ANOTHER POINT OF VIEW ON MADISON: 'Saving the middle class' could mean saving white people from the poor and most of the working class

Below is the counterfeit slogan that comes from the San Diego Labor Council, a rally to "save the middle class." It comes from recent union activities in California, where I live and work, some in support of the struggles in Madison, Wisconsin, which have captivated the news. But what does "Save The Middle Class" mean in the context of race and class in the USA today?

The hell with poor people (as has been the AFL's mantra since it was born). When I read this slogan, it says, "Save the White People." The text of the San Diego ad is right here (we can't duplicate the graphical rendering, but this should give you the essence of it):

Rally to Save the Middle Class!

Although we hosted a rally last Friday to show Solidarity with Wisconsin workers, there has been an overwhelming cry to do more while at the same time we've seen more attacks on workers' rights across the country.

Please join us for a community-wide We Are One Rally

Saturday, February 26th at 12 noon, County Administration Building, 1600 Pacific Highway (on the west side / bay side), Please send this out far and wide. We need to show San Diego and Wisconsin that we are part of the movement to save the middle class.

Contact the Labor Council at (619) 228-8101 or with questions or to RSVP! In solidarity, San Diego & Imperial Counties Labor Council

The AFL-CIO does not, and cannot, stand for solidarity. Instead, it stands for division, corruption, sellouts, racism, and reactionary nationalism. Indeed, the only people the leaders of the AFL-CIO truly unite with are corporate heads and governments hacks, who they feed.

The AFL-CIO and its counterparts in Madison (and around the US) are desperate to retain dues income (check-off) which is the traditional exchange in contracts for labor peace. In effect, union bosses sell the guaranteed pacified labor of their rank and file members to bigger bosses in exchange for remarkable wages ($686,949 in one year for ex-National Education Association (NEA) president Reg Weaver) and incredible pensions.

In fact, parts of the AFL-CIO, like the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), are not concerned at all about most of whatever there is of the middle class. They join with the NEA in tax schemes which amount to a full blown attack on the middle class; rather than taking the likely-to-be-popular-now move of a demand to tax the rich, the war profiteers (war means work, hooray for Boeing today!), and the banksters in particular.

Why won't NEA and AFT and the entire AFL-CIO do that? Because, on the one hand, they deny the glaring reality of class war, and on the other hand, their leaders live as toadies for those rich people.

It is easy to see how NEA, AFT, the AFL-CIO want to turn the world wide upsurge, and the takeover of the Wisconsin state capital, into a "Get out the vote!" movement for Democrats, one of the two poisonous heads of capitalism's snake. Now they team up with Moveon to promote, not strikes, but candlelight vigils and similar begathons to "defeat the Republican right and the privatizers," when, in reality, it was Democrats and Republicans together, united as a class, who grifted the bank bailouts and the devastating wars that set up the many financial crises at hand. Note the silence of the union hacks about the empire's lost wars.

This courageous battle in Wisconsin, as with uprisings all around the world now, may well be undermined by Quisling leadership coming from all imaginable angles (playing on the honest concern teachers have for kids, for example, "we have to get back to work for the kids;" to use of the laws, which only protect property, not human, rights; to professional sellouts like AFT president Randi Weingarten, to useful reactionaries like Diane Ravitch, or other education elites who either have no grasp of why things are as they are — class and imperialist war — or simply lack the guts to make a real fight; to the use of cops and t-party scabs: velvet gloves over lots of iron fists).

Look very very carefully at the images coming to us from Madison. Imagine, for a moment, that the rally in the Wisconsin capital was made up of black, brown, and some white convicted "felons," having completed all the requirements of parole, demanding the right to vote, peacefully sitting in, refusing to leave. What exactly do we think would happen to them, and what do we think the AFL-CIO would do about it? After all, bottom line, "they don't pay us dues."

This call to "Save the Middle Class" is sick to the core. It adopts the divide-and-rule tactic that ruined uprisings for centuries.

The reason it is vital to connect class war, imperialist war, and the current upheavals is simple: if that's not done, there is no basis for a response from the working class, and poor people, united as a whole. When that absence is fashioned, even the most mild reform struggles fail over time.

Should everyone who works, or cannot find a job, go to these rallies?

Sure, but we should go planning to build a base to sweep away the Quislings who lead the AFL-CIO and the NEA, to shut down schools throughout the US (has this not occurred to the labor tops — of course it has, but that would interrupt the dues income, violate the deal they made to sell our labor — and who cares, unions are not banks). The sellout mis-leaders are, take note, the most vulnerable of our enemies.

At the same time, we are not barbarians. We should oppose capitalist schooling, not education — which are clearly at odds with each other. We should prepare to open freedom schools and provide other opportunities for children while we continue to fight on.

The last two weeks have made abstractions into realities easily seen.

*It is possible to fight back and win. That's the main lesson. It is right to rebel and, even considering tragic sacrifices, victories are possible.

*School workers do sit in a key, centripetal, organizing point of North American society. School workers are under attack, but only after attacks on the mentally ill, welfare recipients, the fake Drug War, and industrial workers all succeeded — proof that an injury to one only goes before an injury to all, an ineluctable certainty the AFL-CIO persistently chose to ignore, spitting in the face of those who died fighting for labor's gains, in contempt of history itself.

*The working class taken as a whole, is key. Workers' strikes in Egypt toppled Mubarek.

*It is necessary and proper to work with troops. Will troops, now, shoot Americans if called upon? At this moment, probably. Not forever. The economic draft, more and more, makes troops an unreliable ally for the rich.

*But in the interaction of the many ways to examine history, from culture/religion to sex/gender to nation/tribe--what stands above as the organizing factor is class struggle. Those who deny that, now, lie.

*Eyes on the prize: the transformation of the source of our problems, capital, into a more equitable than not world where people can lived in reasoned freedom, using the creativity that a social movement can unleash. A mass, class conscious, social movement with this in its sights is far more educational than subjecting children to the tsunami of high-stakes exams, regimented curricula, and the norming of militarism that characterizes too much of capitalist schooling.

Up the rebels! Good luck to us, every one.


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