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Anti-Capitalist Meet-Up: Annie Clemenc and the Italian Hall Massacre by JayRaye

3:31 pm in Uncategorized by Anti-Capitalist Meetup

Annie Takes Up Her Flag

Ana K Clemenc
Ana K Clemenc

On July 23, 1913, 9,000 copper miners of the Keweenaw laid down their tools and walked off the job. The were led by the great Western Federation of Miners, and they had voted by a good majority for a strike: 9,000 out of 13,000 The main issue were hours, the miners wanted an eight hour day, wages, and safety. The miners hated the new one-man drill which they called the “widow-maker.” They claimed this drill made an already dangerous job more dangerous.

The mining companies had steadfastly refused to recognize the Western Federation of Miners in anyway. They would continue to refuse all efforts at negotiation or arbitration, even those plans for arbitration which did not include the union, and this despite the best efforts of Governor Ferris, and the U. S. Department of Labor. James MacNaughton, general manger of Calumet and Hecla Mining Company, famously stated that grass would grow in the streets and that he would teach the miners to eat potato parings before he would negotiate in any way with the striking miners.

The Keweenaw Peninsula was a cold, windy place, jutting out into Lake Superior from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. This area was known as the Copper Country of Michigan and included Calumet Township of Houghton County, with the twin towns of Hancock and Houghton ten miles to the south. Calumet Township included the villages of Red Jacket and Laurium.

It was here in Red Jacket, on the third day of the strike that Annie Clemenc, miner’s daughter and miner’s wife took up a massive America flag and led an early morning parade of 400 striking miners and their families. Annie Clemenc was six feet tall, and some claimed she was taller than that by two inches. The flag she carried was so massive that it required a staff two inches thick and ten feet tall. The miners and their supporters marched out of the Italian Hall and through the streets of the Red Jacket to the Blue Jacket and Yellow Jacket mines. They marched silently, without a band, lined up three and four abreast. These early morning marches, with Annie and her flag in the lead, were to become a feature of the strike.

Picket Duty Honored in Spite of Danger

Strikers' march, MI copper strike 1913

Early on in the strike, MacNaughton put extreme pressure on Sheriff Cruse to request that the Governor send in the National Guard. MacNaughton was a member of the Houghton County Board, a Board dominated by mine operators. Sheriff Cruse owed his job to this board, and Cruse obeyed MacNaughton’s order. The entire Michigan National Guard was sent into the strike zone, over 2,000 men. The County Board also contracted with the Waddell-Mahon strikebreaking agency from New York. Soon private gunthugs began pouring into the Keweenaw. These thugs worked hand-in-hand with Cruse, although, technically he was prevented from deputizing them according to Michigan state law. Scores of mine bosses and scabs were deputized and armed, however, 1700 in all, by some accounts

The early morning parades, which the strikers and their families regarded as picket duty, became much more dangerous. Nevertheless the parades continued. Every morning at 6 a. m. as the scabs were going to work in the mines, they were forced to face the fellow workers whom they were betraying. On Sundays, the parades were held later, after church, with everyone dressed in their Sunday best. Annie came dressed all in white. Streamers flowed down from the mast of her flag on each side and were held by little girls, also dressed in white.

Ana Clemenc, a Young Leader

Socialist Party Pin
Socialist Party Pin

Annie was born to George and Mary Klobuchar on March 2, 1888 in Red Jacket, the first of five children born to the couple. Her parents were Slovenian immigrants; her father worked in the copper mines. In May of 1906, at the age of 18, she married Joe Clemenc, a copper miner like her father. They made their home in Red Jacket not far from Annie’s parents and the two younger brothers still living at home. The entire extended family was active in St. Joseph’s Catholic Church.

In 1910, Annie was elected President of the People’s Slovenian Women’s Lodge #128 of the SNJP, Slovenska Narodna Podporna Jednota (Slovene National Benefit Society.) She was only 22 years old at the time. She would continue as President of Lodge #128 until 1914, listed in the records as Ana Clemenc, President. Annie was also a member of the JSZ, Jugoslojvanska Socialisticna Zveza (Yugoslav Socialist Federation) which was affiliated with the Socialist Party of America. There are photos of Annie during the strike, wearing her Socialist Party pin.

