News Release

Beyond Wisconsin: “The Case Against the Middle Class”

ANDY KROLL, andykroll at gmail.com
Kroll, a reporter for Mother Jones magazine and an associate editor at TomDispatch.com, just wrote the piece “Getting Rolled in Wisconsin,” which states: “The energy of the Wisconsin uprising was never electoral. The movement’s mistake: letting itself be channeled solely into traditional politics, into the usual box of uninspired candidates and the usual line-up of debates, primaries, and general elections. The uprising was too broad and diverse to fit electoral politics comfortably. You can’t play a symphony with a single instrument. Nor can you funnel the energy and outrage of a popular movement into a single race, behind a single well-worn candidate, at a time when all the money in the world from corporate ‘individuals’ and right-wing billionaires is pouring into races like the Walker recall.”

ARUN GUPTA, ebrowniess at yahoo.com
Gupta, a founding editor of the Indypendent magazine and the Occupy Wall Street Journal, recently wrote the piece “Wisconsin’s Recall Election: An Ominous Crucible of U.S. Politics.”

He said today: “The Wisconsin recall election is a snapshot of an organized, energized right swimming in cash, a Democratic Party in disarray, a labor movement sliding toward oblivion and an Obama campaign in deep trouble. The continuous protests by tens of thousands last year in Madison put the right on the defensive and proved real power can be exercised outside the voting booth. The instant Democratic and union leaders steered the Wisconsin Uprising into electoral politics spelled doom. Democrats are bereft of principles other than those provided by pollsters and consultants. Progressives confuse elections with movements. And unions have lost their organizing muscles. The result is a party and president who talk endlessly about the middle class, but endorse similar austerity policies as the right. And they run away from their true base — workers, the marginally employed and the poor, who now make up the majority of the country.”

In April of 2011, Gupta wrote a piece titled “The Case Against the Middle Class,” which stated: “In Madison, however, the intoxicating talk of ‘general strike’ has been replaced by recall elections to oust eight Republican state senators. A general strike requires months of education, debate, organizing, community outreach, producing media, building links to other sectors. Labor has the resources in terms of money, staff and infrastructure. There is no guarantee of victory, but it would be a glorious display of the chaos and creativity of democracy.

“A recall election, on the other hand, is authoritarian politics run by self-selected consultants, pollsters, wealthy donors and Democratic Party honchos. They need labor, but only as a mindless automaton to gather signatures, do phone banking, get out the vote and spread messaging decreed from above.

“This is symptomatic of labor’s deeper malaise in which it can’t see beyond the market, the middle class and electoral politics. By some estimates, in the last two election cycles, organized labor poured more than half-a-billion dollars into the Democratic Party with disastrous results.

“What if organized labor had poured one or $200 million into organizing the unemployed? This could have created a mass popular force on the left, but its politics might have been more radical than middle-class conformism.”