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Liberty, Prosperity... (Meme in Labor)

jumpjet's picture

So according to, there are attempts to organize 'emergency' rallies in every state capital in solidarity with the ongoing labor protests in Wisconsin and elsewhere. Given that I'm now free on Saturdays, having parted ways with my retail job, I'm thinking of attending the hypothetical Austin rally if it actually comes about. If I go, I'd like to carry a sign- a sign with a slogan.

Remember my half-baked idea to turn some of the content on Corrente into a newsletter? That never really got off the ground, did it? It failed because I underestimated the amount of time it would take, and I overestimated the amount of free time I have. Having worked now for more than six months in the aftermath of graduating college, I have a much finer appreciation for how people can be too busy to protest or organize. The twin responsibilities of working my current job and searching for a better job hasn't left me enough time to organize and disseminate any kind of publication- to say nothing of not having even that small amount of money to spare. Even now, having switched jobs, I don't think I have the time to work on a newsletter.

But I do have the time to propagate a meme- I think we all do.

Ian says one of the big problems with the American Left is that we have no coherent ideology- no 'simple demand,' as the protestors across the Arab world and Africa do. This is arguably because their problems have been much starker than ours, and the solutions are equally stark: they are ruled by dictators, so their simple demand is that the dictators leave and that democracy be implemented. The political situation in the United States is more complicated, and as a result our demands from the Left can become equally complex. Keep It Simple Stupid, the saying goes, and that's what I feel has to be done if we're to rally the plain people of the United States.

I like the three demands that are often voiced here on this blog:

1. Medicare for All
2. End the Wars
3. Soak the Rich

But I feel we can get even simpler, and perhaps more elegant as well. So I'm trying to come up with something short enough to spread as a meme. Something we can put in our signatures on message boards, that we can put up on posters scattered around town, something we can spray-paint onto overpasses and subway tunnels. Something we can say in one breath.

I'm heavily in favor of a tripartite motto- a slogan in three words. In this I'd like to echo the great French motto: liberté, égalité, fraternité, born during the Revolution and now the national motto of France. The history of the motto is somewhat interesting- apparently fraternité didn't get tacked on right away, and there were a number of three-part mottos that circulated at the Revolution's outset. But that there were so many speaks, I think, to the strength of the concept. Three words are all we should need.

As the title suggests, right now I'm leaning heavily on two words: Liberty and Prosperity. I feel these two concepts encompass a lot of the things we want for our country. As was the case with the French Revolutionaries, however, I'm bouncing back and forth on the third word. I think it has to end with a '-ty' to maintain the harmony of the sounds. I'm stuck on a few choices: Equality? Fraternity? Solidarity?

What do you all think?

No votes yet


dugsdale's picture
Submitted by dugsdale on

well, at the moment I'm kind of taken with slogans like "Don't let Paris Hilton destroy our middle-class safety net!" or "TIME FOR THE RICH TO START SACRIFICING, TOO!" or "BRING JOBS BACK TO AMERICA!" or (one that I heard today chanted at a pro-Wisconsin solidarity rally in front of the Fox News headquarters in NYC, "TAX THE RICH!" (nice, simple, direct, clear, and the crowd loved it.)

I see where you're going though. I'll have to give this some thought.

Submitted by MontanaMaven on

I used this on my radio show for years. Liberty, equality, fraternity (and sorority).
The fraternity part is important. It means lateral power , not top down.

Submitted by hipparchia on

i'd forgotten the 'ou mort' part. good decision to leave that one off, even with the popularity of 'give me liberty or give me death.'

i've always loved the french version, but the english translation, with either fraternity or sorority or both, is just too reminiscent of the adolescent side of college life. plus, fraternities and sororities there were very exclusive clubs. i'm with montana maven on the importance of lateral power, but these 2 words don't conjure up that image for me.

liberty, equality, prosperity might work.

jumpjet's picture
Submitted by jumpjet on

motto says that the 1789 Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen actually defines 'Equality' as specifically judicial equality.

The law "must be the same for all, whether it protects or punishes. All citizens, being equal in its eyes, shall be equally eligible to all high offices, public positions and employments, according to their ability, and without other distinction than that of their virtues and talents."

It kind of goes along with our yearning for justice- to see bankers doing perp walks. Equal justice under the law.

And it holds the additional meaning of 'equality of opportunity,' meaning that no one should be locked out of actualizing their potential because of economic or social restrictions: everyone should be able to get a good education, everyone should have their debilitating health care needs addressed, etc.. That goes hand-in-hand with prosperity.

We could even take it further and state that it means equality for all people everywhere, which is of course the truth, and therefore any continuation of empire or dominion is against what we stand for.

Eureka Springs's picture
Submitted by Eureka Springs on

Don't snort Koch, brother!

Fuck Jolly Banksters

The low road to China is now a bipartisan expressway.

Hitler outlawed unions in 1933. How did that work out for Germany?

i've got zillions more.

Frerico's picture
Submitted by Frerico on

I think:

1. Life,
2. Liberty,
3. The pursuit of happiness

summarizes the three goals:

1. Medicare for All
2. End the Wars
3. Soak the Rich

very well. No need to borrow from the french. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but why open ourselves up to stupid criticisms that we have to waste time shooting down if we don't have to.

There is a rich language for democracy in our own history. All we have to do is claim (in some cases reclaim) it for ourselves.

Submitted by lambert on


And, as everybody knows, I think that happiness is very important. So I am glad to have have that language reclaimed.

jumpjet, if I may say so, "Make it so!"

jumpjet's picture
Submitted by jumpjet on

It's perfect- under my very nose this whole time. And it makes a nice rebuttal to the Tea Party and the Corporatists wrapping themselves in the history of the USA even as they destroy the legacy of that history.

If pressed for space, I suppose one could shorten it to 'Life, Liberty, Happiness,' but ideally one would leave Jefferson's words intact.

Now to spread it everywhere!

Submitted by lambert on

Don't feel bad (and Frerico, please comment more often).

I think that "as is" is the way to go. It's more memorable, and will surely fit on a sign. Also, all we can ever promise is "pursuit," so that is truthful.

Madeline's picture
Submitted by Madeline on

We the People say NO to Perry Autocracy