US: Right wing commentator Glenn Beck attacks unions and CWI

Rant reflects establishment concerns at rise of class struggles

Glenn Beck, a notorious right wing media pundit in the US, recently launched an attack on the CWI in Ireland and Britain, as part of a tirade against trade unionists and workers in the US.

On the April 5th Glenn Beck program, “Getting Our Fiscal House In Order,” Glenn Beck does one of his typical rants, this time blaming unions and socialism for causing governmental budget deficits. He denounces the role that socialist parties are playing in rallying workers to fight for their rights around the world, including the Socialist Party (CWI in Ireland) as well as the “Socialist Party of the UK.” These parties are the Irish and British sections of the Committee for a Workers’ International (CWI), which Socialist Alternative in the U.S. is in political solidarity with.

After 5 minutes and 40 seconds into the show, a very brief video of a Socialist Alternative (CWI supporters in the USA) leader Philip Locker appears where Locker is leading chants on a megaphone at a Wisconsin labor rally. At the 8:08 mark in the show, Beck attacks the article, “Greece – Capitalist Austerity Must Be Met with Workers’ Action” from the website of the Socialist Party (CWI Ireland). At the 8:33 mark, he attacks the article, “Socialists on the 26 March Demonstration” from the website of the Socialist Party of England and Wales.

This attack on Socialist Alternative is the third right-wing attack on Socialist Alternative activists’ work in Wisconsin that we know of. Links to the two others media attacks on Socialist Alternative are included at the end of this article. If right-wing big shots like Glenn Beck are viciously attacking the labor movement and socialists, specifically our organization, then we must be doing something right!

On his April 5th show, Glenn Beck draws links between the increasing national strikes in Europe, the revolutions in the Middle East, and the growing labor protests in the U.S. "Workers of the world unite!" he declares sarcastically, expressing fear that these growing protests pose a global threat to the global capitalist system.

This is one of the few times when Glenn Beck is actually right about something. The global capitalist system is indeed experiencing its deepest economic crisis since the Great Depression. Millions of working people have been thrown out of work, had their hours and benefits cut, and been evicted from their homes. Governments are massively slashing spending on public sector jobs and services, at a time when people need those jobs and services more than ever.

In response to the recession and these unbearable “free-market” policies, popular uprisings have toppled and continuously challenged U.S.-backed dictators across the Arab world since December 2010. Britain experienced its largest workers’ demonstration in decades on March 26, 2011, a massive outpouring of 700,000 to one million workers protesting in London.

In Wisconsin, Republicans claimed they had to balance the state budget by stripping public employees of their right to a union, provoking the largest labor protests in state history. Tens of thousands of workers organized daily rallies, one of which reached 150,000 to 200,000 people! Teachers and students also organized walk-outs and shut the schools down in protest. On April 4, the labor movement organized an historic national day of demonstrations in over 1,000 cities in defense of workers’ rights, the day before Beck’s April 5th show.

In his April 5th show, Beck joined the resounding chorus of media outlets blaming government budget deficits on workers, unions, and socialists who are fighting for basic economic necessities for workers. The true blame, however, belongs to the anarchistic, profit-driven capitalist system and the system’s business and political leaders.

The federal government’s deficit is a result of the economic crisis precipitated by the reckless investments of bankers and private Wall Street firms who are forced by the market system to compete in a reckless, short-sighted fashion. The deficit is also a result of the $7 trillion in taxpayer bailouts and guarantees that the Republicans and Democrats handed out to the capitalists to minimize the damage of their financial disaster.

Right-wingers like Glenn Beck claim that the bailouts and temporary government takeovers of the banks and auto companies were socialist measures. However, socialists completely reject this claim – as well as the claim that President Obama is a socialist.

The bailouts came at the expense of working-class and middle-class taxpayers in order to save the "free-market" capitalist system, which had utterly failed and ushered in the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. Presidents Bush and Obama, Republicans and Democrats, handed out trillions of tax dollars, with very few strings attached, allowing the executives who wrecked the economy to continue lavishing themselves with extremely high salaries and bonuses.

