The Power of Unions

April 22, 2007

The almighty unions of old have been reduced during the course of time to practically powerless organisations relying on the benevolent attitude of the state and its monetary contributions. In actual fact unions have the power that the state wants to give them. It is convenient that to consolidate the impression that unions are of use to the workers, the state turns a blind eye to certain minor strikes that confirm the rule.

Laws that prescribe minimum services decaff totally the importance of a strike that otherwise could be really disruptive of the smooth going of the economy. Our capitalist world rests solidly on the “good-will” of workers and the states have seen to it that this “good-will” be firmly encouraged, but there is still something that unions could do: intervene in politics. For the time being they are the only organisations with capacity of unity existing in the “democratic” world of the deeply lobbied political parties.

There is a hope for the people in strikes, much that our comfortable way of living detests those strikes that may discomfit the usual routine in our lives. We have reached a point in our existence that we are deeply divided in everything. The “divide and conquer” of old has served the capitalistic system, too. Whoever wishes to talk about democracy finds her/himself at a loss to understand how the democracy that we have does not allow for the full, progressive strikes that much did for the labour world. Its excesses, though, also paved the way for a perfection of technology which meant the loss of countless jobs and the institution of unemployment. And when this technology is not enough, then the big companies decide moving to another country where the political conditions do not permit preponderance in workers, the costs of exploitation are considerably lower than those in what we call the civilised world and tax exemptions further pamper the powerful multinationals.

I am not against capitalism as an economic system, in my opinion it is for the time being the best chance that we have to exist, otherwise I wonder what today any other system will do other than return us to our primitive conditions of food for living and cover ourselves in skins and rags. But capitalism must also have its limitations. There must not be excesses in capitalism as there must not be excesses in labour.

There is a chance for the unions to recover their old influence and this chance in my opinion is politics, intervening in politics needs unity and the unions are just the only organisations with a possibility to achieve that unity in our world, not Marxist or Communist unity, not that but the unity necessary to use common sense in all the aspects of our lives.

Which ought to be moderate not aggressive. Understanding not adamant.

After saying all this I’m ready for the stake.

When a person must abandon his home for whatever the reasons, the drama has been set up for them. Leaving family, friends, routine ways of living is not an easy decision, the more so when this decision is in the minds of the affected persons one of life or death.

Millions of people have come to Europe from faraway places and continents, this displacement with a lot of meanings to them: integration in new cultures – civil, religious, educational, etc – and above everything the need to earn a living for themselves and their families that have been left behind in infrahuman circumstances.

Millions of people have gone to the US, both from the very American continent and also from far away. The millions of ill-called Hispanics are a living proof.

Millions of people have found the urgency of moving in the Middle East from their original places of residence to safer ones. If they knew – which they don’t – Iraqi refugees should be clamouring against the recent scandal dramatised by the President of the World Bank who has been one of the main planners of the chaotic situation to which they have been subjected for three years now.

And what can I say of the Palestinians that is not already known? They were and are still being pushed out of their legal homes by invaders who appear to have a free charter to do and undo at will in that territory.

But the real problem of all these displacements is not with the refugees and emigrants themselves, the real problem lies with us in the countries they have chosen to live in, what do we think of it? What do we do in that connection?

I am afraid the only reaction the problem receives from us is just one of distaste, of having to cope with a situation that we are reluctant to accept because that situation distabilises our way of living. We have been very tranquil until those people “dared” to intrude in our lives.

But we are also partially responsible. We have supported governments that have made it possible for the migrations to happen, for the refugees to seek asylum, and we have remained deaf and dumb, many because of ignorance, many because of passivity.

Many years ago people from our countries had to emigrate to or seek refuge in others, mainly American, and History has not wanted that we reflect on that human terrible decision. Our countries have intervened in the economic life of those which now send emigrants to us in a very significant manner: exploit of their human and natural resources, but history has not wanted that we all know about these circumstances.

And the outcome of all those interventions is the present problems in immigration. As the outcome of the problems in the Middle East is the refugees.

I know many have protested against the illegal wars in the Middle East, our governments have given us a deaf ear, our governments give an avid ear to those who designate, but not elect, them.

Is there a way for us to deal with this problem? If we thought how much these people are suffering, if we placed ourselves in their shoes, perhaps that will be the first step towards a pacific coexistence in our countries. These immigrants feel themselves marginalised and, believe me, that is the main problem we have to contend with.

The other, the basic problem, is for our governments to agree to appoint the “right persons” whose main worry be that of improving the living conditions in their countries of origin, of facilitating their access to education.

But as we have seen the “right persons” have proved  to be not so right.

Difficult task, isn’t it?

Attention Anticant

April 7, 2007

Have been trying to post two comments on your anticant’s arena blog unsuccessfully. I’ll do it here if you don’t mind.

To your post about Love I must say I find it an excellent essay which shows the quality of your thoughts.

To your last comment at “Peace” I couldn’t agree more.

Perhaps it is a question of technicalities in the blogs. I’ll try to do it later on in the day.