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LAWCHA is an organization of scholars, teachers, students, labor educators, and activists who seek to promote public and scholarly awareness of labor and working-class history through research, writing, and organizing.

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LaborOnline features short essays that discuss labor and working class history and its meaning for the present. We feature one essay from each issue of the quarterly journal, Labor: Studies in Working Class History. Contact editor Rosemary Feurer ([email protected]) if you have an idea or story for the blog. Like us on Facebook Follow us on Twitter, @LaborOnline! Subscribe to the LAWCHA RSS Feed!

“Lions Led by Asses”

While labor historians have organized a letter signing campaign to the Biden administration asking them to grant some concession to rail workers, others have pointed out the continuing tepid response of labor leadership as the cause of this crisis. Is the Democratic Party in charge of the labor movement? It would seem so. One worthy contribution on this note is from Chris Townsend, who points out that it took years of counter-organizing by the rank-and-file leadership of Railroad Workers United to even get this far. Now the barren marriage of labor leadership  and the Democratic Party (oh, how Mike Davis is missed) displays its ugly mutual abusiveness. Only outside of academia are the calls for nationalization to save the industry from the most certain future crisis being expressed.–editor For centuries there have been observers and commentators that periodically point out when our leaders are failures, sometimes disastrously so. That the “leaders” are not up to the task at hand. Early 4th century Greek general Chabrias concluded that, “an army of deer commanded by a lion is more to be feared than an army of lions commanded by a deer”. “An army of sheep led by a lion would defeat an army of lions led by a sheep” was attributed to early Arab military leaders. During the British-Russian Crimean War in the 1850’s a Russian soldier penned a letter home and observed that the British soldiers were “lions led by donkeys.” Marx and Engels echoed that sentiment regarding British leadership in the Crimean War, noting that, “The English army is an army of lions led by asses.” Read more →

November 30th, 2022