I bet you live in the US, don’t you? If not, please excuse my poisonous invective– it is not meant for you. See, some people who live in the US have forgotten the unbelievable degree of privilege that they have in relation to other countries and parts of other countries… or maybe they have forgotten that the internet is everywhere. Maybe they have forgotten that people of all walks read our essays. And they have begun to write, in the hipster fashion, essays that downplay the importance or labor movements, or worse– essays that outright make fun of labor movements.
This essay is a wakeup call. Those clothes on your back, you US-inhabitor? Probably came from Bangladesh, India, or China. All that technology you so gluttonously feast your eyes on, the very keys with which I now type– probably came from the same places, or maybe Mexico. That guitar you so coolly play– probably the same. So as you talk down the importance of labor movements, remember that your every joy of privilege was created, manufactured, by the working class. And every time you disarm the importance of labor movements, all you are doing is disarming the most vulnerable people in the world, the people who unknowingly build the very empire you say you oppose.
The military and political might of the US is built upon its possessions. You don’t need to be a Marxist to agree with that, as I am one example. The impoverished world emulates US pop culture (look at slums in Bangladesh or Uganda or others on Google Maps, you privileged laptop owner, and you will see Coca Cola ads everywhere, but not a publicly serviced trash bin in sight) because of the lure of US material possessions. The rest of the world tolerates the rogue behavior of the US because of its militaristic possessions. Nearly all of these, or the raw materials for all of these, came from the labor of less privileged nations and workers.
If you want equality in a global society, the most obvious material way to make that happen is to target the roots of empire. US empire is built by the workers it exploits in other countries. As other countries move through industrialization and post-industrialization, the social movements of their workers will be pivotal. Maybe you should consider passing along the labor propaganda that is old news to you, so not cool anymore, to people in other countries who can really benefit from it. Pick a post office in Bangladesh, and send them copies of the pamphlets we “no longer need.” You might just spark a revolution. You might just prevent the rise of the ‘free trade’ surveillance state that is now just on the horizon. It may be your last chance.