People's poetry: We are workers


Farmers ready to attend a meeting of the Southern Tenant Farmers Union 
(SFTU) 1937  Creative Commons 2.0

The New York Times just ran an interesting article on Wisconsin's Governor Scott
Walker, his broken promise to prevent right to work as he courted union leaders
to support him in spite of his assault on public sector unions collective
bargaining, and Walker's masters--the Koch Brothers and ALEC, the American
Legislative Exchange Council.

It is a story of solidarity.
It is a story
of the failure of our solidarity, and the success of the solidarity of the
radical rightwing and their masters, the fabulously wealthy, in particular the
Koch Brothers.
It is well known to us that Scott Walker is running for
President of the United States. It may not be so well known that the Koch
Brothers have promised as much as $400million as long as he is politically
viable.  The Koch Brothers will spend as much as $500 million in other races. 
They know very well whose side they are on--and who they own.
Some 2000 years
ago a very wise poor, homeless carpenter said you cannot serve both God and
America's wealthiest have made the accumulation of wealth to the point
where they can't spend it all and it becomes just numbers on a ledger or, more
likely, a spread sheet on a computer; they've made it their religion.  They
defile any fundamental human values, destroy our country's economy, and spend
lots of their money to add more zeroes to their ledgers and spread sheets. 
They've twisted a Congress to allow 20 percent of all American kids and 25
percent of all African-American workers to be born and raised in poverty and
need with never, ever enough--not enough clothes, food, shoes, even
shelter--this in the richest country in the history of the world.  And they
DEFILE HONEST WORK, the kind of work that allows a family to live in dignity and
security and raise kids with enough.
And we allow it all because we forget
that we are workers, that we are members of a very proud social class, the
working class.  Not so long ago some workers thought they could make it into the
ownership class--and we got weaker.  Then as we got weaker some of us began to
sell out other workers for our narrow slice of dignity, comfort, and
Until now as has happened in Wisconsin, our refusal to stand
together in solidarity is impoverishing us all and now threatens the existence
of our labor movement and democracy and the idea of democracy.
Let us be
clear about this.  Without a vibrant and vigorous labor movement there is no
democracy.  That is fast happening.
American exceptionalism is not that
anyone can become rich.  That is simply bullshit.  American exceptionalism is
that though rarely a majority enough people will stand together and fight
together against the worst kind of odds to make a better life their kids and
others they love and, as a consequence, all others who work for someone
The struggle to make America better has NEVER been easy.  Ask Nat
Turner whose skin was made into a lamp shade after his slave rebellion was
crushed.  Ask William Lloyd Garrison and Frederick Douglass.  Ask Gene Debs, 
ask Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton who were abolitionists who led
the women's suffragist movement.  Ask the kids intentionally burned to death at
Ludlow, Colorado by the state's militia.  Ask Dr. King and Cesar Chavez
ask the Native People of America who survive in too many cases terrible
conditions but whose blood flows in so many of us. Ask Tecumseh of the Shawnee. 
Ask Tsali of the Cherokee who sacrificed his life so that some of his people
could stay in the mountains they loved.
We forget because we may sing
Solidarity without practicing or even knowing it.
Scott Walker and the Kochs
are neither new nor unique.  They are the scum that has always threatened
America, real freedom, real justice.  They are the Tories who sold out their
neighbors to the Hessian soldiers of fortune, the slaveholders and the poor
whites who fought and died for them, the government agents and politicians who
lied, killed, starved and destroyed the people who were here first, the scabs
and militia who killed thousands of workers striking for an eight hour day and
the right to organize.
It is not too late for us to refuse to give in, give
out or give up.  It is not too late to do as Bruce said and as written on my
shoulder, No Retreat No Surrender.
It has now come down to a bunch of
personal decisions that will decide for our country.
Do you know which side
you are on?
Are you prepared to defend your family, your kids, other workers,
your class?
Will you protect the precious idea of freedom?
exceptionalism is not that we've ever been a majority, but we've been
Now is the time.  Don't wait for Jack.  Jack's done gone.
there's still enough of us if we are still the progeny of those willing to give
everything for freedom.  No generation of Americans has been spared this
question.  That has always been the existential question of Americans.


Photo: Ready to attend a meeting of the Southern Tenant Farmers Union (STFU) 1937. Creative Commons 2.0.

Photographer Louise Boyle; at the Kheel Center, Cornell University



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  • Poem is derived from the Greek, poiema which means workmanship-that which all-all women, all children, all men, all races, all creeds, all colors, and varieties-all workers, originate and must return to complete our existentialism.

    Endless thanks to Stewart Acuff for reminding us that we are all poems of a divine essence-God.

    We are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared before-hand that we should walk in them.
    Ephesians 2:10 NKJV

    Love, and the freedom to fight and win for that boundless love, that freedom; is our best, and in that best unity, we will be make a perfect freedom.

    2 Corinthians 12:9 NIV

    Posted by E.E.W. Clay, 06/26/2015 11:29am (7 years ago)

  • Wonderful poem Stewart on what was and is the central question confronting Americans
    Norman Markowitz

    Posted by norman markowitz, 06/25/2015 7:33pm (7 years ago)

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