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Author Topic: Joe Hill, the IWW and the Making of Revolutionary Working-Class Culture
Babbler # 2534

posted 19 July 2004 10:15 AM      Profile for lagatta     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
This book by Chicago Surrealist Franklin Rosemont could also have gone in "labour and consumption" or "ideas", but it places an emphasis on Joe Hill and the IWW in the making of a culture of working-class defiance, anti-racist, with a strong appeal to the imagination and an emphasis on story, song and dream:

Joe Hill

Workers of the world, awaken!
Rise in all your splendid might;
Take the wealth that you are making,
It belongs to you by right.
No one will for bread be crying,
We'll have freedom, love and health,
When the grand red flag is flying
In the Workers' Commonwealth.

This magnificent, practical, irreverent, and (as one might say) magisterial book has sixteen chapters and more than six hundred pages, profusely illustrated with 137 cartoons, pictures of posters, portraits, stickerettes, and buttons or badges, just dying to be photocopied. It is written in a direct, passionate, sometimes funny, deeply searching style. Its slang and hard-boiled prole talk attains summits of lyricism and is itself a tribute to the Wobs and its elusive, martyred troubador of discontent. It is a labor of love. Rosemont came across the Wobs in 1959 and took out a red card of membership in 1964. (...)

From: Se non ora, quando? | Registered: Apr 2002  |  IP: Logged
Babbler # 478

posted 19 July 2004 10:50 AM      Profile for skdadl     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Wow, lagatta!

For those who haven't read it yet, lagatta's link is to a review of Rosemont's book on Joe Hill, the review by Peter Linebaugh, a prof at Bard College in the U.S.

There's more than a hundred years of Wobbly, police, political, intellectual, cultural, musical, and student resistical history there, all driving very fast!

And it is fascinating. I'm going to bookmark that essay and read it over and over -- what a great source for the future.

As a taste of what the curious can learn here, and how they can learn it:

Henry Ford and the assembly-line re-engineered production around the wage. The Wobblies provided an answer based on mobility and the socialization the class struggle outside of the factory. The former gave us the mass worker, and the latter the social wildcat. The Wobs discovered the revolutionary character of collective worker. These Italian comrades of the late 60s and early 70s laid the ground work for the movement of the autonomists.

Anyway, thanks, lagatta. I know there are people on the board who would be great debaters of so many points made in that essay. But as the book and the essay also argue, it's the songs above all that work:


Joe Hill

by Alfred Hayes

I dreamed I saw Joe Hill last night,
Alive as you and me
Says I "But Joe, you're ten years dead"
|: "I never died" says he. :|

"In Salt Lake, Joe, by God" says I,
Him standing by my bed
"They framed you on a murder charge"
|: Says Joe "But I ain't dead." :|

"The copper bosses killed you Joe,
They shot you Joe" says I
"Takes more than guns to kill a man"
|: Says Joe "I didn't die." :|

And standing there as big as life,
And smiling with his eyes
Joe says "What they forgot to kill
|: Went on to organise." :|

"Joe Hill ain't dead" he says to me,
"Joe Hill ain't never died
Where workingmen are out on strike
|: Joe Hill is at their side." :|

From San Diego up to Maine,
In every mine and mill,
Where workers strike and organise,
|: Says he "You'll find Joe Hill." :|

From: gone | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Babbler # 4625

posted 19 July 2004 12:23 PM      Profile for Klingon        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
K'pla! The class warrior is the greatest warrior of them all!

The Wobblies, founded in Chicago in 1905, are still around today, albeit in tiny numbers. They'll be celebrating the 100th anniversary next July (the month its founding convention was held).

The wobs played a huge role in Canada in creating the modern spirit of the labour and cooperative movements. Many wobs went on to help form the CCF in the 1930s (and were also active in the old Socialist Party, which pre-dated the CCF).

There's a great book by labour prof Mark Leier on the Wobblies' hey day in BC called Where the Fraser River Flows, named after the infamous Joe Hill tune dedicated to workers organizing in a variety of industries on the Fraser. It tells of the union's success, despite all sorts of oppression, in winning free speech fights in cities and setting the nine-hours day in the logging and mining industries, and in organizing the remaining unskilled workers on the railroads.

The Wobblies' successes led to much of the organization participating in the formation of the large industrial unions of the 1930s (IWA, Steelworkers, Autoworkers, etc.)

A couple lyrics:

Fellow workers pay attention
to what I'm going to mention
'cause it is the clear intention
of the workers of the world

that we should all be ready
true hearted, brave and steady
to rally 'round the standard
when the red flag is unfurled.

Where the Fraser River flows
Each fellow worker knows
they have bullied and oppressed us
but still our union grows

And we're going to find a way now
shorter hours and better pay now
and we're going to win the day now
where the Fraser River flows

From: Kronos, but in BC Observing Political Tretchery | Registered: Nov 2003  |  IP: Logged
Babbler # 478

posted 19 July 2004 03:48 PM      Profile for skdadl     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Klingon, you are such a sweetheart, and I am with you on the Wobs, especially, but could I ask you one tiny favour?

Please stop with the K'pla bit. It is so off-putting.

Please just talk to us frank and earnest. We're all Frank and Ernest here.

From: gone | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Babbler # 195

posted 19 July 2004 06:26 PM      Profile for robbie_dee     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I like the K'pla routine.

I just have to keep stifling jokes about Uranus.

From: Iron City | Registered: Apr 2001  |  IP: Logged
Babbler # 4014

posted 19 July 2004 06:29 PM      Profile for Hinterland        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Sorry, Skdadl - I'm pro K'Pla as well. Maybe it's a guy thing.
From: Québec/Ontario | Registered: Apr 2003  |  IP: Logged
Babbler # 478

posted 19 July 2004 06:38 PM      Profile for skdadl     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
robbie, Hinterland: it's all over between us. Among us. Whatever.

Could you sing a song for the Wobblies while we're here, though?

From: gone | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged

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