by Mumia Abu-Jamal; this article was originally published in Partisan issue no. 20, printed April 2005.
There is in the air today a whiff of something hoary, something old, something musty, like the air in an attic that has been unopened for decades.
We are beginning to sense the smell of the arrogance of business, when wedded to state power.
It can be seen in the war against social security, the incessant sniping at unions, the brutish nature of what passes for popular culture; where, on every channel is the race to humiliate one another for a roll of dollars, or perhaps even worse, where the media masquerades as your best friend, smiling, joking, teasing, as the nation's house is on fire.
It dawned on me that we have been here before, perhaps a century ago, around 1903, when the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) began its attack on the nation's unions, calling them "mob power" and "socialistic" syndicates. This was but an echo of the mid-nineteenth century stance of the nation's courts, which held that unions were "criminal conspiracies." The Sherman Anti-Trust Act of 1890 provided a statutory basis for the legal system to declare unions were "illegal combinations in restraint of trade." [Piven, Frances Fox & Richard A. Cloward, The New Class War: Reagan's Attack on the Welfare State and Its Consequences (Rev'd/Ex'd Ed.) (Pantheon Books: N.Y., 1982/1985), p. 54.]
It took popular movements and long, hard social struggles to win the right to unionize, for the 8-hour day, for decent wages, and for retirement benefits. It is those very social gains that are now under attack by the business community, using the State, and rhetoric about "government efficiency", as cover for these moves.
Back in 1940, American corporations paid roughly half of the federal government's general tax revenues. That percentage has declined steadily (with a few, brief blips).
Despite steadily growing corporate profits over the past 60 years, guess what percentage of today's income taxes is paid by businesses? Answer: 7.4%!
As Mark Zepezauer has written in Take the Rich Off Welfare (Cambridge, MA.; South End Press, 2004):
And we don't have to mention taxes on transnational corporations -- (but we will). Again, Zepezauer notes:
And you wonder why people are crying about the imminent demise of Social Security!
This government is the bound servant of the corporations -- not the people -- and it is proving this every day.
In the early 1900s, the NAM fought against 8-hour days, and union organizing. Today, the government is advancing an anti-democratic agenda that privileges the rich and well-to-do, and the subtle destruction of Social Security is but the opening salvo. Although some Democrats claim that this project is 'dead on arrival', we shall see.
Their behavior on recent right-wing Bush nominees doesn't give much support to that claim.
As ever, people can only rely on themselves, to fight for their interests. Organize. Organize. ORGANIZE!
Study the issues. Read Zepezauer's book (available on the web by one of my publishers, at: www.southendpress.org).
Join a social movement! Because only movement creates change!
Copyright 2005 Mumia Abu-Jamal
Mumia Abu-Jamal is a Pennsylvania death row prisoner who is a frequent writer and radio commentator. He was convicted in 1982 of killing a police officer in a trial which was rife with police, prosecutorial and judicial misconduct. Those involved in the trial and keeping him in prison include Ed Rendell, Democratic governor of Pennsylvania, and former Homeland Security chief Tom Ridge.
For further information about the case, contact:
Mobilization to Free Mumia Abu-Jamal
298 Valencia St.
San Francisco, CA 94103
This column may be freely republished. The only requirement is that you run it unedited, with every word intact, including copyright information, and send a copy of the publication to:
175 Progress Drive
Waynesburg, PA 15370
[The graphic of Mumia typing in his cell is by Eric Drooker.]