Lincoln: Labor Is The Superior Of Capital

Happy labor dayAs yet another Labor Day rolls by, there is optimism among the ranks of labor unions that they will once more hold a prominent place in the economy of our country. With the rise of the right wing in this country with Ronald Reagan, labor has been beaten mercilessly in Congress, in statehouses across the country, and in a nearly 100% corporately owned media. This is a concerted effort to bust unions in every walk of life from the class room teacher to fast food workers to industrial workers who have seen their jobs sent to other countries by so-called “American” companies at at an alarming rate.

When Republicans want to claim moral high ground on race they always reach way back to Abraham Lincoln to remind folks he is the “great Emancipator.” But Republicans are all about suppressing wages and busting unions, so they seldom remember that their hero Lincoln also was a believer in in the superiority of labor to capital. In case you have never seen this quote, it may be good to have in your back pocket to pull out when you run into some union basher:

It is not needed, nor fitting here [in discussing the Civil War] that a general argument should be made in favor of popular institutions; but there is one point, with its connections, not so hackneyed as most others, to which I ask a brief attention. It is the effect to place capital on an equal footing with, if not above, labor, in the structure of government. It is assumed that labor is available only in connection with capital; that nobody labors unless somebody else, owning capital, somehow by the use of it induces him to labor. This assumed, it is next considered whether it is best that capital shall hire laborers, and thus induce them to work by their own consent, or buy them, and drive them to it without their consent. Having proceeded thus far, it is naturally concluded that all laborers are either hired laborers or what we call slaves. And further, it is assumed that whoever is once a hired laborer is fixed in that condition for life.

Now, there is no such relation between capital and labor as assumed, nor is there any such thing as a free man being fixed for life in the condition of a hired laborer. Both these assumptions are false, and all inferences from them are groundless.

“Labor is prior to, and independent of, capital. Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if labor had not first existed. Labor is the superior of capital, and deserves much the higher consideration.Capital has its rights, which are as worthy of protection as any other rights.

This was from a speech Lincoln gave concerning the Civil War to congress on Dec. 3, 1861.

The next election will be crucial, very crucial to labor. Be sure to vote and get your friends to vote. And be sure to vote for candidates who actually believe in policy that is in line with labor. Hopefully, those so called “Reagan democrats” have learned their lesson.

About Dave Bradley

retired in West Liberty
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