09 April, 2008
May 1st: No Peace No Work!
EM just sent me a great story about west coast dock workers who are sick of this war--along with 81 percent of Americans--and are doing something about it. The article says: "The (union's) motion (to protest) called (the war) an imperial action for oil in which the lives of working-class youth and Iraqi civilians were being wasted and declared May Day a "no peace, no work" holiday. Angered after supporting Democrats who received a mandate to end the war but who now continue to fund it, longshoremen decided to exercise their political power on the docks."
Right on. It's nice to see that normal people are getting involved in this, the way it ought to be. It's one thing when you see a bunch of feel-good hippies protesting the war, or east coast intelligentsia, but these are dock workers! Straight up dock workers. Right on! As they say above, these folks have political power, and know how to use it.
The other thing that I find interesting though, is that this extends beyond party politics. These folks are upset with the Democrats, and rightfully so! Could this be the straw the breaks the camel's back? Could this be end beginning of the end of the two-party system? John thinks so. I'll reserve judgement.
I have a couple of fears about this event, however. Mainly: government's don't like their docks closed. And you can see what they do the people who try to stop them here. (Thanks to FR for sending that along!) Will the government bring out the tear gas and water cannons, or this terrifying thing? Maybe it will all be peaceful: the president will invoke the Taft-Hartley Act, and everyone will go back to work. But what if they don't? What if they won't?
I don't know. Something tells me if this gets to a level seen in the video above, there will be a lot more people upset about it then when they lock up hippies. (Hell, I'd like to lock up a hippies every now and then!) Longshoreman are the people. I think it's hard to argue that point. Hippies, Punks, whatever, are a cultural other. If you oppress the longshoremen, you oppress the people. And, from all I have seen--and based on the very founding of this country--the people don't like to be oppressed.
Though maybe I am wrong. The article goes on to say that "At the start of the war in Iraq, hundreds of protesters demonstrated on the Oakland docks, and longshoremen honored their picket lines. Without warning, police in riot gear opened fire with so-called less-than-lethal weapons, shooting protesters and longshoremen alike with wooden dowels, rubber bullets, pellet bags, concussion grenades and tear gas. A U.N. Human Rights Commission investigator characterized the Oakland police attack as "the most violent" against anti-war protesters in the United States." Were people up in arms then? Not that I can recall, no.
So it all comes down to solidarity, I guess. Who will stand with these workers? And who among them will refuse to yield? "There is power in a union," the song says, and "And injury to one, is an injury to all." But above all you need solidarity. Will all of this "all" stand together?