Letter to the Editor of Laborpress
November 3, 2011
We’re glad to publish the following statements of two persons who love unions and the justice that unions represent–Barbara Kestenbaum, (DC-37) and Sally Ross (UFT):
We are DC 37 and UFT retirees who proudly joined our union brothers and sisters, including from the UAW, TWU, CSEA, Health and Hospital workers of 1199 and SEIU, in the historic march on Wednesday, October 5th that was spearheaded by Occupy Wall Street. As we looked out at the crowds of people coming from all directions to Foley Square, we thought of the line from James Sloan Gibbons’ Civil War poem about the response to Abraham Lincoln’s call for Union volunteers: “We are coming, Father Abraham, 300,000 more.”
There was electricity in the air as tens of thousands of people young and old–students, families, veterans and anti-war activists—came together to protest the despicable fact that 1% of Americans own most of the wealth of this country. “We are the 99 percent!” was chanted by people expressing their anger at the injustice of massive unemployment, home foreclosures by the thousands, students drowning in loans and unable to find work, senior citizens terrified of losing the Social Security and Medicare benefits they worked their lifetime for. Unions, the backbone of the middle class, were out in force against the unrelenting effort to destroy them that has gone on for decades.
Occupy Wall Street, which began on September 17th in Zuccotti Park, continues to grow in momentum; it has now reached over 200 cities. We feel Occupy Wall Street shows the truth of what Eli Siegel, historian, economist and founder of Aesthetic Realism, described many years ago: there is a “force of ethics” working in the world that is against the ill will that profit economics is based on.
In a recent issue of The Right of Aesthetic Realism to Be Known, editor Ellen Reiss wrote: Economics based on contempt for people, [Mr. Siegel] said, had failed and would never recover. The profit motive is the seeing of your fellow humans in terms of how much money you can get from them—from their labor and needs. And [he] gave evidence that history had reached a point at which this contempt-driven economic way could be made to grind on a while longer only with increasing difficulty and ever-increasing pain to millions of people.
And Ms. Reiss describes what is needed for there to be the economic justice that people the world over are demanding. It is, she says, a way of seeing people, products, work, finance, earth, that is different from anything which has been before. The economics people are hoping for, the only kind that will work, is aesthetics: the oneness of opposites—including the opposites of freedom and justice; the expression of each individual and fairness to all people. This way of economics will also be ethics: it will be based on a true answer to the question, articulated by Mr. Siegel, “What does a person deserve by being a person?”