When Chinese railroad workers went on strike in 1867 demanding higher wages, shorter working hours, a ban on whipping, and the right to quit their jobs, almost no-one came to their aid. ibid.
The New Orleans strike was emblematic of a growing spirit of solidarity between workers. ibid.
‘My friends, it is solidarity of labor we want … We must be together; our masters are joined together and we must do the same thing.’ Plutocracy II: Solidarity Forever, Mother Jones, 2016
In the late 19th century a brutal class-war was underway in the United States. And as in all wars the poor suffered the majority of casualties. ibid.
American industry had the highest job accident rate of any country in the industrialised world. ibid.
Presiding over society was a small group of industrialists and bankers nicknamed the Robber Barons. ibid.
The National Guard came to the Pinkertons’ rescue protecting strike-breakers and defeating the union. ibid.
Among the targets were the Molly Maguires … a secret society of Irish immigrants … during the 1870s, victims of perilous working conditions. ibid.
One of the most important labor struggles in the late 19th century was the Pullmen’s strike of 1894. ibid.
Chicago 1894: 12,000 US army troops were sent in to attack their own citizens. ibid.
Day of Blood at Lattimer! Lower End Mine Strike Takes a Terrible Turn … They fire on Marching Strikers with Terrible Effect … Deputies Use Rifles! … 16 killed 70 wounded. ibid. newspaper report
Working class prisoners were used as virtual slaves … More African/Americans died under the convict-leasing system than during slavery. ibid.
The link between wealth and voting rights sometimes caused unrest. ibid.
The Women’s Movement was also plagued by the same class and racial bigotries that afflicted labor unions. ibid.
‘I cannot think it probable that [working people] will be permanently contented with the condition of laboring for wages as their ultimate state. To work at the bidding and for the profit of another, without any interest in the work … is, not even when wages are high, a satisfactory state for human beings.’ ibid. John Stuart Mill
‘The IWW was openly anti-capitalist.’ ibid. historian
Migrant workers from Mexico had become a super-exploited class. ibid.
Most of the San Diego press cheered on the violence … The vigilantes represented the bankers and merchants. ibid.
‘The insurrectional fact, destined to affirm socialist principles by deed, is the most efficacious means of propaganda … It is therefore necessary to destroy with violence, since one cannot do otherwise, the violence which denies these means to the workers.’ ibid. Erico Malatesta, 1876
‘Remember that you are fighting more than your own fight. You are fighting for the entire working class and you must stand together.’ ibid. Big Bill Haywood, IWW leader
The Lawrence Textile strike of 1912 which involved immigrants from over forty different nationalities, both men and women … Before long, police began attacking the picket lines. ibid.
‘Your violent and chaotic society always bears within it war as a sleeping cloud bears a storm.’ Plutocracy III: Class War, Jean Jaures, French socialist leader, 2017
Massive wealth inequality remained. Between the years 1800 and 1920 economic inequality in the United States increased more than a hundred-fold. ibid.
The most notorious of the battles occurred in Ludlow, Colorado, 1914 … ‘owned by the Rockefeller trust … The National Guard fired into the tents.’ The killing of their [strikers’] families caused national outrage. Protests erupted across the country. ibid.
An expression of growing working-class solidarity. ibid.
The Socialist Party was also experiencing national growth. ibid.
Joe Hill had a unique weapon in his arsenal: not just speech but song. ibid.
Another important labor Leader imprisoned under the Espionage Act was the anarchist Ricardo Flores Magon. ibid.
‘IWW stood for Industrial Workers of the World. Work, Good Wages & Respect – that’s what they wanted for the workers.’ The Wobblies, woman, 1979
At the turn of the century America was changing rapidly from a basically rural society to an urban industrial one … One of the striking features of the period was the rapid growth of the enormous corporations which began to control the basic industries. ibid.
The working class and the employing class have nothing in common. Between these two classes a struggle must go on until the workers of the world organize as a class, take possession of the earth and the machinery of production, and abolish the wage system. ibid. preamble
‘The IWW was the only thing that was accepting Negro or black workers.’ ibid. black worker
A year after the Lawrence Strike another strike broke out in Paterson, New Jersey, 1913 … They were defeated in their demands for an eight-hour day and higher wages. ibid.
‘You either had to stop living or become a rebel.’ ibid. woman
They would use the soapboxes as recruiting stations. ibid.
‘Rebellious slaves – that’s what we were.’ ibid. old boy
The violence of the press attacks on Aslef, and the sustained and bitter hostility of the media towards the labour movement is responsible for the refusal to handle some newspapers on the railways. Day after day Fleet Street conducts its campaign against working people, ignoring their interests, distorting their arguments and abusing their representatives. Working journalists can no longer evade their moral responsibilities by shielding behind their editors, nor editors by shielding behind their proprietors. Nor can arguments based on the freedom of the press be used as an excuse to deny freedom of expression to millions of people who have lost their jobs, suffered cuts in living standards or in essential health and education services. Tony Benn, speech to press 26 January 1982, cited The Times 27 January 1982
The real determinant of society is hidden behind the state and the economy: it is the way in which our everyday activity is organised, the subordination of our doing to the dictates of abstract labour, that is, of value, money, profit. It is this abstraction which is, after all, the very existence of the state. If we want to change society, we must stop the subordination of our activity to abstract labour, do something else. John Holloway, Crack Capitalism
The supposed labor shortage in the wake of the pandemic … This new bit of tension between workers and employers … [raises] the possibility that the United States is witnessing the birth of a new labor movement. Is This the Beginning of a New Labor Movement? Youtube 13.53, Second Thought 2021
These myriad corporate dictatorships, or private governments, ensure American workers are docile and compliant as the superstructure of the corporate state cements into place a species of corporate totalitarianism. The ruling ideology of neoliberalism and libertarianism, used to justify the corporate domination and social inequality that afflict us, sells itself as the protector of freedom and liberty. It does this by subterfuge. It claims workers have the freedom to enter into employment contracts and terminate them, while ignoring the near-total suspension of rights during the period of employment. It pretends that workers and corporations function as independent and autonomous sellers and buyers, with workers selling their labor freely and corporate owners buying this labor. Chris Hedges, ‘The Private Governments That Subjugate US Workers’, 2019