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Grayson writes: "Now, admittedly, capital is wealthier, better organized, and far more powerful today than it was in Lincoln's time. Capital gorges on Republican tax cuts for the rich, on bailouts, on government contracts and corporate welfare, on free money from the Fed, and on monopoly profit. Capital treats politicians and whole political parties like puppets. Capital creates and perpetuates a system where Labor is unemployed, where Labor is in debt up to its eyeballs, where Labor cannot see a doctor when ill, where Labor is pitted against Labor."

Former Rep. Grayson, here delivering a fiery speech to Democratic activists, is running to retake a seat in Congress. (photo: Phelan M. Ebenhack/AP}
Former Rep. Grayson, here delivering a fiery speech to Democratic activists, is running to retake a seat in Congress. (photo: Phelan M. Ebenhack/AP}



Lincoln: 'Labor Is the Superior of Capital'

By Alan Grayson, Open Mike Blog

03 December 11

 

uring my two years in Congress, I heard an awful lot of speeches. Some of them were delivered by some of the finest public speakers in America today - like Barack Obama, Neil Abercrombie, John Lewis, Anthony Weiner and Alcee Hastings. But none of them was as profound and poignant as the one that I'm about to share with you. It was delivered to a Joint Session of Congress by President Abraham Lincoln, exactly 150 years ago today. The focus of the President's speech was, of course, the Civil War. But President Lincoln took a short detour, and with a few bare sentences, he summed up an issue that remains with us to this day.

This is what President Lincoln said to Congress, to America, and to us:

"It is not needed, nor fitting here [in discussing the Civil War] that a general argument should be made in favor of popular institutions; but there is one point, with its connections, not so hackneyed as most others, to which I ask a brief attention. It is the effect to place capital on an equal footing with, if not above, labor, in the structure of government. It is assumed that labor is available only in connection with capital; that nobody labors unless somebody else, owning capital, somehow by the use of it induces him to labor. This assumed, it is next considered whether it is best that capital shall hire laborers, and thus induce them to work by their own consent, or buy them, and drive them to it without their consent. Having proceeded thus far, it is naturally concluded that all laborers are either hired laborers or what we call slaves. And further, it is assumed that whoever is once a hired laborer is fixed in that condition for life.

"Now, there is no such relation between capital and labor as assumed, nor is there any such thing as a free man being fixed for life in the condition of a hired laborer. Both these assumptions are false, and all inferences from them are groundless.

"Labor is prior to, and independent of, capital. Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if labor had not first existed. Labor is the superior of capital, and deserves much the higher consideration. Capital has its rights, which are as worthy of protection as any other rights."

If I were still in Congress, I would have repeated President Lincoln's speech on the Floor of the House this week, in the same spot where he rendered it 150 years ago. "Labor is the superior of capital." And we must not "place capital . . . above labor in the structure of government." Thank you, Mr. Lincoln. If I had to sum up my job as a Congressman in 25 words or less, that would do it.

I realize that for a statement as profound as this one, it is "far beyond [my] poor power to add or detract" (as Lincoln himself said, two years later, at Gettysburg). But I'll try anyway, recognizing that "the world will little note, nor long remember, what we say.

I find it startling to read something like this, and realize how timeless these battles are. As the French say, "Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose." (“The more things change, the more they stay the same.") In fact, you can hear echoes of Lincoln's words in what Elizabeth Warren said just ten weeks ago: "There is nobody in this country who got rich on his own. Nobody."

Now, admittedly, capital is wealthier, better organized, and far more powerful today than it was in Lincoln's time. Capital gorges on Republican tax cuts for the rich, on bailouts, on government contracts and corporate welfare, on free money from the Fed, and on monopoly profit. Capital treats politicians and whole political parties like puppets. Capital creates and perpetuates a system where Labor is unemployed, where Labor is in debt up to its eyeballs, where Labor cannot see a doctor when ill, where Labor is pitted against Labor. There probably are plenty of well-meaning people who realize this, throw up their hands, and say, “if you can't beat them, join them."

And then there are us. People with a head, and a heart. People who want to occupy Wall Street, occupy K Street, and occupy America with the simple concept of justice for all. People who understand that the very fact that this fight has been going on for 150 years or more, and will continue after you and I are gone - that very fact - makes this a fight that is worth fighting for.

