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Travis Rowley: Marx and Labor

Saturday, December 17, 2011


“[Socialist League] members, accordingly, are pledged as units within their Labour Parties, Trade Unions and Co-operative Societies, to do everything in their power to further the promotion and ultimate realisation of a militant Socialist programme and policy.” – The Hereford Times, London (1936)

Offering an attentive ear to labor advocates can be enlightening. For instance, when Council 94 president Michael Downey contends that “every worker deserves a safe and secure retirement,” he is not merely making an absurd proclamation – he is offering an opportunity to understand the ideology that guides his union politics.

Every worker “deserves” a secure retirement? What about lazy workers, Mr. Downey?

But this is not a rational consideration within the mind of a Marxist, someone whose worldview is that of an ongoing battle between the classes.

Yes, Marxist. Downey’s statement is flatly a collectivist notion. And it’s more likely to lead to the collapse of the entire institution of retirement, than any form of retirement security.

Central Falls retirees might know what I’m talking about here.

Labor Marxism

Unbeknownst to many, it is socialist theory that has long instructed union desires. Radical Ivy League professors Richard Cloward and Frances Fox Piven confirmed the un-American philosophy behind organized labor by writing the following in 1966:

“Many American workers…accepted and practiced the principle that each can benefit only as the status of workers as a whole is elevated. They bargained for collective mobility, not for individual mobility; to promote their fortunes in the aggregate, not to promote the prospects of one worker over another. And if each finally found himself in the same relative economic relationship to his fellows as when he began, it was nevertheless clear that all were infinitely better off. That fact has sustained the labor movement in the face of a counter pull from the ideal of individual achievement.”

It’s often repeated that union members, while perhaps manipulated and politically organized by their union bosses, have much in common with other Americans in terms of basic values, principles, and philosophy – more conservative than liberal, we’re told.

Time and time again, however, we find that this is not necessarily the case. Union members often illustrate that they have adopted labor’s collectivist philosophy – brainwashed by union leaders who have unfettered access to them.

Followed by applause, former president of the RI American Federation of Teachers Marcia Reback told a crowd of fired Central Falls teachers last year, “If one of us is hurt, then all of us are hurt.”

Really, Ms. Reback? What about the firing of a bad teacher? Would that hurt all other teachers?

This is not Americanism. This is not competition. This is not individualism. This is collectivism. This is “solidarity.” This is “Workers of the World, Unite.” This is plain old Karl Marx.

Reback now serves as the treasurer of the RI Democratic Party.

Socialist Infiltration

In a nation based on the freedom of the individual, we have seen the rise of labor bosses such as Brenda Stokeley, a former AFSCME official in New York City, who said in 2003, “The first thing we have to do is remind ourselves that we are fighting for socialism.” And the famously socialist SEIU president Andy Stern once said, “There are opportunities in America to share better in the wealth, to rebalance the power. And unions and government are part of the solution.”

It has become pretty evident that an infiltration of organized labor is crucial for those who crave the radical revolution. As explained at a 2008 Netroots Nation conference by a progressive panelist, “More union members means a better progressive movement. You can’t have a successful progressive movement without a workers movement. It’s never been done in the history of progressive politics.”

In Rhode Island we have Peter Asen, a “senior policy analyst” for the General Assembly “focusing on health care and labor policies.” Asen is a community organizer out of Brown University, who has been known to make submissions to Solidarity.org, “a democratic, revolutionary socialist, feminist, anti-racist organization.” Asen is a former officer of the RI Democratic Party, and also the former president of Ocean State Action, a “social justice” outfit currently headed up by another socialist activist – Kate “We All Do Better, When We All Do Better” Brock.

Most notably, Ocean State Action is largely funded by organized labor, is housed within NEA-RI offices - where it rents space.

Around every corner, we find links between unions and socialists.

Government Unions

As it’s the Utopians’ belief that they can create Heaven on Earth, they are constantly seeking to remove the risk from life, and establish as many guarantees as possible. And they have brought their philosophy of guarantees into the world of government employment.

Today many Rhode Islanders are waking up, only to witness their government employees occupying careers that are void of any real competition or the necessity to turn a profit; jobs that are marked by automatic pay raises during economic downturns, the uplifting of the collective rather than the individual, the virtual inability to be fired, guaranteed healthcare for life, and the ability to collect retirement payments around age eleven.

