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All right? Enough on this philosophy? Unless you have other questions.
Have you come across other unions that operate different?
No, it's not a question of that. It's a question of --
What can you see?
At TDU we had an abstract ideal, in a certain sense, of “the
members will control the union.” If a TDU official got elected it was like
a first generation. You would organize a stewards council. You would
have a souped up newsletter. You would have the food committee to
give out food to the unemployed. Where TDU people got elected, they
would try to carry these things out. But I always wonder -- it's like the
second generation in a revolution. The Nicaraguans do not want to be
mobilized for the next fifty years. They want a return to a normal way
of life. It's the same thing in a union, you know? I'll never forget this -
- this is really a little lengthy for this tape.
That's all right. Turn off the tape then. No but it's part of it.
Saul told me a story about how in Guatemala in the 1950s, when
the United States government was destabilizing the economy -- the
same they are doing to the Nicaraguans now -- all the people on the
Left said, “Oh, no. He was popularly elected. There'll be a Civil War.
They'll fight back.” Then his point was that when finally the CIA
instigated the coup, the people were so exhausted that they didn't
fight. He was making the point, it's not clear that the Nicaraguans can
fight and fight and fight and fight. You become exhausted. You see
what I'm saying. It's a very broad analogy. But it seems like it's
impossible to have that sort of “stage of siege” mentality all the time
in a union.
Not only that, but the union becomes institutionalized. First of
all when you come along, you no longer can function the way you --
see in the old days, you could walk through a meeting and you knew
everybody's first name. And everybody knew you. But when you've
reached the point where you're thirty, forty, fifty thousand people,
you're all ready removed from them. You're the person they see on
television, or reading the paper and you occasionally walk through the
hospital and you come to a meeting. But there's a distance -- a gulf
evolves. You can't do the same things that you did when you were 500
as you can when you're 50,000. You have to adapt new kinds of
strategies and new approaches to try to accomplish some of that,
knowing that much of it dissipates in the process.
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