Seeds of Oligarchy Sown: Reflections for Labor Day


By Mark Naison (September 4, 2015)

When I was growing up, many people, whether blue collar or white collar, worked at the same job for long periods of time, and were protected by union representation or, if they worked for government, by civil service laws. Stability on the job translated into stability at home. Many lived in the same houses and neighborhoods for long periods of time and stayed married to the same people.

This stability affected their sense of citizenship. They felt a stake in the communities they lived in, and took their responsibilities as voters very seriously. They also supported organizations involved in local schools and participated in groups which provided recreational opportunities for local youth.

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(Bellingham Labor News, 1941)


Over the last 50 years, as work has become more unstable, as unions have been broken, and the economy has become more globalized, levels of political and civic participation have fallen as well, making it far more difficult to control profiteering at the public’s expense. And therein lie the seeds of Oligarchy.

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