Friday, May 1, 2015

And It Still Is News

In April, 2012, Sara Horowitz wrote an interesting short article pointing out the little noticed part of the story of Exodus as things were building up to the slaves in Egypt escaping slavery.

Millions of families around the world, including my own, will sit down together this weekend for Passover Seder to read and celebrate the story of the Jews freeing themselves from enslavement. Independence is an important and powerful part of the story. But I think we're also celebrating something else: the first great moment in labor history.


The parallels come easily. The workers (Israelites) asked their union rep (Moses) to stand up to the boss (Pharaoh) about their terrible working conditions. In Exodus: Chapter 5, the boss denied Moses and doubled the workers' load...

The workers' only recourse was to leave. This was a really strike, but on a biblical scale. It was one of the first times that workers stood up for their collective power. 

This is a good example of how the stories of Moses are still of deepest relevance to the downtrodden, the oppressed, the overworked (you really should read what Marilynne Robinson has to say about the sabbath in her essay) and the underpaid.

Every way I see it, liberals shot themselves in the knee if not the head when they gave up this heritage and the power that it confers and left it to the far right to lie about and distort in their own ways to their own ends.  And we did it at the behest of alleged scholars who had ends of their own in distorting it in other ways.  I would argue, ends that aren't all that much different from those of the hirelings of the billionaires and other oligarchs.

If more union organizing were done around the story of Exodus instead of Marx and the such, I doubt we'd have the labor unions on the mat as they are today.

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