“Solidarity is something more than a word …; it is a tremendous and spontaneous force–a force born in the hot heart of the class struggle.” ~ Ralph Chaplin~
A Look Into our World Today:
Have you ever felt as though you were one in a million? Like, during a fire drill or while exiting a baseball stadium ; at a concert or on a Disney World amusement park line; how about in a college class room at a city university? When seen from this perspective, the philosophical predictions of Thomas Malthus’ ” inevitable catastrophe” and Karl Marx’s “bloody revolution” become crystal clear; suddenly, their theories are not so far-fetched.
Even more obvious is the failure of the economic capitalist system, which is not operating in the best interest of the nation. Outlandish as it may seem the fact is, as the population increases so will despondency, indigence and calamity. The ‘Occupy Wall Street’ rally in New York on September 17,2011 is the beginning of what is yet to come; David Graeber, anthropologist writes in The Guardian: full article
“… We are watching the beginnings of the defiant self-assertion of a new generation of Americans, a generation who are looking forward to finishing their education with no jobs, no future…’
Without doubt, the only way to put an end to economic and social inequality is to unite across all races, ethnicities and nations as one indestructible force. A recent film I saw lends a perfect picture on how to reclaim our future:
Matewan: History Tells a Story of Our Future:
On September 20, 2011, The CUNY (City University of New York) International Marxist Club and Class Struggle Education Workers sponsored the epic film Matewan (shown at the CUNY Graduate Center) which focuses on unity, cultural diversity, immigration, interracial harmony, ethics, religion and justice. John Sayles, independent filmmaker, directed and wrote a compelling narrative which unveils the terrors inflicted on the people of Matewan by Capitalist corruption and exploitation of coal miners.
The film (see here for NY Times Review) is based on true historical accounts of West Virginia’s coal miner’s struggles for worker rights during the early twentieth century. Known as the ” Matewan Massacre“, this deadly confrontation between the Stone Mountain Coal Company owners and the UMW ( United Mine Workers) is one of the many horrors the coal miners and their families endured through years of torment at the hands of greedy, immoral capitalists.
John Sayles sheds a light of hope and a sense of warmth into the dark, cold world of the coal miners by injecting ideals of passivity and solidarity into a violent world of segregation and dissonance. The brilliant director uses a prophet-like character (Joe Kenehan) as a union leader to guide the flock of workers toward a path that will lead to self-determination. In the film, Sayles demonstrates ideals of peace advocacy and non-violent movement; and he candidly expresses the importance of racial harmony and cultural sensitivity in union-organizing. Watch here:
“You think this man is the enemy? Huh? This is a worker! Any union keeps this man out ain’t a union, it’s a Goddamn club! They got you fightin’ white against colored, native against foreign, hollow against hollow, when you know there ain’t but two sides in this world – them that work and them that don’t. You work, they don’t. That’s all you get to know about the enemy.” ~Joe Kenehan~( union-organizer)
All For One and One For All:
A ribbon of fraternity adorns the melancholy narrative with grace and appeal as Sayles uses a melodious chorus of evocative tunes that pulls at your heartstrings. Most memorable are the vignettes of the displaced coal miners and their families living in make-shift tent homes. Their common troubles set the stage for a strong alliance that helps create a tight-knit community where a unique culture is developed through sharing food, playing music and baseball together; and helping and caring for one another. In a poignant scene (watch here), an Italian political ballad (Noi Vogliamo L’Eguaglianza ) about equality and liberty that beautifully illustrates the overriding theme of the film – unity– is heard while the coal miners and their families play ball.
Sayles chooses to convey his ideals in a historic setting that is relatable; he depicts an era when capitalism and politics in the United States controlled the lives of the working class in a radical way. Although, we may not see actual “western-style” warfare going on between the modern-day Bourgeoisie and the Proletariat they are engaged in an ongoing battle where Capitalist owners continue to commit crimes against humanity on vulnerable and oppressed workers. By giving a humanistic view of the lives of real people who have suffered in the past for human rights , Sayles masterfully provokes thought and demands reflection. The story of Matewan teaches us to think collectively and to see ourselves as an omnipotent force of all races and ethnicities who share the culture of the working class.
Tell Me What You Think But First, Sleep On This…
Perhaps a “cult of brotherhood” is the only way to gain economic justice in today’s unequal Capitalist society. I don’t mean to imply we should walk around with Mao’s Little Red Book,or Marx’s Communist Manifesto, hail to Hitler or hang Stalin‘s portrait over the mantel; I just think we need to find a “happy medium” somewhere between Gandhi‘s Pacifism and Mussolini‘s Fascist government; maybe a perfect cocktail of Robert Owen‘s Utopian society and the Social Democracy of Eduard Bernstein .
Worker Exploitation in America Today:
* America’s Sweat Shop Diplomacy: By Jennifer Gordon -New York Times article
* Foreign Students in Work Visa Program Stage Walkout at Plant: By Julia Preston -New York Times article
Blog Cites and Sources:
- The Internet Movie Database: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0093509/synopsis
- International Socialism Journal: Matewan : Film and Working Class Struggle Issue 66 , 1995 http://pubs.socialistreviewindex.org.uk/isj66/newsinger.htm
Solidarity Forever: (image) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Anita_willcox_solidarity-forever-poster.jpg
Matewan: (image) http://www.moviegoods.com/movie_poster/matewan_1987.htm