Kentucky Workers must Unite

The recent Jim Beam strike in Clermont, though a passive and contained frustration, is a reminder that the working class in the core cultural pillars of the Bluegrass state such as bourbon manufacturing still hold some semblance of engagement in their trade and consciousness against the structures of capital. It has defeated my sorrow at the late void of working class voices in the commonwealth, and as usual, presents an opportunity to reach out to the strikers to push their grievances into wider political and economic aspects. While the walkout like many is simply a frustration against contract offers, staff shortages and work hours, in these times of mere regulation and deterrence against direct collective action, no angry worker can be left without a hand of unity. It tends to be a signal to leftists to fuel the flames wherever they emerge, that the opportunity is constantly presenting itself but always trampled by the discourse around the conditions the worker relies on.

The obstacles in re-enriching proletarian power are daunting and seem to expand increasingly each passing day of this election season’s ins and outs, complementary to the habitual attack on the labor movement and the ingrained shutter from the power structures against the present serfs organizing for their own interests. And even within the more radical left we stumble onto copious internal differences of approaches and viewpoints to wade through until a solid point of solidarity can be reached, moving on to the next hundred or so obstacles of actually getting to what we believe. The entire process has possibly been one of the most boom and bust formations of action in American history, whose resolve depends on the health of the current labor organization getting to the next point, all without tampering by neoliberal establishment. Now is one of those crucial points in time we need to foster.

But strikes and unity alone can’t hold up against the forces which dictate the status of human well-being and exploit the resulting desperation. The provisional means of outcry can’t carry us into a better way, nor can they last forever in serving our best interests. Like all scenarios in history a need to unite under new order arises when the battle changes form. The working class in all regions must acknowledge itself as the non-possessing entity in a possessing and non-possessing dichotomy of material conditions upheld by the laws of the state, and hence the recipient of all ill burdens of social life. They need to know they fall under a specially designated class of exploited people for the benefit of the possessing class, rewarded, like a treat to an obedient dog, with hardly a quarter of their value for their services and no further. From this understanding of the abusive relationship of concentrated power, working people of all backgrounds must overcome their boundaries and unite as an autonomous, democratic force against capitalism, the state and the emerging hierarchical divides of persons.

For Kentucky and other Red-states, the pressure put on everyone by local governments and their celebration of Right to Work policy, designed to ensnare workers in an unrestrained labor market, more recently in Kentucky with Matt Bevin’s governorship, has created the divide on policy among the workers guaranteed to quench any and all flames regardless of the vote’s outcome. False and hollow reform distracts class energy from revolution into the bourgeois honeypot where it dies instantly. Otherwise, the ills of working people are revised by the bosses and politicians to scapegoat ethnic minorities and eliminate the very idea of class and its effects.

Disengagement due to political dissatisfaction is either the break from the crushing world around everyone or the innate nihilism in those who want to work a job and come home to their families or breaks from reality, and nothing more. Life itself for the worker is a burden of routine and not a matter of being the master of ones own existence in the company of other self-masters united to build a greater world. Life’s purpose becomes suffering for the vague hope of an offspring’s suffering to grow less and less over a hundred years, with no substance to guarantee this.

Appalachia is caught between a tense historic antagonism against the left, and being one of the most impoverished working class areas in the country because of this. Towns and neighborhoods lack maintenance, families go without medical care, go starving, unemployed and homeless. Drug use skyrockets and laws combating individual choices create broken families. Meanwhile the course of hollow reform leaves Republican and Democratic workers alike chasing their tails leading them right back where they started. Hope placed in presidential candidates proves the gross lack of people’s autonomy in a state society. The union men and women are laughed off and told to accept the imposed changes of the workspaces, let alone seen as the growing potential of a labor revolt in a southern state.

This needs to change, and the change must start with bolstering the spirits of the strikers and organizing them, but not in basic contained unions. Their ambition needs to be influenced for a long-term efficiency of liberation from compromises and desperation. A broad inclusive platform of workers needs to be situated in the region. A dedicated, armed socialist-anarchist federation built on free groups stationed in the states composing Appalachia needs to be arranged and managed horizontally. The group representing Kentucky should begin with engaging with similar workers in the essential cultural productions of the commonwealth. This would gain volume more than any other area to strike in. Kentucky’s bourbon industry, which makes up 90% of the world’s whiskey, being uprooted and reclaimed by those who develop it would get the world’s attention by a thousand times the scope of Clermont’s strike. Gradually; ideally, this would apply to places beyond the lower Midwest area, and include Pittsburgh’s steel and Oregon’s timber, etc.

