Strike Diary: ‘Peaceman’ and ‘Hopeman’ — Gaza and Stella D’Oro


BRONX, NY, January 13 — Today, a multi-racial group of 500 Stella D’Oro strikers and supporters, including PLP’ers, marched to a Target store that’s selling scab-made cookies. In thinking about this strike, much in the world situation comes to mind: the economic meltdown, the imperialist oil wars, racist unemployment, and in particular, the Israeli invasion of Gaza and this strike — two sieges in a long class war — so this diary is dedicated to Peaceman and Hopeman, two friends on either side of the Gaza border who write a blog together:

They’re ordinary folks (Hopeman is a student who can’t get out of Gaza to attend his college), not very “political,” who maintain their friendship to have something to rebuild with when the war and siege forced on them are over. Of course that’s very political!

They’re showing how workers can build solidarity across borders, dodging Israeli bombs and Hamas rockets to find cell phone reception so they can talk, at least when Hopeman has enough electricity to charge his phone. Most of the Stella strikers who are becoming my friends are like that — they’re building a base for the future. Communism does that too.

Recently A. told a young teacher and community arts organizer (who’s planning a video documentary about the strike) that it was forced on the workers. The Israeli fascists and Hamas religious nationalists did the same thing to Palestinian and Israeli workers with their war.

But hidden behind the Israeli and Palestinian politicians who the bloggers despise are all the rival imperialists who’ve shaped the Middle East: the Ottoman emperors who ruled there until World War I; the British Mandate rulers who set up this impossible situation by guiding the founding of Israel as a European settler colony; the U.S. rulers funding Israel as their client state and military proxy; and all the others (the EU, Russia, China, Japan, Iran, India) feeling their way into a serious challenge to the declining U.S. empire.

Those same clashing imperialist elephants are trampling the grass in this bakery strike too, hard to see until some communist comes and talks it up. Three strikers are now reading the article “A Class Analysis of the Israel/Palestine Conflict” from PL’s journal “The Communist.”

Imperialist rivalry caused the economic crisis smashing into the Bronx bakers and also intensifies it. Brynwood Partners, which own Stella D’Oro, is a Wall Street speculator like those who brought us this deepening depression, a “vulture capitalist” who swoops down on struggling companies to strip and flip them for resale.

Economists call it “financialization,” turning real plants into fictitious capital and trading them like bad mortgages or baseball cards. The capitalist economic pressures that forced this strike are the same ones producing war in Gaza.

A. tells the young video artists the strike was forced on them, but there’s nothing forced about how these workers love and honor one another, just as no one is forcing or even organizing Peaceman and Hopeman to continue their blog. The strikers stick together, like Peaceman and Hopeman, so there’s something to rebuild with when the strike ends (win or lose). This solidarity grows from their working together so long, but it’s really for the future, as they pull on their long johns and layer up for picket duty on the five-month anniversary of their brave strike.

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