Bread and roses

The labour movement has always been about winning gains for workers at the bargaining table and on the picket lines. But it’s also about securing for working people the kind of freedom presently enjoyed by only a tiny minority – the freedom to realize their own self-directed ends and to live life to its fullest and richest.

As Chris Maisano writes:

The one-sided focus of most Marxists and socialists on distributional questions has obscured the fact that the animating principle of the Left is not so much equality, but rather freedom—freedom from alienating work and freedom to use our time and creativity for our own self-directed ends. Socialism does not equal the roughly equal distribution of stuff; the martyrs of the labour movement didn’t give up their lives so that everyone could have the right to buy an iPhone or a plasma screen TV, or to waste their lives working at crap jobs.

So, yes, we fight for bread. But we fight for roses too.


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