From Proletarec

Poletarec

The editor of Proletarec (Proletarian), Frank Savs, came from Chicago to the strike zone to cover the strike. Proletarec was the official voice of the JSZ. This story, by “Striker,” was published September 2nd:

The women who carried flags in front of us, they laughed out loud every time the soldiers got mixed up; their screams and claps echoed throughout the city.

We noticed one morning, when we were going to march, the Waddell bastards driving around fast in cars-the deputy superintendent riding with them-going from mine to mine and gathering together scabs, who were dressed in overalls and carrying their lamps. They collected around 40 scabs and showed them to us by the road, thinking it would take away our courage. But they got it badly wrong. When we marched past them and their bosses, we began to laugh heartily and make fun of them. We asked one another, so that the bosses could hear: “Where’s the one thousand and two thousand scabs, the mine owners always talk about? Are these all you can show?”

After completing the march we went to the Italian Hall. Organizer Strizic suggested that women now speak in various languages, which we approved with applause. Ana Klemenc and Katarina Junko spoke in Slovenian.

Mrs. Klemenc recommended that the women should make the effort with all our strength to help our husbands in the battle to victory, because victory will also benefit women and children. Degenerate men, scabs, will fail the women and children…

a translation

ARRESTED AND RELEASED TO CHEERING

Women on the picket line, MI copper strike 1913
Women With Their Fighting Clothes On

Annie was arrested Wednesday, September 10th, in Calumet along with five other women. As they attempted to convince a miner not to go back to work, the women were accosted by Cruse’s deputies. The women fought back against the deputies but were, eventually, arrested. Three hundred supporters followed behind the women as they were taken to the Calumet jail. The crowd remained outside the jail for two hours, cheering loudly for their release.

The crowd followed the six women as they were taken to the court of Judge William Fisher, and the cheering began again as Annie, Maggie Aggarto, and the four other women were released on their own recognizance. The women came out of the court undaunted, shouting and clapping their hands. They marched down the street with their supporters following behind cheering and shouting.

The six women were ordered to appear again in court the next week.

“If this flag will not protect me, then I will die with it.”

Big Annie leads parade of striking copper miners.

Just days a few days later, Annie was found, back in the thick of the fight. On the following Monday morning, September 13th, she led a march of 1,000 strikers and many women supporters through the streets of Calumet as was her usual routine. At the corner of Eighth and Elm, they were confronted by the militia and armed deputies. A soldier on horseback used his saber to knock her flag from her grasp. A striker came to her aid and was pushed to the ground by another soldier who ripped the silk fabric of the flag as he slashed about with his sword.

Annie was also knocked to the ground. The flag was stomped into the mud by the horses of the guardsmen. Big Annie hung on to the flag as soldiers tried to take it from her, shouting:

Kill me! Run your bayonets and sabers through this flag and kill me, but I won’t move. If this flag will not protect me, then I will die with it.

Annie was rescued by other marchers and escaped with only a bayonet blow to the right wrist. The strikers’ march was driven back by soldiers on horseback and by the rifle butts of infantrymen. Deputies joined in on the attack swinging their clubs. The strikers and their supporters retreated to the Italian Hall with Big Annie and her flag, now muddied and slashed.

THE BEST WEAPONS

1913 MI National Guard on Horseback

On Wednesday October 1st, Annie was arrested yet again, this time by a Major Harry Britton. Annie was marching at the head of 400 strikers, carrying her huge American flag as usual. They were on their way to perform picket duty at the mines when they were stopped by deputies and cavalrymen with Major Britton in command.

Major Britton attempted to arrest Annie, claiming she spit at a scab. When the Major used his sword to beat back a striker who came to Annie’s aid, other strikers joined in the fray. Cavalrymen then charged into the midst of the strikers. Major Britton bragged:

Excited horses prancing about are the best weapons.

He describe the results with satisfaction:

..a striker with his head bleeding, blood flowing down over his shirt, [was] half-staggering along the road.

Annie was arrested along with nine others. Annie was released the next day, and went immediately to union headquarters to lead another strikers’ march with her immense American flag.

“Woman’s Story”

Miners Bulletin

This account of picked duty was written by Annie Clemenc and published October 2nd on the front pate of the Miners’ Bulletin, the official voice of the W. F. of M. within the strike zone:

At Seventh Street Tuesday morning a party of strikers met a man with a dinner bucket. I asked him: “Where are you going, partner?” He replied: “To work.” “Not in the mine are you?” “You bet I am.” after talking with him a while his wife came and took him down the street. She seemed very much afraid.