Basically, jobs that offer the most reward possible for the least amount of work. Go figure, it’s Europe.

What, other than Marxist theory, could have produced such a system? And why would anyone be surprised at its failure, or the implosion of the state it has exploited?

Promises, Guarantees, and Contracts

“A promise made should be a promise kept,” union bosses have argued in regards to the state’s recent debate over pension reform. But this is just rhetoric derived from their utopia of guarantees.

Public union bosses despise the idea of private retirement accounts, and adore the concept of pensions, because they believe pensions rescue workers from retirement risk. In fact, Downey is under the naive impression that his “retirement dollars” never reach “Wall Street’s hands” simply because of a government pension promise. Rather than shifting the risk to the taxpayers, Downey actually thinks he eradicated the risk altogether.

If Rhode Island ever found its pension fund severely underfunded due to poor investment returns, it was the design of labor Marxists that government workers would be protected by a system of “contracts” and “promises” that would leave only one available option – socialize the losses by raising taxes.

For union bosses, the sanctity of promises can be suspended when it comes to private citizens. Utopia for the government worker. Hell for the taxpayer.

In the Providence Journal last week Downey wrote, “A strong middle class is what has distinguished this great country of ours.”

Wrong. Freedom is what distinguished the United States. An unprecedented expansion of individual liberty is what allowed for a strong middle class. Not unions.

Downey, like most Marxists, seems entirely oblivious to the great American irony – that it has always been America’s utter lack of guarantees that has actually secured its people.

Travis Rowley (TravisRowley.com) is the chairman of the RI Young Republicans and a consultant for the Barry Hinckley Campaign for US Senate.


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BINGO! Wake up, Union Members!!! your union bosses aren't fighting for YOU....They're fighting to bring down the whole free-market system (WHETHER THEY KNOW IT OR NOT)

Comment #1 by Chris O. on 2011 12 17

Well done, Mr. Rowley. People used to take the threat of the communist mentality seriously. Perhaps we need a good ol' fashioned Cold War to wake everyone up again.


Comment #2 by Gip H. on 2011 12 17

very enlightening....wonderful piece, mr. rowley

Comment #3 by Sierra Lee on 2011 12 17

Yeah, let's have a "COLD War." The "Hot" ones are much more messy.

Comment #4 by Jonathan Flynn on 2011 12 17

Asen is a Marxist-but Downey?Not likely.He seems like a regular union guy who's trying to solidify the position of the people he represents.
I do think the NEA leadership is way,way over to the left.
Asen is a punk kid with a big job he has exactly zero qualifications for.He never worked a hard day in his privileged life.
I'm not taking Downey's side on issues-I don't know enough details-but calling him a communist is an overreach.

Comment #5 by joe bernstein on 2011 12 18

This article only makes one error: it fails to distinguish between actual communists and "useful idiots." There are not really that many true left wing radicals but there are a hell of a lot of people like Downey that get led around by the nose by them and wind up as the "regular guy" poster children for the radicals' deeper agenda. The sad part is that none of this is secret, all you have to do is read the communists own words. Lenin was very open about his strategy, it worked splendidly and people have been trying to replicate it ever since.

Comment #6 by ProJo Login on 2011 12 18

Russia worked splendidly? Lenin was "successful" in a feudal, corrupt and pre-industrialized nation. You all are paranoid and misinformed. That is a dangerous combination, particularly when you add in the guns that people that believe in this junk hoard.

Comment #7 by Jonathan Flynn on 2011 12 18

Jonathan-If you don't like guns,don't buy any.They're legal and legally purchased firearms(not "straw buys") almost never are the ones used in the street violence or robberies that we see daily in the media.I am 65 and I've carried a firearm in the military,law enforcement,and private industry as well as with a permit since I was 18 and it was never a problem-the problem is with illegally purchased firearms in the hands of people who can't get them legally.
Your anti-gun hysteria is just silly.
My father was pretty much a left wing guy,but he was a WW2 vetetran and a really good shot and he always owned a gun-he thought gun laws were beyond stupird because criminals just piss on such laws.

