Monthly Archives: December 2019

I asked my question: “How do you know the right thing to do?”

I was being allowed to help interview several candidates for a position of leadership in the progressive movement. We posed several questions to them, and that was mine.

All of the interviewees answered unhesitatingly, as they had with all the other questions. One of them began with, “My grandpappy used to say… and went on to spin a tale of rural wisdom.” Another began, “I have always felt… and went on to talk about being consistent in one’s attitudes.” The good one, my clear choice for the position, answered thusly:

“There is no right thing to do. To suggest following some “right thing” is to reveal our reliance on the world of abstract ideas, religion, superstition or, in plain language, our subjective feelings. No “right thing” exists, but some choices are better than others. When alternatives are weighed, I strive to get the best choice that fits the given time and situation for working families. Working families are our North Star, our guide.”

I thought that was a very good answer for someone who wanted leadership in the progressive movement. If we had been interviewing for something else, the answer might have been simpler. For example, if we were looking for someone to lead a corporation, they would have all said that “increasing shareholder wealth” was their guide.

My favorite then added more value to her response: “I have to add to my answer about finding the better choices. While I am choosing the better option, I have to also keep in mind that unfolding developments are the only sure way to test my choice. One cannot be certain of the future. When we make a choice, we have to remain open to pulling back, admitting failure, and gearing up to try something else.”

The other candidates disqualified themselves because they had not realized that mine was a trick question. There is no “right thing.” There are only choices that are better or worse. Additionally, even with the best of intentions, we may have to choose again.

–Gene Lantz

You can hear me on KNON’s “Workers Beat” program at 9AM Central Time every Saturday. If you are curious about what I really think, check out my personal web site

How do we choose what to do next? The movement for progressive change is in an upsurge. Most of us have far more opportunities than we can use.

Our little discussion group has been examining the current situation and some of the ideas of the great revolutionary thinkers of the past. We’ve been using the simple programmed modules at

Before today, we had already enlarged our understanding of “class” and asserted that only the working class can make the fundamental change that is so necessary. A good guideline for deciding what to do is: “Think of the class.”

Today, we discussed unions

The great revolutionary thinkers valued unions because they are a great training ground for the working class.

In America today, unions are the largest, richest, and most influential progressive organizations. Unlike most other progressive organizations, they are solidly working class. It is noteworthy that most union leaders come directly from the rank and file.

It is also important that American unions are the bedrock of democracy. They are formally democratic. Nearly all their problems could be solved if they had member participation.


BUT some activists misunderstand the nature of unions. Union leaders aren’t revolutionaries. They generally don’t take the offense on social questions or on any questions at all. Whole American organizations dedicate themselves to trying to turn unions into revolutionary battering rams.

The best and worst thing you can say about unions, like any other member organization, is that they represent their members. Do not confuse a union, or even all the unions, with the working class. They are a subset of the working class. Even if all working families were union members, they still wouldn’t be revolutionary, because they would still be divided.

Only 3 unions today support impeachment: National Nurses United, the Teachers (AFT) and the Service Employees. Unions are divided or waffling on “Medicare for All.”

The great revolutionary thinkers of the past prized unions, or what they often called “combinations.” BUT they called them “Great training grounds for revolution.”

Rosa Luxemburg’s German revolutionaries, who were very close to the Russian Bolsheviks, caved in to the trade unions and removed the idea of a general strike out of their program. Luxemburg was furious.

The IWW’s program was to organize everybody into One Big Union, then take power, presumably through a general strike. It sounds so simple and easy, but is it?

For next time, we’ll go directly into how activists can decide what to do next. Knowing what to do next is the very definition of leadership. One of our activists has been studying the relationship between everyday reform activities and revolutionary work. She will lead our discussion on December 15. The Little School has no material on “Reform Or Revolution,” but the classical work of Rosa Luxembourg is on-line at:

Let me know if you would like to join us.

Gene Lantz

Contact me at I’m on KNON’s “Workers Beat” program at 9AM Central Time every Saturday. If you are curious as to what I really think, check out my personal web site