A kind of euphoria surrounded this summer’s UAW picket lines in Flint, Michigan. Nearly everyone who drove past the lines honked a horn or pumped a fist in solidarity; hardly an hour went by without a restaurant van pulling up with a donated meal, and handshakes all around. Drive by a bar, and you’d see a pro-union sign outside (“UAW and Red Wings: You’re Number One!”). Walk past a church, and you’d see leaflets for a pro-union rally organized by the Christian Autoworkers Association (“We Already Have the Victory!”). Flint, it seemed, was where all of America’s missing class consciousness had gone.
In this atmosphere it was irresistible to make hopeful speculations: What if every strike enjoyed community support this broad and this deep? What if every town devoted this much energy to debating income inequality and workplace democracy?
The Flint of this summer provided a small glimpse of such a world: a functioning republic, with engage...
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