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The Confederate Lawyer
July 2, 2013

The Origins of Solidarity in America
by Charles G. Mills
fitzgerald griffin foundation

GLEN COVE, NY — Human solidarity is a Christian virtue. We are all children of God; we are all children of Adam; we are all children of Noah. Whatever we do to the least human, we do to Jesus. Solidarity with a select part of humanity can sometimes, however, be the opposite of human solidarity.

In the medieval guilds, for example, the solidarity among workers of a certain craft helped to preserve the quality and integrity of that craft. Modern industrial unions, despite all their colorful songs about solidarity, have too often been vehicles of class warfare, which can never be human solidarity.

 

The very concept of one class displacing another is completely incompatible with the brotherhood of all men.

The modern labor movement has multiple origins. Some early craft unions tried to adopt the idea of guilds to the modern world; some were even called guilds. The American Federation of Labor (AFL) was built around craft unions. In contrast, the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO) was built around the idea of unionizing entire industries, including unskilled workers. The International Workers of the World (IWW) believed in "one big union" for all workers.

 

The cord-winders of Massachusetts ...discovered that the only way to keep their employers from enticing them back to work ... was to use violence to enforce the strike. This discovery is the real birth of the American labor union system.

 

The CIO and IWW were deeply infected with Marxist and Hegelian notions about an inevitable path of history. According to them, all economic classes were invariably at war with each other. While there would be some steps back, the flow of history would move inexorably forward. The middle class would replace the upper class, and the lower class would replace the middle class, until the dictatorship of the proletariat and perfect democracy were achieved. The proletariat was a concept they took from ancient Rome, where the class without significant material possessions was called the proletariat because all they had was family.

The very concept of one class displacing another is completely incompatible with the brotherhood of all men.

Not surprisingly, almost 200 years ago the ideals of the unions bumped up against reality. The bump happened first in a craft union, not in an industrial union. The cord-winders of Massachusetts went out on strike. They quickly discovered that the only way to keep their employers from enticing them back to work, one worker at a time, was to use violence to enforce the strike. This discovery is the real birth of the American labor union system.

The result was that solidarity was not only limited by class; it no longer even extended to fellow workers. Solidarity enforced by club and brass knuckles is not solidarity at all.

 

Solidarity enforced by club and brass knuckles is not solidarity at all. ... Born in violence, the unions have grown in violence, theft, and corruption.

"By their fruits ye shall know them." Born in violence, the unions have grown in violence, theft, and corruption. In the middle of the twentieth century, the AFL and CIO merged. By then, their only concern was to divide up the loot and political power. Unions now administer huge pension plans from which the union bosses take exorbitant sums. Workers' homes are shot up if they do not go on strike. People who just want to work are dehumanized with the name "scab." Powerful union bosses just disappear to be buried in concrete beneath stadiums. The fellow worker who simply prefers to have a job rather than to enrich the union kleptocracy is now the enemy. Some solidarity.

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The Confederate Lawyer column is copyright © 2013 by Charles G. Mills and the Fitzgerald Griffin Foundation, www.fgfBooks.com. All rights reserved.

This column may be forwarded, posted, or published if credit is given to Charles Mills and fgfBooks.com.

Charles G. Mills is the Judge Advocate or general counsel for the New York State American Legion. He has forty years of experience in many trial and appellate courts and has published several articles about the law.

See his biographical sketch and additional columns here.

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