Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
Spring Fund Drive: Keep CounterPunch Afloat
CounterPunch is a lifeboat of sanity in today’s turbulent political seas. Please make a tax-deductible donation and help us continue to fight Trump and his enablers on both sides of the aisle. Every dollar counts!
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Wake of the Flood

I’ve been up and down the east coast of the United States a couple times in the past month.  From Asheville, NC up to southern Vermont via Interstates 26, 81 and 88, my first trip traversed the lands soon to be submerged in the floods that came with tropical storms named Irene and Lee.  Indeed, a couple friends of mine saw their small motel in southern Vermont move off its foundation not long after the road and bridges connecting their spot to the greater world washed away.  I myself was in Laurel, MD during the storm named Irene.  There were lots of downed trees and power lines, but very little flooding in that burg.  A couple hours drive south, however, brought waters on to main streets and put people into canoes and rowboats.  The ongoing rains continue to render previously firm ground unstable.

After my stay in Maryland, I returned to Vermont, where I am currently engaged in trying to find a place to live and work.  Neither of these endeavors is proving to be a lark.  However, perseverance does further.

One of the first days I was in Vermont was Labor Day.  Seeking shelter from the rain I found myself in Burlington’s Memorial Auditorium at a Labor Day rally.  After a number of speakers representing different union locals, workers’ right organizations and a universal healthcare organizer, his honor Senator Bernie Sanders came to the podium.  Like always, he received a fair amount of applause.  His continual failure to live up to his progressive rhetoric and socialist moniker has yet to change the minds of those voters tho believe their man can make a difference.  It’s not that they are naive as much as their addiction to politics as it is played in the US blinds them as to what Sanders and others like him can actually do.  Naturally, this observation assumes that Sanders and the so-called progressive bloc in Congress do want the changes their supporters continually call for.  I am not as certain as those who applaud.

Sanders’ speech was his template talk about the honor and integrity of the “American worker.”  It also included the requisite acknowledgements politicians, newscasters, and preachers all make to firefighters, police and other law enforcement; acknowledgements that always reach a fever pitch around the anniversary of 9-11.

Left unsaid in Sanders’ speech was the role police played in harassing the picket lines set up by Verizon workers during their recent strike.  Also left unmentioned was the historical role played by law enforcement in defeating strikes and supporting the holders of capital.  In a capitalist society, the fundamental job of law enforcement is to protect and serve those that have the money and the property, even from their own employees.

Sanders did not talk about improving the lot of working people around the world.  He spoke only of the US worker as part of a mythical middle class.  This is a major shortcoming in the progressives’ battle cry.  As anyone with an anti-imperialist understanding of the world knows (something which Sanders has never been accused of), when the dominant nation of an imperial system improves the lot of its workers, it does so on the backs of workers in other nations.   This means workers in other nations suffer even more as a result of the improvement in the lot of those laboring in the core countries.  As capitalism becomes ever more global, its ability to keep workers in different countries in competition with each other for less and less become ever more complete.  When national politicians demand benefits for the laborers in their country while encouraging legislation that hurts workers in other nations, they are not doing any workers a favor.

After living in the US South for the past six and a half years, it was refreshing to see union workers proudly touting their union membership and demanding a healthy and hopeful future.  After all, there are many places in the United States–not just its southern portion-where working people have little hope beyond the hope that they will not lose their job the next time the financiers and their cohorts institute a market correction.  It is in the same places where the work we do every day is undervalued and workers that believe they deserve not only a fair wage but health care and a certain amount of security are labeled greedy by the very same folks that are greed’s essence.  After Sanders left the room to go back to DC, the rest of us in the room were left to do the fighting the current situation demands.

Ron Jacobs is the author of The Way the Wind Blew: a History of the Weather Underground and Short Order Frame Up. Jacobs’ essay on Big Bill Broonzy is featured in CounterPunch’s collection on music, art and sex, Serpents in the Garden. His collection of essays and other musings titled Tripping Through the American Night is now available and his new novel is The Co-Conspirator’s Tale. He can be reached at: ronj1955@gmail.com

 

More articles by:

Ron Jacobs is the author of Daydream Sunset: Sixties Counterculture in the Seventies published by CounterPunch Books. His latest offering is a pamphlet titled Capitalism: Is the Problem.  He lives in Vermont. He can be reached at: ronj1955@gmail.com.

