[Marxism] Iranian labor and US trade union "support" - was "Winning and Losing" etc.

Lou Paulsen loupaulsen at sbcglobal.net
Thu Aug 10 12:32:16 MDT 2006

Louis Proyect wrote, discussing the Iranian bus drivers,

"What do you mean by "getting involved"? The bus drivers went on strike. 
After the Iranian government threw them in jail, the AFL-CIO started making 
statements that they be freed. Thank goodness they didn't make boneheaded 
sectarian statements turning down the support of trade union officials in 
the USA."
I am not going to attempt to speak intelligently about the specifics of the Iranian bus drivers' strike until I learn more about it, but I am struck by the -political- point in the last sentence of the above.  Louis writes that the bus drivers did NOT turn down the support of the AFL-CIO, and that this was a good thing, and that it would have been "boneheaded" and "sectarian" for them to do so.
That strikes me as all wrong.  First off, maybe I am missing something, but what actual concrete support was the AFL-CIO going to provide the bus drivers with?  If they were going to provide financial subsidies directly to the families of the imprisoned drivers, that might be one thing, but even in that case AFL-CIO money is so tainted that you would have to be pretty desperate (or uninformed) to touch it.  But I am afraid that the only thing the AFL-CIO leadership is really likely to do to "support" bus drivers in Iran is to issue statements about how terrible the government is, with vague threats of pressuring the U.S. Congress to be harder on Iran (like this takes a lot of pressure!), which only merge into the general flood of imperialist crap about evil Islamists with nuclear weapons and the "need" for UN sanctions.  If the AFL-CIO had previously staked out a strong position against sanctions and in defense of Iranian sovereignty, that would be one thing, but of course
 it has NOT.  In international affairs, it has pretty much played the role of a CIA operative.  Therefore, it seems to me that statements from the AFL-CIO are just about as "supportive" as statements by George W. Bush, and just about as unlikely to impress the government or working people of Iran, and, to use an overused old Bolshevik phrase, "support them the way a rope supports a hanged person."
Therefore, it strikes me as a first impression that if the bus drivers had publicly rejected AFL-CIO statements of support from their prison cells, this would have been neither "boneheaded" nor "sectarian" but certainly educational and possibly quite clever.  If they had said, "We respect the workers of the USA, but unfortunately the AFL-CIO has not respected the sovereignty of countries like Iran.  We don't want any support that will make anyone think we are taking aid from the U.S. imperialists," this would have made them look better, not worse, in Iran, I bet, and how could it possibly have made them stay in jail longer or made the strike less likely to win?  Suppose they had gone on to request the mediation, not of some imperialist force, but of Hezbollah or the Bolivarian Circles or COSAATU or someone whom the people of the world really have reason to respect?  Are there reasons why this would have been worse than accepting the support of the AFL-CIO?
I'm not really trying to make or criticize policy for Iranian bus drivers, but Louis went out of his way to praise a particular action (or inaction) by Iranian bus drivers, and I would like to know more about why he thinks it was so great.
Lou Paulsen


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