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The working conditions we have today were born in struggle and paid for in blood.  We don’t understand the sacrifices others made for us these days.  Not completely our fault as the Powers that Be have employed several strategies against the working class, most notably, divide and conquer, to ensure that the mass movements of the past do not crop up again and threaten the established norms of society.

Take note, single day marchers, that what you are doing is almost completely for your benefit.  Your single day of action is meek, unoffensive, and for the most part condoned by those who make the rules.

Why?  Because everything goes back to normal once you go home.  You benefit from venting and feeling like you’ve done something (as insipid as it happens to be) and life goes on.  Problem NOT solved.

Effective protesting is not convenient, short-term, or easy.  It requires a dedicated mass of people who are willing to put their lives on the line and make the society around them,most inconveniently, grind to halt.   The press will demonize you, the anti-union thugs will beat you, and the police will most likely end up killing you because you are not falling in line with the elite’s rules and expectations.

In 1919, workers in Winnipeg said, “Enough”.

“A combination of social and economic inequality and a growing awareness among the working class of these disparities led somewhere between 25,000 and 35,000 workers to walk off the job for 42 days, beginning on May 15.

The reasons so many people put their livelihoods at risk by striking in a harshly anti-union climate were manifold.

Poor work conditions, inadequate wages and the refusal by many employers to recognize and negotiate with unions culminated in the unrest that spilled into the streets and left two men dead by the end of the six-week strike.”

The willingness for people exploit other people is almost unlimited.

 

“Employment offices sprouted up across Winnipeg to connect those workers with jobs. Some agencies “lived to fleece newly arrived immigrants” by charging them steep job-finding fees and locking them into contracts with measly salaries and steep room and board charges, Doug Smith wrote in his book Let us Rise: An Illustrated History of the Manitoba Labour Movement”

Fresh and new to Canada? Let’s exploit you and your family, ASAP.  This is the base standard for human behaviour in society.  Not pretty, but unless we organize against it, it is what we will get.

“The railway yard-adjacent communities were also a public health nightmare.

Unsanitary, crowded conditions meant infections and diseases spread with impunity. There were annual outbreaks of typhoid due to the unclean water supply in the late 19th century: nearly 1,300 Winnipeggers just over five per cent of the city’s population were diagnosed with the bacterial infection in 1904.

The Spanish flu of 1918 killed 1,200 people in Winnipeg, and the working class and immigrant neighbourhoods of the north were worst hit.

“It was a deplorable area in which to live: communicable diseases were rampant; it had one of the highest child mortality rates of anywhere in the country; up until the aqueduct [from Shoal Lake] came through, the water supply was a serious danger to the citizens,” Siamandas said.

“These were the seeds of what led to the Winnipeg General Strike in 1919.”

Without equal access to health care, suitable housing, fair wages and education opportunities, and with few of the creature comforts enjoyed by the upper crust, a great unrest was brewing in blue-collar Winnipeg.”

If you ever wondered how bad it has to get before people will act, it is like this.  Gross inequality, squalor, disease and high child mortality.

The Barretts were staunchly anti-union and against collective bargaining. As a matter of principle, the brothers said, they would only deal directly with their workers on an individual basis.

“This is a free country and … as far as we are concerned, the day will never come when we will have to take orders from any union,” Leonard wrote in 1916, refusing to meet a committee of his employees over concerns related to wages and work conditions.

“There was fierce resistance from all employers, public and private, to unionization, and if you dared go on a picket line in Winnipeg, there were injunctions slapped on you and you were in the courts,” said Paul Moist, former national president of Canada’s largest union, the Canadian Union of Public Employees.

This antagonism toward unions continued as working-class tensions deepened during the war.”

Indeed it is a free country.  Freedom has different means depending on which social class you happen to inhabit.  I’m guessing most of my readership is not in the business elite, and as evinced in 1919, the business class has its political shit together we currently do not.  The structures of society are on their side, along with the coercive elements like the police and army.  This is what we have to acknowledge and prepare for if we want to society for the better.

“Leonard scoffed at the suggestion and declared, “God gave me this plant, and by God I’ll run it the way I want to.”

