Working: No More Than A Wage Slave
By Arthur J. Miller.
If the workers take a notion
They can stop all speeding trains
Every ship upon the ocean
They can tie with mighty chains
Every wheel in the creation
Every mine and every mill
Fleets and armies of the nation
Will at their command stand still
The farmworker poisoned by pesticides, the coal miner dying from Black Lung, the hardrock miner with silicosis, the shipyard worker with asbestosis, the chemical worker with cancer from a thousand carcinogen substances, the textile worker slowly suffocating from Brown Lung, all being murdered by a social disease called greed.
The truck driver smashing his rig for lack of sleep, the line worker sliced up in the machinery by speedup production, the construction worker entombed in a collapsed building, the electrician electrocuted because a lockout was not in place, the maritime worker whose steel tomb lies at the bottom of the ocean, the miner buried in the mine, all dead or injured so that the social parasites can feast on the wealth produced. Upon the wealth of a few is the blood of the many.
Is there a working stiff anywhere who lives unaffected? Though a death sentence is not carried out on every worker, few are able to escape wage slavery unharmed. Carpel Tunnel Syndrome in painful wrists to Multi-Chemical Sensitivity, bad backs to blown-out knees, the agony of lead poisoning to arsenic laced organs, missing body parts to crushed bones, the economics of profit are the economics of anguish.
Those who produce the wealth of the world, those who feed and clothe the people, those who build the homes of all, everything that is used, serviced, transported or maintained is done by those who are driven into slavery for wages, exploited for profit and condemned to physical agonies of the body.
I am but a working stiff, no philosopher of pie-in-the-sky, nor a self-appointed leader of anyone. My outrage comes from the reality of a working class life. I have been a line worker and have seen the torment of my sister and fellow workers from speedup production. I have been a farmworker and smelled the poisons on the plants. I have worked in the hardrock mining industry and felt the pain of the families of those lost down in the deep holes. I have been a shipyard worker and held the gravely injured in my arms. I have been a long haul truck driver who has known the weariness that leads to death upon the pavement. I have been a roughneck on a wildcat oil rig replacing workers who had died. To me the working class struggle is not a philosophical concept but a battle for survival.
When I hear the endless debates of the so-called labor intellectuals, I think back to the shipyards, where I once held a gravely injured friend who had taken a fall. I was drenched in his blood and cursed the bosses and the speedup production that were to blame. What did this have to do with the intellectual masturbating of self-righteous labor thinkers? When I worked in the hardrock mining industry, I worked for a company that knowingly poisoned over 500 children and hundreds of workers – down the road 91 miners had died in a dark lonely pit. Thinking of the agony upon the faces of the families of the victims, I wonder how they fit into the plans of those that seek to divide the working class into factions of ideological purity. The fact of the matter is that those that do the most chattering about working class "theory" have little to do with working class reality.
For the people, I ask, why must we suffer so? Did the Gods up high decree such a fate upon us? Is it engraved in stone tablets that the hungry must not be fed? That the gift of childhood must be a time of dread? That wars must be fought and mangled bodies of the dead must lie? That the sick and crippled must be ignored? That a person’s race, sex or age be a reason for them to be tyrannized? That working people must toil in wage slavery for the wealth of a few parasites? That the splendor of Mother Earth must be fouled for the decadence of but a small class of people?
I am no daydreamer when I say that such things need not be. I do not believe that the purpose of the creation is for a few to live in splendor and the many to live in an earthly hell. The many must learn that we must do for ourselves that which must be done. We cannot delegate this responsibility to others, for those that seek to control us and lead us are only out to preserve their privileged place in society.
We working people hold a great power in our hands, a power awesome to behold. The power of the working class is the power of production. Nothing is produced that we have not made, nothing is transported that we do not transport, nothing is serviced that we do not service, nothing is maintained that we do not maintain, no one eats and no one lives without the work of someone. Though the privileged ones seeks to divide us, we have a common bond, the working class is all of the people who do the useful work in society. And though the privileged class looks down upon us as inferiors, the great truth of existence is that they cannot live without us.
