The horizon is not so far as we can see, but as far as we can imagine

There is no problem related to economic justice more important than this one

Collective action.


It is for this reason that unions were obsessed with solidarity; it is for this reason that Marxists obsessed over class consciousness.

More on this another day.


I was interviewed Thursday at 9pm EST on climate change, surveillance and our economic and political future


The Power Parable


  1. EGrise

    And it is for this reason that the hoax of economic Libertarianism has been obsessed over by think tanks and institutions funded by the very rich. Divide and conquer, baby.

  2. Is collective action allowed in America? You all know what they did to Occupy.

  3. EverythingsJake

    AFL-CIO (Trade Unionism) won over The Wobblies, to the delight of business. Ironically, the one Union left with real power (and the will to use it) is the ILWU, was much more greatly influenced and continues to espouse the principles of the IWW. As Chris Hedges’ notes, the reason it’s much more difficult to implement neoliberal policies in France is that a general strike can be called. The Unions can and do shut the country down.

  4. Celsius 233

    Is collective action allowed in America? You all know what they did to Occupy.
    Effectively, no.
    It seems there is no stomach for what it would take…

  5. David Kowalski

    Not quite, but almost. The Bureau of Labor Statistic keeps a record of all major strikes in the U.S. (1,000 or more workers) and has since 1947. In 1947, there were 270 “major strikes.” The peak number was 470 in 1952; the low number was 5 in 2009. The BLS does not differentiate between strikes and lockouts so the number of strikes has presumably been lower.

    The big reduction, of course, happened during the Reagan years, falling from 235 in 17979 and 187 in 1980 to 40 in 1988.

    In 2012, there were 19 major strikes.

    In some ways, the mass protests about going to war in Iraq were the last gasp of collective action. An amazing 6,000,000 people rallied world-wide against these stupid moves (more in Europe than the US but even here the number was well over a million).

    Faux protest (astroturf) like the Tea Party has replaced real protest. The emotions are real but the protests are fake fronts for the plutocrats.

  6. guest

    Then again, look at New Jersey, where Christie won a landslide with lots of support from people who would describe themselves as democrats or liberals (even a month after his traffic vendetta became public). You can claim that we have sucky media, so it’s hard to get good information. But that guy is such an obvious piece of shit, and stupid and vicious and reckless. Another couple of prime examples would be the elections of Gov Ahnold and Jesse Ventura in supposedly liberal states (these are not the usual right wing enclaves of stupidity like Texas, Florida, Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, and all of the south). You only need one or two eyes or ears to figure out how bad those guys were. 12 year olds could make more responsible voting decisions than most adjult Americans. Collective action coming from any sizable group of Americans is doomed because even if we could act in solidarity, we can’t act intelligently. Seriously, we are suffering from collective mental retardation.

  7. someofparts

    I’ve been wondering lately if speaking English isn’t part of the problem. If the greatest strides in cultivating disinformation and infiltration have happened to English-speaking people, that might be the case.

    I notice that in Canada there seems to be more collective resistance from the French-speaking communities. In the U.S. I get the idea that the days of greatest collective action might have happened when immigrants were still new enough to speak their old languages. Or I notice that the Spanish-language political news that swoops into my Southern household on television seems less mincing and circumspect than what I see on the English-language channels. I’m also guessing that my understanding of the Middle East is seriously limited by not speaking Arabic.

  8. steeleweed

    I don’t think it’s so much a matter of language as the fact that immigrant groups were by nature separate communities of common interest and aims, at least until the 2nd or 3rd generation got integrated into the mainstream. The homogenization of America wiped out much of that ethnic solidarity and the rise into middle-class rank weakened the connection of one generation to the very thing that elevated their parents’ generation.

  9. Declan

    Exactly right, Ian – we are all keystones who have forgotten how, or even why, to build arches.

  10. cripes

    Huge issue. Key to neo-con/neo-liberal ideological dominance is training people to regard social/economic failures as individual failures, ergo, susceptible only to individual solutions. Atomization, alienation, mental illness, addictions reault. And powerlessness of workong people. Unsuprisingly, ownership class heavily engaged in collective action, see ALEC, chamber of commerce, bilderbug, trilateral ad nauseum.
    Hollywood churns out endless fairy-tale actioners about lone heros defying all the odds and bringing juatice and personal success with a swiss army knife against whole armies. Childrens stories.

    Relative employed at BOFA vive president tells me at height of crash layoffs that unemployed should look hatder and “take any job” i asl if he really beleives 30 million individuals all decided to become unemployed bums at the same time? If they forced banks into NINJA loans and peddling CDOs around the planet? He had no answer, but clings to idea if individuals just try harder, it will fix all problems.

    Brainwashing so deep, so perverse, the deaths of millions and eating babies on the white house lawn will not shake their faith. It is a faith, a heretical religious mental illness that is impervious to favt or reason. It has destroyed collective action and is killing us all.

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