Monday, June 09, 2008

Communists For Teachers

Last week the teachers union in Los Angeles conducted a one-hour strike to--well, I don't know exactly what their purpose was, but they did it, anyway.

Who supported them? Communists.

You think I'm being extreme here? At the top of that link I clicked on the About Us page, where I read this:

Read SocialistWorker.org's "Where We Stand" for a brief statement of the tradition we stand in and our political positions.


What do we find on the Where We Stand page?

We stand in the Marxist tradition, founded by Karl Marx and Frederick Engels, and continued by V.I. Lenin, Rosa Luxemburg and Leon Trotsky.

Oftentimes we're judged by the company we keep. That being true, Shame on you, Los Angeles teachers.

I've written about teachers unions' links to communist groups before. It concerns me greatly.

16 comments:

Ellen K said...

The DNC has now actively taken the identical positions on most major issues as the World Workers' Party, better known as the Green Party in Europe. This isn't your father's Democrat party. Heck, it's not even JFK's Democrat party.

Becca said...

Also from the "where we stand" page...
"We support trade unions as essential to the fight for workers' economic and political rights."
Oh The Horror! How EVIL/TERRIBLE/AWFUL/MONSTROUS/HORRIBLE/TERRIFYING!!!!eleventy1111!!!!

First you give people the right to form unions, the next thing you know they'll be demanding humane working conditions. Those bastards.

Darren said...

I have no problem with people who *want* to join trade unions, joining them. I have serious issues with being compelled to join one as a condition of work.

I also have serious issues with "the Marxist tradition, founded by Karl Marx and Frederick Engels, and continued by V.I. Lenin". Anyone who doesn't is either a fool or a fellow communist.

Which are you, becca?

allen (in Michigan) said...

> First you give people the right to form unions, the next thing you know they'll be demanding humane working conditions. Those bastards.

Where to start?

First off, you don't *give* people rights. Rights exist independently of opportunity for expression. That's what all that "we hold these truths to be self-evident" stuff is all about.

Privileges, however, can be given and taken away at the whim of the giver. It's revealing that you can't distinguish the one from the other.

Second, your knowledge of labor unions outside the poly sci book is somewhat thin. "Humane working conditions", it turns out is really "everything we can get" even to the point of destroying the organization on which the union, and the unionized employees depend.

The American automobile industry is, in part, on the descent because of endless demands for what you refer to as "humane working conditions" but what I know to be outrageously inflated wages and benefits when measured against employee duties and responsibilities.

Becca said...

@ darren- Oh I'm a well known lesbian left wing pinko communist freak. I am also quite possibly a fool. Why must you give false dicotomies?

My Mommy is a Teamster and I went to a *gasp* cooperative work camp as a teenager. I even lived in a housing cooperative in college! Not only that, but I currently belong to a credit union! And I work for a university (another 501c(3)!). The evil nonprofits, they are everywhere!
Clearly, I am destroying America just by breathing.

Look, I hate to break this to you, but the Berlin Wall went down in 1989. I was 6 years old. To my generation, Communism has always been a boogeyman to scare the overly credulous with. Our capitalist country has it's advantages and disadvantages, but for better or worse it's not going to be brought to it's knees by a few people agreeing to work together for a change. Be they hippie-communists on a commune, or teachers in a union.

You can't insult me by calling me a commie.

@allen (in michigan)-
First of all- I happen to be a fan of the Constitution which(despite the best efforts of the current administration) helps ensure that my rights are not meaningless abstractions, but that my 'opportunity for their expression' is protected with all the force the law can muster. From the way you put it, one wonders why anyone bothered writing the Declaration of Independance or the Constitution at all... why do we need them, if rights are self-evident, why state it?

Secondly- you've got it in one. I simply believed everything my textbooks told me. Nevermind that my father wouldn't be alive if it weren't for excellent healthcare a union fought for. Nevermind that my single experience with 'protesting' individuals wanting to form a union was in undergrad- where my TA's had the audacity to grade papers out on the quad. They were clearly insane selfish whackos bent on destroying my university.
Oh, I must have been overly brainwashed by the polysci books, but now I can see it all clearly! What would I ever have done if you hadn't come along to tell me what it's really like?

