I recently compared the Occupy Movement to the New Left, but it’s truly striking how different the former’s relationship is with organized labor.
The New Left assailed societal bureaucratization and powerful elites, including potentates in organized labor. Union members beat up antiwar protesters. Forty-plus years later, unions have gotten squarely behind Occupy Wall Street and its innumerable offshoots. AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka, who C. Wright Mills and company may have derided in years past, castigated authorities this week for cracking down on peaceful protesters. The Transport Workers Union of Greater New York, incensed that police dragooned bus drivers into transporting arrested protesters, filed an (ultimately unsuccessful) lawsuit. Last night, union members and occupiers turned out en masse to protest Scott Walker’s fundraising visit to Des Moines.
Why the temporal change?
Constant rearguard attacks and mass deunionization have surely play a part. Labor is beleaguered—not an ossified, establishment force. And the cultural chasm between the labor rank-and-file and leftists seems to have shrunk; organized labor has moved to the left in recent decades, and the left has moved to the right (no more antiwar sentiment transmogrifying into anti-soldier enmity). I just can’t imagine anything comparable to the Hard Hat Riot happening now.
UPDATE: The inimitable Ned Resnikoff was kind enough to respond to my post. Check it out.