And gradually, things do get better. I know, I know - two steps forward, one step back. But then two more steps forward.

Oh say can you see, by the dawn's early light,
What so proudly we hailed, at the twilight's last gleaming.

When Lincoln spoke, 150 years ago today, his time was the twilight's last gleaming. And today, you can see the dawn's early light.

Can you see it?

Courage,

Alan Grayson

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+63 # artful 2011-12-03 15:24
Well said. Would that I were as optimistic. I see the capitalists running roughshod on the nation--the 99% if you will. They care not what they do, and they are in process of nominating one of their own. All of the current crop of pseudo-presiden tial candidates, the clowns, will do the bidding of capital, as they have always done.
 
 
0 # racetoinfinity 2011-12-06 00:36
TR and FDR come to mind as exceptions.
 
 
+68 # BobbyLip 2011-12-03 15:25
How obscene that today's Republicans pat themselves on their bristly porcine backs for belonging to the party of Lincoln. The log cabin he was born in is many rungs above their sty.
 
 
+91 # angelfish 2011-12-03 15:49
I feel SO proud to have as sensible a man as Alan Grayson working for Democrats, and, in reality, ALL Americans. He, along with Dennis Kucinich, Bernie Sanders and a few others are National Treasures who put PEOPLE before the almighty dollar! When he is re-elected next November, his wonderful intellect will again give voice to those of us who have remained without one for so long! God Bless you, Mr. Grayson, may your Tribe increase!
 
 
+40 # giraffee2012 2011-12-03 16:37
Quoting angelfish:
I feel SO proud to have as sensible a man as Alan Grayson working for Democrats, and, in reality, ALL Americans. He, along with Dennis Kucinich, Bernie Sanders and a few others are National Treasures who put PEOPLE before the almighty dollar! When he is re-elected next November, his wonderful intellect will again give voice to those of us who have remained without one for so long! God Bless you, Mr. Grayson, may your Tribe increase!


You took the words out of my mouth!
2016 or so Alan or Bernie should should consider running the W.H. and the country
 
 
+31 # X Dane 2011-12-03 18:04
With Warren ar treasury sec.
 
 
+38 # X Dane 2011-12-03 18:37
I loved the speeches Allan Grayson delivered on the floor of the HOUSE, as a matter of fact I stood in my kichen and hooted and hollered...Fina lly someone who would call out the republicans.

I nearly jumpted up and down. I am a big admirer and I love his guts and candor...... So I was stunned and angry that he LOST in 2010. I could not believe that those foolish Floridians didn't appreciate what a treasure they had.
West is such a nasty little weazel.

I hope Allan Grayson stays out front, speaks up when possible, and writes in all the newspapers. Voices like his should be heard. Often, for he REALLY has something to say.
Now we have two GREAT candidates, how many more do we need to elect??
 
 
+4 # rtrues54 2011-12-04 16:46
"2016 or so Alan or Bernie should should consider running the W.H. and the country"

WHY NOT RUN NOW, FOR 2012?!!!!!?
 
 
+2 # larrypayne 2011-12-06 12:46
Why wait until 2016? We need a strong and honest president right now.

Obama should be shown the door for turning his back on the working people of this country after they worked so hard to put him in office.
 
 
+26 # Magars 2011-12-03 18:21
Quoting angelfish:
I feel SO proud to have as sensible a man as Alan Grayson working for Democrats, and, in reality, ALL Americans. He, along with Dennis Kucinich, Bernie Sanders and a few others are National Treasures who put PEOPLE before the almighty dollar! When he is re-elected next November, his wonderful intellect will again give voice to those of us who have remained without one for so long! God Bless you, Mr. Grayson, may your Tribe increase!

ABSOLUTELY! THEY ARE THE BEST,THEIR PRINCIPLES AND HONESTY ARE AN INSPIRATION AND A VIVID PROOF THAT NOBODY CAN BUY THEM.
 
 
+3 # noitall 2011-12-05 15:38
If Obama lived up to his high retoric we would be applauding his performance today. Alas.
 
