Today I learned that Abraham Lincoln and Karl Marx corresponded…and that Lincoln was sympathetic to many of Marx’s ideas (that strange squelching sound you hear in the distance is the sound of generations of zombie Republicans rising up from their TV chairs to slobber and point an accusing finger at me.) The Red Scare of the middle of the last century sure managed to destroy a lot of good ideas and reasonable history with the scorching heat of fanaticism. It’s sad how much we lost in the aftermath of the Civil War.
Lincoln was not, of course, a Communist. And yet some of the ideas he absorbed from Marx’s Tribune writings — many of which would later be adapted for the first volume of Capital — made their way into the Republican Party of the 1850s and 60s. That party, writes Brockell, was “anti-slavery, pro-worker and sometimes overtly socialist,” championing, for example, the redistribution of land in the West. (Marx even considered emigrating to Texas himself at one time.) And at times, Lincoln could sound like a Marxist, as in the closing words of his first annual message (later the State of the Union ) in 1961.
“Labor is prior to and independent of capital,” the country’s 16th president concluded in the first speech since his inauguration. “Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if labor had not first existed. Labor is the superior of capital, and deserves much the higher consideration.” That full, 7,000 word address appeared in newspapers around the country, including the Confederate South. The Chicago Tribune subtitled its closing arguments “Capital vs. Labor.”
Oh my god. Do you remember when the United States had a pro-labor political party? Neither do I.
Here’s how the Democratic party reacted to teachers voting to demand remote teaching options.
When Chicago teachers voted to work remotely last week to protest COVID-19 safety protections in the nation’s third-largest school district, Democratic Party officials leapt into action.
Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker pushed for a quick end to the job action and helped secure rapid tests to entice teachers back to the classroom. Mayor Lori Lightfoot said the teachers “abandoned their posts” in “an illegal walkout.” White House press secretary Jen Psaki stressed that students should be in school. The standoff ended with a tentative agreement late Monday.
“Leapt into action”…to get teachers back into the classroom, to continue unsafe pandemic practices, to put more students and their families at risk, all in defiance of what medical experts have been advising. Keeping the schools open is so important to Democrats that they’d oppose the teacher’s union to get the back to work.
At least that’s not as bad as the recommendation of asshole conservative Henry Olsen (why does that guy get published in the Washington Post, our supposedly liberal paper? Maybe because it’s not as liberal as they want you to think.)
Teachers unions are in the wrong on covid-19. Democrats must force them back to work.
The Chicago Teachers Union’s vote to return to remote learning over what it says are unsafe conditions due to covid-19, forcing the city’s schools to close on Wednesday, not only defies reason; it’s also an assault on the well-being of children. City, state and national Democrats should act to bring vaccinated teachers back to work and prevent future unjustified work stoppages.
Let’s hope the Democratic party doesn’t ever listen to Henry Olsen, and why the hell is Henry Olsen trying to advise the Democrats in the first place?
Those are the two poles of the politics of the labor movement in America: on one side, Republicans who would be fine with sending workers into their workplaces at gunpoint, if necessary, and on the other side, Democrats who will more gently pressure unions to obey the dictates of the bosses, exactly the same outcome the Republicans want.