The Progressive Era Experience
by David Montgomery.
This was the subject of one of Advance the Struggle’s first posts, which was reported to be viewed by only one person. How is that possible? It demands a re-release! As a new working class struggle simmers under the surface, we should educate ourselves by learning our labor history and seeking out the best traditions and authors in that discipline. David Montgomery was a machinist before he was a professor. He wrote Workers Control in America about how the Taylorized method of production was more than just a method for economic efficiency; it was a mode of control and domination over the labor process which undercut workers’ power and autonomy at the point of production.
US Occupation forces in Iraq: Does organized US labor benefit from imperialism?
Most view the organized labor movement as being a static, conservative body that was often hierarchical and racist. Much of it was. David Montgomery investigates the opposition and internationalism that nonetheless persisted in the bodies of organized labor at the turn of the century, illuminating a powerful counter movement with internationalist principals. The American Federation of Labor from 1886 to 1955 and the AFL-CIO from 1955 to the present have worked and do work with the CIA and US foreign policy, from the pragmatic view that helping maintain the US’s share in the world will produce jobs for US workers. This essay shows on the one hand that the Pan-American Federation of Labor was more a product of diplomatic imperialist maneuvering than of class solidarity, and on the other, that there was still a militant internationalist movement that cross-fertilized in US, Mexico, Cuba , Hawaii and Puerto Rico. Specifically in Mexico, where major US investments shaped the economy, Montgomery states, “anarcho-syndicalists enjoyed strong support on both sides of the border, and the path to union growth was opened by revolution.” Continue reading
Posted in History, US Labor
Tagged AFL, CIO, colonialism, general strikes, imperialism, internationalism, IWW, labor, strikes, Unions
Obama’s recent decision to commit 30,000 more soldiers to the
Translation: he criticized him so much . . . yet he follows his footsteps!
occupation of Afghanistan has angered folks who thought the promised “change” would include change in the US government’s imperialist foreign policy. Anti-war, semi-socialist ex-Democrat Cynthia McKinney puts the cumulative effect well in a recent editorial:
“…there is deep disquiet today within the ranks of the President’s own base in the Democratic Party, with independents, and with middle-of-the-roaders called “swing” voters. In unprecedented numbers, voters in the United States of all previous political persuasions went to the polls and invested their dreams and, most importantly, their votes in the “hope” and “change” promised by the Obama campaign. But in light of the President’s defense of Bush Administration war crimes and torture in U.S. courts, the transfer of trillions of hard-earned taxpayer dollars to the wealthy banking elite, continued spying on environmental and peace activists as well as support for the extension of the Patriot Act, and removal of Medicare-for-all (single payer) as a central feature of proposed health care reform, Obama voters are rethinking their support.”
The resulting uproar from the liberal/progressive wing of Democratic Party voters doesn’t result from simple naïveté about the nature of the US political system; many up-until-recently disillusioned US residents were bamboozled by Obama’s race and rhetoric. The Black electoral base, which is generally the most progressive section of US society, has been especially victimized by the assumption that racist, imperialist politics radiate from a white, racist chief executive. The Obama administration PR team, and the Democratic Party in general, have encouraged this image through Obama’s constant appropriation of Black political heroes like MLK and most recently Muhammad Ali. As Dave Zirin observes in his recent article “Message to Obama: You Can’t Have Muhammad Ali”, this is a cynical bastardization of one of the most famous war resisters in the 20th century. Continue reading
Glenn Beck: Challenge to ‘Radical’ and ‘Pan-Africanist’ Obamites
In this article, Glenn Ford of Black Agenda Report calls out the hypocrites who love Obama yet claim to hate imperialism. Imperialism is a complex relationship of unequal power between nations, with a select few nations at the center of the commanding structures and the great majority of nations at the receiving end of the core countries’ dictates. The core countries got to the core because of their upward progress in the division of capitalist labor, starting with West Europe’s innovative city-based manufacturing and trans-oceanic plunder, evolving into European and North American industrial factory production and colonialism, and the present-day “financialization” of the world economy and the global network of sovereign nation states. The world today is the product of history which is pushed forward by class struggle. The independence of the former colonies was a victory for the global working class, and should be defended today. That’s precisely why the US – no matter who the president is – should never be supported in its foreign policies which even more than its domestic policies are inevitably at odds with the interests of the global proletariat.
“It requires rivers of obfuscation and oceans of purposeful omission to separate the Commander-in-Chief and President of the United States from the crimes planned and carried out in his office.”