About 45 firms and 1,000 employees went on strike July 22, 1918, after the trades council proposed wage increases and eight-hour days for auto and metalworkers. Though a few of the shops complied, most refused to negotiate with the council, so it was back to work — but the men’s dissatisfaction became a catalyst of the Winnipeg General Strike.

Workers at Vulcan and two other metal shops declared on May 1, 1919, that they would strike again for the right to unionization and a collective bargaining process. The strike started the next day.”

The rest is history, but people today need to know the attitudes that are behind the levers of power.  They cannot be negotiated with when they think they have all the power in the situation.  Power will never cede power willingly.  Only through organized resistance en mass can gains be made.

Please consider this the next time you schedule your appearance at a one day march : who is it benefiting and will your actions change the social bedrock of society.

[Source: cbc.ca]

 

 

 

 

 

This from Counterpunch shedding some light onto what is happening in South America, without being filtered through the corporate press.

“Over the last year reports about Venezuela in the corporate media have been depicting a country undergoing a “humanitarian crisis.” What they described was not consistent with what I know about the country, and I wondered what was actually happening. To find out, I traveled with a group of other North Americans who wanted to see the reality on the ground, and how the majority, the “popular classes,” were responding to the pressure of economic sanctions and threats of war.

My first impression was the scene on the streets. I was wondering if there would be signs on the streets of those same conditions returning—begging, homelessness, street vending. What I saw was surprising. Things looked so normal. People were going to work, relaxing on the weekend, just as they had been on my more recent visits.  Media in the US and around the world were creating an image of desperate suffering, hardship and chaos, but I did not see signs of that on the street. No begging, no homeless, no masses of peddlers. There was food in restaurants and stores, business as usual in retail shops, and people were working at their jobs.

Although life appeared outwardly normal, I soon learned about the two big problems beneath the surface: inflation and the blockade.

The government is trying to deal with one aspect of inflation by providing food through a system known as CLAP, an acronym of the Spanish words for Local Committees to Supply the People. Every two weeks bundles of basic foods like rice, beans, oil, sugar, etc. go directly to households, distributed by neighborhood committees. There is enough food in the bundle for people to survive on, but just barely. If supplies run out, food is available in stores, but some people’s salaries have not kept up with inflation. There are other ways that some get food—school lunches, etc,—but many suffer from the problem of not being able to afford to buy what they need, food and other things.

The second problem is the blockade on imported products. Venezuela has the industrial capacity to produce a substantial amount of what the country consumes. The road to the west of Caracas, for example, goes past huge plants, large populations of working people, highways full of big trucks hauling things to stores. But no country of 30 million people can produce all the things it needs. Countries have to import things, from medicine for specific diseases like HIV, to spare parts for most of the cars in the country. The blockade creates a lot of suffering.

On the other hand, the popular classes are in a much better position to withstand economic war than they were in earlier years. Free health care, education, and many other basic needs are available. Very important among these is housing. In the past 8 years the government has built 2.6 million homes, rural and urban. Enough to provide a new home to one third of the population. The goal is 5 million.

On past visits I have ridden past big blocks of apartment buildings, many under construction. One group after another, it takes many minutes to pass them, speeding along the highway. I thought about big apartment complexes for poor people in the US that turned out so badly, and wondered how these would be different. This recent visit was the first time I had an opportunity to see one of those developments from inside, and my question was answered.

Our group happened to be in Caracas at the time of a big conference about housing. Delegates from many countries were there to learn about Venezuela’s remarkable achievement. We were invited to attend, and we went with a busload of other “internationals” to the state of Vargas, on the coast of the Caribbean.

We saw a community of apartment buildings that house 32,000 people, many who had lost everything in the catastrophic mudslides of 1999, when whole communities in the area were swept out to sea. The buildings are designed to include much more than housing: childcare, cooking and dining, meeting and educational space, sports courts, a community radio station…a long list. The community manages its affairs through communal councils.