A socialist party that was genuinely committed to the needs of the majority of people – the working class – would have protected workers’ jobs, housing, and the economy in a completely different way. Socialists would have placed the banks and auto companies under public ownership and democratic control so that the working-class majority of the population would benefit from the enormous profits of those companies and banks, rather than having to foot the bill for the bankers’ mistakes. (For further explanation of a genuine socialist approach to nationalizing banks, click here.)

Government deficits are also the result of other capitalist policies, such as the U.S. government wasting trillions of dollars on wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and now Libya, (click here for socialist analysis of Libya). Wisconsin’s $137 million deficit was much made worse when the Republican governor gave away $117 million in tax breaks to corporations in January shortly after they funded his election campaign. Yet now he tries to blame the deficit on unions of public employees – on hard working teachers, nurses, and engineers. The right wing’s hypocrisy knows no end.

Unfortunately, President Obama and the Democratic Party failed to use the enormous popular support and historically high majorities in Congress when Obama was elected to mount a serious challenge against the Republican agenda, consistently compromising away what the majority of voters hoped for in 2008. The Democratic Party has exposed its true colors as a capitalist party which is funded and controlled by many of the same corporations as the Republican Party.

With labor struggles on the rise, now is the time to break with both corporate-controlled parties and begin building an independent mass workers’ party – a party that refuses campaign contributions from the corporate elite and consistently fights for the interests of workers, oppressed groups, and the environment.

In the face of the right wing and the ruling elite’s inevitable attacks against workers, unions, and socialists, workers cannot back down. They simply can’t afford to. Workers have no choice but to defend the right to a union – one of the only organizations workers have to defend our right to a decent living standard.

In the face of Beck’s April 5 call for government investigations into the activities of socialists – which is completely undemocratic, we in Socialist Alternative will not compromise our principles or conceal our socialist views. We will continue to patiently explain the undeniable logic that public ownership of banks and corporations and a democratically planned, worker-controlled economy is the only solution to the economic crises which are unavoidable under capitalism.

Only by ending the anarchy of the profit-driven competition of the global market system, can we end poverty, economic crises, war, and environmental destruction. Click here to support or join our international struggle for public ownership and democratic control of the world’s major industries so we can build a movement to create a rational economic system based on human need instead of corporate greed.

Additional Media Attacks on Socialist Alternative

"Socialists, Unions Plotting Illegal Strike in Wisconsin"

This article quotes extensively from a Socialist Alternative leaflet and viciously attacks Socialist Alternative’s for advocating a one-day public sector general strike as the most effective next step for the movement against Wisconsin Governor’s attack on workers

Right-Wing Video Attacks Socialist Union President

This video by the Maciver News Service attempts to slander the AFSCME union and the Wisconsin protests in general by their association with socialists, namely, Socialist Alternative. The video focuses on a flier that names Steven Edwards as both a union local president and a Socialist Alternative member. The interviewer completely fails to solicit a negative reaction from a single AFSCME union member, and, despite the intention of the video, socialism comes out in a good light. As an AFSCME organizer puts it at the end of the video, “Socialism is about the common good, and that’s what unions are about, too.”

Glenn Beck Admitted He Exploits Politics to Make Money

In the 4/26/10 Forbes article, "Glenn Beck Inc." Glenn Beck openly admits he promotes his political ideas on TV simply to make money, not because he believes what he argues. Here is a very revealing paragraph:

"With a deadpan, Beck insists that he is not political: ’I could give a flying crap about the political process.’ Making money, on the other hand, is to be taken very seriously, and controversy is its own coinage. ’We’re an entertainment company,’ Beck says."

Millionaires like Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh exploit fear, prejudice, and misinformation to get rich – capitalism at its finest indeed.

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April 2011