by Alex Kruse
There’s a battle going on in the hills of West Virginia, a battle that has been raging since exploitation has alienated workers from their lives. This battle between the classes, which are inherent to a capitalist economy, will only end when the workers reign triumphant. Should the battle end any other way, it will not be complete. Since Feb. 22, 2018, the teachers in West Virginia have been on strike in order to secure better health benefits from their state legislature. Theirs, like the call of workers throughout history, is one for justice and freedom. The strikers are determined to receive their demands, and we should support them. All working people should support them.
It should be of no surprise that class struggle is inherent to capitalism, but I am sure that many of the people within present-day America have not heard anything of that nature spoken, at least for the past 80 years or so. Our capitalist economy creates two warring classes: the capitalists and the workers. These classes have opposing interests. This is not something that needs to be learned by the reading of Marx’s “Capital;” this is something that should be so blatantly obvious that we notice it every day when we go to work.
As Bill Haywood once stated, “I’ve never read Marx’s ‘Capital,’ but I’ve got the marks of capital all over my body.” So how come, in America today, we don’t recognize this as if it’s as familiar to us as our own bodies? It’s quite a simple answer actually: propaganda. Propaganda isn’t only something that resides in what we consider authoritarian regimes in the distant past or in North Korea. It is used in almost all societies in order to maintain the status quo. In our case, it works to maintain a status quo that keeps you, the worker, in a position in which you accept the exploitation at the hands of your boss as the “only way.”
In many cases, we actually praise the people that exploit us, as I’m sure happens in many business courses at our own college–at least when the news turns to Elon Musk or Jeff Bezos. Both of them are the modern-day incarmations of Rockefeller, Carnegie and Vanderbilt.
Enough of that. The time is now for the teachers to have their spotlight, one that is well deserved. Those at our own school who intend to become educators know how much work teachers do for so little monetary return.
It seems necessary to quote another famous socialist from American history, Eugene Debs, who said, “Those who produce should have, but we know that those who produce the most — that is, those who work hardest, and at the most difficult and most menial tasks, have the least.”
We know that teachers work one of the hardest and the most difficult jobs: they have to deal with us. This is no easy task. This is why many teachers’ work days extend beyond the final school bell. They spend hours of preparation time that both students and their parents fail to see. With no additional pay.
It is hard to imagine that we should expect more from our teachers. However, that is exactly what the legislators in West Virginia want. They expect their teachers not only to give them those extra hours before and after the workday, but they expect them to bow down for private health insurance companies in order to meet quotas to receive cuts on health care costs. Let it be made clear that private industry should not control your life at all, let alone while you’re on the hour. The state will always take the side of private industry simply because that is where the money is held. But what the state and private industry fail to take into account is the rising consciousness of the workers. That rising consciousness is seen in the Oklahoma teachers voting to begin a statewide strike on April 2, 2018, and the CWA (Communications Workers of America) voting to begin striking in West Virginia. The workers are rising, and it is beautiful.