Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Fighting the "Spirits of Darkness" in 2014: Insight from a 16th century magician

(To the right: Cornelius Agrippa)

The 16th century German occult writer and magician Cornelius Agrippa had this to say about those of us suffering from chilly climes these days:

“As the Spirits of Darkness be stronger in the dark, so Good Spirits, which be Angels of Light, are augmented not only by the Divine Light of the Sun, but also be our common Wood Fire: and as the Celestial Fire drives away dark spirits, so also this our Fire of Wood doth the same.”

The American poet John Greenleaf Whittier used this quote to begin his famous poem, Snow-bound, a fitting way to begin Labor South’s journey into 2014. Aren’t we all hovering near the fire—be it wood, gas or electric—these days to keep warm as we prepare for the challenges of the New Year?

On the labor front, economists are warning that the U.S. income gap is threatening the nation’s economy and future. The richest 10 percent of Americans control 80 percent of stock market wealth. Average income for the middle 20 percent of Americans has risen just 5 percent over the past 20 years. For the richest 5 percent of Americans, income has jumped 17 percent.

Other than securing votes on election day, Republicans could care less about average Americans.  Their solution to our national ills is simple: reduce all spending except for corporate welfare and military contractors. Those out of a job and unemployment benefits need to look for the nearest breadline. To those with no health insurance, just don’t get sick. As for immigration, more fences, more border patrol, and more prisons should take care of it.

Let’s not let Democrats off the hook. Following in the footsteps of his NAFTA-loving predecessor Bill Clinton, President Obama is pushing a similar trade deal with Vietnam and other Asian nations so U.S. corporations, frustrated with rising wages in China, can now go elsewhere to find the bottom-feeders whose sweatshops and slave wages make that 10 percent of Americans who control 80 percent of stock market wealth happy.

 But “Angels of Light” are out there fighting these spirits of darkness. Organized labor is reaching across international borders today, joining with counterparts in other nations and making a difference. Rising wages in China are a result of a vocal workforce tired of getting next to nothing for doing the dirty work of rich corporations. Unions like the United Auto Workers are working closely with unions in Germany, South Africa, Japan and other countries to put pressure on international corporations like Volkswagen and Nissan. Migrant worker organizations both here in the United States and around the world are giving voice to the most downtrodden of modern-day workers.

It’s going to be an exciting year—full of challenge, with some losses and hopefully some big victories. Dig in your heels, join the Angels of Light, and let the “Celestial Fire” keep you warm and full of passion as it “drives away dark spirits”!

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