Slavers, corporations, and unions in the US

In the same way that the southern slaveholders spread slavery in the name of civilization and freedom, after the Civil War, they imposed the idea that freedom and prosperity depended on wealthy businessmen.

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Being a controllable (albeit tragic) crisis, Covid-19 did not make the capitalist global system collapse, but sent its prodigal son, neoliberalism, to the ITC. The principle of individual selfishness as a formula for collective prosperity by Adam Smith (the most perverse dogma in modern history) has been called into question, especially with the very slow acceptance of climate change. As in the depression of the 1930s, in this crisis, the governments confirmed their role as firefighters, not by their armies but by their social services. The positive perception of the unions climbed twenty points in a few years and that of the military fell from 70 in 2018 to 56 percent, even before the fiasco in Afghanistan.


As in the 30s, the role of different popular organizations, such as the demonized unions, is beginning to be reconsidered. On the one hand, a historical minimum has been reached in the number of affiliates (11 percent; 6 percent in the private sector) and, on the other, we reached a maximum (since 1965) of positive perception of 68 percent, 20 points over the previous measurement of 2009. If we consider the group of young people under 34 years of age, the approval reaches 77 percent.


During this pandemic, the fortunes of individuals like Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk multiplied, while the minimum wage is the same since 2010. Today Tesla is worth almost as much as the economy of Australia and Amazon more than all of Canada. But you can’t inflate a balloon forever. The various studies that confirm the existence of a correlation between union members and the income gap between the rich and the working class have germinated in the popular consciousness. The new generations will be blamed for the hegemonic decline of the United States, but their perception is a consequence of that same decline that keeps them trapped in debt and lack of prospects (something that professors also perceive every day in our students).


The survival of the slave culture


In 1865 the southern Confederates were defeated by the Lincoln Unionists but, from there, they began to win multiple political and cultural battles that persist to this day. Not only were their generals pardoned for trying to destroy the country; they not only strewed it with monuments to the most radical racists in history, but they consolidated the old culture of impunity of the extreme right and reversed several legal achievements of blacks, mestizos, and the poor with the Jim Crow laws, with coups when blacks won elections, with policies of segregation and exclusion, with the creation of urban ghettos for blacks through the layout of highways, and with the criminalization of blacks and Latinos through excuses, such as the most recent war on drugs.


But there was an even greater heritage in the ideological heart of the country. Not only did they tear Texas and the rest of the western states from Mexico to reinstate slavery where it was illegal, but adventurers such as William Walker legalized it as soon as they named themselves presidents of countries like Nicaragua, or operated in various “banana republics” without respecting any law of the “lower races.” Then they deliberately exported consumerism to their backyard to replace legal slavery with wage slavery.


Those who were a minority in the United States managed to impose an electoral system that persists to this day to dominate politics in Washington. In the same way that those powerful southern slaveholders spread slavery for generations in the name of civilization and freedom, after the Civil War, they imposed the idea that freedom and prosperity depended on wealthy businessmen. To threaten their prosperity was to threaten the prosperity and existence of an entire nation. The most recent “trickle-down theory” is nothing more than the continuation of the theory of the master as a benefactor of his slaves. The idea that it is the rich who create jobs and not the workers, is nothing more than the continuation of the sacralization of the masters and the demonization of the slaves, now converted into low-wage earners.


Two decades after the defeat of 1865, remembrance of the Chicago massacre by celebrating “Workers’ Day” was avoided; instead, it was replaced with an abstract day, “Labor Day,” just when labor unions were strong in the northern states. Not by chance, when in 1935 F. D. Roosevelt promoted the Wagner Act to support the unions in a New Deal that would bring the country out of its greatest economic crisis, in the states that previously made up the Confederation there was almost no unionization.


Nothing in history is created or completely destroyed. Everything transforms. Manifest Destiny was continued with the leadership rhetoric of “the free race,” then “the free world.” The Anglo-Saxon obsession to have everything under control, especially the inferior races that did not know how to govern themselves, was continued with the excuse of the war against communism during the Cold War ... and beyond. Press Czar William Hearst was a progressive millionaire (while his clients were workers) until Franklin Roosevelt promoted, with new laws, the right of workers to unionize. Then he became the first McCarthy before the Cold War. Hearst was one of the inventors of yellow journalism and the Spanish-American War (along with the revered J. Pulitzer) that kidnapped the Cuban revolution in 1898. Three decades later, serving his economic interests, he launched a media campaign identifying Roosevelt and the unions with communism, as before blacks were identified with chaos and with imaginary gang rape of blonde daughters. His flirtation with Nazism (like that of so many other millionaires on this side) had everything from the South slave tradition: the superior race, the ruling class is the salvation of civilization, freedom, and progress.


Unions in America today


Not a few slaves supported slavery. Not a few low-wage earners supported powerful millionaires like Hearst. In April 2021, Amazon workers in Alabama voted (1798-738) against the establishment of a union, despite their very poor working conditions, proving that the national myths (if millionaires suffer, the world ends) are stronger than personal needs. A moral reproduced by wage earners and businessmen who sell on the streets went viral among Hispanics in Florida: “The rich get up early as poor and the poor sleep as rich.”


But there are other reasons: Amazon harassed its Alabama workers by email and with one-on-one meetings to get them to vote against it. A practice that it later called “education.” The old slave tradition of educating those below to support the interests of those above.


According to a new government bill, known as Protecting the Right to Organize Act, these harassing practices could be penalized with $ 50,000. A tip for Walmart or Amazon, but something is something. Still, the Republican party is likely to boycott it in the Senate.


We are marching to a scenario similar to that of the Second Spanish Republic a century ago. On the one hand, the trade union organizations with their utopia and, on the other, the nationalist right-wing mutinying in the past. Someday, perhaps decades from now, historians will see our time as the culmination of absurdity: a handful of families hoarding almost all the wealth in the world and defended by the rest, as slaves defended their masters.

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