The IWW: 100 Years of Resistance and Repression
A Radical Union Endures
By the last half of the nineteenth century, working conditions in American factories, mines, and mills were deplorable. Industrialists were ruthless about making money at the expense of the health and safety of the workers. They looked upon their employees as less than human.
No labor laws existed to protect the men, women and children who poured into northern industrial centers. The cheapest of laborers were the freed slaves from the South and poor immigrants from all over Europe, escaping famines, devastating wars, and repressive regimes. Slavery was officially outlawed in the United States, but the treatment of black people was little different than before the Emancipation Proclamation.
May 24, 2015
Direct action (legal and illegal) and sabotage had been used by the U.S. and European labor movements as a method of class combat since the rise of industrialism.
These tactics allowed workers to fight back using whatever tools were available to them, and was viewed as a viable method of achieving worker demands outside of political channels. The IWW promoted direct action after the 1908 split with the Socialist Labor Party (which only advocated political action); however, it was not official union policy until 1914, and then only for a short time.
May 30, 2015
IWW Free Speech Fights
Because of the IWW’s mission to organize all workers into One Big Union, immigrants, migrants, blacklisted, unskilled, itinerant, and other hard-to-reach workers were sought by Wobbly organizers as potential members. Organizers weren’t allowed into the shops, factories, or lumber camps, so they congregated on street corners and in town squares where they would address workers from soapboxes, urging them to join the union.
May 30, 2015
World War I: The Chicago Trial
“No war but the class war” was the expressed motto of many radicals who refused to enlist or otherwise contribute to any national war effort. At their tenth convention in 1914, the IWW passed a resolution stating, “We as members of the industrial army will refuse to fight for any purpose except the realization of industrial freedom.”
May 31, 2015
Paul Avrich (1931–2006)
A Passionate Chronicler of Anarchism
A beloved comrade and renowned scholar of 19th and 20th century anarchism passed away on February 17 at his home in New York City. Paul Avrich was author and editor of dozens of influential books and articles on the history of anarchism, including The Haymarket Tragedy; The Modern School Movement: Anarchism and Education in the United States; An American Anarchist: The Life of Voltairine de Cleyre; Anarchist Portraits; Sacco and Vanzetti: The Anarchist Background, and Anarchist Voices: An Oral History of Anarchism in America.
Apr 24, 2015
Singing about Revolution & One Big Union
reviewed in this article
The Big Red Songbook, Archie Green, David Roediger, Franklin Rosemont, Salvatore Salerno, editors; 2007; 538 pp.; $24; Charles H. Kerr Co., 1740 West Greenleaf, Chicago, IL 60626. Available from The Barn (see page 55).
In a 100th anniversary commemorative edition of the Industrial Workers of the World’s Little Red Songbook, the editors have compiled over 250 IWW songs along with their histories and anecdotes about them. Covering songs that appeared in the notorious and ubiquitous volumes, from the 1909 to the 1973 edition, each entry includes lyrics and a brief description.
Feb 21, 2015
An Anarcho-Crossword Puzzle
to test your knowledge of anarchist history and culture
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<strong>See below for answers and annotations
3. Brit anarcho-punk band; also rude or distasteful
5. Not charity; the Prince agrees 6,3
8. Anti-roach spray, early punk band, but you can
Oct 6, 2013