 
0 # ER444 2011-12-06 02:27
I have been following this brave soul for the past three years and have contributed to his campaign. Please do the same !!!! The Republicans kicked into overdrive in in last election and simply bought his seat with an extraordinary financial flood against him. Let's help im fight back this time.
 
 
+58 # dorianb@fuse.net 2011-12-03 15:55
Alan Grayson,
You are a light and a torch bearer at a dark tome in US politics. Keep writing! Keep talking! Keep educating the people on what is going on.
 
 
+33 # rpauli 2011-12-03 16:34
Hmm.. why it is almost as if the Civil War was fought between capitalist (who believed in slave holding) and labor.

The peace meant that capitalists could no longer hold slaves - but instead would have to pay them and give them mortgages and student loans.
 
 
+18 # Byronator 2011-12-03 17:53
And clearly, the capital monopolists haven't gotten over their loss of free involuntary labor and indentured servitude. The result has been the off-shoring of America's production base and the importation of goods for consumers who can't afford to buy them without incurring chronic debt. Voila, involuntary labor in prisons and jobs they hate and a lifetime of debt servitude to the banks.
 
 
+17 # Doubter 2011-12-03 18:37
It's not for nothing they are called "wage slaves." That's why I've always thought the "right to work" is equivalent to the right to be a slave. Only some system as "Cooperativism" could remedy this sad fact. Or giving everybody a number of "shares" in the economy at birth.

"The cooperative is the best form of democratic organization and without internal or external pressure."
http://www.cooperation.net/max/what-is-cooperativism?lang=en
 
 
+1 # racetoinfinity 2011-12-06 00:47
I agree. The next step in economic/societ al evolution is/has to be a form of interdependent cooperatism, while honoring individual initiative and creativity (and all civil and human rights, of course). The financializatio n (putting capital as KING) of our economy since the '70s has rendered us backwards to/in a nation with a dying middle class. #cccupy!!
 
 
+7 # katlat 2011-12-03 20:00
[quote name="rpauli"]H mm.. why it is almost as if the Civil War was fought between capitalist (who believed in slave holding) and labor.

Maybe more like between two types of capitalists: one set had chattel slaves and the other had wage slaves. We did away with the former and are left with the latter, who are now the 1%.
 
 
-5 # grindermonkey 2011-12-04 09:00
The Civil War was fought over the issue of States Rights, the right to secede. The peace to which you refer is tenuous at best. Then as now the dollar was worthless so the South printed its own money which in today's dollars is probably worth more than what the FRB gins up.
 
 
+26 # michelle 2011-12-03 16:53
This is why the capitalists are going after unions. When workers organize, when we strike, we reaffirm that labor is superior to capital. Their wealth depends on our work.

Can we see it? I don't know but I do know OWS is raising the consciousness of workers everywhere even while it frightens the capitalists.

Can we do anything? Perhaps. Support the people's candidates like Grayson, Sanders and Kucinich. Stop spending money on corporate goods whenever and where ever you can. Stop borrowing and use cash when you can. Each dime we keep out of the capitalists,cor poratist, bankers pockets serves us well. Finally, turn off the TV and talk to folks. Talk to them on public transit, in the grocery store line, to the homeless and even though it is ever so hard try to talk to those workers who oppose the working man and equality. We all are occupiers now, even if we do not camp out.
 
 
+21 # Gnome de Pluehm 2011-12-03 17:11
Perhaps not all, but many of the 1 percent would be happy if the whole continent were turned into a banana republic and would push for that provided they could own it.
 
 
+23 # Gnome de Pluehm 2011-12-03 17:13
Further, they are not patriotic; they are disloyal and in spirit are filled with treason.
 
 
+17 # Ken Hall 2011-12-03 17:42
Here's another Lincoln quote (I may not have it quite right): "The strongest bond of human sympathy, outside of the family connection, should be the one that exists between the working people of all kindreds, tongues, and nations." One of our greatest presidents, and a staunch populist, which is perhaps what made him such a great leader. I used to walk by the office of a labor organization in Frisco and read this each time I walked by. The more I learn about Lincoln, the more respect and admiration I have for him, he was the real deal.
 
