8 September 2020
Lighting the Torch: Labor On
Yesterday, I observed Labor Day in the USA by working — on the translation of Chapter 77 of THE DAWN into L’AUBE. I’d forgotten about how very opposed to the cross-Channel invasion Prime Minister Winston Churchill had been in 1942. The military commanders in the American enclave of the Allied forces punted a response to his rejection of this idea by stating that there were insufficient landing craft to pull of such an operation.
They were correct, of course. But what struck me as most noteworthy were the market forces that FDR, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, quite naturally, instinctively and forcefully put into place at the time of the American military involvement in WWII:
Whoever is paying the freight makes the decisions.
It is not a novel or revolutionary idea, and yet, currently, as of today, that stance is attacked as expressing any of a number of untrue and horrid emotions. I need not repeat any of those foul mantras of the past few years; and I need not expound upon their wretched duplicity. I do need to comment on the upside-down-ness of how things such as mastery and excellence and leadership and astounding courage are viewed by Americans totally lacking in those virtues.
During the early part of 2009, I was busily writing the first, and only, draft of THE DAWN. Living in the family domicile were my two children who were attending college, four years apart in their studies. It’s an experience no parent wants to re-live, and yet I am obviously doing it for the purpose of writing about it. I suffer for my art!
I asked my son and my daughter how much background and explication of American, and world, history do I need to do amidst setting the action of a novel during World War II. Does World War I, the Great War, have to be explained? How much of WWII is presently known and understood by their peers?
Their one and only and unified response was:
“Mom, you are going to have to explain EVERYTHING.”
It was not an answer that enthused me. I’d wanted to write a dramatic story of love and death and hope and despair that focused primarily upon the characters and the lives they’d had to live during the war. Of necessity, market forces forced me to delve into the history as History.
My work expanded in ways that I’d not anticipated, but that labour of love is part of being a writer, at least a good one. Writing what YOU want to write is not art. It’s self-expression. I aspired to do justice to this work of fiction, even if it meant going places where I definitely did not wish to go.
The demand of a very loud but not very large segment of the more recent generations to go ONLY where they want to go, and to do ONLY what they want to do — has affected many sectors in the American economy, and in American life. The marketing experts in an appallingly huge percentage of businesses, companies and corporations have become slavishly and cynically devoted to pitching the advertising of their merchandise as a way of showing They Care. Somehow, the product being hawked has become secondary, if not completely irrelevant in the sales transaction.
This shift in market forces has brought about the demise of the Stupid Company, and though I miss the previous existence of a few of them, I shed no tears over the fates they brought upon themselves.
Yesterday, I took a break from my intense mental and emotional travails, and I looked online at a pair of boots that I’ve been hunting to buy for at least a year now. Made in the U.S.A., they are gorgeous pieces of leather apparel for my foot. The website, however, was proudly announcing that This American Company, unlike other Businesses in the USA, were not engaging in actual commerce to celebrate Labor Day — with sales and discount codes or even a free-shipping deal.
THEY were doing a Labor On job search for all of those unemployed people in America, specifically within their hard-hit rust-belt region.
I heaved a heavy sigh. A very heavy sigh.
That response was followed by the paranoid reaction that here was yet another quality manufacturer being stupid, trying to PR an image that is even more stupid than the ones I have already seen too much of — and which really has nothing to do with selling its goods.
And, yes, a bone-headed stunt like that one is enough to prompt me to boycott a brand. Because if you’re dumb enough as an executive to stoop to promoting such a shallow yet pompous appeal to “morality”, then how much smarts do you have in making a basic product, any product?
I know that I am in a very small minority in my position on this one, a minority of maybe even just ONE — but I matter to myself. I count to myself!
It turns out that this company used this national holiday — which was initially celebrated in the late 1880s in this nation by several trade unions going on strike against their employers — to serve up digital job placement services for local employers. I found this entire concept ridiculous. As if someone, anyone, cannot go, all on his courageous own, online and research a job opening — without the Sanctimonious Company reaching out to hype its own compassion — to the consumer.