Darren said...

What is an abstraction, a scare tactic, for you, was very real for me.

You apparently didn't believe *everything* your textbooks told you, or you'd know about Communism's shameful history with regards to human rights, to the environment, to dissenting views, to technological prowess. All the evidence I need is that people didn't risk life and limb to escape our country and go to communist countries.

You can *choose* to associate with communists if you wish, Becca, but you *should* be shunned in polite society for doing so. You get no free pass from me.

allen (in Michigan) said...

Becca, if I call you a communist it isn't to insult you, it's to identify you. The insult is in the philosophy which, everywhere and always, has been a dismal failure by any metric you care to name. Adherence to the philosophy then means a preference for that which fails over that which succeeds.

I don't have to demean myself by insulting you, you've done a far better job of displaying your shortcomings as a person by your cavalier disregard for the vast human suffering, poverty, injustice and inequality resulting from the political philosophy you claim to admire then I could manage by any insult that might occur to me.

Oh, and leave off the sarcasm. It's a low art admired only those who use it. That's not a constituency to which there's much point in appealing since admiration for the puerile says more about you then it does about whoever or whatever is the target or your sarcasm.

With that advice in mind, it turns out that there really were bogeymen hiding under our beds.

Those bogeymen had, at their height, 45,000 nuclear weapons aimed at us and the largest standing army the world has ever seen. They were also engaged in a long-term, wide-spread, very credible effort to subvert every government not in their sphere. Where they succeeded they brought fear, hunger, ignorance, violence and regimentation. Dismissing those realities is a luxury you enjoy because of the sacrifices of better people then you who'd make those sacrifices again even knowing your dismissiveness of their sacrifices and your casual assumption of the fruit of those sacrifices.

And just so I'm not completely disagreeable, you're right, the rights enumerated in the Constitution aren't meaningless abstractions. They're meaningful abstractions which require defense from very unabstract threats none which you're troubled by your stylish reference to the current administration not withstanding.

The reason I know you're untroubled by threats to your freedom is that people who actually fear for their freedom don't post their complaints on publicly-accessible fora. There would be people listening who can do more then simply waste their time typing a response and while you might be irresponsible enough or foolish enough or immature enough to post, you wouldn't be posting because you're courageous enough.

I don't believe any response to your observations about unions is necessary other then to note your experience in this area is, according to your own admission, painfully thin. Try belonging to a union for a couple of years or, better yet, move up the hierarchy even a bit. You'll discover that Mark Twain's advice to people who love sausage and the law applies equally to those who think they know something about unions.

Darren said...

Brilliant comment, thank you.

Darren said...

Becca, if you want to argue and vent, I guess we can do that. Since you shared with us a little about your background, and how you've come upon your ideals, perhaps you'd like to read a little about mine.

Becca said...

@allen(in michigan)- in a sense, all attempts to live by philosophies (however noble) are failures. There is no actual society with "liberty and justice for all". There is no actual human who always "turns the other cheek". There is no actual government that can take "from each acording to their ability" and return "to each acording to their need". That doesn't mean the philosophies are bunk. I will not be insulted if you associate me with any of those philosophies, even if others who you assoicate with them have failed (or worse).
Your logical fallacy here is post hoc, ergo proctor hoc . Communism does not cause human suffering, and indeed, it seeks to alleviate it. Much the same can be said of capitalism. If one does a much better job in actual fact, that does not mean the other is inherantly evil and there is nothing useful in the philosophy.

As an aside for factual accuracy- no one on earth has ever had 45,000 nuclear weapons all up and ready to go, aimed at anybody. Stockpiles are not the same as the number ready for deployment.

