DEFEND THE TIES THAT BIND
A New Democracy Flyer
The most sacred human bonds are those that bind the present generation to the young and to the generation that is passing away.
The bonds between generations commit parents to their children and younger adults to their aging parents. They are the basis of the idea that young people have a special place in society and should be protected by adults, and that the elderly should be cared for beyond their productive years. These bonds tell us that the earth is not ours to consume as we please but is held in trust for the generations to come.
The bonds between generations are the basis of age-old customs embodied now in such practices as workplace seniority rules. According to this ancient trust, older, more experienced workers impart their knowledge and skills to younger workers; in return, as older workers slow down, younger workers protect them and pick up more of the burden.
In recent years, the corporate and government elite have mounted a full-scale assault unprecedented in human history on the solidarity between generations.
TRYING TO BREAK THE TIES
The 1980s began with an attack on older workers. Company pensions became a thing of the past for most; individuals were left to fund their own retirement. Seniority rights came under fire. Massive numbers of middle-aged workers lost their jobs and pensions.
These attacks were made in the name of "competitiveness": the older generation has to be sacrificed for the good of the company and for the remaining workers.
Now even Social Security is under attack, with a fake "crisis" and calls to privatize it. The proposed reforms would leave each older person to his or her own fate.
The United Auto Workers (UAW) and other unions have helped spearhead the most insidious attacks on intergenerational solidarity. The two-tier contracts which UAW/Cat has imposed on workers at Caterpillar and elsewhere are designed to undermine solidarity and set generation against generation.
The International Association of Machinists (IAM) has already imposed two tiers on the workforce at Cat-Joliet with poisonous results. New hires at Joliet make dramatically less than other employees for doing the same work. Thus younger workers are betrayed by the union, and older workers (who have long been betrayed by the same union) are fiercely resented by many younger workers for voting the contract. When a local member spoke out in a newspaper article about the second-class citizenship of new hires, local officials filed charges against him.
The IAM leaders are trying to put generations of workers at each other's throats. The UAW hopes to do the same throughout the Cat chain.
REVOLUTION IS CONSERVATIVE
We at New Democracy see revolution to mean the triumph of working people in the struggle to assert their values over capitalist values.
Revolution is a conservative act as well as a radical one. It is the only way to defend those precious relationships which are the bases of human life and society, and which form the core of human values.
When capitalism strikes against the very things that make us human beings, can any one doubt that we need a revolution? When what is at stake in the struggle is so fundamental to our humanity, can anyone doubt that we will succeed?
Please copy this flyer and pass it on.
New Democracy works for democratic revolution. Call John
Spritzler (617)566-9637. For free literature: New Democracy, P. O. Box 427,
Boston, MA 02130, USA. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
(Originally published in New Democracy Newsletter, May-June 1998.)