Labor Faces Many Obstacles in Its Quest for Justice
Original post made by Oliver Towne on Sep 1, 2013
First, capital (corporations) thrives on the IDEA that we live in a free marketplace where laws of supply and demand hold. This idea is phony, through and through, which is why capital pays so handsomely to have it presented as something other than its phony self.
The idea of free marketplace is phony because it does not exist outside of certain abstract models developed by some economists. There is no free marketplace in the real world when workers are forced to work for someone else or face starvation. There is no free marketplace when workers find they must continue to work their jobs for exploitative wages or else see their children's stomachs go empty.
There is no such thing as a fair contract between free and equal beings when workers are forced to work or continue working for exploitative wages, under coercive, unhealthful, inhumane conditions. There is nothing free about workers having to settle for less because to not do so would mean total devastation for themselves and their families.
The game has been and continues to be rigged by capital. Capital says, "Work for us at these exploitative wages or we will hire some other desperate soul who will; and if these wages are rejected even by the most desperate in this society, we will go overseas in order to exploit labor elsewhere even if it means exploiting children."
Second, many are susceptible to the ruse of (corporate) capital because they do not know any better. This is no accident. Capital spends a great deal of its profits (excess from workers' labor) so as to own and control the flow of information within society. Capital owns and controls today's mass media, and capital maintains its ownership and control through a carefully attended to working relationship with those it serves -- advertisers, for example.
The upshot from the symbiotic relationship between capital and media control of information is that people's ideas about the world become skewed. Rather than form judgments and courses of action that are founded upon truth, they instead think and act like audiences at a professional wrestling match. Individuals, after all, cannot be in Munich, Cairo and Pleasanton all at the same time. But the corporate media can be, which makes us all highly dependent on the corporate media's cut on things.
Our dependence on today's corporate media means we are not subjected to anything that refers to the significance of social class. We live in a class-divided society, of course, but we do not read about this in the media. For if we were to discuss chronic problems in society in terms of social class division, social class exploitation, social class struggle, we would soon find a way to change the game that is ongoingly fixed by those who have rigged the game in their favor.
So, today, labor faces an uphill struggle. Not only must workers labor under conditions that human beings should not be faced to endure, but they have very few means by which to speak the truth to (corporate) power. The powerful corporate media company, the New York Times, will offer its once-a-year watered down Labor Day piece while avoiding any discussion about why and how capital has succeeded in turning workers against workers (e.g., private workers v. public workers) in our society. And smaller media venues will lose sleep in their efforts to ensure that labor's voice is effectively muted, disappearing readers' expressed ideas, and doing so without providing rationale (for there usually is none).
There are hopeful signs on the horizon. Two days ago tens of thousands of fast food workers staged a work stoppage and marched in nearly 60 cities. It is ordinarily easy to 'disappear' these workers, ignore them, despite the fast-food service industry being America's greatest growth sector over the past two decades as manufacturing has plummeted and retail sales has remained flat.
The response by the corporate media has been predictable. One by one they trot out a legion of 'commentators' who exclaim, 'Wow, if fast-food workers make $15 an hour instead of $8, how will they be able to pay for a bump of .18 cents on a hamburger?' This is the same worry that is expressed every time the Democrat party, in response to American labor's organized push, attempts to raise the minimum wage. What happens after a bump in minimum wage? Not much beyond workers having a few more bucks to spend on baby formula, diapers, a gallon of milk at the grocery store.
The physical presence of these workers, tied to below poverty line wages and forced to endure inhuman conditions of work, impossible work scheduling, and arbitrary firings, is a hopeful sign for America. Because these tired and desperate workers are America. They and those who came before them have built America through sweat, tears and blood, and today their coming together with a unified voice represents a real challenge for capital and its media servants. To what lengths will capital go to suppress workers' voice? How many strikes will it ignore? How many stories or opinions that expose the exploitative nature of capital will it feel the need to squash?
Despite the insecurity of capital's ownership and control, made apparent by its relentless efforts to suppress the voice of labor, the struggle to bring about justice in this world continues. For no ideology, however uniform in its media presentation, puts bread on the table; no desperate disappearing of citizens' opinions does anything to alleviate the hunger of children in this world. That is why labor's struggles will continue. If you can't lend a hand in this struggle, kindly step aside. Justice for all is on the horizon.
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