The greater challenge looming over the One Nation campaign isn't just the optics—it's defining a weakened movement in an increasingly unstable political arena. And it's tapping into the public outrage that the right has shrewdly exploited in galvanizing new constituencies. So the groups carrying the “One Nation” banner might want to focus a bit less on projecting an aura of middle-class liberal harmony, and instead learn from the mass appeal of European union militancy.
We're running into one of the most dangerous aspects of the myth of American Exceptionalism: the concept that American workers somehow operate outside historical class antagoisms. Folks are lulled into the belief that deep social crisis can and should be resolved by individual upward mobility and by negotiating within establishment institutions (like Election Day or corporate-controlled collective bargaining).
But as the ITUC's new report starkly reveals, America's labor crises often put its people in the same quagmire as their peers in other economies. So when workers around the world are roused to action—organized, passionate, and not afraid to get a little dirty—why should American labor be any exception?
To be fair, comparing American labor to European labor is analogous to comparing apples to oranges. There's a sense of both history and class consciousness embedded in the collective psyche of European labor, which is conspicuous by its absence in the more heterogenous USA. And because of the way the US neo-feudal and plantation economy has evolved, the dice -- legal, political, cultural -- are loaded against American labor in a way not to be seen in most West European countries.
It's a disheartening state of affairs in the USA and arguably comparisons should really not be made since the terrain differs so much. American labor will have to make its own individual destiny.