While I might have a lot to say about the Defense proposal which has already been overtaken by events, or the invasion of Ukraine which has really been unfolding since Boris Gudonov's defeat of the Tartars and the beginning of the Russian state, I decided to look at things through something I kind of understand...and Gettysburg is a great example of how badly things can go...and serves well as a metaphor for things could have been better, could have been worse but ultimately, wouldn't change a lot.
The news that the United Auto Workers lost a union election at a Nashville VW plant has sent the labor movement into something of a what the hell just happened spin. Unfortunately, I think that the results were preordained, back in about 1863. We have an interesting history in this country of well meaning northerners going into the backward and dirty south to enlighten these poor sons and daughters of Dixie, and it just doesn't work because the Northerners aren't trusted and the track record hasn't been all that great.
Hell, the post-union industrialization of the South wasn't by VW but it was by Northern Manufacturers who realized that they could make a lot more money moving steel from Pittsburgh to Birmingham and screw the workers in Birmingham a lot less than they were being screwed by their own boss class, but screw them a lot more than they were screwing over their own workers in the North. One might write an interesting history of American Expansion and Exception as a race to exploit the more easily exploited at cost to the somewhat less exploited. Now, the industrialization of the South screwed over a lot of people, and the big companies took the blame; it was possible to find Southern bosses and they did. Reconstruction ultimately turned out OK for the Southerners although not ideal from their point of view; hence the 100 year affiliation to the Democratic party although not necessarily the party of Roosevelt and Johnson but something else entirely.
Corn in the fields. Listen to the rice when the wind blows 'cross the water, King Harvest has surely come I work for the union 'cause she's so good to me; And I'm bound to come out on top, That's where she said I should be I will hear every word the boss may say, For he's the one who hands me down my pay Looks like this time I'm gonna get to stay, I'm a union man, now, all the way The smell of the leaves, From the magnolia trees in the meadow, King Harvest has surely come -- Robbie Robertson, the Band
Billy Yank and Johnny Reb compare resumes There's a wonderful moment in Gettysburg when an Officer of the 2oth Maine is talking with some Southern prisoners, primarily with a private. It's pretty interesting in that I think it's incredibly real and captures something that we miss at times. They ask each other where they're from, and the Rebel says, "Tennessee. How about you?" The Yank says, "Maine. I've never been to Tennessee." The Reb says, "Don't reckon I've ever been to Tennesse either."
The Yank officer says, " I don't mean no disrespect about you all fighting, but I have to wonder, what are you fighting for?" Reb private responds, "What are you fighting for?" Yank responds, "Why to free the slaves, of course. Preserve the union." Reb says, "I can't talk for anyone else, but I don't care about no darkies one way or the other. I'm fightin' for my Raaattts." Yank has no clue what he means, and says "What?" Rebel says, "My Raattts. That's what all of us are fighting for." The conversation continues, they agree that the war is an awful thing, they wish it was over and the Rebel admits to some acceptance that since he's a prisoner, he'll get to sit the rest of it out. They wish each other good luck and say "See you in Hell, Billy Yank." "See you in Hell, Johnny Reb." And one marches off to prison camp, and the other to Little Round Top.
If people like the UAW realized what that private was telling us and them, and what the scene was telling us, they might have been far more successful. First of all, we have radically different understandings of why we do things and what we're doing. Lots of reasons for that, and I've talked about some of them before. But, we don't understand each other -- the UAW can talk about industrial democracy and having a way to influence the company through the union; the Southerner doesn't understand Industrial Democracy (Of course, neither does the UAW) and since he knows his bosses, he trusts them. The VW plant management may not have been actively opposed to the union drive, but they've treated the workers well and haven't lied to them too much. The workers want to be left alone and allowed to work and be treated fairly. The Germans have done a good job of that. So...
Now, I've had a checkered career, and have talked to a lot of people over the years in a lot of professions, including those in State Workforce Development Programs. A few years ago at a Conference, I was chatting with fellow Vet who a honcho in the Alabama Workforce Development Department and a guy who was working in the South Carolina Workforce Development. They told both told me that BMW in South Carolina and Mercedes Benz in Alabama had far lower turnover, fewer problems, lower unemployment insurance rates and lower employee incidence of lawsuits than the Honda and Nissan plants in both states. The Alabama guy said the same thing about the Koreans and Hyundai. Far more success than Honda with their workers. The reasons were simple; the German and the Korean attitudes toward the workers and the resulting culture were really far more attractive. At Mercedes, the workers all basically dress the same on the floor -- the blue lab/worker coat that those of us who've spent time in Germany are familiar with. There is no reserved parking for the bosses, it's all first come/first serve except for handicapped parking. The example that they both shared vigorously was the subject of litter -- at the German and Korean plants, if one of the bosses passed some litter, he'd stop and pick it up, either put it in his pocket or toss it in the trash. No big deal. At the Japanese plants, it was the opposite; before a Japanese manager would pick up a piece of litter, he would go find an American to have him pick up the litter.
Consider that. As an occasional management consultant, I can tell you that outsiders offering opinions about all the crap " you all are doing wrong" doesn't work well -- "It's the stranger with a stopwatch, brief case asking to borrow your watch so they can break it"- syndrome built large.So, the UAW goes south. They pick a plant that generally has good relations with the workers and where the company sees a union on the German Works Council model as a way to have better relations and produce higher quality. However, the company wasn't doing the organizing drive; the UAW was. I trust Bob, but who the hell are you?
