Monday, September 3, 2012
..."the right of employers to manage their own business to suit themselves," is fast coming to mean in effect nothing less than a right to manage the country to suit themselves" - J.Bernard Hogg
First of all, over 24% of Americans work in retail jobs, and I think it's fucked up the rest of us can't give up shopping for a weekend so they can have a federal holiday off as well.
Second, let's talk about corporations.
An essential conflict in American politics (I was going to say right now, but actually always) is the argument that a corporation could do better at running our country than the government. In monarchies, Business could cozy up to the royalty, but it couldn't aspire to be royalty itself. Ever since we stripped that Divine Right from Power, Business has been trying to rewrite the Narrative as The Man Who Makes the Most Money is the Best. And every election cycle, the corporations try and sometimes succeed at buying their way into offices. The war to keep the word Public from becoming a pejorative is never ending.
Here is the difference between a Corporation and an Individual. A Corporation has no sense of guilt or shame. It is a sociopath, full of intelligence but devoid of natural feeling. It is a machine that exists not to better its own condition, or the condition of the species, or even to ponder the meaning of its creation. It is not even actually concerned with its survival, only the individuals that are part of it care about that. A Corporation has only one imperative, which is money.
"What's wrong with money, Bridget?" you ask.
Oh god, I don't know, like, everything.
But that's not my point, I don't care if you're pro-money, or whatever for this discussion. (Think about that term though, pro-money. Doesn't that make you feel bad, even a little?)
Anyway, the point is, if a corporation has the chance to make a profit by killing someone, it will do that. It will not even think twice, it will just blindly do what is best for itself.
Saying you hate the Corporation for being this way is the same as saying you hate the moon for casting shadows. It's a useless statement. These things are just facts.
We created and set in motion these creatures, letting them run rampant on the fields of the continent, only putting up fences as it becomes obvious fences are needed. They control most of our lives - we buy what they make, we dress how they tell us to, we eat what they make available to us. They give us our paychecks, and our medicines, and our news. Because they are so pervasive in our lives, it is tempting to humanize them and therefore allow trust to form. It's like when you name a hurricane, and anthropomorphize it. It helps curb the terror of dependency, of loss of control, when something has a name, like a pet.
But a corporation is not a pet. It is not a person. And we have a responsibility to keep putting up fences, to stop them from killing people, literally and figuratively.
So don't tell me you think unions are outdated. Sure, some are corrupt. Sure, some seem unnecessary. But the idea of a union, the sacred need to gather together to guard yourself and the community against the corporation, that is an idea that needs to be protected and loved. The Ludlow Massacre was less than one hundred years ago. There was actually a period of time in our history called the Colorado Labor Wars. These are things that are as recent and fresh as trendy prohibition cocktails, and yet think about the fact you know nothing about them. We don't remind ourselves about the Pullman Strike or the Thibodaux Massacre or the Memorial Day Massacre, they have been forgotten and glossed over. They have created a new marketing image for unions, of fat construction workers sitting around being lazy eating sandwiches and stealing your money. They GAVE you that image. They TOLD you teachers were overpaid. Think about that statement and your immediate agreement or disagreement with it. Do you actually know what teachers should be paid? Or even ARE paid? They told you having to provide good wages and healthcare was bad for business.
Of course it's bad for business, because that's the fucking point. Because Business inherently doesn't, can't, care about us, so we have to care about ourselves. Unions are a check and a balance, they are a fence, to keep the Corporations from running heavy footed over our entire lives.
They talk in corners of our culture about upcoming labor wars, about the shadow of revolution. But the truth is this war is ongoing, it is ever present, you are participating in it yourself every time you vote or shop or go to work. It is American life, struggling to not be strangled by the tentacles of our own creations. And today we should all take a moment to get really drunk, not work, and remember we are free men and women.
Posted by Bridget Callahan at 1:16 PM