they have political pragmatism and acumen; they need to show to the world that they know how to find political support from sane, influential people from all walks of life. The documentary Inside Job (Sony, 2010, directed by Charles Ferguson) has interviewed some of these people. Talk to them. Make up a winning strategy.
The other side is WAY too powerful. Plus they have New York Times and CNN, PBS, etc. on their side. (I’m not even talking about Fox or the Murdoch media empire and far right wing nuts like Glenn Beck or Rush Limbaugh.)
During a Facebook conversation, one committed OWS friend said this in response to the above: “Trying to work within this corrupted, benighted system is a losing proposition. The protesters are righteous and an important part of this process. Screw both parties. Time to change it all.”
I told her that it’s not so easy (i.e., to “screw both parties” and work without them). I did not hear from her ever again.
I’m trying to articulate my bullet-points here very briefly; if you want, you can circulate them among the OWS leaders, and let me know if they need me in any future conversations.
(1) Obama was elected with bankers’ money. He never did and never will come out strongly against the crooks who stole the U.S. economy. His so-called Wall Street reform has been laughably inadequate. (However, Republicans, Wall Street and their media will use that reform ploy in 2012 as if enough has been done already to reform Wall Street and therefore, now it is old news — to divert peoples’ attention from that subject, moving their spotlight to the so-called tax and deficit questions. They and their corporate media alike will again conveniently not analyze Reaganomics and the deficits ballooned during Bush. See illustration below.)
(2) Democratic Party establishment is no different than the Republican Party establishment when it comes to their campaign contribution money and allegiance; in fact, I always say that right wing is easier to read because they have no pretense. (Yet, it is true that 2012 is already seeing signs that billionaires and big corporations are heavily contributing to Republicans, especially through their PAC’s.)
(3) The financial sector, after Reagan, got the maximum boost and the stock market bubble happened during Bill Clinton. Remember Clinton had Greenspan as the Federal Reserve chairman, in spite of Greenspan’s well-known connections with Charles Keating of the S&L Scandal. Clinton also recruited Rubin and Summers — the two biggest names behind deregulation of derivatives and illegal-made-legal Wall Street mergers.
(4) The biggest crooks completely deregulated and destroyed the economy with blessings from Clinton, W. Bush and now Obama; nothing changed (Greenspan has Ayn Rand ideological agenda; Summers has Harvard and Columbia Business School support. All of them made millions in these eras).
(5) Neither Republicans nor Democrats jailed a single individual crook such as Paulson or Fuld even though all their wrongdoings are established and beyond belief. (Senator Carl Levine of Michigan, a few-and-far-between Democrat, grilled Goldman Sachs operatives; Waxman grilled Fuld of Lehman Brothers who made a personal income of half a billion dollars off the now-bankrupt company. The hearings are available online. There are more such public exposés. Paulson would be a test case to expose now.)
(6) We are working under this system; therefore, there is NO reason to believe mainstream Democrats would come out to support OWS. Levine and Waxman hearings, although strong and commendable, failed to jail either the GS operatives or Fuld. Note the notable absence of the two big NY senators Hillary and Schumer from these events; I have not heard a single word of support for OWS from them.
(7) As I said before, and as I emphasized in my paper cited above, work with labor unions, peace and justice groups, and civil and immigrant rights groups. This is the time to mend fences and build broad-based alliance of moderate working people and families — both from the so-called left and right (read my new paper for this model).
(8) Therefore, find other politicians who either lost elections in 2010 because of their pro-people positions or are traditionally known for their pro-people politics — there are many both at the national and state levels. Spitzer is one of them (he was set up because he worked against these Wall Street crooks); then there are cleaner images within and outside the Democratic Party.
(9) Work with Volcker and others who do not like the way Glass-Stegall was repealed by Rubin, Summers and Paulson. Work with Elizabeth Warren, et al. too. Warren must win.
(10) Find international support especially from Europe — a whole bunch of leaders — market capitalists — know how to run a capitalist economy without crooks. Iceland has already fixed its colossal problems that precipitated exactly the U.S. way just before October 2008. (Watch the documentary Inside Job: it begins with the Iceland episode.)
(11) Challenge Obama on these economic and political platforms, and also the major Democratic candidates running in 2012. Find shadow candidates who can put pressure on them whether or not they actually run.
(12) Find friends in corporate media who can put out the OWS platform. It does not matter if for various reasons, the street rallies dwindle; people will come back in various ways to rally across the U.S. and beyond if there is a serious action plan based on pragmatic politics.
I do hope the OWS leaders have time to read my two cents.
BTW, it’s much better to have known evils in political power than hypocrites. The peace and justice movement both in the U.S. and worldwide got stronger during Dubya. Egypt and the entire Middle Eastern revolution keep happening because of that solidarity, not because of Obama’s Cairo speech.
NOTE: If you’re more interested to know about my grassroots, empirical model on political alliance building that invites and includes the sane and moderate working people and families from both the so-called left and right – to disempower the elite center and marginalize the extreme right and left – read my new paper Second Circle: Middle Majority of the Working People (International Journal of the Humanities, October 2010). I’m including the link to the abstract here. I’ve already put the text of the abstract above.
Again, the link is at http://ijh.cgpublisher.com/product/pub.26/prod.2020.
Thank you and in solidarity,
(Note: I work with labor unions professionally. However, I wrote the above in my personal capacity.)