I’ve just started reading The Value of Nothing, an interesting critique of markets in contemporary society. The book itself is besides the point of this blog. When I first picked it up, I noticed that the pages themselves and the feel of the book looked noticeably different from the normal shiny quality of new books. Sure enough, I found in the inside cover that it was made with recyclable paper. The ability to buy a new book that was made with recycled paper brought a certain joy to me I don’t normally get from buying books.
One of the most important concepts I believe in and want to push forward is that of the progressive feedback loop. This is basically an idea I grabbed from Chris Bowers, who wrote in this piece about the importance of government policies that help reinforce progressive causes. EFCA is the best example of this; a law that supports a workers right to join a union will reinforce the progressive moment. More unionized workers=more money for labor and more on-the-ground canvassers supporting the labor agenda=more resources and support for progressive=more progressives. The logic of this is so easy to understand that it’s an affront to the Democratic Party that certain Senators who benefit majorly from labor support with the blue collar crowd would actually oppose the bill.
But the progressive feedback loop needs to find its way into larger society as well. This isn’t just a question of whether or not we pass laws that will reinforce progressive claims. This is about the way we live our lives and living by our values. It irritates me to no end that CREDO, an obstensibly progressive telecommunication company, has opposed organizing campaigns by labor. How can a company market itself as a progressive company and then deny workers the right to organize and collectively bargain on the job?
More importantly, in the long run we need a strong labor movement more than we need CREDO mobile. So-called progressive companies come and go, but a strong labor movement is much more likely to lead to strong progressive politics. Therefore there’s a positive progressive feedback loop for a progressive company to support the right of its workers to organize; that then increases the density for labor, puts pressure on other companies to accept labor, and increases the power of unions like CWA to organize at other companies.
Over the long run we need to figure out ways to support progressive causes by other progressives. For example I love it when progressive groups buy recycled computer paper or retrofit offices. Environmental and good government groups should work to unionize their employees. We need to establish more internship programs that give young progressives a chance to gain experience and get paid for it so they can support themselves. And in the legal world, we absolutely need to incentivize public service and progressive legal jobs over the economic necessity for some to work for Big Law.
Let’s figure out some way to create infrastructures in society that support progressive causes.
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