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

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

The New Right’s Origins in the Labor Battles of the 1930s

Click here to access a 44 minute interview with UC Davis historian Kathryn Olmstead conducted by Sasha Lilley on the program Against the Grain broadcast by KPFA, a listener sponsored radio station in Berkeley, California. The interview begins at 6:30m after a news report.
What are the origins of modern conservatism?  The failed Goldwater campaign?  Or the Cold War era discontent of midwestern small capitalists?  Historian Kathryn Olmstead argues that it should be located even earlier, in the intense and massive labor unrest that took place in the fields of California in the 1930s.  The response by growers and other elites pioneered methods that have become familiar today, from deploying populist rhetoric in the interests of big business to funding ostensibly grassroots organizations.
Unless a student can get access to honest historians like Olmstead, one must acquire accurate historical knowledge about workers from sources like this post and books. Otherwise I advise students to use educational institutions, which are always controlled by ideological capitalists, for skills training only.