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happy capital d… err, labour day

September 6, 2011

Listening to NPR this faux-Labour Day, I heard this story, and I completely agree with E.J. Dionne Jr. that “it should shame us about our cool indifference to the heroism of those who go to work every day.”

The term ‘shame’ is dead-on. The way we’ve been systematically lead into essentially ignoring the contributions of labour as we laud the simple existence of capital is shameful. The way we’ve allowed ourselves to be swayed into idealizing investors as benevolent creators while looking down at workers as lazy, ignorant leeches is even more shameful.

I say this because I’m familiar with the history of the American labour movement, especially the things average workers have fought and sometimes died for that we now take for granted. People think nothing of celebrating soldiers who fought and died in foreign wars; but many of those same people turn their noses up at workers who fought and died right here for union recognition, 8 hour work days, a fair wage, etc., and I simply can’t understand it.

Today isn’t just about having a day off; it’s about celebrating the labour movement and commemorating the struggles workers, including you and me, have faced and overcome throughout the years since the Industrial Revolution.

I highly recommend checking out books like Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States or Sharon Smith’s Subterranean Fire for anyone who’s interested in learning more about the history of the American working class and the origins of Labour Day (which should really be on May 1st like the rest of the world).

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