May 24, 2018
Gary Leupp
Art of the Dealbreaker: Trump’s Cancellation of the Summit with Kim
Jeff Warner – Victor Rothman
Why the Emerging Apartheid State in Israel-Palestine is Not Sustainable
Kenn Orphan
Life, the Sea and Big Oil
James Luchte
Europe Stares Into the Abyss, Confronting the American Occupant in the Room
Richard Hardigan
Palestinians’ Great March of Return: What You Need to Know
Howard Lisnoff
So Far: Fascism Lite
Matthew Vernon Whalan
Norman Finkelstein on Bernie Sanders, Gaza, and the Mainstream Treatment
Daniel Warner
J’accuse All Baby Boomers
Alfred W. McCoy
Beyond Golden Shower Diplomacy
Jonah Raskin
Rachel Kushner, Foe of Prisons, and Her New Novel, “The Mars Room”
George Wuerthner
Myths About Wildfires, Logging and Forests
Binoy Kampmark
Tom Wolfe the Parajournalist
Dean Baker
The Marx Ratio: Not Clear Karl Would be Happy
May 23, 2018
Nick Pemberton
Maduro’s Win: A Bright Spot in Dark Times
Ben Debney
A Faustian Bargain with the Climate Crisis
Deepak Tripathi
A Bloody Hot Summer in Gaza: Parallels With Sharpeville, Soweto and Jallianwala Bagh
Josh White
Strange Recollections of Old Labour
Farhang Jahanpour
Pompeo’s Outrageous Speech on Iran
CJ Hopkins
The Simulation of Democracy
Lawrence Davidson
In Our Age of State Crimes
Dave Lindorff
The Trump White House is a Chaotic Clown Car Filled with Bozos Who Think They’re Brilliant
Russell Mokhiber
The Corporate Domination of West Virginia
Ty Salandy
The British Royal Wedding, Empire and Colonialism
Laura Flanders
Life or Death to the FCC?
Gary Leupp
Dawn of an Era of Mutual Indignation?
Katalina Khoury
The Notion of Patriarchal White Supremacy Vs. Womanhood
Nicole Rosmarino
The Grassroots Environmental Activist of the Year: Christine Canaly
Caoimhghin Ó Croidheáin
“Michael Inside:” The Prison System in Ireland 
May 22, 2018
Stanley L. Cohen
Broken Dreams and Lost Lives: Israel, Gaza and the Hamas Card
Kathy Kelly
Scourging Yemen
Andrew Levine
November’s “Revolution” Will Not Be Televised
Ted Rall
#MeToo is a Cultural Workaround to a Legal Failure
Gary Leupp
Question for Discussion: Is Russia an Adversary Nation?
Binoy Kampmark
Unsettling the Summits: John Bolton’s Libya Solution
Doug Johnson
As Andrea Horwath Surges, Undecided Voters Threaten to Upend Doug Ford’s Hopes in Canada’s Most Populated Province
Kenneth Surin
Malaysia’s Surprising Election Results
Dana Cook
Canada’s ‘Superwoman’: Margot Kidder
Dean Baker
The Trade Deficit With China: Up Sharply, for Those Who Care
John Feffer
Playing Trump for Peace How the Korean Peninsula Could Become a Bright Spot in a World Gone Mad
Peter Gelderloos
Decades in Prison for Protesting Trump?
Thomas Knapp
Yes, Virginia, There is a Deep State
Andrew Stewart
What the Providence Teachers’ Union Needs for a Win
Jimmy Centeno
Mexico’s First Presidential Debate: All against One
May 21, 2018
Ron Jacobs
Gina Haspell: She’s Certainly Qualified for the Job
Uri Avnery
The Day of Shame
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail