Today, the incomes of working people are declining, those of the rich are skyrocketing, but federal and state governments are nevertheless aiming their fire at working people, demanding pension cuts, wage cuts, layoffs, and cuts to Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, public education, and social services. These cuts will only accelerate the inequalities in wealth. Now more than ever, organized labor needs to step up, reclaim its glories from its past, and mount a major campaign to oppose these attacks and demand that the government institute job-creation programs.Although we have much to learn from the largely expunged history of our ancestor's struggles against organized capitalists, we must also understand that we are living under quite different conditions and apply those lessons accordingly. We are living in a globalized capitalist Empire where the ruling classes can shift economic enterprises fairly easily from one location to another. Thus, we must collaborate much more closely with workers throughout the world. We must globalize worker struggles to overcome the oppression of globalized capital.
We’ve lived so long under the spell of hierarchy—from god-kings to feudal lords to party bosses—that only recently have we awakened to see not only that “regular” citizens have the capacity for self-governance, but that without their engagement our huge global crises cannot be addressed. The changes needed for human society simply to survive, let alone thrive, are so profound that the only way we will move toward them is if we ourselves, regular citizens, feel meaningful ownership of solutions through direct engagement. Our problems are too big, interrelated, and pervasive to yield to directives from on high.
—Frances Moore Lappé, excerpt from Time for Progressives to Grow Up