@darren-
I do appreciate you sharing your story (your linked post is very eloquent at times).
We grew up in the same country, but in different worlds (different times). To your mind Communism = evil, no exceptions. To my mind, a 7 year old boy wanting to kill someone because they are the enemy is understandable, but sad. An adult man who has lived his whole life that way? Now that strikes me as evil. And tragic, too. I'm not assuming you have never matured beyond your 7 year old self, but denouncing teachers because they are supported by socialists who remind you of communists who you saw mistreating other people is assuredly a bit of a strech when it comes to deciding who "the enemy" is.
I'm not asking for a "free pass"- by all means, hold my ideas up for scrutiny. By all means, help me see how your anti-Communism is aiding human rights, the environment, techonological prowess and treatment of those who offer dissent.
But if you are going to 'shun' me for associating with some of the hardest working, idealistic, intelligent and caring people I've ever met (who most assuredly have not had any part in any of the horrors mentioned- regardless of the philosophies they adhere to), then I'll just have to live with that. And I'll have an awfully hard time believing a thing you have to say about how awful the enemy is when it comes to dissenting voices.

Darren said...

Those people state that they "stand in the Marxist tradition...". They mention Lenin specifically, who created one of the most *evil* nations ever to appear on the planet. You can call me evil for shunning people who support that, but you cheapen the word evil when you do so.

One difference is I won't "disappear" you for speaking I don't agree with. Heck, I even print your words on my blog.

Big difference.

Darren said...

By the way, Becca, you should check out the tone of your comments and compare them to the tone of my post. You came out of the chute with guns a-blazing, reeking of hostility. If you want to have a reasoned, rational debate with someone, you might consider reason and rationality rather than flaming those with whom you disagree.

On the other hand, if you just want to be hostile, well, that says something, too. My guess is that you aren't very tolerant of those with whom you disagree.

allen (in Michigan) said...

Thank you for the contentless philosophical maundering but really, you should save it for the student union where you stand a chance of finding someone who hasn't heard it all before, doesn't know the lyrics by heart and can't hum the tune while hand-cutting a dovetail.

The world we live in isn't a philosophical abstraction and any political system has to accommodate to that fact. But you seem to have two standards for what's acceptable in a political system. If liberty and justice for all isn't the literal truth then the means used to attempt to achieve that end can be dismissed as a failure. But if taking "from each acording to their ability" and returning "to each acording to their need" has a uniform record of failure that doesn't mean it's bunk.

> Your logical fallacy here is post hoc, ergo proctor hoc .

Uh no, it isn't but if you're going to play the ever-so-educated card then see to your spelling. It's "post hoc ergo propter hoc".

About the nuclear weapons? Here ya go: http://tinyurl.com/y4fr9g

> Communism does not cause human suffering, and indeed, it seeks to alleviate it.

Communism doesn't cause human suffering? That's practically its reason for existence if you measure by the amount of human suffering communism has caused.

I'd go on but I'm reminded of another Twainism: "When I was a boy of 14, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be 21, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years."

Come back in seven years when I've wised up.

Becca said...

I'll grant I came in with guns a-blazin. The implication that "communist" is synonymous with 'evil' (or otherwise "shameful") is outdated, sloppy thinking.

I'm pretty confident that when the SocialistWorkers say they "stand in the Marxist tradition" they are not saying "we agree with everything Lenin ever did".
Could I perhaps convince you to consider the idea that SocialistWorker's stance might be "free universal health care = good"... and that, maybe, just maybe, they would also say "secret police = bad"?

Also, I didn't call you evil for shunning people who (you assume) support bad things. I said it is an evil thing to want to kill people. Big difference.

Though, to be fair, I think actual shunning, directed at people who have done no evil, and are trying to work for a better system is also a Bad Idea.

Darren said...

Given communism's record, anyone who says communists are trying to "make the world a better place" are at the very least severely disillusioned.

I don't even think universal government-provided health care is a good idea. If you think we can afford it, I direct your attention yet again to the Soviet Union, the Eastern bloc and Cuba. I'm not sure what's going on in China these days, what with their leanings toward capitalism and a police state.

Darren said...

Here are some other people having a discussion about communists' being related to people in public life.