Sunday, March 31, 2013

Winter Issue Editorial

This issue comes out as our government, held hostage by an obstructive block of regressive extremists, is rendered increasingly dysfunctional. The false crisis of sequester and the possible further government shutdown over raising the debt limit, predicate intolerable hardship for struggling workers -- the poorest, the infirm, the unemployed, and retired people. Instead of creating jobs or addressing climate change, we will hear more demands from the wealthiest for imposing austerity, meaning the evisceration of lifeline programs including Social Security and Medicare. Meanwhile, as corporations see record profits and the stock market soars, jobs remain scarce and most of us find even the illusion of security a luxury.

Many of the poems in this issue could just as well have been written in the great depression. They speak of work related illness and of lack of medical care. They speak of the desperate invisibility of homelessness and the disillusioned poverty of old age. More importantly, they include an awareness of the global nature of exploitation; of how we are pitted against each other, our poverty underwriting the wealth that oppresses us. Poems by John Kaniecki, James Eret, and Fred Voss reject the competitive prejudice all of us are fed against immigrants, voicing the class solidarity upon which our mutual gains depend. This vital solidarity is echoed throughout this issue as is a militant commitment to the struggle for economic justice and a livable future.

Tough times are continuing, but the hardest times are often fertile ground for struggle as the illusion of individualism gives way to the necessity of community. It will take a change in attitudes and cultural consciousness to get us through to really better, secure and sustainable times. The worse things get, the more violent and reactionary the movies, music, and cultural attitudes the corporate ruling class pump out in order to fortify attitudes which undermine our unity and the class perspective that threaten their power over us.

This is why working class culture is so vital to our struggle. This is what our journal is about. There are very few venues for consistently progressive, class conscious and militant writing. This is our annual fundraising season. Tight times make supporting this project both more difficult and more vital. We are amazed to have lasted over sixteen years and honored to have published the strongest poets of our working class. We get no backing from organized labor, literary or political organizations, or universities. This is your journal. In better times your editors covered expenses from our own meager pockets but given our more tenuous economic reality, we cannot cover all the costs involved. That we have been able to continue publishing over the past few years is a tribute to the loyalty of readers who have found this journal worthy of support. We are determined, with your help, to continue.