These spaces make it easy and natural for people of all ages to get together. We had a taste of this as we were welcomed with a concert by young people who had learned to play their instruments through el sistema. The star of the show was a girl of 8 or 9 who sang three long songs from memory, in a strong, confident voice. It seemed like a good place to raise kids.

This kind of housing would soon be history if the opposition were to come to power. Soon after they won a majority in the National Assembly they attempted to privatize the millions of homes the government had built, so landlords could buy them up as rentals and speculative investments. The Supreme Court was able to block that move, but if the opposition were in power they would do it.

We had come to Venezuela to learn how the popular classes are responding to the economic attacks and military threats from the US. One very visible response is that they are joining the militia; we were impressed by how this has been taken up. Our visit coincided with two demonstrations and two Sundays: four days when militia members did not need to dress in routine work-day clothing, and chose to wear their distinctive khaki uniforms in the marches and as they strolled around the plazas and shops. People of literally every adult age, and both sexes. It seemed there are about as many women as men. Even more remarkable was the number of people who are quite old, many in their seventies.

These militia groups train regularly. Their guns are kept in secure locations in communities around the country, close to where they might be needed. It was recently announced that the militia will be responsible for delivering the packages of food to be distributed to neighborhoods. This is a prudent measure given the history of violent attacks on medical clinics and other services provided to the popular classes. There are one and a half million members of the militia at this time, the goal being two and a half million.

Another response of the popular classes is a massive effort to produce food, through urban agriculture as well as in the countryside. We visited one substantial facility in Catia, a large hilly section at the western end of Caracas, where four communes with a total population of about 150,000 have created an urban farm named after Fabricio Ojeda, a revolutionary who died in the struggles against the oligarchy in the last century.”

Wow, people power in action.

 

 

Political theatre is interesting to observe.  Not so much when the strongest nation on earth continues to dable with proto-fascist notions and leaders.  The Democrats in the US will shortly (again) be showing their allegiance to the corporate interests that support them.  Let’s hope they can’t obstruct Sanders this time as well.  Paul Street writes in Counterpunch about this phenomena:

 

“A critical part of Joe “Anti-Populist” Biden’s media-crafted appeal is his “get things done” claim to be able to “reach out across the aisle” in the famous, hallowed, and CNN- and “P”BS-honored “spirit of bipartisanship.” That’s a shame. Why should we want a president who promises to team up with the widely loathed and creeping fascist white-nationalist Republican Party? And what has the holy bipartisanship that Biden is celebrated for embracing wrought for We the People over the years? Not much. As Andrew Cockburn wrote last month at Harpers:

“By tapping into…popular tropes—‘The system is broken,’ ‘Why can’t Congress just get along?’—the practitioners of bipartisanship conveniently gloss over the more evident reality: that the system is under sustained assault by a [bipartisan] ideology bent on destroying the remnants of the New Deal to the benefit of a greed-driven oligarchy. It was bipartisan accord, after all, that brought us the permanent war economy, the war on drugs, the mass incarceration of black people [Biden backed Bill Clinton’s ‘Three Strikes’ crime and prison bill – P.S.], 1990s welfare ‘reform’ [Biden backed the Clinton-Gingrich abolition of Aid for Families with Dependent Children], Wall Street deregulation and the consequent $16 trillion in bank bailouts, the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force, and other atrocities too numerous to mention. If the system is indeed broken, it is because interested parties are doing their best to break it” (emphasis added).

Biden even took his embrace of the supposedly sacred virtue of bipartisanship to the grotesque level of forming close friendships with vicious southern white racists like Republican Senators Strom Thurmond and Jesse Helms, not to mention the frothing warmonger John McCain.

With Biden as with Barack Obama, Bill Clinton and a long line of dismal dollar Democrats in the neoliberal era, there’s an accurate translation for “reaching across the aisle to get things done:” joining hands across the two major party wings of the same corporate-imperial bird of prey to make policy in accord with the wishes of the rich and powerful.”

It would be nice if they would stop rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.  I have my doubts though.

