Things Are Going Great

If we look back at, say, the last 100 years or so, we might be tempted to declare that all the really important “social” issues before us have demonstrably improved. While that’s an ambitious and wildly optimistic statement, it’s more or less true. From a purely social and progressive vantage, the liberalization of the world is on the ascendancy. We would ask even the most bitter, lemon-sucking cynic to consider the counter-argument. Who among us would dare deny that, tracking us along a purely “social” axis, we are improving?

The number of world democracies has grown from a mere handful to, perhaps, 75 or 80 (depending on what we categorize as a “democracy”); civil rights, while far from equitable, are now taken for granted in most Western democracies, women’s rights have noticeably improved across-the-board, even in Middle-Eastern countries; gay rights have gone from nothing (from less than nothing!) to something, and interracial marriages, which used to be such a big deal, aren’t such a big deal, except in places like Alabama.

Religious freedom has gained a solid foothold which it will never relinquish; child labor, though still practiced, is generally frowned upon; torture, though still practiced (even by the CIA), is universally condemned (and it didn’t use to be); and the United Nations, while an egregiously flawed and politically manipulated organization, is evidence of a world cognizant of the fact that our only long-term hope is to work in mutual cooperation.

Granted, we’re still using drones, still bombing the shit out of people, still spying, still prevaricating, still engaging in the occasional genocide, still kowtowing to multinational corporations, and still trying to thwart populist reform movements anywhere in the world that threaten to undermine the Establishment. Those are negative things, things that will haunt us until we eradicate them, but we’re talking “social” progress here, not the evils of economic or military hegemony, or man’s fundamental inhumanity to man.

And there is one very conspicuous social phenomenon that is not only not improving, but it is regressing at the speed of a freight train. That social phenomenon is the labor union. While everybody seems to be basking in their newly acquired liberalization and “empowerment,” the workers of the world, beginning right here in the United States, are fighting not for pie-in-the-sky improvements, but for basic benefits and working conditions that, at one time, used to be fairly common.

Even America’s academics, who used to be one of organized labor’s best friends, have turned their attention elsewhere, apparently bored or fed up with what they see passing for the current “labor movement.” Those hardcore, left-wing college professors who used to march right along side United Auto Worker picketers, are now preoccupied with government snooping and melting glaciers. You couldn’t get a professor today to march with the UAW, unless you guaranteed them a TV appearance and paid them in bitcoins.

So as everything seems to be getting better for gays and women and minorities, the status of working people, both in the U.S. and the rest of the world, continues to deteriorate, and is doing so as a result of two factors: the inevitable pressure of market forces and the shameful apathy of those capable of improving it.

David Macaray, an LA playwright and author (“It’s Never Been Easy:  Essays on Modern Labor,” 2nd edition), was a former union rep.  He can be reached at dmacaray@earthlink.net

More articles by:

David Macaray is a playwright and author. His newest book is How To Win Friends and Avoid Sacred Cows.  He can be reached at dmacaray@gmail.com

March 20, 2018
Jonathan Cook
US Smooths Israel’s Path to Annexing West Bank
Jeffrey St. Clair
How They Sold the Iraq War
Chris Busby
Cancer, George Monbiot and Nuclear Weapons Test Fallout
Nick Alexandrov
Washington’s Invasion of Iraq at Fifteen
David Mattson
Wyoming Plans to Slaughter Grizzly Bears
Paul Edwards
My Lai and the Bad Apples Scam
Julian Vigo
The Privatization of Water and the Impoverishment of the Global South
Mir Alikhan
Trump and Pompeo on Three Issues: Paris, Iran and North Korea
Seiji Yamada
Preparing For Nuclear War is Useless
Gary Leupp
Brennan, Venality and Turpitude
Martha Rosenberg
Why There’s a Boycott of Ben & Jerry’s on World Water Day, March 22
March 19, 2018
Henry Heller
The Moment of Trump
John Davis
Pristine Buildings, Tarnished Architect
Uri Avnery
The Fake Enemy
Patrick Cockburn
The Fall of Afrin and the Next Phase of the Syrian War
Nick Pemberton
The Democrats Can’t Save Us
Nomi Prins 
Jared Kushner, RIP: a Political Obituary for the President’s Son-in-Law
Georgina Downs
The Double Standards and Hypocrisy of the UK Government Over the ‘Nerve Agent’ Spy Poisoning
Dean Baker
Trump and the Federal Reserve
Colin Todhunter
The Strategy of Tension Towards Russia and the Push to Nuclear War
Kevin Zeese - Margaret Flowers
US Empire on Decline
Ralph Nader
Ahoy America, Give Trump a Taste of His Own Medicine Starting on Trump Imitation Day
Robert Dodge
Eliminate Nuclear Weapons by Divesting from Them
Laura Finley
Shame on You, Katy Perry
Weekend Edition
March 16, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Michael Uhl
The Tip of the Iceberg: My Lai Fifty Years On
Bruce E. Levine
School Shootings: Who to Listen to Instead of Mainstream Shrinks
Mel Goodman
Caveat Emptor: MSNBC and CNN Use CIA Apologists for False Commentary
Paul Street
The Obama Presidency Gets Some Early High Historiography
Kathy Deacon
Me, My Parents and Red Scares Long Gone
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Rexless Abandon
Andrew Levine
Good Enemies Are Hard To Find: Therefore Worry
Jim Kavanagh
What to Expect From a Trump / Kim Summit
Ron Jacobs
Trump and His Tariffs
Joshua Frank
Drenched in Crude: It’s an Oil Free For All, But That’s Not a New Thing
Gary Leupp
What If There Was No Collusion?
Matthew Stevenson
Why Vietnam Still Matters: Bernard Fall Dies on the Street Without Joy
Robert Fantina
Bad to Worse: Tillerson, Pompeo and Haspel
Brian Cloughley
Be Prepared, Iran, Because They Want to Destroy You
Richard Moser
What is Organizing?
Scott McLarty
Working Americans Need Independent Politics
Rohullah Naderi
American Gun Violence From an Afghan Perspective
Sharmini Peries - Michael Hudson
Why Trump’s Tariff Travesty Will Not Re-Industrialize the US
Ted Rall
Democrats Should Run on Impeachment
Robert Fisk
Will We Ever See Al Jazeera’s Investigation Into the Israel Lobby?
Kristine Mattis
Superunknown: Scientific Integrity Within the Academic and Media Industrial Complexes