The origins of Labor Day in America in the 1880s consisted of radicals marching in the streets to foment civil unrest, and bearing banners made by anarchists, decrying:
Capital Represents Stolen Labor
There Can be No Unity between Labor and Capital
Every Government is a Conspiracy of the Rich Against the People!
This year, 2020, the Corporation is giving back!
Maybe Labor Day going from Protests-to-Picnics is now going in Internet-reverse? The Knights of Labor sure aren’t knights anymore, if one is to judge by the lack of chivalry among the Corporate Heads.
With so many people out of work in America, this more-than-a-century-old company decided that Labor Day 2020 was the time to Labor On, “partnering” with other corporations, to do their part to reach out, to care. Many, too many of those corporations engaging in this feel-good smarmy self-promotion were the very ones who out-sourced a great number of their labour slots during the past 25 years. Those CEOs did not feel any pangs of anguish during those get-rich-quick schemes to send American jobs overseas.
Does hypocrisy have to be a built-in feature of American marketing nowadays?
the people-skills language is so Orwellian that I flee the sight of those
I consider this pandering to a finicky public, or a perceived finicky public to be yet another sign of the downfall of major capitalistic business in America. I want to buy a pair of boots, not a cause, or an ethical position, or a touchy-feely but phoney image peddled by ad-experts who insult my intelligence. The “younger” crowd may, or may not, go for this absurd advertising. The main point is that the Product being sold is nearly forgotten in this melee to show How Much The Corporation Cares.
I do not need the corporation, or a politician, or even a schoolteacher to care. By their very nature, those people are in it for the money, the perks, the status, the fame, the job security. A corporation is an inanimate object! Make a quality product and sell it!
Or is that work too much labor in an America that has grown weary of gimmicks and hype and hooey?
Yesterday, the decision to Labor On by one authentically U.S. company convinced me to Labor Off where their products are concerned. I’m gonna wait a while to see if the fruits of their labor paid off, or if their schtick sent their manufacturing into further decline with the business model that has doomed so many other U.S. businesses.
Today, I labor on with the rest of Chapter 77, setting the stage for the lighting of Operation Torch. That military campaign was the Allied invasion of French North Africa. With the exception of Egypt, which was a de facto British protectorate, those lands were territories of the French colonial empire. Conquest of these Vichy-controlled French colonies was crucial to an Allied victory in that region, and then to the liberation of France. Those desert battles began on 8 November 1942; victory for the Allies was secured by 1943.
Those fateful landings of the Allies in North Africa set into motion myriad dominoes, both expected and unexpected, throughout the world as it fought for liberty from maniacal dictators. The plot in my novel deepens with those unfolding chains of events, as Provence becomes occupied by the Nazi Germans and Comte St. Guillaume de Vallon becomes homeless.
While working on the translation of this chapter, I realized that the most recent moralizing by the unctuous, insincere and sanctimonious Anglos to de-colonize bookshelves has necessitated, at the very least, minimally informing the Young Skullfuls of Fascist Mush in America, and elsewhere, about what imperial colonies actually were — and about the magnificent colonies of North Africa. Those colonized territories supremely assisted in the truly global fight against Nazism and Fascism.
And so today I return to my job of telling en français a tale of truth and the betrayal of that truth. That vicious cycle is presently repeating itself with bizarre antics and with the dreary diffusion of deception through a new thing known as “memes”. During those olden days, of actual news dissemination by newspaper and by analog radio transmission, double-talk and autocrat propaganda arrived via posters and gossip and the whisper-campaigns of Fifth Columnists. Those moral turncoat cretins now populate the media, a corruptly hollowed-out sphere — and the echo chambers into which the Compassionate U.S. Corporations pour their perverse marketing sounds.
Long ago, in Office-World, I wore industrial-strength noise-blocking headphones to drown out the annoying loud voices of at least one person with whom I worked. There was no internal music being sent to my ears, just the soothing sounds of my own thoughts. I’m considering using the same set-up as I labor on. I’ll be busy lighting the torch — of freedom, not anarchy.