I'm a busy man today, so I was thinking I'd end up with some second rate piece to present here due to my rush. Well, you may think that is what happened. I don't. I haven't really done a whole lot on your basic union movement before...and for a reason (but we won't go into that here). Today, that changes with an interview with a pretty exceptional human being by the name of Staughton Lynd. You may not always agree with him, but you have to respect his long, long tenure and involvement in all kinds of movements. Lynd is eighty-four years old and he still obviously has plenty to say. In the last few years he has published two new books and republished a third, not to mention a memoir coauthored with his wife Alice. As the Zinn Education Project puts it:
In an epoch of imperial hubris and corporate class warfare on steroids, the release of these books could hardly have come at a better time. Soldier, coal miner, Sixties veteran, recent graduate—there’s much to be gained by one and all from a study of Lynd’s life and work. In so doing, it’s inspiring to discover how frequently he was in the right place at the right time and, more importantly, on the right side.
David Moberk wrote an article last summer entitled "New Visions from the New Left." In it he talks about Lynd and his thoughts today.
Lynd, a historian punished in the late ’60s by academia for his early leadership in the civil rights and anti-war movements, retooled as a lawyer and moved to Youngstown, where he and his wife, Alice, used their legal, organizing and writing skills on behalf of workers and then prisoners, as jails replaced factories in the area.
...Lynd argues that the Left should stop organizing as unions, community groups and civil rights organizations have done in the past—sending outsiders into communities to pull people together on behalf of a project, then move on. Instead, he recommends a model of “accompanying,” in which an individual spends an extended time with a community and commits to “equality, listening, seeking consensus and exemplary action.”
Unlike religious or political missionaries bringing the true religion, an individual “accompanying” others treats them as equal collaborators and fellow “experts,” learning from them while sharing his own views honestly.
Lynd says, people need to experience the direct democratic exercise of power, such as through the rank-and-file oriented “Solidarity Unionism” that he contrasts with typical union hierarchies. “There’s a question of power, changing the nature of capitalism,” Lynd tells In These Times. “Gar and I have very similar goals, a participative society. But I am much more concerned than he appears to be with the taking of power, and by that I don’t mean taking over the state as much as challenging basic capitalist institutions that hold this society together.”
“Our most urgent priority is not to give someone else the authority to act on our behalf [or] the responsibility to remake the world,” Lynd writes. “No, we need to remake the world ourselves, right now, from below and to the Left.”
As “the sum of my best wisdom and counsel as an elder,” he proposes that “100,000 young radicals spread evenly across the United States” beyond the hipdoms of major metropolitan areas to live in the country’s many Youngstowns, accompanying their neighbors on a journey to a new America. “Then see what happens in 25 years.”
Agree, disagree, critique, or praise...
This is a remarkable man.
The following is from ZNet.