200 odd years of capitalism has thrown up countless working class heroes. Most got buried in obscurity in life and by a collective amnesia in death. The education system of ‘our betters’ is partly to blame. It taught and teaches us of the establishment heroes, of the generals and the explorers who furthered the glorious civilising project of colonisation. And our popular culture seems incapable of offering us anything beyond sports stars or imaginary comic book heroes with impossible powers.
But this month the life of a real hero was marked.
Jimmy Reid was a man who you’ve probably never heard of.
Jimmy Reid is an example of the type of person we need to remember. Not for their sake. But for ours.
Some hold that the actions he helped to instigate on the Clyde shipyards were a glorious failure. And perhaps that’s the case. Perhaps if the workers back then had taken the crucial final small step and assumed full and permanent self-management of the ship yards rather than merely working the yards to force the hand of the government to keep them open, we might be living in a very different world today.
There was a famous speech he gave back in 1972. The NY Times printed it in full on its front page and compared it to the Gettysburg Address. Think about that for a second. A mainstream US newspaper likening the speech of a foreign unionist to the Gettysburg Address. And yet I’ll wager you’ve never heard of it. Let alone read it. It reads as fresh today, half a century and half a world away, as it did back then.
You should read it. And when you have done wondering at the chasm between what msm carried back then as compared to now, you might want to remember or realise a little of that human reality which sits within us all and persists despite the swirling miasma of imposed mainstream cultures and media.