He had just gone when a couple of Austrians came along with their buckets. I stepped up to one I knew: “O! George, you are not going to work, are You? Come, stay with us. Don’t allow that bad woman to drive you to work. Stick to us and we will stick to you.” He stepped back, willing to comply with my request.

Then the deputies came, caught him by the shoulder and pushed him along, saying: “You coward, are you going back because a woman told you not to go to work?” The deputies, some eight or ten of them, pulled him along with them.

A militia officer, I think it was General Abbey, said: “Annie, you have to get away from here.” “No, I am not going. I have a right to stand here and quietly ask the scabs not to go to work.”

I was standing to one side of the crowd and he said: “You will have to get in the auto.” “I won’t go until you tell me the reason.” Then he made me get in the auto. I kept pounding the automobile with my feet and asking what I was being taken to jail for. The officer said: “Why don’t you stay at home?” “I won’t stay at home, my work is here, nobody can stop me. I am going to keep at it until this strike is won.” I was kept in jail from six-thirty until twelve, then released under bond.

THE CHILDREN’S MARCH

PAPA IS STRIKING FOR US

On October 6th, Annie led a parade of 500 children through the streets of Calumet. These were the the children of copper miners who had been on strike for eleven long weeks. One little fellow carried a sign which sums up the entire struggle:

PAPA IS STRIKING FOR US

Many of the children were willing to face truancy charges in order to make this show of support for their fathers. The kept press was quick to seize on the story, declaring in lurid headlines:

YOUNG SYMPATHIZERS WITH STRIKING MINERS REFUSE TO STUDY

The fact that these young children were suffering hunger and deprivation had not bothered these same newspapers. Neither had they bothered themselves with worry over the fact that these same children often lost their fathers in mining accidents which were, tragically, all too frequent in Michigan’s Copper Country.

“Annie Clemenc, an American Joan of Arc”

In the October 8th edition of Day Book, N. D. Cochran profiled Annie. The article was written at the time that Annie was in jail:

I have met Annie Clemenc. I have talked with her. I have seen her marching along the middle of the street, carrying that great American flag. She is a striking figure, strong, with firm but supple muscles, fearless, ready to die for a cause.

A militia officer said to me, “If McNaughton could only buy Big Annie, he could break the strike.” I don’t believe all the millions of dividends taken out of the Calumet and Hecla mine could buy her.

I walked fully two miles with her…and I thought what glorious men and women America would produce if there were millions of mothers like Annie Clemenc. I thought that one Annie Clemenc, miner’s wife, was worth thousands of James McNaughtons.

Annie Clemenc is more of an American in my esteem than the spineless but well-meaning governor of Michigan. And as manhood goes, she’s more of a man in fighting quality, in sand, in courage, in heroism than Governor Ferris.

If Annie Clemenc is in that dirty little jail now, the American flag would be better off on top of that jail than over some courthouse. Where she is there is love of liberty and courage to fight for it. Annie Clemenc isn’t afraid to die.

This article was later reprinted in the Miners’ Bulletin, and in labor newspapers across the country. Big Annie Clemenc of Calumet was becoming a heroine to workers across the nation.

From the El Paso Herald:

STRIKERS PARADE IN FIERCE BLIZZARD
Calumet, Mich., Nov. 8.-During a fierce blizzard which brought between eight and ten inches of snow in the Calumet copper mining region today, the striking miners and their wives and daughters paraded in half a dozen towns. A party of 100 strikers, led by Mrs. Annie Clemenc, established pickets around mining properties here. Eighty were arrested on a charge of violating the federal court’s injunction against picketing. They were released on their own recognizance to appear in court next week.

From the Miners’ Bulletin

The story of Annie’s conviction was printed in the November 15th edition:

The case of Mrs. Annie Clemenc of Calumet charged with assault and battery (pushing an insulting scab off the sidewalk), tried in the circuit court at Houghton last week, resulted in her being found guilty as charged. The incident occurred at Calumet during the early days of the strike, and had it occurred at any other time would not have received passing notice, but during these turbulent times, a scab, being a very precious article must not be disturbed. Mrs. Clemenc has been under bonds since her preliminary hearing which will be maintained until she receives her sentence in January.

