Orwell for Labor Day

Thank heavens the NFL doesn’t play on Labor Day, otherwise we’d have one more holiday marshaled for militarism, with soldiers no doubt extolled as the real laborers, the hero “workers.”

Not that we’re particularly well poised to celebrate labor in this country: while everyone trumpets on behalf of “the middle class,” you’ll hear next to nothing today about labor, and certainly not a good word about labor unions (those dastardly interferers with the wisdom and benevolent hand of “the market!”). Even “workers,” for the most part, have been hoodwinked into opposing organized labor.
Any day is a good day to read Orwell, but perhaps today is especially appropriate. Consider this little snippet from Road to Wigan Pier:

In a way it is even humiliating to watch coal-miners working. It raises in you a momentary doubt about your own status as an ‘intellectual’ and a superior person generally. For it is brought home to you, at least while you are watching, that it is only because miners sweat their guts out that superior persons can remain superior. You and I and the editor of the Times Literary Sup., and the Nancy poets and the Archbishop of Canterbury and Comerade X, author of Marxism for Infants–all of us really owe the comparative decency of our lives to poor drudges underground, blackened to the eyes, with their throats full of coal dust, driving their shovels forward with arms and belly muscles of steel.