Who is making history now?

I am interested in the history that has been made by organized workers, health and safety at work, limiting hours of work, green bans, equal pay for women, and aborigines, parental leave, minimum wages and opportunities at work, the right to stand up for oneself, pensions, Medicare, public education, solidarity with Indonesia, with East Timor etc. I cannot see any other force that will make history positive for humanity, that can be the force to challenge poverty, injustice, environmental destruction, repression and oppression.

But Howard is securing state powers that will make the remaking of history by workers all the harder, that could set it back by decades if he is not stopped.

My daughter learns history in high school. When I studied history in high school, I went home every night and saw history being made on TV, in the newspapers, by people, workers, students, women taking to the streets against the Vietnam war, for equal pay, for the right to choose whether or not to become a mother, in Defence of Government Schools, etc. In high school we studied the 19th & 20th century “isms” – nationalism, socialism, fascism, communism – and I learnt about people struggling to make history over a century earlier on the streets of Paris in 1848, and then on for the rest of the century and into the next. Very soon afterwards I joined those people on the streets to play my part in making history, and to taste the sense of freedom and excitement that comes from it. Now in high school history my daughter is taught that there are many different points of view at any point in history. So far so good. But, all these points of view are potentially of equal merit. A side need not be taken. I think that without learning to take a side in history, you cannot learn to be a maker of history. It’s just a curiosity. History and progress are disconnected.

Are young workers without any sense of history with a part for them? How did the workplace and your way of life come to be the way it is? How did you get the freedoms you enjoy? Who stands to gain when you lose? Why don’t you have the opportunity, the time, the carefree outlook, the optimism to challenge authority and to struggle for and live your dreams about a better world for everyone?

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