The names and addresses of the twelve men finding her guilty were also published.

Planning a Christmas Party for the Children

The Calumet Women’s Auxiliary had been organized in September. It was granted a charter as #15, and each woman who joined, became a card-carrying member of the Western Federation of Miners.The women soon began planning a Christmas party for the children of the strikers to be held on Christmas Eve at the Italian Hall in Red Jacket. The afternoon party for the children was to be followed by a party for the adults in the evening. As president of #15, Annie, took the lead in planning for the event, and she raised donations to buy gifts for the children. Candy, hats, mittens, and toys were purchased. For many of the striker’s children, these would be their only Christmas presents.

The Man Who Cried Fire

Citizens Alliance Button, Michigan Copper Strike 1913

The party began at 2 p. m. as planned. Elin Lesh was at the front door checking for union cards. At 3 p. m. went inside the hall to assist Annie at the stage. There was a Christmas program and, after that, the children where able to come onto the stage to get their presents. Annie and her helpers had some difficulty in getting the children to come onto the stage in an orderly way, and Annie warned the children to wait their turn. There was a lot of noise and confusion in the hall which was crowed with about 700 people, perhaps 500 of them children.

At about 4:40 pm, a man came up the stairs. On his left, at the top of stairs, were double doors leading into the main hall. He went through those doors, and just inside the main hall, he cried, “Fire, Fire.” The man then ran down the stairs, out of the building, and disappeared down the street. The man was wearing a hat pulled down low with the brim over his eyes; he had on a long coat with the collar pulled up, and on his coat was pinned a Citizens Alliance button. The Citizens Alliance was anti-union vigilante organization sponsored by the mine operators.

The cry of fire was picked up, and a panic started with a rush for the stairs which lead to the exit at the front of the building. Within just a few minutes that stairway was packed with party goers, many of them suffocating in the crush. The stairway was packed 6 feet deep at the bottom of the stairs, and for the entire length of the stairs-30 feet. The stairway was 5 feet 9 inches wide.

Silent Night

Italian Hall Massacre

Charles Meyers, who ran a shop downstairs was the first to arrive. He came through the front doors to the second doors at the bottom of the stairs. These doors were open and did not open inward, as so many now believe. Meyers could clearly see that people were trapped and suffocating. He attempted to pull some children free but that proved impossible. He made his way upstairs through a window and continued to assist with the rescue. Dominic Vairo came from his saloon downstairs and had very much the same experience.

The Red Jacket fire station received the first alarm at 4:45 pm, and the fire fighters were on the scene within a few minutes. The fire whistle was also used to call forth the mobs of the Citizens Alliance, the Waddell men, and the deputies. And soon the street outside of the Italian Hall was filled with gunthugs. Frantic relatives and friends of those inside also began to gather. There is no evidence that any of the gunthugs held the doors shut, but the deputies and Waddell men were none to gentle in the way in which they pushed back on the crowd. A Finnish man was severely beaten. Some inside the hall later stated that they thought the deputies had come to kill them all.

As Annie and the women at the stage realized the calamity that was upon them, they first attempted to quiet the panic, and then began to help with the rescue effort. The untangling of the bodies could only be done from the top of the stairs. It was long slow work, lasting for more than an hour. And when it was finished, the bodies of 62 children and 11 adults were laid out on the floor of the hall with some outside in the snow. Annie later remembered:

…a deputy gave me a child. I poured some water on it, but it was dead already.

Out on the street was big Joe Mihelchich kneeling in the snow and sobbing before the bodies of his three children, Paul-5, Agnes-7, and Elizabeth-9. Joe was well remembered as the giant who had tossed deputies around like toys as they tried to arrest him, threatening them and everyone in the vicinity with two lighted sticks of dynamite. He now shook with sobs as he stroked the faces of his dead children, a broken man.

The bodies were taken to the Red Jacket Village Hall, used as a temporary morgue, for identification. There were losses from the SNJP woman’s lodge, all friends of Annie: Mary Smuk lost her 5-year-old daughter, Mary Stauduhar lost her 7-year-old daughter, and Mary Cvetkovich lost her husband. Also, many of dead were members, or related to members, of Annie’s own local of the Women’s Auxiliary.