Comment #8 by joe bernstein on 2011 12 18

@Jonathan-additionally,don't you think Tom oughta do some actual research on issues like the 'detained citizens"he coplained about-or are you going to tell me he has more accurate knowledge of immigration laws and procedures than I do after having spent almost 21 years enforcing them?

Comment #9 by joe bernstein on 2011 12 18

@Jonathan-my bad-I replied to something you didn't say-for some reason I thought we were on the Sgouros thread.Hey,a senior moment-what can you do?

Comment #10 by joe bernstein on 2011 12 18

Joe, I know how to shoot. I can hit a bulls eye from 200 yards with a moose gun. I have no problem with law abiding citizens having guns for protection or hunting. I don't think automatic weapons fall into those categories and I don't believe people who are delusional, i.e. birthers, neo-Nazis,the mentally ill, etc. should be armed. Are you up for another good old fashioned Cold War? My father was a radar navigator on a B52 Bomber for 16 years, including the Cuban Missle Crisis. The person who suggested that is dangerous.

Comment #11 by Jonathan Flynn on 2011 12 18

@Jonathan-we don't need another "cold war"-it's in no one's interest.
We don't need anothe "hot war" either.Iraq was something I opposed from the outset and Agfhanistan has become a real problem-we needn't shed blood for Karzai and his dope dealing warlord allies.
BTW merely being a "birther" is no reason to ahve one's 2nd amendment rights violated.People have a right to weird beliefs without penalty.
There are adequate laws restricting firearms ownership from convicted felons;mentally ill people;illegal aliens;and persons intending to use force to overthrow the government right now.
I was in a "hot war"in Vietnam in 1968-69 and am currently 60% disabled-I don't much like wars that aren't absolutely necessary.
Does the USAF still have navigators these days?
What's a moose gun?I could hit a 20" bull at 500 yards on iron sights with an M14 when I was a young kid.Prone/slow fire.

Comment #12 by joe bernstein on 2011 12 18

A good article that speaks to the more radical unionist mentality.

For those of you who dig the socialist and current progressive mindset, just imagine if the Patriots frowned on their star players for their superior talent, achievement and performance -- and instituted a middle ground of performance and pay on all the players to force fairness and equality onto the team?

It would be absurd and unnatural, wouldn't it? Yet, that is what socialism/collectivism envisions and promotes.

Comment #13 by Art West on 2011 12 19

"Every worker “deserves” a secure retirement? What about lazy workers?" Travis, you do spin a good yarn. Every worker that works all his life does deserve a retirement. Especially if he pays into that retirement. Does a bunch of political hacks get to steal the retirements paid for by the workers?

Comment #14 by Real Clear on 2011 12 19

REAL CLEAR - you're dead wrong. Philosophically wrong. Rowley gets it right. Downey made a blanket statement about all workers deserving a "safe and secure" retirement. As Rowley pointed out clearly, this likely comes from a false Marxist outlook on the world - the rich vs the workers! If you view the world through the "individual" lens, you would not share this outlook.

I've read Rowley closely enough to know that he agrees that someone who PAYS into a retirement would "deserve" what they paid for. But Rowley has also argued that their pensions were virtually stolen or improperly funded, over-promised, etc, etc (by Dem politicians and union bosses).

When something is stolen from you, you have no right to tell other people to replace it. You seek justice from the perpetrators.

It wasn't EngageRI who stole the pensions. EngageRI made sure taxes would no longer be raised, and that what happened in Central Falls would not happen to state workers. Public workers should be thanking them.

But, as Rowley explained, labor bosses thought they created a safety net for their members of "contracts" and "promises"...so that the taxpayers would always be forced to have their pockets picked. That's why union bosses always ignored the warning signs of what was to come.

Comment #15 by Chris O. on 2011 12 19

Oh, brother, You folks actually take this tripe seriously? Dump this guy, Dan (or whoever's in charge of "mindsetters" over here) or become known as just another right-wing organ.

I take it we won't be seeing anything claiming the Chamber of Commerce is a fascist front to balance this nonsense out, right?

Comment #16 by Russ C on 2011 12 19

Nice going Russ-sure-they should dump Rowley-and why not Sgouros and anyone else with an opinion?
They could be replaced with insurance actuaries.
You are tolerated on Anchor Rising a lot better than conservatives were ever tolerated on RIF.

Comment #17 by joe bernstein on 2011 12 19

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