Freedom's Noble Name

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Karl Marx would either laugh or be terribly perplexed by what has been wrought from his dialectic. With all of their bluster, the GOP has now stood Marx on his head. Against every assessment of his philosophy, the progress that comes from the clash of opposing forces has come to a standstill, especially in the states, and on jobs and wages. And states are the place where workers have the best knowledge of taxes, services, economic development, wages and power.

And despite wage stagnation, unemployment, low saving rates and other family income issues hiding in plain sight, workers seem unable to unite. Online, support for raising the minimum wage to nine dollars is overwhelming. Yet the expected firestorm of legislative action, lobby days, public rallies, organizing and bill writing at the state level is almost non-existent.

Democrats are missing a chance to take advantage of a winning bi-partisan opportunity, one in which personal interest and motivations meld perfectly with good public policy. One in which plenty of research and previous experience refutes the knee-jerk resistance that Republicans offer, as they never offer a single measure that advances workers’ income. Real inroads into the Republican base in red states is possible. The growing income gap, the direct refusal of Republicans to consider raising the minimum wage while focused on deficits and cutting spending leaves them exposed. Democrats, Carpe diem!

Robert Reich, President Clinton’s former Labor Secretary, makes two telling points. One, there’s plenty of capital available to pay higher wages; it’s being used by businesses to buy or take over other corporations or to make giant buybacks of their own stock. Both increase shareholder value. Two, total private worker compensation is now 57% of GDP, the lowest it’s been since Eisenhower.

Neither of the two uses of capital stimulates the economy or produces jobs, but they add market value to the balance sheet. The balance sheet is the writ of GOP economy policy. They will smother the idea of increasing the minimum wage, and other progressive policies on tax breaks and physical and social investments, by allowing sequestration to take place, literally smashing the recovery. We will lose 750,000 jobs this year. It will affect services from air traffic control to meals on wheels.The Army reports layoffs of 250,000 workers by year’s end.

The narrative for putting blame on Obama has started; Paul Ryan calls Boehner’s claim of getting 98% of what he wanted the result of President Obama seeking “partisan advantage.” Mr. “98%” Boehner now calls it “the President’s sequester.”

Pushback must begin now. An economic tsunami is on the horizon, more devastating than the recession because the Republicans will not act to prevent the freefall. It will be more hideous for its desperateness and its blind allegiance at all costs to power and wealth. The GOP really plans to bludgeon the country into submission; their politics are a liar’s rage.

Think Romney, election eve. He had ordered a boat of fireworks for a harbor display. The only thing “bursting in air” were his delusions. But up to the very minute it sank in—well after the world knew—until that instant he had the supreme assurance that he had won. So, too, the rest of the Republican lot, true believers who hold not only to make-believe, but also believe they are right: the UN is coming, the original American Promise is socialism, Paul Krugman is wrong, sequester was the President’s idea, and the 47% doesn’t have the stuff to make it (isn’t that what Romney said?). With all the venom they can muster, you (meaning, “we”) are the blame for every fault. They are blind and mad.

As Aristotle knew before Marx, the dialectic has many inner qualities, some inauthentic. The historic seeds and experiences of fighting against oppression and injustice, the need for a new movement now, are simply a continuation of the American tradition of fighting battles in the noble name of freedom.