Since its inception, the American Labor Movement has had a Progressive, Socialist voice aiding in its efforts to produce Agreements with corporations that have included health care, pensions, strongly worded language on worker equality, civil rights issues and many more important benefits which some of us still enjoy to this day.
As the decades ensued, Socialist ideals like those instituted by noted, a founding member of the IWW and five-time Socialist Party of America candidate for President, Eugene V. Debs, came under heavy fire from Red-baiters, such as Republican Senator, Joseph McCarthy, and FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover.
And as some of those same ideals, enjoyed by millions of American union workers and their families were deemed “un-American” ways of thinking, and as the country, pushed over the years to a much more Neo-Liberal or Neo-Conservative leaning philosophy, began to take on a more unabashed, nationalistic tone, the voices of Socialist union leaders were banished to the dust bins of history under the ever-present oversight of scurrilous government watchdogs, such as the House Un-American Activities Committee.
Crushed under the weight of this unwarranted pressure (in some cases, pressure levied by their more hawkish, “Better Dead Than Red” union hierarchies of the 1950-60’s), Socialist Labor voices were reduced to a whisper, voices, which no doubt could have been utilized as a demonstrative force against evil in the painful, coming years of American government bowing at the altar of greed, the Global Economy and its horrendous spawn, Free Trade Agreements.
With the introduction of the Internet and other advances, the Millennial Generation has become more open and interested in the history behind the Labor Movement and have been surprised to find out that its Socialist hotbeds weren’t necessarily the urban centers of America, but instead from now more strongly aligned, Right Wing states of West Virginia.
With the 2020 Election quickly approaching, Labor is being looked to by many Millennials to see if they will again, as they had years before, charge headfirst into the fray as the vanguards of grassroots, Socialist movements or align themselves with the status quo wing of the Democratic Party who helped free trade away countless, good paying, working class, Labor-backed jobs in the past three decades.
Are we ready to take on the more Progressive, Socialist path of our storied Union ancestry; the path of Mary Harris Jones (Mother Jones) who was once labelled “the most dangerous woman in America,” and as she did, with “conviction and a voice,” possibly usher in a new wave of grassroots Socialist, Labor activism or will we sit on the sidelines, adopting a wait and see approach which has failed us miserably?
The youth of America is waiting. Only time will tell.