The opportunities for better organization come and go in all circles, but something in the revolt involving such things as an area’s cultural legacy illuminates the image. The trademark symbols of cultural regions should be appropriated during revolt for the benefit and happiness of working people than for the excess intake of industry. The crafts and trades enjoyed by generations taken out of an exploiter class’s hands and put under a new social system is a hallmark of our endeavor: Our sources of happiness situated next to universal well-being. Freedom and expressive outlets being integral to one another. Mountain-men shiners under black-and-red flags, drinking happily with their family and friends in a better life. This can only be accomplished with organizing under this idea, and acted on in unity with other states and groups. Kentucky, and Appalachia, must unite.

Kentucky Workers must Unite

Report: Lexington Rally for Bernie Sanders

Upon crossing West Main Street at 3:30 in the afternoon and getting in proximity to the crowds of eager supporters, the scent of strawberry vape and industrial paint on Feel The Bern buttons fills the air outside Heritage Hall in downtown Lexington. Faint chatter about finals and getting out of work early to see their favorite presidential hopeful is distinguishable from the noise of the city. I reach the masses, and my eye immediately catches a gentleman in a suit and tie holding a large sign among everyone else, which reads CLINTON IS A WAR CRIMINAL.

The attendees are mostly young, college-aged people. Most of the people are with dyed hair, May the Fourth be with you items and creative, meme-ish scenarios involving Bernie Sanders printed on shirts and stickers. They wait outside and in the food court in large crowds. Families and enthusiastic older adults with Bernie pins and signs are sprinkled among their younger counterparts. People seem to be confused about whether you wait in line for the event or just be prepared to make your way to the security screening to enter. This does well for a few little bazaars of merchandise outside the building’s front entrance. Theres about 3 hours to spare. I start mingling to get a general sense of everyone’s attitude and expectations.

“Absolutely man, I’m a fan of Bernie”, a young man in a University of Kentucky hoodie says. “Ever since he came on the scene where you had John Stewart kinda cracking on him about his crazy hair and how he doesn’t really have a shot, month by month you began to see it progress and more people get into it, and everyone blowin’ up over him, and its just awesome, man.” I ask about his outlook on UK’s political demographic this year. “Yeah, a pretty good amount [prefer Sanders], I’d say probably 75 percent maybe. Most of my friends are like military guys and more on the Republican side, but I’d say a good 75 percent are probably Democratic. Nobody’s voting for Hillary, so yeah.” Finally, I ask about what his chances might be in the Bluegrass state. “I wish that I could say yes [that he will win the primary], but honestly I think this state won’t really pick him up. I think he’ll get some votes, but I don’t think he’ll win it. But, I don’t know; you never know. People thought he was done before Indiana, and we saw what happened there. But its a bible-belt state and there are so many people stuck in their ways, not getting the right education. So I guess we’ll have to see.” An hour passes. The crowds augment.

“I like Bernie because of his stance where you can’t buy politics, that was probably my turning point on why I like him more than I like Hillary or all the other ones”, another guy explains. “He shows that there are still good people who hold power in this country, and Bernie is one of them who will use it to make this country much better as president”, a young woman says.

At about 20 ‘till 5, the lines outside start moseying inside through the food court. This can only mean its time. After going through security I enter the convention room where the actual rally will take place. Immediately, I hear cheering and shouting, whooping and chuckling. Everyone getting hyped for their main man. A gentleman walking next to me shouts “Dump Trump!” as we all make our way into the half-full room where basically anything goes for right now, and I join in with vigor. “Fuck the fascists!” The wide open room contains three small stages. One spare one which a lot of people are sitting on, one for camera crews and the other for Sanders to deliver his speech on. A vendor near the entrance is selling hotdogs and drinks while we wait. After about two hours of waiting, the room is filled. I would estimate around 5,000 people got in while a few hundred weren’t so lucky, and would watch the rally from the food court TV. Prince’s Lets Go Crazy and The Trammps’ Disco Inferno is playing in the meantime. People begin to take their seat on the main stage in the background of the podium. The people on stage begin doing “the wave” with their A future to believe in signs, and the audience below them does the same.

Finally, the Senator is introduced and greeted by thousands of cheering, screaming Kentuckians as he walks the stage. All smartphones go up, taking pictures and snapchatting the event. I stand on my toes trying to get a better view as official campaign signs and banners wave across my field of view. “Are you guys ready for a Political revolution?” the distinctive voice asks. The response is collective applause and then chanting. Bernie, Bernie, Bernie!

The senator transitions into his speech adapted for the state he’s speaking in. He mentions the thousands of manufacturing jobs lost in Kentucky due to NAFTA and permanent normal trade relations with china and the thousands of families in Kentucky who struggle with affordable child care. He stresses thinking outside the box in regard to bringing about change in the nation  —  that the ideas perceived as radical and out of the question are the actual solutions to the issues, ones which the GOP has suppressed time and again.

Sanders concluded in declaring that diversity is our strength. That we are unique in being black, white, Latino, Asian, native American, gay, straight, men, women, some born here, some immigrants  —  and furthermore that love and selflessness is what drives us forward, that love trumps hatred, that when families and individuals are there for each other in their time of need, this is what comprises the strength of the American people. That this is evident in the political revolution, that the campaign is about thinking big, not small.