 
-22 # cypress72 2011-12-03 17:43
Is Mr. Grayson going to run again for the House (or even the Senate) or has he been relegated to serve as the "Left's" answer to Sarah Palin ????
 
 
+3 # lark3650 2011-12-04 15:28
What is that saying....best to keep your mouth shut and let people think you a fool instead of opening it and removing all doubt. Obviously you don'tknow anything about Alan Grayson. Did you know that since he has been out of the House he has recovered something like $9 million dollars from corporate war profiteers? He is a statesman....st atesman do everything they can to do something for the people...politi cians do everything they can to get the people to do something for them. It isn't about the "left"....it's about doing the right thing....that is whas Alan Grayson stands for.
 
 
+17 # Mark Dworkin 2011-12-03 17:44
Thank you Alan Grayson for your outstanding work in Congress and your continuing service as a public citizen. And thanks for letting us know that the great Abe Lincoln, whom we honor for so many virtues, had the courage and foresight to warn us about the danger of allowing Capital to dominate Labor. Too bad our country did not heed his words. But the good news is that more and more of us now realize a need to redress the balance. And as we do that, we can look at a few remaining places in today's world where Labor is in charge. I am thinking of businesses, mainly cooperatives, that are owned and run, democratically by the people work there. There is an exciting new film that will be finished next year, about several of these worker owned companies, including the remarkable Mondragon cooperatives in the Basque region of Spain. For more info look at - - and spread the word.
 
 
+4 # Mark Dworkin 2011-12-04 00:14
The film is called SHIFT CHANGE and information on it is at the glob site http://shiftchange.org
 
 
+15 # fobsub 2011-12-03 17:54
While the words of Mr. Grayson and the former president he quoted are profoundly true, not enough Americans or even people of the world realize the power they have as a community. If they did, occupy movements, demonstrations, protests, riots etc. would hardly be necessary. Take a moment to think about the numbers and the situation world wide. There are two camps and Mr Grayson has named them "labor" and "capital", AKA 99% and 1%. As an alien observer one would have to surmise that the 99% is the camp with all the power and boys and girls, it truly is. Yes workers, builders, money movers, you have all the power. Then why is it that 1% of the population, living in virtually a world of their own, seems to have power and authority over the overwhelming majority that they can't even relate to? Its because the 1% says it has the power, they say it all together; they are organized. Labor is not. Labor organized capital from the start by creating a government to look after it. Labor's trusted government then got into bed with capital, it liked it there and they organized together and together they prevent the organization of labor with laws, confusion, distraction, poverty etc. It works. We are watching it happen today with the patchy, disorganized efforts of the occupy motions.
Organize labor, speak with the resounding authority of millions and you the 99% will succeed.
 
 
+23 # Bill Clements 2011-12-03 18:05
THESE are the people we need as our representatives in Congress! Is there any doubt about their intelligence, their priorities, their compassion and their integrity?

All of us must work to find them and put them into office.

Present day Republicans can not say that they are the Party of Lincoln without inviting contempt and derisive laughter. They have irrevocably severed their lineage to Lincoln.
 
 
+14 # John Locke 2011-12-03 18:07
Capitalists as I say Can not survive without labor, but unfortunately the 99% are divided, i read blogs where many don't understand the OWS Movement, so no consences will occur, the 1% divide and conquor that is how they survive, they accomplish this by control of the Media, and the government and the money supply, while we have the ability to turn this around the 99% fights with itself. However remember the war for independence only had the support of 3% of the population, this though is a very different time, with satalite surveilance and infared viewing through walls...and sound weapons, and weapons that merge on sci fi, a revolution is not possible, except on a 99% level and comprised of refusing to work for the 1%, that is how change will occur when the majority really have enough
 
 
+15 # gdp1 2011-12-03 18:10
We are involved in the ideological equivalent of the Civil War....Citizens United decision in the Supreme Court has, in effect divided the country...betwe en those who can bleed blood while fighting for rights...and those who bleed money while fighting for rights...A nd the Supreme Court...in equating money with speech...have (unwittingly?) equated money with blood. This is a sophistry as old as Homer....but a very profitable sophistry in the modern arrangement of Western civilization .And most pathetically, this was Osama Bin Laden's exact criticism of western capitalism....
 
