Saturday, November 19, 2016

The role of the liberals in local politics.

by Richard Mellor
Afscme Local 444, retired

The point of my comments here and I hope it does come across, is the role the liberals play, intentionally or not, in maintaining the status quo by giving some sort of legitimacy to the political process or what we might call "official channels".  Official channels, or protocols are designed to ensure the power in society is undisturbed and working people and the exploited accept their lot.  Official channels lead nowhere, the plunderers keep on plundering.

We are supposed to accept there is only one way of doing things and appeal to the established power rather than relying on our own strength, our ability through direct action, and a strike is direct action, to disrupt economic activity and business as usual.

I remember in 1982 when I was in my first set of negotiations, I was pretty new to it all and found myself in a position of having to agree to something I didn't really agree with.  There is no option was the argument, we can't stop them so all we can do is soften the blow, maybe halt or at least delay the inevitable. In other words, a defensive posture.

I remember going to a class for rank and file union activists that was called, concession bargaining. I went to one class and that was it. I was not interested in concessions, I wanted to stop them, I wanted to move ahead.  Concession bargaining is the norm for the strategists atop organized labor and has been for decades. They do not believe we can win. They are terrified of a victory because it would raise expectations, it would inspire millions of people and this can only lead to chaos for these worshipers of the so-called free market. Their silence as we have for the first time in my US lifetime a president endorsed by the Nazi Party and the KKK, is deafening.

I never did that again and from then on always took the approach that it's through relying on our own strength, organizing and mobilizing our membership, building alliances and links with our communities, the unorganized, the incarcerated, all other workers' organizations not just in our own country but internationally, and using that united power to halt business as usual that will bring results. It also gives us confidence in our ability to affect events. Yes there are times when we retreat, but only when the balance of forces are against us at that point in time. We retreat to learn the lessons and also to regroup. But we don't begin by accepting we have lost. You can read an account of the last set of negotiations I was in here.

At all times we must have this view that we have to generalize our particular struggle whether it be against fracking, slumlords, employers, or for affordable housing, health care, education or mass transit and that out of these direct action struggles and the movement that solidifies around them, we build permanent structures in the workplaces, the union halls, the schools and our communities that can direct this activity including combating racism, sexism and at some point taking up public safety.

Independent political candidates, arising from this united movement and rooted in it can then be put forward. At no point can we rely on either of the two parties of Wall Street in particular its liberal wing. We have such traditions in the US and we have to return to them if we are to reverse course.  I read in the latest Business Week that a Gallup poll reported that "...the percentage of Republican voters who think the economy is getting better tripled to 40%, from right before the election to right after."

These people are in for a rude awakening in the not so distant future and we must not forget that the degenerate Trump received fewer votes than Clinton and more importantly well over 100 million Americans have given up on an electoral process that has failed them. They will take to the streets at some point.

We will have perhaps the most anti-worker, racist, misogynistic bunch of goons in Washington in a short while. They are intent on dismantling gains and social achievements that have taken decades and heroic struggle to win. We can stop them. If a few hundred Congresspersons can stop a government from functioning, 150 million class conscious workers will have no problem.

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