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If You Help Only
One Worker, Then You
Hurt The Rest

By Punkerslut

From RadicalGraphics.org
Image: From "Work" Gallery from RadicalGraphics.org

Start Date: August 16, 2009
Finish Date: August 16, 2009

"We understand that under these conditions manual labour is considered a curse of fate.

"We understand that all men have but one dream--that of emerging from, or enabling their cl1ildren to emerge from this inferior state; to create for themselves an 'independent' position, which means what?--To also live by other men's work!"
          --Peter Kropotkin, 1892
          "The Conquest of Bread," Chapter 12, Part II

     Everyone understands the value of uplifting people -- of developing individuals and communities socially, culturally, and economically. We can see this in the teachers who spend time after school helping students study. With all types of coaches, trainers, and professors, the motive is to help the student advance. To help them reach a position in life where they are economically independent and culturally thoughtful; where they are not in fear of poverty, and where they apply the skills they attained.

     We see this tendency just as much in other spheres of society. In business and industry, there are always rewards and advancement programs. The form might be piecework, quality assurance, employee stock ownership, or most commonly -- a pay raise based on how productive the worker has been.

     In charities, too, there is the same tendency. They encourage people to labor, to submit to the lifestyles created by businesses, to rent from landlords and buy from corporations. It is an attempt to mold people who are poor or homeless into laborers who produce for themselves. Everywhere, there is the interest of uplifting the poor, common masses. Or, to put it more clearly, there is an interest in integrating them into the current, social situation.

     But what happens when someone is actually "uplifted" this way? What happens when an individual rises a step on the ladder, receiving a promotion and salary increase? This is done in recognition of the individual's ability to produce more -- to add more to the total production than the others. Necessarily, this means a greater efficiency in their boss's business operations.

From RadicalGraphics.org
Image: From "Work" Gallery from RadicalGraphics.org

"Are the railroad men of this country organized today? No! Not nearly one-half of them are organized at all. And when the railroad corporations from motives of good policy make a concession to the engineers of the conductors, it is gouged out of the poor devils who work for a dollar a day and are compelled to submit."
          --Eugene V. Debs, 1905
          "Revolutionary Unionism," Speech at Chicago

     Society's new professional is not laboring for society's interests. They are laboring for the interests of their employer -- the one who is the source of their paycheck, and necessarily, their bread and housing. When efficiency increases because of improved skill, this can only mean the laying off workers.

     When it doesn't come to that, it would mean micromanaging and alienating the workers with an efficiency expert. In other cases, it would mean exporting these jobs to a foreign country, so that the company could exploit cheap and oppressed labor.

"The daily practice of all annuls the goals of each. But the workers did not know that their situation was a product of their own daily behavior; their own activities were not transparent to them. To the workers it seemed that low wages were simply a natural part of life, like illness and death, and that falling wages were a natural catastrophe, like a flood or a hard winter."
          --Fredy Perlman, 1969
          "The Reproduction of Daily Life"

     Where labor becomes more and more efficient, more and more laborers will be laid off. But then labor is needed again. The middle and upper classes have found new luxury industries and entertainment businesses -- and they each require steady hands and logical minds.

     To improve one worker's condition will only degrade the other workers. The only way to help the individual is to help the collective. When organized, a union can effectively negotiate for employment and compensation rights. All other methods of society only uplift one individual, so that they can step on many others. Only our cooperative action as workers can truly uplift people, because it helps all, without worsening the condition of anyone.

"...it follows that conditions of labor cannot get worse or better in any particular industry without immediately affecting the workers in other industries, and that workers of all trades are interlinked with real and indissoluble ties of solidarity."
          --Mikhail Bakunin, ~1800's
          "Founding of the Worker's International"


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