 
+16 # fobsub 2011-12-03 18:13
Using its organizational skills, capital can impose its will upon labor in the blink of an eye. A fresh example is the simultaneous clearing of the occupy camping across the country. That could not happen if labor were organized and demonstrating by the millions.
Organize and make things happen.
 
 
+6 # Kootenay Coyote 2011-12-03 18:55
No wonder Lincoln was shot.
 
 
+7 # fobsub 2011-12-03 19:59
There is no way that any of the many problems so deeply entrenched into the economy and our leadership structure can be changed without considerable sacrifice and hardship to both camps but capital is few and labor is many.
An organized labor can change this world virtually overnight. The hard part is getting it organized.
Actually, our government is supposed to be the organization of the people, where the people are represented, plans are conceived and action is taken for our benefit but the 1% has gained control of our organization and diverted its purpose to theirs.
The 1% organizes easily by rallying around a common material object: money, the thing that arguably makes the world go round. Being a small, tight group money makes it easy for them to stay focused in agreedment.
 
 
+8 # fobsub 2011-12-03 20:00
Organizing the 99% is not so easy, it being a large, diverse group lacking a common focal point to rally them as one, it is simply a large, impotent, unstructured mass.
I would say that it should use the same object that gives life to the 1%. Money. That object, after all belongs mostly to the 99% but is in the possession of and completely controlled by 1%.
In the period of one week, everyone should remove all non-essential money from banks and other users of currency, place it in a coffee can and bury it in the ground and don't spend a dime for at least another week. A start.
 
 
+9 # wwway 2011-12-03 20:12
Grayson is running again (Florida?) isn't he?
So one more Democrat is finally getting on the right wagon. We have Independent Bernie Sanders, Democrats Elizabeth Warren and Barnie Frank (who's retiring) and who else?
We have to elect representatives who will stand against the lobbies and push through the amendment to eliminate corporate personhood. We have to get rid of all republicans, teas, conservadems. Who's going to run against them?
 
 
+5 # mwd870 2011-12-04 06:15
Yes, if Grayson is able to regain his seat in Congress, it will be a win for the 99%.

I hope there more out there like Warren and Sanders willing to run - it isn't an easy decision to enter politics, especially if they intend to fight the interests of big money. It's our job to support them. The effort starts at the local level.
 
 
+13 # reiverpacific 2011-12-03 20:25
It's not just the Repugs -although they are the blatant cheerleaders for the Capitalists. There are many, many Democrats just as beholden to the heavily-enginee red status quo.
The Democratic Party needs to look at their own turncoats and cast them out to the darkness wherever they want to hang their fink-hats, so that the remaining ones truly represent community-build ing, free thinking and mutual aid again rather than tearing it down at the behest of the "Burrower's" (lobbyist's) "divide and conquer" tactics.
Money out, Labor in!
With Warren and Grayson running for office and some others like Franken and Kucinich in place, the bar for being a credible Democrat, or should I say leftist (gasp!) Socialist like independent Sanders should start there and never be lowered to allow the wanna-be Whigs to sneak under and into the fold by crawling.
-And I'm already doing pretty much what "fosub" suggested with what little I have.
 
 
+7 # webfoot doug 2011-12-04 02:05
What a delight to see someone quoting Lincoln - correctly.
Republicans love to misquote Lincoln in order to make this great liberal sound like some ignorant conservative like themselves.

For example, a popular right-wing NYU law professor recently, on PBS News Hour, claimed that Lincoln said "you can't build up the poor by tearing down the rich." Lincoln of course never said any such rubbish-- it is on the list of "don'ts created by an obscure minister years ago but often falsely claimed by Republicans as Lincoln quotes.
Sadly, PBS New Hour refused to correct this misquote on air.

It should also be noted that Lincoln made that statement in the context of discussing why free labor was superior to slave labor because it gave a worker the opportunity to raise one's position in life, even to eventually own a successful business.

It is unfortunate that today our one percent has made that almost impossible for anyone outside the elite.
 
