Why OWS has been successful and labor is stagnant
Hello, I wish to comment on this piece claiming why, personally, the writer feels in his/her opinion that OWS has been more successful than labor.
Personally, I completely disagree with the 3 as main reasons, although I do feel that they are 3 minor reasons. The 2 main reasons that I have encountered, as an anarchist electrician for 15+years, is, first and foremost-
1)Workers are uneducated in class politics and feel that because they make more money as a Union electrician as opposed one working for a private company, or because both the Union worker and private worker are "skilled labor", as opposed to a cashier at a retail store, that they are "middle class". I have even heard Verizon workers claim this "middle class" label. This is a barrier that is not even a barrier in our class structure anymore, it is most definately tattooed and etched into our minds. Class, in every sense of the word, was never about money, but was about power. Although many skilled labor workers make enough money to live in "middle class" neighborhoods, it is up to them to take the step and leave their class behind in the dust and embrace a "middle class" lifestyle. Any class conscious person, who sincerely lives life on the basis of this philosophy being laid by Marx and Bakunin and numerous other Communist and Anarchist philosophers, would not leave their working class neighborhood for a more affluent one. However, as expressed in these philosophical writings of the past, "middle class" men and women, such as Marx, MUST leave behind their "middle class" life and join the working class.
Which leads us directly into
2)OWS is PREDOMINANTLY "middle class". When speaking to many people involved in OWS, many who were there owned their own businesses that have buckled or is in the process of buckling, or students of colleges, who when I asked them "What their parents did for a living?", most replied 1 of 3 responses, which were
a)Sons and daughters of doctors
b)sons and daughters of bosses/small business owners
c)sons and daughters of lawyers
The other responses were varied, with the lowest person on the totem pole spoken with were children of teachers, who would, traditionally, be lower middle class. As OWS picked up after a few weeks, I started to run into more and more "workers", high and low paid, Union as well an non-Union.
This is exactly what Marx, who profetically foresaw all this, said. He said that the existance of the "middle class" is a shady one. That there is a very thin line between the lower middle class and the working class, as well as a thin line between the upper middle class and the ruling class. He also claimed that the whole existance of the "middle class" depends on their constant "struggle" not to become a working class individual to sustain their "middle class" identity. That is exactly what is happening with the OWS, they are trying to fight to keep their "middle class" existance.
In New Jersey, the teachers Unions are fighting now against Governer Christies "anti-Union" campaign, which includes the eradication of collective bargaining rights. However, although teachers, police and firefighters would lose their bargaining rights, they would be compensated with a "heftier" pension of a 1% increase if I'm not mistaken, while the upper middle class, such as judges, would get a "heftier" 12% pension increase. Although its a much better option than labor will get, which is up to a 40% increase in the amount paid for hospitalization, they view it as "slipping down the totem pole" to the working class.
Labor simply hasn't been successful because workers, once they can afford to do so, leave the working class neighborhood for a middle class one. Once a worker does that, they seem to get engulfed in their little bubble, which either goes one of 2 ways. Either
1)They usually tend to side with their new "middle class' neighborhoods and adopt extremely right wing politics that are conservative and contradictory to the life s/he leads. Or
2)They are class conscious individuals who get wrapped up in the bubble of their "higher paid" Union workers, and think that they represent the working people, when in reality they abandoned their working class brothers and sisters who are still renting, living pay check to pay check in numerous working class neighborhoods around theirs. I personally have met class conscious workers who live in the County of Morris in New Jersey, a County that as a whole represents not only the "1%" of the wealthy in the State, but was, at one time and possibly still could very well be, one of the Top 5 weatlhiest Counties in the United States. These people, other than the other men and women they work with as well as workers in a few other crafts that could generate a paycheck like that, never run into the 99% of working people who do not make the money to join their "social clique".
Maybe its time that the very few Unions that still are functional, eg. Verizon, in between fighting the causes of the Verizon worker, target other working class jobs, such as retail or landscapers, legal or not, and organize some "un-written rule" that working class cities and suburbs, such as Paterson, Garfield, Lodi, etc in NJ, are the areas that should be chosen for living arrangements because those areas, and others like, house the 99% of workers of our State.
At one time it was unanimous amongst working people that "the working class and the boss class have nothing in common". Unfortunately, now it is "The 99% of the working class and the boss class, along with the 1% of the highest paid workers, have nothing in common".
The 99% trend is simply what the middle class needs, once again, to use the workers to ally themselves with to sustain their class rank. The "middle class" is only, at best, 32%. This movement will eventually leave labor in the dust. You don't think that Joe Blow at OWS who just lost his business wouldn't jump at the chance to have his business become the next Arby's? As a kid growing up in the labor rich historical area of Paterson, NJ, I learned our labor history and studied from a very young age. The only difference from then to now is that although pro-Union workers notice the bosses tactics of dividing us by race, gender, sexuality, ethnicity, etc, we seem to have overlooked their tactics of "workers social placement", where they give someone a few extra bucks to afford to move into the "low" end of their fancy neighborhoods, and they are left to organize with other "high paid" workers, with the ideological rich college kids looking to participate in some sort of social rebellion, which would translate into rebellion against their rich parents, as their cheerleaders. This has to stop if we are to get anywhere.