Comrade Equus: Anti-authoritarianism and Unions

30 03 2011

Editors note: Trusted sources have reported sightings of the good Comrade Equus in around the American Midwest, fomenting dissent and acting as a general public-nuisance in his fight against the forces of evil. The good Comrade has taken notice of recent discussion in libertarian and Anarchist circles denouncing unions and collective action.  He is not pleased.  He has taken time off his subversice activities to contribute the following to the discussion as part of his role as special contributor on this blog. Comrade Equus reports

 

Here in the US there’s all kinds of talk right now about recent legislation in the Midwest that restricts or eliminates the power of unions.

Most Libertarian and Anarchist bloggers reported on Madison and offered some opinion on the matter. I was surprised to see how many were willing to throw public sector workers under the bus.

Basically the argument is that unions are hanging onto government ensured privilege, followed by a laughable assertion that your high school teacher makes six figures every year, while the regular private sector worker toils under the stress of the system.

There are a few things that need clarification.

There is a difference between asking and taking

The labor movement started in opposition to The State and the employing class.

They slowly but surely calmed down and more or less became puppets of the Democrats. However, they are markedly separate from The State in that they have demonstrated a willingness to act outside of legal channels when attacked. This is not a matter of holding onto government given privilege, but an example of unions fighting The State.

The State has tried to strip them of collective bargaining rights, and they are fighting back.

Perhaps they would bend to similar concessions under a Democratic governor, but perhaps next time they will not.  After seeing unions stand up like this, I am beginning to think that the labor movement is not as dead as we once thought.

Workers in the US died for the rights they have now.  Unions (at least the rank and file members, not so much the leadership) are starting to realize they cannot just ask The State to give them something. They are perhaps beginning to just take it.

These bills empower The State

The anti-union legislation in Wisconsin that took away collective bargaining gave more power to The State.

The laws passed in the Midwest did not stop the government from employing people, and at best simply set up a way of contracting private sector companies. The State is still in a position of employment. Instead of having to bargain with unions as a whole they can now deal with each worker individually, resulting in pay discrimination and benefits being taken away. This will only stratify society more, give some more political, economic, and social powers over others and basically expand authoritarianism in general.

Public Sector Unions have certainly been subservient to The State, and their leadership deserves a lot of criticism.

However, these bills have taken power from the unions (which would continue to exist independent of The State) and given it to The State. No doubt that unions have their own hierarchies and problems, but now all they have fought for (wages, 8-hour days, benefits) are directly in control of The State and the companies with which it contracts.

Where we are

As it stands, Democrats have been pretty good at saving face. I wouldn’t jump to any conclusion too quickly though.

Students have been some of the most ardent fighters lately, and they are the future union members and workers. It is, after all, their future that’s being fucked.

If young people can go beyond just protesting and begin to build sustainable, anti-authoritarian alternatives to The State, then we’re starting to get revolutionary.

I, for one, would expect much more fighting from the Midwest. I visited there once. If I learned anything important, it’s that Midwesterners can do two things better: brew their own beer and fight.








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