Dust to Dust, Ashes to Ashes

The mass funeral was held on December 28th. There was a shortage of coffins, especially for the children, and neighboring communities were contacted. Funerals were held at three Finnish churches, as well as an Italian church, a Croatian church, and a Slovenian church, most likely Annie’s. And then began the march to Lakeview Cemetery.

Estimates are that 50,000 took part in the march to the cemetery. Annie led the way carrying her flag, now draped with black crepe. Snow began to fall as they marched. Church bells could be heard from near and far, tolling for the dead. The little white caskets were covered in flowers. It is said that the weeping from the cemetery could be heard in the town, two miles away.

Fifty men came marching behind the caskets, chanting “Nearer My God to Thee” in the old style of the Cornwall mining districts. There was a band at end of the march. The entire length of the road to the cemetery was lined with mourners, many brought from other towns by special coach.

The dead were laid to rest with eulogies in Finnish, Austrian, English, and Croatian. E. A. McNally, attorney for the strikers, gave a long address. He spoke for all, the living and the dead, when he said:

It is not charity we want; it is justice.

A newspaper later describe Annie at the graveside:

Up above the strikers stood Annie Clemenc, girl leader of the miners. She was not the usual militant Annie Clemenc. She was saying a prayer for the children.

SOURCES

Tall Annie
-by Virginia Law Burns
MI, 1987

Big Annie of Calumet
-by Jerry Stanley
NY, 1996

Death’s Door
The Truth Behind Michigan’s Larges Mass Murder

-by Steve Lehto
MI, 2006

Annie Clemenc
& the Great Keweenaw Copper Strike

-by Lyndon Comstock
SC, 2013

Miners’ Bulletin
“Published by authority of
Western Federation of Miners
to tell the truth regarding
the strike of the copper miners.”
-of Oct 2, 1913
-of Nov 15, 1913

El Paso Herald
(El Paso, TX)
-of Nov 9, 1913

Photos:

Annie with Her Flag

http://thelaborhalloffame.org/liuzzo-clemenc-and-dubrow-2013-induction-group-labor%E2%80%99s-international-hall-fame

Marchers in Sunday Best

http://digarch.lib.mtu.edu/showbib.aspx?bib_id=646270#

Socialist Party Pin

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Socialist_Party_of_America

Proletarec

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Non-English_press_of_the_Socialist_Party_of_America

The Fighting Woman of Copper Country 1913

http://www.pasty.com/reflections/id329.htm

Annie with Her Flag Leading Parade

http://thelaborhalloffame.org/labor%E2%80%99s-intl-hall-fame-inductee-%E2%80%9Cbig-annie%E2%80%9D-clemenc-be-honored-national-park-service-calumet-michiga

1913 MI National Guard on Horseback

http://www.pasty.com/reflections/id357.htm

Miners’ Bulletin

http://www.1913strike.mtu.edu/tumult.html

PAPA IS STRIKING FOR US

Children's Parade, Calumet Copper Miners Strike -- RPPC by Calumet New Studio, Calumet, Michigan.

I believe that this photo was from The Calumet and Red Jacket News,

http://michigannewspaperhistory.pbworks.com/w/page/20854465/Houghton%20County

Strikers Marching in Snow
Note: photo dated Feb 1914, used here to represent
strikers marching in spite of cold and snow.

http://coppercountry.wordpress.com/page/3/

The Tyomies Publishing Company places the photo in Hancock.

http://www.ihrc.umn.edu/research/vitrage/all/to/ihrc2635.html

Citizens Alliance Button

http://www.copperrange.org/strike.htm

The Children’s Bodies at the Red Jacket Village Hall

http://www.pasty.com/reflections/id256.htm

Small White Coffins

http://www.pasty.com/reflections/id258.htm

[Lully, Lullayhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9rt8znceI-8#t=21]

Anti-Capitalist Meetup: “If You Meet The Buddha On The Road, Kill Him” by Annieli

3:40 pm in Uncategorized by Anti-Capitalist Meetup

All things appear and disappear because of the concurrence of causes and conditions. Nothing ever exists entirely alone; everything is in relation to everything else. -The Buddha

Marx: “constant revolutionizing of production uninterrupted disturbance of all social conditions, everlasting uncertainty and agitation distinguish the bourgeois epoch from all precious ones. all fixed, fast frozen relations, with their train of ancient prejudices and opinions are swept away, all new-formed ones become antiquated before they can ossify. All that is solid melts into air, all that is holy is profaned, and man is at last compelled to face with sober senses, his real conditions of life, and his relations with his kind.”

