Wisconsin and Middle East Freedom Fighters

Dear Readers,

I’ve spent several days feeling “there’s something very wrong with this picture”, (the picture of ‘what humanity is doing’ while viewing two locations simultaneously). I see a human rights issue link  between union-busting in Wisconsin and freedom fighting in the Middle East.

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” (MLK, Jr).  I post to encourage others to “look at what I see” and to give it thought.

I do not want to inappropriately match the two. Americans have no comparable experience to the freedom call presently underway in the Middle East. There was minimal ‘massacre’ action by British troops against the colonists, while people living in the Middle East have, for decades, been under regimes willing to do violence against the people. During America’s revolutionary war, armed capacity of British and colonists was relatively evenly matched. This match is starkly contrasted on streets in the Middle East, where the people have stones and hand weapons if any (and are determined to not use them), and ruling regimes have modern war equipment. (I do not claim authoritative knowledge on either of these but believe, generally, my contrasts are valid.)

The risk to Wisconsin protesters is nowhere close to the profound and utter risk faced by protesters in the Middle East. Comparisons of blood risk aside, both events are about Great Wealth wanting to minimize responsibility to common weal . In both cases, the heart of the struggle is citizen righteous demand to live with dignity and autonomous freedom.

The Wisconsin legislature intends to re-enslave labor by outlawing most negotiation rights. There is an American myth, passionately believed by ultra-conservative economic views, that “labor unions”, and more pointedly public sector unions, are “all about greed”. Some of the worst massacres against Americans on their own soil were during development of labor unions:

Ludlow Colorado Massacre
, 1914, excerpt:
“That evening, under cover of darkness, the militiamen entered the camp and set fire to tents, killing two women and eleven children who were sheltering from the shooting in a pit below a tent, thirteen other people were also shot dead during the fighting. …No National Guardsmen was ever prosecuted over the killings, even though sixty-six people had been killed by the time violence ended.“

Historically there is strong positive relationship between union labor negotiations and private sector wages and salaries. Labor union insistence on employee dignity has been essential to power balance between workers and management, especially higher level management. We have seen a general demise of labor unions for the same cause that non-union workers find themselves with dwindling opportunity. Corporate power has ‘gone global’. Automation and out-sourcing to non-unionized labor countries for the sake of corporate mega-profit is in keeping with our “maximize profit” style of “economic health”. Statistics strongly suggest that public employee income is slightly less than comparable private sector employment,(when education required is included). One might ask, “What income do private sector employees imagine they will enjoy if public sector unions are dramatically eroded?  Legislation that targets unions as ‘culprit’ takes American freedom history backward.

Americans, on their own soil, have already fought bloody battles on behalf of human dignity. Our Civil War was extremely brutal, yet necessary to rid ourselves of slavery, freeing thousands from the most extreme form of subjugation known to humanity. We followed with multiple deadly strikes and demonstrations, as workers demanded right to organize for wage-condition negotiation.

It is worse than ironic that ultra-conservative arguments use “glorious history of American struggle against oppression”, (thinking only, as they seem to do, of a single event, our revolutionary war), to empassion themselves against what remains of union strength. It is close to frightening that they are oblivious to the entire range of struggles, against oppression and in favor of human dignity, that have been our call across time.

It is completely inconsistent for American ultra-conservative views to scape-goat ordinary “people power” such as may be found in labor unions, while ignoring corporate lobby power and power of trans-nationals (akin to the East India Company, whose British monopoly grant was directly linked to the Boston Tea Party!)

It is completely inconsistent for us praise the passion of Middle East cries for freedom while at the same time we busily dismantle the last vestiges of our own.

The intensity and immediate consequences of events in the respective locations are at opposite ends of an imagined scale,  but both emerge from the same source.

Both emerge from the inalienable, inborn, spirit of essential right to self-determination.

Self-determination, individual autonomy, history shows, is blocked whenever economic power is seriously out of balance.

Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

“Everything is model for everything else!” –MA


About maggieannthoeni

A description once given of me was "rooted in the earth while roaming the stars" - and this has felt 'right'. I believe in something akin to this for each of us. I am a passionate supporter of discovering the autonomous self while serving the whole as primary intent. I believe in discovery of innate principles, clearing the overlay of socialization that obscures this from us. I believe it is our responsibility to leave no one behind - most particularly to respond to suffering as best we can whereever we find it, whenever we are made aware. I believe in this for the insect as well as the most magnificent form of humanity. I believe in brother/sisterhood without boundary. I believe in righteous indignation when it is appropriate, but do not believe in an enemy. I believe in consciousness, in intelligence, in logic, in rationality, in emotion, in transcendence - and am convinced until we generally practice explore and honor all this in ourselves, we remain profoundly immature. (I believe real maturity is known and practiced by many young children, and not enough adults!)
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1 Response to Wisconsin and Middle East Freedom Fighters

  1. Isadore says:

    Gains made in the fight for justice, equality and freedom must be fought for by every generation or they will be lost. The price to be paid really is “eternal vigilance”, as it is well known that tyrants never sleep. Kent State and the anti war movement of the last generation demonstrated the power of the people and it scared the hell out of the ruling class, they are not about to let such a ‘revolt’ happen again, and it won’t, unless ‘affirmative action’ is taken up once again by the people. America seems to have lost its’ way, remember the words of the Declaration of Independence and take up their challenge, your finest hour may be yet to come.

    Thank you Isadore for taking time to add input to the discussion! You are right – “eternal vigilance” is a ‘must do’. Any review of how humans behave should make this obvious. None are immune. “Absolute power corrupts absolutely” does not say “in a certain type of person” – except, perhaps, any person who would reach for absolute power! The Declaration of Independence reminds that each person is born with an autonomous power – it is this which we’ve not coached or nurtured with mindfulness of common weal. I’ve recently re-visited John Perkins interviews re his book “Hoodwinked”. He nicely captures the necessity of vigilance, with strong emphasis on present global challenges – different from past times. -MA

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