By Rich Gibson
Part of the "Rouge" in Rouge Forum is taken from the proximity of our first meeting in Detroit to the Ford Rouge Plant(for a full explanation of the name, see the www site). The Henry Ford (author of "The International Jew, Source of the World's Problems," recipient of the Iron Cross from Hitler, etc) made the bulk of his early money from the plant, and Ford still controls most of the politics of the area that the plant sits in.
Not that long ago, the plant employed more than 100,000 workers, fashioning everything that went on a car, tires to iron to steel, and assembling all of it. The plant was the site of some of the most famous battles of labor history, like the Battle of the Overpass. People died to form the union there. The Rouge was the locale of one of the most militant, left-led, labor unions in the country.
The plant sucked the environment dry, as well as its workers. The Rouge River became a fetid sewer. In 1999, a major explosion killed workers in the plant. On that day, the UAW leadership literally embraced Henry Ford, saying it "must be the worst day in his life." The UAW now believes it is a "partner in production" with Henry Ford.
That is one reason we formed the Rouge Forum, to address what some of us believe is the fact that the unions are mostly irrelevant, sold out, and incapable of dealing with our problems--in schools and in the factories. Moreover, we recognized the shift in schools (rising regimentation, segregation, testing, curricula control, etc) was related to the rise of social inequality, a shift that people like the inheritors of Henry Ford enjoy.
(Take a look at this site reporting on recent State of Michigan/Ford actions related to the plant: http://www.auto.com/industry/rouge3_20001103.htm)
Look at the school tax abatements, for a promise of less than 4000 jobs. Look at how the state will pay Ford to correct the environment they wrecked, as they profited from the wreckage. Look at the 7.2 billion dollar profit of Ford, yet Ford demands more--like giving blood to a shark.
While the presidential election ahead is interesting (particularly the recent little Rat-F--- in memory of Donald Seghretti) it is a diversion from the rest of the activity that is going on beneath the surface, which is in fact determinative.
Gore/Bush AND Nader will not quarrel with the use of state power to defend the profits of Ford Motor Company, and most certainly they will defend the source of those profits: the exploitation and alienation of the work force--which then leads to the use of state power, not as a neutral, but as a weapon of those who hold power, the employing class, the rich.
While they disagree about tactical maneuvers within this framework, each candidate seeks to imbue us with a bogus sense of nationalism, a belief that we are all in the same boat, when every signal we get from the real world says we are not. We are offered and endless stream of irrational disconnections between people, racism/nationalism/sexism/ableism, etc., except the one disconnection that makes sense: class, and the source of class struggle, the fact that bosses never pay workers the full value of our labor.
The beacon-issue, the one that should guide reasonable reform efforts that seek to make our lives a little better, including the abolition of high-stakes testing, the issue that no candidate will voice, should be: How do we abolish the wage system? Because anything less than that is only at best a temporary measure.
voting really mattered, they wouldn't let us do it. Look at Peru. (Hell,
look at our job sites, the most important place in our lives, where you
have NO real democratic rights at all--other than those won in the streets
led by people like those who formed the early Rouge UAW local).
Return to Rouge