Essential reading…

…for anyone who reasons that a union is the panacea for all of their work-a-day troubles (as one former colleague (R-S) explained in a union-organizing meeting about a union shop where he worked while in college: Have trouble with a supervisor? Call your union rep and they’ll send out a “Guido-looking” guy in a long limo, along with some “guys,” to take care of it for you. ) Delightful. Have I mentioned before that I’m not much of a joiner? And that if I were to pigeonhole myself, it’d be with the humanists?

Check out John Steinbeck’s “In Dubious Battle,” which he wrote about the “fruit tramps” who got trampled by everyone.

Dr. Burton, who is tending to the camp of srikers, is having a conversation with Mac, a party strike organizer:

“You’re a mystery to me, too, Doc,” Mac said.

“Me? A mystery?”

“Yes, you. You’re not a Party man, but you work with us all the time; you never get anything for it. I don’t know whether you believe in what we’re doing or not, you never say, you just work. I’ve been out with you before, and I’m not sure you belive in the cause at all.”

Dr. Burton laughed softly. “It would be hard to say. I could tell you some things I think; you might not like them. I’m pretty sure you wouldn’t like them.”

“Well, let’s hear them, anyway.”

“Well, you say I don’t belive in the cause. That’s like not believing in the moon. There’ve been communes before, and there will be again. But you people have an idea that if can establish the thing, the job’ll get done. Nothing stops, Mac. If you were able to put an idea into effect tomorrow, it would start changing right away. Establish a commune, and the same gradual flux will continue.”

“Then you don’t think the cause is good?”

Burton signed. “You see? We’re going to pile up on that old rock again. That’s why I don’t like to talk very often. Listen to me, Mac. My senses aren’t above reproach, but they’re all I have. I want to see the whole picture — as nearly as I can. I don’t want to put on the blinders of ‘good’ and ‘bad,’ and limit my vision. If I used the term ‘good’ on a thing I’d lose my license to inspect it, because there might be bad in it. Don’t you see? I want to be able to look at the whole thing.”

“You figure the strike is a wound?”
“Yes. Group-men, for they seem to me to be an individual, not at all like single me. A man in a group isn’t himself at all; he’s a cell in an organism that isn’t like him any more than the cells in your body are like you. I want to watch the group, and see what it’s like. People have said, ‘mobs are crazy, and you can’t tell what they’ll do.’ Why don’t people look at mobs not as men, but as mobs? A mob nearly always seems to act reasonably, for a mob.”


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