Monday, September 2, 2013

Labor Day 2013

The default would be to post about some current event -- say, the recent strikes of fast-food workers.  (About this one has mixed feelings.  It recalls the time when I accompanied my friend ‘Leopold Trepper’ to a Boston strike rally by workers for Hormel -- the maker of Spam …)  But there have been strikes and strikes and strikes, for well over a century, mostly leading nowhere.  The point is not to focus myopically, microscopically, upon this strike or that, but to pan back a bit, and survey the broader current, the class-conscious workers movement as such.
In most of the world, it lies in fragments.  How that came to pass, is a Passion Play, which leads us right back to the story of the Fall:  in Russia, 1917 ff.

As it happens, I am reading, this very day, Arthur Koestler’s riveting memoir, Scum of the Earth.  The scene: France, in the largely pro-Communist workers milieu.  The time: Right after the signing of the Hitler-Stalin pact.  Koestler (himself interned at the time) comments on those who had bravely fought under the Comintern banner (himself included):

They had been taken in like fools; 
borne beating and imprisonment
for nothing;
lost the prospect of advancement in the factory;
for nothing;
suffered, dreamt, quarrelled,
   argued for years and years --
      nothing ……..

Had I anything enlightening to say, I would say it;  but have not.

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