Economics/Class Relations

A conservative appreciation of labor unions

I don’t agree with this author’s perspective on a number of things, but there are some great points in this article.

Instead of focusing on traditional issues like wages, hours, and working conditions, the AFL-CIO suddenly found itself sponsoring college teach-ins, as Matt Labash noted, featuring panelists like “Katha Pollitt, Betty Friedan, and Cornel West, who discussed such sheet-metal-worker favorites as ‘Race and the Wages of Whiteness’ and ‘Culture, Identity and Class Politics.’” 

That’s one of the fundamental problems with “left” activism. They can never simply focus on the business at hand (like raising wages). They have to bring all this weird critical theory stuff into everything. Public interest in labor unions has declined in direct proportion to the degree that they have become, like mainline churches, merely “temples of wokeness.”

In that effort, we drew on the wisdom of conservative sociologist Robert Nisbet. He argued in his 1953 masterpiece The Quest for Community that totalitarianism always came first for the labor unions, because in their encouragement of self-organization among the “masses,” free unions obstructed the essential shift of allegiance away from local associations toward the centralized, omnicompetent state.

Yes. The suppression of independent labor unions has always been a hallmark of commie and fascist states.

Free-market champions, in turn, were profoundly mistaken in their hostility to unions, Nisbet believed. “Not to the imaginary motives of the individualist but to the associational realities of the labor union, the cooperative, and the enlightened industrial community must we look for the real defenses against political invasions of economic freedom,” he wrote.

That’s because conservative “free market champions” are not “conservative” or “free market” at all, but merely plutocratic functionaries and apologists.

By William A. Schambra

Philanthropy Daily

Labor Day is not an occasion that typically prompts appreciative reflection from conservative bloggers. But we at The Giving Review have a somewhat-unusual relationship to labor unions, as our readers know.

We have frequently discussed an approach to philanthropy called “other-side” giving. It’s rooted in the tenacious resistance organized American labor put up against Soviet imperialism at the onset of the Cold War, well before the U.S. government itself grasped the danger. American labor leaders like Jay Lovestone and Irving Brown quietly funneled dollars, advisors, and other resources to left-leaning but independent labor unions in West Germany, France, Italy, and other European nations, where Communist front unions were pressing for their absorption into the Soviet bloc. In time, the American government and some private foundations would come to back this effort, as well as providing funding for leftist journals, writers, and artists who knew that free intellectual life was impossible under Communism.


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