Interesting question.  The US is home to some of the largest social movements in the Western World, yet the US is also the farthest behind in terms of actual gains for the working class, women, and minorities.  How does this work?  describes the situation in the US and proposes that one of the key concepts missing from the American polity is a party, or even a politic that can bring people of the lower classes together to bargain for their interests collectively.  In other words, there is no real socialist option or ideological umbrella to foment behind in the political arena.  Most certainly there are groups and popular movements, each with individual muscle, but more strikingly evident, a lack of sinew and connective tissue to bind these various groups together in the polity.

This situation in which the progressive forces in the US are atomized is no mere accident.  The ruling classes have made it their project to remove socialist language and though from political discourse precisely because of how powerful class consciousness and solidarity are.  The success of the ruling classes venture is evident and brought to light by Navarro:

Moreover, the American business and conservative class, aware that the division of victims favors the victimizer, supports such division, hindering and impeding the transversality of such movements and showing great hostility toward the socialist project, which uses the concept of social class as the starting point of such transversality. This project—the alliance of the popular classes against the ruling class—is the most feared, since transversality would allow a union of actions that would weaken the ruling classes’ ability to exploit the rest of society. When the 1984 presidential candidate Jesse Jackson (whom I had the honor to advise) presented himself as the candidate of the black minorities, the New York Times (the voice of the political and media establishment) wrote an extremely laudatory editorial. Four years later in 1988, when he presented himself as the working-class candidate in the Rainbow Coalition, which united all races and genders of the working class, the same newspaper wrote an editorial accusing him of “wanting to destroy the USA.” When, in the last primaries of 1988, journalists asked Jesse Jackson how he was going to win the vote of the white worker from Baltimore (an industrial city), he answered: “by making him see that he has more in common with the black worker, for being workers, than with the owner and manager of the company, for being white.” Jesse Jackson won the primary of the Democratic Party in Baltimore and almost won nationwide, despite the enormous opposition and hostility of the political and media establishments, including the apparatus of the Democratic Party. More recently, during the 2016 U.S. presidential elections, the socialist candidate Bernie Sanders emphasized the need to unite the “working American families” in a coalition that cuts across identity differences. He almost won the primaries, despite the opposition of the Democratic Party apparatus (including the opposition of the feminist movement NOW, which supported Hilary Clinton as its favored candidate).

Following the rise of so-called populism based on identity causes, it is important to underline this point. Promoting populism with its great diversity of anti-establishment movements, celebrating such diversity without any criteria in terms of transversality that can unite such movements, is to reproduce what has happened in the United States, the country of social movements (except for the socialist movement) where the left (and women and the minorities) is enormously weak.

 

Getting elected is one thing, being effective in government is quite another. Thanks for the info ipolitics:

 

 

“Trouble is, while Kenney’s frothy campaign bluster successfully fanned Alberta’s collective outrage, very little of it bore any resemblance to reality. Notley, far from being “complacent on pipelines” as Kenney accused a few weeks ago, has tried harder than most of her conservative brethren, Saint Ralph Klein included, to get one into the ground.

Proof positive of her bona fides: she defied the anti-oil types within both the national NDP and British Columbia’s NDP government next door. She earned the ire of her former ally and oil patch critic Kevin Taft. Greenpeace even labelled Notley “pro-pipeline” — something she probably should have put on a campaign sign, come to think of it.

The reason why an oil pipeline has been so elusive has nothing to do with partisan politics but an enduring political reality: it is manifestly more difficult to get pipelines into the ground today than when Ralph Klein roamed the earth.”

[…]

 “Another conceit peddled by Jason Kenney over the last two years: that the dampening demand for Alberta-born bitumen, and the resulting deep discount at which it is sold, is strictly an infrastructure problem. This has allowed him to fashion a very passable boogeyman out of various anti-pipeline organizations, which served him well throughout the election campaign.

There more than a kernel of truth to Kenney’s assertions. Alberta’s oil sands production increased by nearly 50 per cent since 2014; its ability to transport all this bounty by rail and pipeline has remained virtually unchanged.

Yet there is an inconvenient a truth behind Alberta’s deeply discounted oil: exploding U.S. oil production. Virtually all of Canada’s crude — 99 per cent — goes to the U.S. Yet America has become increasingly adept at slaking its own demand. A fracking boom has prompted an increase of nearly 90 per cent in the U.S. between 2007 and 2018.

