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Well, we know what they want. They want more for themselves and less for everybody else. But I’ll tell you what they don’t want. They don’t want a population of citizens capable of critical thinking. They don’t want well-informed well-educated people capable of critical thinking. They’re not interested in that ... They don’t want people who are smart enough to sit around the kitchen table and figure out how badly they’re getting fucked by a system that threw them overboard thirty fucking years ago. They don’t want that. Do you know what they want? They want obedient workers. Obedient workers. People who are just smart enough to run the machines and do the paperwork, and just dumb enough to passively accept all these increasingly shittier jobs with the lower pay, the longer hours, the reduced benefits, the end of overtime and the vanishing pension that disappears the minute you go to collect it. And now they’re coming for your social security money. They want your fucking retirement money. They want it back so they can give it to their criminal friends on Wall Street. And do you know something – they’ll get it. They’ll get it all from you sooner or later ’cause they own this fucking place. It’s a big club. And you ain’t in it! You and I are not in the big club! By the way, it’s the same big club they use to beat you over the head with all day long when they tell you what to believe ... what to think and what to buy. The table is tilted, folks. The game is rigged. And nobody seems to notice. Nobody seems to care. Good honest hard-working people ... continue – and these are people of modest means – who continue to elect these rich cocksuckers who don’t give a fuck about them. They don’t give a fuck about you. They don’t give a fuck about you. They don’t care about you. At all. At all. At all. George Carlin, Who Really Controls America
Never descend to the ways of those above you. George Mallaby
And what have our unions done? What do they aim to do? To improve the standard of life, to uproot ignorance and foster education, to instil character, manhood and independent spirit among our people; to bring about a recognition of the interdependence of man upon his fellow man. We aim to establish a normal work-day, to take the children from the factory and workshop and give them the opportunity of the school and the play-ground. In a word, our unions strive to lighten toil, educate their members, make their homes more cheerful, and in every way contribute an earnest effort toward making life the better worth living. Samuel Gompers
Our movement is of the working people, for the working people, by the working people ... There is not a right too long denied to which we do not aspire in order to achieve; there is not a wrong too long endured that we are not determined to abolish. Samuel Gompers
Remember that you are fighting more than your own fight. You are fighting for the entire working class and you must stand together. William Dudley Big Bill Haywood, to striking mill workers Massachusetts 1912
Let the workers organize. Let the toilers assemble. Let their crystallized voice proclaim their injustices and demand their privileges. Let all thoughtful citizens sustain them, for the future of Labor is the future of America. John L Lewis
As it has over the decades, the union movement stands for the fundamental moral values that make America strong: quality education for our children, affordable health care for every person – not just some – an end to poverty, secure pensions and wages that enable families to sustain the middle-class life that has fuelled this nation’s prosperity and strength. Union members and other working family activists don’t just vote our moral values – we live them. We fight for them, day in, day out. Our commitment to economic and social justice propels us and everything we do. John Sweeney
Then she lay down in the street
Right before the horse’s feet
Expecting with a patient eye
Murder Fraud and Anarchy ...
Tis to work and have such pay
As just keeps life from day to day ...
From the workhouse and the prison
Where pale as corpses newly risen
Women, children, young and old
Groan for pain and weep for cold ...
And that slaughter to the nation
Shall steam up like inspiration,
A volcano heard afar.
And these words shall then become
Like oppression’s thundered doom,
Ringing through each heart and brain
Heard again, again, again –
Rise like lions after slumber
In unvanquishable number
Shake your chains to earth like dew
Which in sleep had fallen on you.
Ye are many. They are few. Percy Bysshe Shelley, The Mask of Anarchy
One of the most effective democratising forces has always been the labor movement – labor unions – the history on that is completely clear. In countries that have a strong labor movement, there is also a very strong tendency or correlation with a real-live functioning social contract that includes not only rights for working people but for people who need help and protection, for the defenseless, for children, for women, for families, for people who need assistance generally and for the general public. And there’s also a culture that goes along with it – a culture of solidarity and sympathy and mutual aid and support ... Here as elsewhere unions have been a leading force, probably the leading force, for democracy and human rights. Noam Chomsky, Class War: The Attack on Working People, 1998
The Democrats gave up on the working-class forty years ago. Noam Chomsky, interview BBC Newsnight 2017
In Italy too, US labor leaders, primarily from the AFL, played an active role in splitting and weakening the labor movement, and inducing workers to accept austerity measures while employers reaped rich profits. In France, the AFL had broken dock strikes by importing Italian scab labor paid by US businesses. The State Department called on the Federation’s leadership to exercise their talents in union-busting in Italy as well, and they were happy to oblige. The business sector, formerly discredited by its association with Italian Fascism, undertook a vigorous class war with renewed confidence. The end result was the subordination of the working class and the poor to traditional rulers. Noam Chomsky, Deterring Democracy
Decatur, Illinois, that’s an old working-class town in Illinois where the most important labor actions of certainly the last 50 or 60 years have been going on for several years … a final effort by major transnational corporate power to destroy the last remnants of American industrial unionism – they took on the big unions, the UAW … Noam Chomsky, 14 Principles on Which the US was Founded, Youtube 51.42
There were a grand total of two working-class MPs in the House of Commons. And Arthur Balfour is said to have remarked once that he had no idea what a Trade Union was. Andrew Marr, The Making of Modern Britain, BBC 2009
By the 1880s voices of concern were raised but not by scientists. The writer, artist and Utopian socialist William Morris was among the leading Victorians to publicly question the benefits of industrialisation. William Morris was enraged by the appalling living and working conditions being forced on the industrial working classes. But he also had grave concerns about our changing relationship with Nature. Andrew Marr, Darwin’s Dangerous Idea, BBC 2009
The pavement and the road are crowded with purchasers and street-sellers. The housewife in her thick shawl, with the market-basket on her arm, walks slowly on, stopping now to look at the stall of caps, and now to cheapen a bunch of greens. Little boys, holding three or four onions in their hand, creep between the people, wriggling their way through every interstice, and asking for custom in whining tones, as if seeking charity. Then the tumult of the thousand different cries of the eager dealers, all shouting at the top of their voices, at one and the same time, is almost bewildering. ‘So-old again,’ roars one. ‘Chestnuts all ’ot, a penny a score,’ bawls another. ‘An ’aypenny a skin, blacking,’ squeaks a boy. ‘Buy, buy, buy, buy, buy – bu-u-uy!’ cries the butcher. ‘Half-quire of paper for a penny,’ bellows the street stationer. ‘An ’aypenny a lot ing-uns.’ ‘Twopence a pound grapes.’ ‘Three a penny Yarmouth bloaters.’ ‘Who’ll buy a bonnet for fourpence?’ ‘Pick ’em out cheap here! three pair for a halfpenny, bootlaces.’ ‘Now’s your time! beautiful whelks, a penny a lot.’ ‘Here’s ha’p’orths,’ shouts the perambulating confectioner. ‘Come and look at ’em! here’s toasters!’ bellows one with a Yarmouth bloater stuck on a toasting-fork. ‘Penny a lot, fine russets,’ calls the apple woman: and so the Babel goes on.’ Henry Mayhew, Victorian social essay