.... bad conditions and attacks on working people never lead automatically to mass movements. Political resignation is usually more common than resistance since workers, particularly where labor organizations are weak, tend to search for individual solutions to collective problems. “Until very recently,” says Miller, “Oklahoma teachers have been going without any hope, feeling like nothing could be done to change things. People would say, ‘It is what it is; it’s out of our power.’” In recent years, union-led efforts to reverse the attacks on public services and education have yielded few results in Oklahoma.... Oklahoma unions deserve credit for helping keep the issue of teacher pay and school funding squarely in the public eye over recent years. Yet, as in West Virginia, the initiative for the current movement has mostly come from below...... The fact that Oklahoma, like West Virginia, is a so-called “red state” has obscured the existence of majority support for progressive working-class policies. In the 2016 primaries, Bernie Sanders received more votes than any candidate of either party.
....... JacobinThese excerpts offer a lot of food for thought.
One of the major lessons of the teacher revolt in red states is that much of the militarism may be coming from the center/right, not from the left. Not only that, from the photos, the protestors are overwhelmingly white.
I have a theory - and that is based on a lot of guessing - so as more info comes in I may toss this theory away:
That many people who voted for Trump are expressing a form of frustrated outraged militarism. Labor movement people's militancy has been dampened from a weak-kneed union leadership that is often more liberal than they are and these sparks are beginning to fly in these states because their Republican leaderships have just gone too far in cutting education.
Diane Ravitch posted a link to the article from Jacobin (a strong left wing journal) which gives us excellent background on events in Oklahoma and how things may differ from West Virginia. You might want to see how the Jacobin piece dovetails with the view from Mike Antonucci on the right - How Oklahoma Will Be Different From West Virginia.
The Jacobin article mentions Oklahoma teacher Larry Cagle and others but never seems to delve into their politics. Are they avoiding dealing with those politics because if the emerging leadership is coming from the non-activist center/right, it may undermine some of the premises so many on the left operate under:
That a left enlightened "vanguard" will lead the workers out of their darkness.
I see a lot of that mentality in MORE, while my sense (from a distance) is that there is a lot of latent militancy in the non-active UFT members, many of whom may leave post-Janus. That the MOREs may find themselves outflanked from the right if the shit every hits the fan here in NYC, which compared to the red states, has a long way to go. You also hear a lot of talk about race in MORE. But when the red state teacher story is told, the race of the teachers is not talked about.
So, where do these militant teachers from Red Trump states come from politically? I imagine they might be more liberal on the whole than others in their state since they are teachers but probably compared to here in NYC there would be Trump supporters, red dog Democrats and probably some liberals.
How about leftists - socialists? Did radical activists play much of a role in WV or currently Oklahoma? Larry Cagle is one of the independent leaders in Oklahoma and very strong in pushing back against the union leaders, who I bet are more liberal than he is. Larry, in his phone call to the Jacobin/DSA/ISO/MORE March 10 event said "Here it's Trump against Trump?"
Would Larry Cagle, who is being lauded as one of the heroes by the left, otherwise be branded a "deplorable?" Would the liberal/left anti-Trumpers even want to talk to him if he was a teacher in NYC?
Now what does this say for the opposition in the UFT to Unity Caucus, the leaders of whom maintain they are more liberal than the mainstream NYC teacher while the main opposition maintains it wants to focus on reaching the activist/left oriented teacher?
Here are excerpts from the Jacobin article - a must read - though always with a critical eye. Read it all at: https://jacobinmag.com/2018/03/oklahoma-teachers-strike-west-virginia
It’s Oklahoma’s Turn to Strike