Sunday, September 23, 2012

Summer Issue Editorial

Our summer issue of the Blue Collar Review focuses on our increasingly automated wars and the environmental devastation of our world. This collection also speaks to the precariousness of the moment and the dread of the future which permeates our psyches. Another theme which emerges is that of our nation as a prison-state. We now have a larger percentage of our people in prison than any other country -- ever. Our non-white prison population alone is larger than the total prison population of China, a nation with a much larger population not known for its civil liberties. But actual incarceration is only part of it.

Those of us with jobs feel imprisoned by them as bosses increasingly monitor us on and off the job. Work itself is becoming increasingly intolerable and alienating as our opening poems describe. For the many of us locked into seemingly permanent unemployment by age and the reality of unemployment itself, we are imprisoned by poverty and lack of access to a living, as well as lack of access to health care. Most of us, by necessity, have become imprisoned by debt.

In this issue we have a short story describing the reality and degradation of those in our prisons. Not mentioned is the use of prisoners for slave labor which benefits major corporations and feeds the growth of the prison-industrial complex.

The winner of our Working People's Poetry Contest appears in this issue. In this winning poem, "New Work Gloves" Sanford Dorbin writes of his awareness of the collapsing ecology. This poem deals with what Primo Levy described as the "gray zone" in which the poet is both victim of the larger situation of ecological collapse and participant. He is covered in sawdust having just cut down precious trees. We are all complicit to a degree in this destruction, but it is not that simple. We have to do our best to survive day to day in the world as it is. The fossil fuel industry continues to plunder and destroy the environment. With its amassed wealth, it is largely in control of our government. The corrupt system of capitalism which prioritizes profits and corporate interests over life itself stands in the way of our ability to make the changes necessary to save our civilization and the ecosystem upon which all life depends.

Both candidates in the present election are owned by and serve the same interests, including the fossil fuel industry. Republicans are more resistant to facing reality and are calling for even more coal use, less if any EPA regulations, and the ending of public support for research and implementation of alternative energy. Obama is little better, continuing to support more oil drilling and shale oil. He at least acknowledges the problem and is slightly more likely, in the inevitable natural disasters of the next few years, to address the issue. Whoever occupies the Whitehouse, we must unite and pressure them to do what is right lest the "Coming Attractions" advertised in our closing poem come to pass. I wish we had better alternatives but that would require real electoral reform and the disempowermant of corporations.

Inevitably it is We the People who will have to unite to demand real change. The social and class consciousness expressed in this collection represents a growing realization of our situation and of the need to move beyond the corporatist paradigm. That consciousness is our only hope for the future. The social movements and activism we've seen over the last year must continue and grow into a larger more unified movement. We must continue to inspire each other to actively engage in the struggle, even when it seems hopeless. Doing so is an essential role of progressive working class literature. We are grateful to be able to continue publishing it.