Friday, March 11, 2011

And then they came for me

Here’s the lede from a William Rivers Pitt op-ed in Truthout yesterday:

Wisconsin governorOn this day, it behooves us to remember the words of Martin Niemoller.

"First they came for the communists," he wrote, "and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a communist. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a trade unionist. Then they came for the Jews, and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a Jew. Then they came for me and there was no one left to speak out for me."

And not only Hitler’s Germany, but Mussolini’s Italy abolished trade unions:

On October 28, 1922, after the Fascists had marched on Rome, Mussolini secured a mandate from King Victor Emmanuel III (1869-1947) to form a coalition government. In 1925-26, after a lengthy crisis with parliament following the assassination of the Socialist leader Giacomo Matteotti (1885-1924), he imposed a single-party, totalitarian dictatorship. His corporative state came to terms with Italian capitalism but abolished free trade unions.

Trade unions are basically banned in Saudi Arabia. Franco’s Spain? Nope. No trade unions.

In fact, you will find that a lack of trade unions is a feature of repressive regimes:

Hence authoritarian power is unlimited in scope. It is all embracing. The government asserts the right to control and regiment every phase of life. In a democratic society power is distributed among plurality of groups. There exist professional associations, trade unions, business organizations and religious institutions like Churches, Mosques and political parties. These institutions keep each other in check thus protecting political freedom. The democratic society encourages competition among political parties and they inhibit monopolies of power. In authoritarian societies there tends to be near total centralization of power in the hands of few.

It is easy to see why authoritarian regimes don’t like trade unions. They’re democracy in the workplace and democracy anywhere is an anathema to a dictator.

Photo of Governor Walker  from the linked Truthout op-ed.

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