Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Labor, Beleaguered

Writing on the decline of Solidarity, Christopher Hayes notes:

The real story of the strike is not the epic hassle it created. It is the fact that despite universal condemnation from opinion makers, millions of New Yorkers were in solidarity with the strikers.

Solidarity. Now there's an anachronism. The news media doesn't talk about solidarity; it employs the assured and peppy tone that speaks to the individual consumer: After the break: We'll tell you how the strike will affect your morning commute. Solidarity is the opposite of news you can use. No wonder the local media missed the real story. It hinged on a concept that is not part of its vocabulary.

It's quite obvious that entrepreneurial individualism, generally supposed to be represented in the Republican Party, has only hostility for what's left of the labor movement. But Hayes' comments reveal that what could be called "hedonistic" individualism, represented by the Democratic party's cultural lefties, likewise bears antipathy towards the basic premises of solidarity. As Caleb Stegall has noted, replace the words of a typical John Kerry speech extolling choice in matters of abortion with praises for economic choice, and you have a George W. Bush speech. And labor is trapped between the two, like an unfortunate watermelon in a swiftly-tightening vise.

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