By framing anti-labor ideology as “freedom,” conservatives like Scott Walker (above, framed by smiling, white assholes) have convinced Americans that the way to get ahead in the world is to pull someone else down.
Every year, the long Labor Day weekend rolls across the American landscape, spurring millions to fire up their consecrated backyard pyres for the purpose of sacrificing vacuum-sealed mammal and poultry parts — all to celebrate getting a few days off from a job they’re lucky to even have. Indeed, Labor Day has now become a largely hollow observance of late-summer soft hedonism; a chance for Americans to kick back and grasp a few days worth of respite from the soul-devouring drudgery that defines the majority of their time on earth.
Labor Day’s transformation — from a day honoring the sacrifices of the Labor Movement into a rare respite from the relentless capitalist domination of human life — speaks to the totalitarian grip that the consumer-based market leviathan now holds on the collective American body.
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Workers in Ohio’s Mahoning Valley iron mills ranged from old guys to small children, as seen in this early 1870s photo of Brown, Bonnell & Co.’s nail mill crew.
Publisher’s Note: Today we’re doing something a bit different. This is a guest article by Clayton Ruminski, a specialist in the rise of iron and steel production in Northeast Ohio’s Mahoning Valley. I grew up in the “Valley,” so this post is totally local history for me, but for those of you unfamiliar with the tragic story of the rise and fall of Ohio’s once glorious steel industry, this post will provide some much-needed context about how workers built America.
Northeast Ohio’s Mahoning Valley, and in particular the city of Youngstown, is one of America’s poster children for de-industrialization, desolation, and the general lack of an economy. Heck, it even inspired a Bruce Springsteen song. But there was once prosperity in this buckle of the American Rust Belt. The valley was affectionately known as the “Steel Valley,” but there is a general ignorance as to how this region became one of the most dominant steel producers in the United States.
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