At the end of the night, crowds dispersed and faded out into the corners of the city, in bars and restaurants, where whole segments of 10 to 20 people still remained with their pins and signs. As I walk down the sidewalk after getting all I came for from the event, I can hear distant “Feel The Bern!”s and cars honking followed by cheering. Legions of empowered college students and wise elders made their way to their cars and buses from Triangle Park, still teaming and glowing with political fire.

The question now is if this event will have enough effect on the campaign’s chances in Kentucky, which I was most concerned about while planning out this report. In my opinion, if every one of the people who attended the event would go out on the 17th and vote for Sanders with the same energy they had on this night, there isn’t much of a doubt that he would have a huge chance of winning the primary in Kentucky. In the end, its another stone in the road. This one happened to be the fair city of Lexington in the Commonwealth of Kentucky.

Report: Lexington Rally for Bernie Sanders

Kim Davis: The Aftermath of Bigotry being a thorn in everyone’s side

This article comes at a late time, as right now the matter at hand is over four weeks old, but with other smaller events unfolding after the passing of the beginning of all of it, I think it became time to write about this, with all the events being on the table.

Rowan County Kentucky Clerk Kim Davis refused to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples two months after the United States Supreme Court ruled that states cannot constitutionally ban gay marriage. After a period of pressure, Davis soon denied all applicants their marriage licenses. Davis used her Christianity as the basis to stand on her “religious liberty” to not do her job correctly by denying same-sex couples licenses, and eventually decided to not issue licenses entirely. She was soon summoned to trial on this issue and jailed for contempt of court, only to be released on crowdfunded bail three days later, assorted out of the jail by Mike Huckabee and greeted by a cheering crowd of insane supporters outside of the jail. Afterwards, she went on with her job, allowing her staff to issue the licenses while also taking interviews in which she passed herself off as the victim.

What this all comes down to is the discussion of religious liberties — what people can and can’t do with this important liberty, so lets look at what it entails: Lets say we have an Orthodox Jewish man, and his religion prohibits him from eating pork or non-kosher foods. He has every right granted under the United States Constitution to not purchase or eat the foods, and not have the foods forced onto him. This is something you can do with this right. What you cannot do is force others to not eat pork or kosher because of what you believe in. Equally, this man in the necessary position cannot stall or deny the construction of a deli that sells pork or non-kosher foods because of his beliefs. If his duty is to grant the development of such establishments, his religious liberties cannot effect the liberties of others. This applies to other rights, e.g. the Second amendment: You have the right to bear arms for yourself, but this does not legally afford you the right to shoot up a school or randomly execute someone. This sort of thing is where civil liberties become confused with entitlements to the changing of an aspect of society. Kim Davis’ religious beliefs (or rather the interpretation of the Bible) made her disapprove of same-sex marriage, and with her job being to issue marriage licenses, now nationally guaranteed to gay couples of the United States via the Supreme Court’s ruling, she felt the entitlement from her view of religious liberty to ignore her duty as County Clerk, and essentially become an angry child sitting and pouting on the ground, refusing to leave her job if she could not set her personal views aside. One person’s liberty is not the liberty to harm others.

People in support of Davis likened her actions to those of historic people engaging in civil disobedience. There are times where defiance of the law is almost objectively necessary, where defiance is in favor of the good of the general people, and what is being defied is clearly oppressive or unjust. This is what Thoreau, Gandhi and King did, whom all made great change in their time and place. However they were resisting obvious injustice, what Kim Davis was opposing was the United States putting its Constitiution’s words into action by disallowing discrimination against gay couples’ right to wed, an obviously great thing for a modern nation. Her pathetic crusade stemmed from personal speculation on what should and shouldn’t be allowed. She had every right to leave her job if her beliefs were more important than getting over them and doing what she gets paid for. She had no right to stay where she was and prevent others from engaging in their own pursuit of happiness.

This whole thing was completely ridiculous overall. It doesn’t matter if you support gay marriage or not, people need to learn to put aside their personal beliefs and do their job, especially if part of one’s job involved taking an oath, which Davis did. I can easily imagine if a Quaker’s job was to issue a concealed firearm’s license, people in that gun shop would be furious to hear that his faith will not allow him to own weapons, and therefore he refuses to issue the firearm license. They too would probably be saying the same things that the people in the Clerk’s office were telling Kim Davis. Its all about picking and choosing what will help their side of the situation. Unfortunately now, conservatives will use Davis as a sort of martyr of the notion that Christians are under attack by people who want social equallity. As a Liberal, appologies if my digusting belief that people should be treated equally conflicts with your pure idea that two loving people of the same sex, who have been together far longer than anyone Kim Davis has been with, shouldn’t get married.

I’m just glad this is over. Or is it?

Kim Davis: The Aftermath of Bigotry being a thorn in everyone’s side