The right wing’s limited concept of freedom

March 5, 2018

Gabriel Paez points out the hypocrisy of the right's attitude toward the Janus case.

THE CURRENT U.S. Supreme Court case of Janus v. AFSCME is the culmination of intense lobbying efforts and political pressure by the right wing to finally kill off organized labor in this country.

In their quest to destroy any vestige of working class organization and solidarity, and replace it with a society of disconnected, underpaid "independent contractors" with no rights in the workplace, the right has exposed a troubling reality about U.S. capitalism.

The power of amassed capital by intensely undemocratic entities like JPMorgan Chase and Berkshire Hathaway is incompatible with the "democratic values" that are supposed to be guiding the U.S. political system.

The Janus case illustrates this perfectly.

While millions of women and allies have taken to the street to call for an end to rape culture and pervasive sexism, the sexual-assaulter-in-chief remains in office.

While thousands of students and young people sick of mass shootings are mobilizing for gun control, the right wing and its big-money donors are pushing in the opposite direction, weakening barely existent measures to restrict guns.

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While millions marched against the invasion and occupation of Iraq on false pretenses, the U.S. government is busy handing out massive contracts to Blackwater, a private military force responsible for the Nisour Square massacre, while convictions against these mercenaries are thrown out or overturned.

All this points to an undeniable outcome of capitalism: When the masses demand change, the structures of power dig in to prevent it.

But when a single white man in Springfield, Illinois, by the name of Mark Janus becomes the poster child for an effort to defund and destroy what remains of the U.S. labor movement, those same structures of power fall in line immediately to make this possible.

THE WEALTHY and powerful act like demands for universal health care and a $15-an-hour minimum wage are unreasonable and unrealistic, but they lack no imagination or will power when it comes to building a $95 million police academy on the West Side of Chicago, or funding Saudi Arabia's criminal siege of starvation and bombing against Yemen, or securing massive weapons contracts for Israeli apartheid.

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When it comes to working class people's demands for livable lives, the response is state repression and war. When it comes to corporate wish lists, bailouts, tax breaks for the wealthy and environmental deregulation, everything is possible.

Most nefarious of all is the argument that the Janus case is only about the "freedom of choice" for employees to be represented by unions or not--an argument that the Supreme Court will likely buy. The reality is that the forces behind Janus want to destroy any unions that workers could choose to join.

U.S. taxpayers bankroll a military budget that will reach $700 billion this year, a multitrillion-dollar Wall Street bailout after the financial crisis of 2008, and the annual $182 billion cost of mass incarceration. If any individual taxpayer decided that they no longer wanted to pay for such expenditures, the state would crack down, prosecuting and jailing them for tax evasion.

This mirrors the double standard of what is "politically possible." When we wish to stop paying for imperialism and a police state, we're breaking the rules. When Mark Janus wishes to stop paying for the benefits of collective bargaining he gets through the work of AFSCME, the right rushes to his defense.

There is no objective standard of "freedom of choice" for the right, especially given its renewed efforts to reverse abortion rights, annihilating the freedom of choice over their reproductive lives for millions of women across the country.

Don't be fooled. The right's espoused love of freedom really means freedom for capital to amass profits at the expense of everyone else.

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