Jilted Workers Takeover Chicago Factory: Obama Says They ‘are absolutely right’

For many of us who have been less than enthusiastic about the possibilities of a Black representative of the empire known as the USA, Barack Obama’s endorsement of the actions of the workers at Republic Windows and Doors may come as something of a surprise.  I don’t think it should.  Even though Obama was bankrolled by Wall Street, publicizes his plans to expand the War On Terror, and wholeheartedly endorsed the no-strings billions for the banks in his run-up to being elected, now that the election has passed we should all be prepared to embrace the reality of an Obama presidency.factory-bw

On the one hand, we will see the lion’s share of the checks he wrote during the campaign bounce higher than Kurt Cobaine.  On the other hand, in a period such as the one we are in and with things slated to get worse in ’09, Obama can’t, at least this early on, dismiss or even demure from taking a stand for the plight of workers.  More importantly, his endorsement is about credibility in a period when institutional credibility is low and likely to sink much lower.

Obama (the ruling interests he represents) and the corporate media, at this point in time, can ill-afford to be seen as dismissive of the plight of workers.

1) The media is seen, correctly, as having missed the boat many times this year, with repeated pronouncements that things were okay right before major banks died.   The things they trust so dearly, opinion polls, are indicating that people don’t trust them the way they used to.  With the pain coming in ’09, this is a problem that must be attended to immediately.

2) Obama is going to make extraordinary requests of the American people in the next year.  He can’t afford to expend capital dissing workers who complain about blank paychecks before he is even sworn in.

3) Control in an ostensibly democratic society hinges on public opinion which is synonymous, in terms of power, with institutional credibility.  The office of the president is a major institution in our system of beliefs.  Another institution suffering from a significant credibility deficit is the media, which has deviated from its norm and is giving the Chicago factory occupation story ample coverage almost universally with positive spin.

The major internet portals like comcast and Yahoo! can serve as barometers for the mood of the ruling class message.  Dependably offering up reports on the latest person to get hit in the head with a manhole cover followed by celeb updates, these pages are directed at the masses of viewers, not news junkies.  What one finds on these pages is distracting BS and the public line on major issues.  When stories like Chicago, almost always dismissed by corporate media, are embraced positively by corporate news managers, the decision is often linked to institutional credibility or specific propaganda messaging needs or both.

Here it is both.  Credibility is vital for what is to come next year.  But not only that.  The system is not only suffering from being not being believed.  But it is increasingly seen as ruthless and uncaring about anyone other than the rich.  Focusing positively on small examples like Chicago functions as a facelift for this institutional PR blemish.  As opposed to focusing on the much larger and far more significant broad problems of home foreclosures, wages and poverty generally, small highlighted examples such as this can be cost-effective ways for the rulers to appear human.

This isn’t all bad, of course.  If workers receive some compensation and are more secure and stable because of it, that is a step in the right direction.  Capitalizing on this moment to enable more advances and wins by workers is where the value lies in this moment, as with many similiar instanceances that have come before now.  That is the challenge.  And we mustn’t become distracted by teasing and tickling from Obama or corporate news.

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