U.S.-fracked oil is cheaper to produce and requires less refining than the stuff north of the border. By virtue of spouting from American soil, it is by nature a Trump-approved nationalist bulwark against all things foreign-owned. It’s another fact of life, one utterly divorced from Kenney’s scorched earth politics: the U.S., Alberta’s biggest client, has increasingly become a competitor.

A few days ago, Kenney blamed all of Alberta’s woes on the allegedly socialist overindulgences of Rachel Notley. But reality, pain that it is, will quickly reveal the obvious: Kenney, having demonized Notley for the last two years, has only inherited her problems.”

In the second part, start at 10:05 for that, if Bernie actually means this, then he should be the next President of the United States.

If he has an actual commitment to justice, and this isn’t just rhetoric… this may indeed be me looking to the east by light of the fifth day.

 

Hey folks,

The fascists are once again in power here in Alberta.  They will soon be deconstructing all the careful people centric legislation that our provincial NDP has enacted the last years.

“The UCP has made no secret it will scrap the carbon tax, but it would also kill (and spend taxpayer dollars to review) the NDP government’s entire Climate Leadership Plan.”

Future generations, go frak yourselves. We need money and jobs in the short term and our political thinking is a reflection of our shortsighted nature.

“The current large emitter tax would be replaced with a new Technology Innovation and Emissions Reduction (TIER) program. The first $100 million of TIER would fund new technologies to reduce carbon emissions (the party cited improved oilsands extraction technology and carbon capture as examples) and $20 million would go to the energy “war room.” The rest will fall into general revenue. That change would likely sound a death knell for both Energy Efficiency Alberta, which oversees projects solely funded by the carbon tax, and Emissions Reduction Alberta, an arms-length agency established in 2007 and a recognized world-leader funding research technology with carbon tax dollars.

Getting rid of effective human habitation preserving programs is the order of the day.

“Under an Open For Business Act, the UCP would introduce a $13/hour youth minimum wage, publish economic data on the NDP’s minimum wage increase, allow banked hours to be paid at regular instead of time-and-a-half pay, and restore mandatory secret ballots for union certification.”

Because youth who have the agency to work should not be rewarded with a quasi-livable minimum wage.  Overtime?  Get bent workiers.  Oh, and let’s make it harder to unionize, because nothing says ‘open for business’ like an exploited working class.

“It would reduce the business general income tax rate from 12 to 8 per cent over four years in the hopes of creating jobs, “

Because trickle down economics has been shown to fail in almost every jurisdiction that it has been implemented in.  It does not stimulate economic growth, nor does it create jobs.  It creates bigger dividends for shareholders and more profit for the wealthy elite.  I’m so happy the working class has voted overwhelmingly to enrich the business class.

“and replace farm safety Bill 6 with a Farm Freedom and Safety Act. However, the party would maintain some employment law changes made under the NDP, including provisions around long-term, bereavement, domestic violence and child illness leave.”

Farm workers obviously don’t need rights.  They need to be as vulnerable and exploitable as possible.  Remember folks, work through your injuries or we can replace you with another desperate person.

“The party pledged to develop a 10-year tourism strategy focusing on jobs, “reorient” the mandate of Travel Alberta towards public-private partnerships, and make the department the responsibility of the Economic Development Minister.”

Ineffective private/public partnerships serve only to enrich the private sector and are inefficient ways to get public works done.  But let’s make it a priority because efficient public works are for dirty socialists.

“The Alberta Energy Regulator’s board of directors would be fired by a UCP government”

Let’s change the Energy REGULATOR because they hold a balanced view toward the environment.  We need someone to make Alberta great again and burn some coal and deregulate all the things so we can screw the public, raid the treasury, and make the business class even richer than before.

I for one am totally pumped to embrace the upward transfer of wealth in our society.  I can hardly contain myself as I consider the upcoming gutting of the public and social services.  Tickled pink (or perhaps I should say UCP blue), am I.

 

 

 

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