Monday, November 4, 2013

Fading Away

So this is my first day back from the the historians' conference in St. Louis. I had a good time, both in Chicago pre-conference and from Thursday to Saturday in the Gateway to the West city. Had an excellent view of at least half of the Arch and in the other direction, the courthouse where the initial decision in the Dred Scott case was made over 150 years ago.

Had a fine dinner on the last night there, Saturday, at some steak house, reputedly one of the best in the city. It was there that I had a dear friend of mine whom I've known since grad school days in the early 1970s say, "Labor unions have outlived their usefulness." Are you kidding me? This is a GOP talking point for years now. This is a country where working people have seen the jobs shipped relentlessly overseas for the greater profit of the already rich for 30 years or more. Where only about 8 percent of the workforce belongs to unions. Are you kidding me? The middle class is being squeezed out of existence because of the greed and rapaciousness of multinational corporations, and the usefulness of organizations that ushered labor into the vast middle class of this country and kept them there, that usefulness has been outlived?

And so it dawns on me. In my profession, I'm probably not a minority yet, but scanning the guys at the table the other night--there were eight of us--I'm certainly a minority. A leftist among conservatives. An old-fashioned liberal among guys who have been successful in the way Americans define it and now have been seduced by the rationalizations of the moneyed classes. I don't buy those lies. I never have, and I won't ever. They are the same lies that the well-off have used for centuries to justify their own smugness. But, I swear, I wonder some time if people like me just aren't fading away, soon to be swamped by a tide of self-serving avarice. I tell you, it gets lonesome sometimes. 
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