Thursday, September 16, 2004

Labor Law, American History, War, War, War

Howard Zinn was on target today in the article that appeared as the top headline on He said, about Kerry's campaign, and I agree:

"He [Kerry] should not be saying that he will wage the Iraq War better, that he will replace U.S. troops with soldiers from other countries. If it is immoral for our soldiers to be occupying Iraq and killing Iraqis every day, then it is immoral for foreign soldiers to do the same.... To those who say that we must not ''cut and run,'' Kerry can say, with some authority: We did cut and run in Vietnam, and it was the right thing to do."

Going on to argue that Kerry should focus on economic security, because this is what American people continue to identify as the most important issue to them, Zinn insists that this is not a Utopian or impossible platform for a winning campaign. (thanks to my fave librarian for the correction here) Even if he doesn't mean that Kerry can win on a straight-up Kucinich style platform, which is how I originally read this article, I don't share Zinn's confidence. Zinn mentions William Lloyd Garrison - a great example of a hugely successful visionary, but he didn't influence the world through election to the presidency or the holding of any elected office. He remained steadfastly outside politics.
However, Zinn's main point I do agree with. It's a cry for a political vision not dominated simply by what marketing hacks determine is "electable." Even if it's impossible, so-called impossible things do happen, as Zinn pointed out in another optimistic article in the Nation last week. I just seriously doubt that a presidential campaign is the place for these issues to get heard.

Kerry will probably fail to change his argument for tough, tough, tough USA, and for that reason, those people who are reluctantly (and not reluctantly) voting for him on the "Anybody but Bush" platform should heed Zinn's words. Don't forget US history! Don't forget the Vietnam war -- and especially, don't forget the war on Iraq and the every day deaths, maimings, kidnappings. Keep shouting about what really matters. Please don't get lost in the CBS memo spin cycle. (that doesn't mean I'm not going to read Kitty Kelley. I don't know if it's perverse pleasure, but I'm beginning to think that the Bush/Rove duo is akin in historical importance to Hitler/Goebbels.)

How does this relate to U.S. labor law? In my work on my book revisions, I've been reading a book that argues that the reason that the American labor activists never created successful legislation, and eventually gave up on even seeking to pass labor-friendly laws was that the Supreme Court overturned everything that labor passed in the 1890s. The author of the book finds this terrible but I see it as a confirmation of Marx's early arguments that the state under capitalism is a tool for managing class conflict, not a true vehicle for social transformation. From this, Big Bill Haywood was convinced that dwelling on the passage of laws was a waste of time and that it would be more fruitful to fight w/direct (economic) action, along the lines of the general strike. hear hear. Now will pro-choice and other activists take up the challenge, instead of desperately voting for anyone who promises to preserve Roe V. Wade? What a passive position! It's not our role to "shut up and support Kerry" but we can't count on Kerry to say what we believe -- we must argue with him and keep making the arguments ourselves.
Am I see-sawing back and forth here? My anarchist roots and my Bush hatred are in deep conflict.

Finally, Good ol' New Yorker, they posted an old article by good ol' Ronnie Dugger on voting machines from 1988!


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