Our society could continue without the philosophers, labor historians, politicians and the rich bosses. For they are only parasites feeding upon the blood of the many. But if you were to remove those who do the real work society would grind to a halt. So in reality, who are the real inferiors? The privileged class that is incapable of anything but sucking our blood. Whereas we, the working class, create all that is useful. So why should we be the inferiors in society? Why do we need anyone telling us what to do? Why cannot we, who know better how to create, control our own affairs and create a new society based upon our great abilities?
The great creative power that lies within the hands of all working people is not yet used for our own benefit. We allow the social parasites to restrain us with their endless babbling of lies. We allow their media and fabricated culture to put our minds to sleep. But if were to cast off the hypnotic spell of the deceivers and use our great creative power for the well-being of all, the wrongs we endure would cease in a massive cleansing of our tormentors.
Our power would send the union bosses packing, those who have kept us in check within weak organizations that have working people competing with each other. Our power would dissolve the factions that the factionalists have built. Our power would turn the self-appointed labor historians into museum pieces gathering dust in some corner out of sight and out of mind, along with others of their kind, like anthropologists. For labor historians are to workers as anthropologists are to Indians. Our power would force the bosses and their managers to find useful work to do, for we would do as they have done to us so many times: laid off without notice. Our power would send the politicians to the unemployment line. For the only good politician is an unemployed politician. I advocate the social policy of 100% unemployment of all politicians.
Our power could put an end to the poverty of all working people, for we could ensure production be for use, not profit. Our power could make all work places safe and healthy, for our purpose is to benefit the many and not the few. Our power could end all wars, for we would no longer produce their weapons and would no longer supply their armies, and would no longer fight our sister and fellow workers throughout the world. Our power could end all the bigotry and hate that is used to divide us, for the solidarity of our powers is made up of the diverse elements of humanity and that diversity is our strength, not our weakness. Our power can be used to end the shameful abuse of Mother Earth, heal the wounds upon her body that humankind has inflicted and restore the balance of human society with all things upon this world. Our power could create a world based upon the well-being of all, this is not a daydream or a fantasy of a delusional mind, it is the real power we possess, if only we choose to use them for these great purposes.
Though our working class struggle is about better conditions, it should also be about fulfilling our social responsibilities. No longer should we delegate to others the responsibilities for our world and the people upon it. We are responsible for that which we produce and the effects of that production upon all. We are responsible for the well-being of all our sister and fellow workers as they are responsible to each of us. This responsibility means we must end our allegiance to the masters' industrial monsters that devour Mother Earth and their endless wars and weapons of mass death which have no other purpose than murdering our sister and fellow workers upon the bloody altar of greed. We have a social responsibility to stand which all the rulers seek to grind under their iron heel. The indigenous people who are yet to be assimilated, people of color that institutionalized racism keep deeply oppressed, women who the male-dominated ruling class seeks to keep powerless, and all people that the insanity of the rulers' society seeks to keep down because of who they may be. Through the use of our great creative power no wrong should be overlooked, no suffering be without a voice. The social responsibility that we do have was given to us by those that struggled before us to advance within our lifetimes and to be given to future generations.
The power of the working class and its continuous struggle needs to be organized. For our liberation will only come when the organized power of the working class is greater than the organized power of the ruling class. This organization of our power must not be delegated to be led by any but ourselves. The organization of working people must not be a rigid dogmatic top to bottom organization, but rather a horizontal organization that bonds together all working people in the spirit of solidarity where there is no head and each worker is its leader. Thus creating the One Big Union of the working class.
Working people are not some army of ants, a mass of faceless drones. The working class is a great diversity of people and different ways. Each worker is an individual with their own unique desires and creative abilities. It is within this that we find our true creativeness and thus our One Big Union would be a reflection of this creative spirit. The One Big Union would organize based upon our diversity to great the greatest effectiveness possible and bond us all together making "an injury to one an injury to all."
Armed with the knowledge of our great power and the strength of our organization we will be able to remove the social parasites from the face of the earth. For the great day of redemption will come if we only choose for it to be so.