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The working class needs its next Kurt Vonnegut

There can be no doubt that Labor Day is a lapsed holiday in America. It was a once proud tradition celebrating, as the US Department of Labor website puts it, “the social and economic achievements of American workers,” and a “national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country.” From its roots in the 19th century, it has, by the 21st century, become an opportunity for barbecues, a much-needed three-day weekend, and a convenient capstone to the summer season.

In a move emblematic of the troubled state of Labor Day celebrations, last year Eric Cantor had the inane audacity to tweet the following: “Today, we celebrate those who have taken a risk, worked hard, built a business and earned their own success.” Somehow in the warped logic of American conservative ideology “labor” and “workers” translates to “entrepreneurship” and “business owners.” The sacrifices, blood, and courage on the part of workers that toiled, often in poor conditions for little to no pay, does not figure into such a paltry imagination and indifferent political understanding of labor movements in the United States.

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