 
+8 # speedboy 2011-12-04 04:58
I have suggested, over and over again, that protest and resistance to corporate fascism should be expressed by the 99% calling for a nationwide shutdown (general strike)on a designated day, and if still Congress fails take action, the shutdowns could be more frequent and for more than a single day, until we get a response to our condition. This is a way for everyone to participate in demanding reforms from our do-nothing Congress and President, and stop the bullying by the GOP.
 
 
-19 # Martintfre 2011-12-04 10:39
//'Labor Is the Superior of Capital'//
Brainless bruts are superior.

Bow down to our might!

//Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if labor had not first existed// And the mind? The mind that directs labor to productive results vs mindless expenditure of labor in usless pursuits? The mind that takes risk - unsure of success?

No Congressman Grayson - you are wrong intellectually and morally. Might does not make right.
 
 
+4 # Vucurevich 2011-12-04 12:06
Grayson is a breath of fresh air but we the people, are the ones that support the capitalists or 1%. Here is the rub. We purchase the goods that they sell, their profits are used, not only to make more money with, but to spend millions of it to buy the members of Congress to legislate what makes them more wealthy. In a nutshell, we the people are paying for what these people do with our money. The only way to stop this is to promote taking "ALL" money out of politics with severe penalties if it continues. Money is not a form of speech as the Conservative Supreme Court claims. Nor are corporations people.
 
 
+1 # reiverpacific 2011-12-04 18:10
Quoting Vucurevich:
Grayson is a breath of fresh air but we the people, are the ones that support the capitalists or 1%. Here is the rub. We purchase the goods that they sell, their profits are used, not only to make more money with, but to spend millions of it to buy the members of Congress to legislate what makes them more wealthy. In a nutshell, we the people are paying for what these people do with our money. The only way to stop this is to promote taking "ALL" money out of politics with severe penalties if it continues. Money is not a form of speech as the Conservative Supreme Court claims. Nor are corporations people.

And where exactly does the "might" reside right now!
You must have green-colored spectacles indeed!
 
 
-1 # RMDC 2011-12-04 12:31
Karl Marx similarly praised Lincoln and wrote a nice letter to him on the abolition of slavery. But Marx was not as naive or as desperate as we are today. He also knew that Lincoln was the representative of the party of capital and especially banks. One of the reasons Lincoln went to war against the confederacy was in order to drive the government into debt to big banks in NY, Boston, and Providence, thus giving banks an inroad into the US Treasury. Banks in Europe always trapped government into debt by financing wars. Lincoln got that started in the US. Lincoln’s populist rhetoric is good but his actions spoke louder. Lincoln also did more than any president up to his time to centralize power in the federal government. The civil war was a bonanza for corporations. The odious Bush family and JP Morgan got their starts selling war supplies to the USG during the Civil War. The contracts they got were every bit as bad as weapons suppliers today.

This does not minimize the great work of Allan Grayson. It only says that Lincoln was a hypocrite in the great tradition of US presidents. He was similarly hypocritical about slavery. He did not emancipate slaves in the states that remained in the Union. And he favored sending ex-slaves back to Africa.
 
 
0 # jimyoung 2011-12-04 13:57
Lincoln, Hamlin, Washburns, and the earlier founders of the State roots of the Republican party were among those who fought the bank wars as early as the late 1830s. The banks some of them founded were to break the hold of the abusive banks that did things like calling loans a few weeks before farmers crops came in. They knew the loans were secure but took advantage of their customers to grab their property in bad faith foreclosures. The best of them established the real, ethical, capitalist, companies that made it possible for so many more citizens to become productive in the things that give our currency value. They wanted the average guy to succeed, not skim off so much for themselves. They knew their customers and were partners in making them productive. That does not describe what the current Republican party seems to back.
 
 
-1 # Martintfre 2011-12-05 14:38
//He was similarly hypocritical about slavery. He did not emancipate slaves in the states that remained in the Union//

Dude - he did not have to.
 
 
-1 # michelle 2011-12-06 00:51
"Lincoln's 1863 Emancipation Proclamation did not apply to the border states. Missouri, Maryland, and West Virginia all abolished slavery during the war. In Kentucky and Delaware, the 40,000 or so remaining slaves were emancipated by the ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment in December 1865."
 

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