Why organized labor should join with entrepreneurs to bust the corporate monopolies threatening them both.
The traditional goals of organized labor—democracy, liberty, rule of law, the economic independence of the individual citizen, and the protection of property (in the form of labor)—do not differ all that much from the dreams that animate most small business owners and most farmers. (Or, for that matter, most members of the Tea Party.) Nor do many of these same business owners and farmers (or, for that matter, most members of the Tea Party) object to the fundamental idea behind organized labor—that individual citizens, to protect themselves and their families and their communities from impoverishment and autocracy, must link arms with one another.
Yet in recent decades, as the same concentrations of power that have been used to deprive workers of their most basic rights have also been used to deprive small business owners of their economic liberties and properties, organized labor has chosen to look away, largely because these neighbors, cousins, and brothers stood beneath a red banner rather than a blue.
Organized labor, in other words, violated the first rule of solidarity. By failing to understand the powers arrayed against their fellow citizens, by failing to reach out to their own neighbors, by failing to lock arms within their own communities, labor made it easier for the powerful few to split organized workers away from their own allies.
America’s independent entrepreneurs desperately need an organized brain to help them make sense of the dangers they perceive. Labor, meanwhile, retains an institutional capacity to think, but has lost the ability to see. If organized labor learns once more to open its eyes, learns again how to talk to its own neighbors about the powers that surround and threaten us all—then who knows what new coalitions can be built, and what power can be concentrated in the name of the people.
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