Matt Patterson

Trade unions are a school of communism. -Vladimir Lenin

Legendary labor leader Andy Stern has seen the future. There’s no freedom there, but he’s OK with that. Mr. Stern, a former president of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), recently returned from a trip to China, where he had the opportunity to meet with “high-ranking” government officials, who outlined for the former labor leader the authoritarian regime’s long-term economic plan.

Mr. Stern was so enamored with what he saw in the Middle Kingdom that he praised the communist country’s state-planned economy in the pages of the Wall Street Journal and urged the United States to embark on a similar path. Among the more revolting passages of Mr. Stern’s love letter to Leninism:

“The conservative-preferred, free-market fundamentalist, shareholder-only model - so successful in the 20th century - is being thrown onto the trash heap of history in the 21st century. In an era when countries need to become economic teams, Team USA’s results - a jobless decade, 30 years of flat median wages, a trade deficit, a shrinking middle class and phenomenal gains in wealth but only for the top 1 percent - are pathetic. This should motivate leaders to rethink, rather than double down on an empirically failing free-market extremism.”

That a labor leader would proclaim love for freedom an extreme view should come as no surprise - the history of labor unions has been intimately entwined with the history of global communism. As the influential Dutch astronomer and Marxist theorist Anton Pannekoek wrote in his 1908 treatise, “The Labor Movement and Socialism,” “The object of the labor movement is to increase the strength of the proletariat to the point at which it can conquer the organized force of the bourgeoisie and thus establish its own supremacy.”

Vladimir Lenin agreed and made unions an integral part of the “people’s republic” he founded in 1917. “Shakedown Socialism” author Oleg Atbashian, a propagandist for the Soviet Union before he migrated the United States in 1994, writes that in the Soviet Union, “organized labor was part of the official establishment and union membership was universal and mandatory” and “that system’s seemingly magnanimous goals - fairness, economic equality and social justice - in real life brought forth a rigged game of wholesale corruption, forced inequality and grotesque injustice.”


Matt Patterson

Matt Patterson is senior editor at the Capital Research Center and contributor to Proud to be Right: Voices of the Next Conservative Generation (HarperCollins, 2010). His email is mpatterson.column@gmail.com.