‘Class Warfare!’ Our Rallying Cry!
Finally! Eric Alterman writes of the only issue that subsumes all the rest: class warfare [“The Liberal Media,” March 28]. When the right talks of class warfare, the left acts as if this distasteful topic should never be talked about. It won’t even use the term, as if it delegitimizes anything that follows. Ronald Reagan initiated the relentless organized assault on the middle class and the poor, carried on by every president since, with support from a paid-for Congress, the right’s think tanks and the usual demagogues.
If Frank Luntz can construct frames that advance right-wing class warfare, it is time for the left to use this term as our rallying cry. We must illustrate with specifics what has been done to the middle class and the poor. I used to wonder how a decimated middle class would be able to buy goods when finally tapped out. Now I understand that business no longer cares about the domestic market, which after all is only 300 million. There’s a whole world of billions out there desperate to consume. We are marked down for clearance.
Alterman laments that no one in the media challenged Rick Santelli’s disgusting comparison of public pensions and the slaughter of 9/11. Such a challenge will never happen, because our media are the problem. Consider the evening “news,” as formulaic as infotainment can be. Headlines, followed by the disease of the day and whatever “human interest” stories (Charlie Sheen? Baby in a well?) can be squeezed between the drug and car ads. If they can divert us with this garbage, no one will notice that we’ve finished second in today’s ferocious class warfare.
M. DAVID PRESTON
Clara Zetkin & International Women’s Day
Jackson Heights, N.Y.
In a March 28 “Noted” item, Kate Murphy uses the occasion of the hundredth anniversary of International Women’s Day and the release of a report from the White House Council on Women to assess the economic inequalities women still face. She acknowledges the role of Clara Zetkin in initiating the celebration of International Women’s Day. But her description of Zetkin as a “German activist and politician” is too brief.
Zetkin was a leader of the revolutionary wing of the Social Democratic Party of Germany for nearly four decades spanning the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Her opposition to World War I led her, along with her close friend Rosa Luxemburg, to split from that party and help found the German Spartacist League. She became a founding leader of the German Communist Party and a Reichstag delegate representing that party. Zetkin died in exile in the Soviet Union shortly after the Nazis came to power. She is interred in the Kremlin wall.
It is rare today in the United States for revolutionary voices like Zetkin’s to gain a hearing. But the role of revolutionary socialists in the growth of the international labor movement is an essential part of its history. Zetkin wrote, “The main task is, indeed, to awaken the women’s class consciousness and to incorporate them into the class struggle.” Perhaps such words deserve a hearing today, as attacks on the American labor movement intensify in a manner that will surely have a disproportionate ill effect on women.
Get the L Out—APA, Not ALPA
Steve Early wrote in “Vermont’s Struggle for Single-Payer” [March 28] that Brian Dubie is a member of ALPA, the Air Line Pilots Association. Dubie’s union is the APA, Allied Pilots Association, not ALPA. As a liberal I am irritated that any union member would support the Republican agenda, and I do not want my proud union, ALPA, associated with him. By the way, many ALPA members came from across the country to protest with and support the people of Wisconsin.