The key thing about the South is the importance of family. Since they've been so embattled over time and so battered by various outsiders who mean well, the importance of "kin" among working class Southerners is a key thing. I was trying to enforce some simple Army regulations and found myself accused while in exile with the Reserves in Texas of being " a goddamned outside Yankee agitator." I made a point of being culturally nonsensitive despite which I still managed to make some friends for whom I still care deeply. Last time I cried over someone's death who wasn't family was when I heard that the S3 Secretary in the Brigade I was assigned to died from cancer. But, I was there long enough to lead by example and develop some expert and referent power. Just show up and start preaching, especially about what "the union is going to do for you..." without that and the native Texan or Alabamian or Tennessean hears some Yankee saying, "We're gonna take your women, corn and horses, and there's nothing much you can do about it." If the meaning of the message is what the receiver hears, well, nothing much you can do about it by shouting it louder.
This isn't any different than the spirit that grows up in military units -- there's me, my team, my squad, my platoon and my company. Everybody else is the damn enemy until proven otherwise.
Rod Serling was a TV writer and producer in the 50s and 60s. He got fed up and since he was rich, he kind of left it all and spent a lot of time on his yacht going up and down the Erie Canal and the Finger Lakes as well as other places. Used to berth at a Senaca River Restaurant outside of Baldwinsville and drink beer and talk Syracuse Football with my Dad in the 60s and 70s after the Twilight Zone went off the air.
The Twilight Zone was his major TV product as well as a ton of independent TV productions. He gave the censors fits, unintentionally at first, by trying to write stuff that was intelligent, current and culturally challenging. I found an excerpt of this interview online and decided that the whole thing was worth providing. Public intellectuals used to speak this way -- imagine Ed Schultz and Sean Hannity having to use this level of logic, clarity and vocabulary. We are all fellow travelers in the great conspiracy of mediocrity. The story of the time that Lassie had puppies and the show got hate mail over showing puppies and the miracle of birth is worth the cost of admission alone, especially since it's free.
(I pulled the interview from The Internet Archive. I generally use it to look for and listen to concert footage, but it's an incredible asset -- kind of like browsing a really good library or book store with a lot of everything. It's one of my leading bookmarks, and I recommend it to anyone who might suddenly want to watch an Eisenstein film with the Greatful Dead playing in the background. https://archive.org/)
Speaking of public intellectuals, one that very few people think of that way is Ray Davies co-founder of the Kinks and cultural provocateur. Davies and his brother Dave made the Gallagher Brothers and the Everly Brothers look like the Brothers Four with their fights, feuds and general hair-pulling. However, they well deserve their place in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and Ray has just been elected to the Songwriter's Hall of Fame. This was a 2006 commentary on "Yob culture" and fits with Serling in an odd way...
"Jack the lad has become Oscar Wilde And the followers of style say, "It's the latest thing" And William Shakespeare is the schmooze of the week And anyone who says different is a fuckin' antique And Noel Coward has become very hard and the comic says "Bullocks" and everybody laughs and that's that
"Style, I mean, never was much, never has been But the little bit that was was all that we had And the clown does a belch and we all belch back And that's that.."
Rosanne Cash's newest release,The River and the Thread approaches masterpiece status. I know I included it on my latest list of albums I'd like to take to the other side...one of the troubling things for a lot of us is that we realize the South in a lot of ways represents the American Id and as such is part of all of us. We have to find out how to deal with it before the Id slaughters us all -- is it the food, water, reliance on religion, in-breeding or what the hell is going on there? Who wants iced tea so sweet and treacly it rots your teeth as you chew it? Who has NASCAR drivers tatooed on their private parts? Who would elect Ted Cruz, Mitch McConnell and the newest dingbat who things homosexuals should be purged from the Republican party?
45 years later, I see that this matches the brilliance of "Ode to Billy Joe..." The album cover was a picture taken by Rosanne's husband and music director John Leventhal standing behind her looking down at the Tallahatchee River from the Tallahatchee bridge.
It always bothers me when progressives and liberals say stuff that is incredibly stupid or just knee-jerk reaction to some stimulous. There is a problem among true believers that is relevant largely to true believers...anyone who has not confused themselves with God can usually sense the absurdity of their silliness and maybe even stop...
So, if you want to check out some music and read my argument, visit the link. Links posted in this one are all to music. Dylan has published enough stuff and had enough of it bootlegged to guarantee some decent stuff. Comments are always welcome. Cripsin will undoubtedly explain why he thinks Dylan less of a figure than Blondel the Troubador or Blind Lemon Jefferson, and that's ok.
I really don't like that bloody thing. Upworthy -- what the hell does it even mean? It's kind like RL Stevenson's A Child's Garden of Verse which some people find poetic but I always found it to be saccharine, maudlin "why the hell did they give me this instead of the book about Vikings I wanted" even when I was a kid. But, in the words of the old Russian proverb, Даже слепая свинья находит желудь иногда,oras we say in Dusquesne, WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON WITH THIS SCREWY INTERFACE?
Ok, it's ok now. Actually, it translates like this...
Charlie: You're getting on. You're pushing 30. You know, it's time to think about getting some ambition. Terry: I always figured I'd live a bit longer without it. --
And if you're taking a course in Aesthetics and Politics with Herr Professor Doktor Sartwell, compare and contrast values based on this contrasting versions of the Clash piece by Mr. Yoakum and Ms. McColl with extra credit if you can describe the similarity in the personal sitations of Ms. McColl and Mr. Strummer in 2012. Guaranteed C-, I tell you. Trust me. I used to be in govenment...
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