Unlike the Marshall Berman book, the reality of human conflict today is not so much about modernism as it is modernizing in the pre-industrial context, the civilizing and evolving, uneven yet parallel, paths from primitive, pre-modern communism through feudal modes of production, many of which still operate today whether the American Taliban or their calabash cousins in South Central Asia. The Koch Brothers, as corporate despots, are no different in their ideological commitments to devoting their wealth to an Anti-Communist Christianity that memorializes a martyr like John Birch and promotes inequality and suffering from uneven economic development. It is not a stretch to compare sacralized warfare and sectarian violence where today’s Oath Keepers see themselves as displaced Zen-samurai or Ronin of the Tokugawa Era. For example the original film The 47 Ronin directed by Kenji Mizoguchi is released near to the date of the Pearl Harbor attack. and the 1998 film of the same name by John Frankenheimer with script by David Mamet refers directly to the same historical event. ” The popularity of the tale grew during the Meiji era of Japanese history, in which Japan underwent modernization, and the legend became subsumed within discourses of national heritage and identity.”

The connection or family resemblance of feudal despotism and a repressive political state apparatus that attempts to control reproductive rights or democratic representation is now mobilized by ideology and ideological institutions such as Religions, Governments, and Mass Media and are mobilized much like Pat Buchanan’s meme of a Culture War. Its bastardization into a variety of discourses about race, class, and gender occupy much of the time and space of DK. As a matter of making the analysis of contemporary events, especially those exhibiting false consciousness like acts of racism or other violence clearer, some variants of Marxist methodology can be useful beyond some inerrant textual applications of Marxological theories. Excuse the lapse into the technical but the recent histories of human conflict as well as conflict among humans and nature require methods that can help make even the simplest of practices more coherent under the “shock doctrine” of crisis capitalism. There is a fluid boundary between culture war and actual war much as there is between abstract and concrete violence.

Althusser explains that the SA (State Apparatus) functions predominantly by violence or repression and only secondarily by ideology. Similarly the ISAs (Ideological State Apparatuses) function predominantly by ideology but can include punishment or repression secondarily.

This diary begins with a consideration of a recent book on Buddhist Warfare, a topic which has interested others as representative of the apparent contradiction of perhaps more Western stereotypes about the peaceful resistance to authoritarianism by some Buddhisms (Tibet) and the hegemonic behavior of other Buddhist majority regimes (Myanmar/Burma) where punishment or repression seems anomolous to a population significantly Buddhist. There is no space here to discuss the complex sectarian struggles of global religions and the focus here is on the material justification of cultural violence in the context of this recent book edited by Jerryson and Juergensmeyer Buddhist Warfare OUP 2010. The ideology of any religion and its worldly sectarian practices can be considered as some Marxists did in the last century as Ideological State Apparatuses (ISA) in the case of the ambitions of early to mid 20th Century Japanese imperialism, Buddhism was manipulated to become an ISA in terms of forging a national will and an industrialized state to sacrifice for humans claiming the status of feudal deity-monarchs. In the cases of contemporary Thailand and Myanmar among others, the identity of Buddhism and a ruling class creates a complex set of contradiction for both Buddhist resistance movements and military-political elites no different structurally than many other regimes Marx described as an Asiatic mode of production, (AMP), and that Oriental Despotism reproduces itself structurally in many contemporary Asian corporatized ruling class economies that have many different oligarchic names such as Chaebol in South Korea, family-controlled corporate conglomerates. In Japan before World War II, large holding companies formed wealth groups, or zaibatsu, which dominated most industry. The zaibatsu were dissolved after the war, but keiretsu—large, modern industrial enterprise groupings—emerged. And the tensions between the imperatives for military and economic self-defense as well as the need for corporatist, oligarghic, yet familial expansion create more challenges for the many corresponding Buddhisms.

MSDF Hyuga, a contemporary Japanese aircraft carrier classified as a destroyer:

What is important for this brief narrative is the point of view reconciling the complexity of many Buddhisms within the context of such societies, the expansion of rationalized violence against a populace and the rationalizing discourse of remote killing. This is where the army does the killing so one’s own responsibility is intact. Drone warfare can represent the instrumental separation and distance possible and even resemble the Buddhist position or relative autonomy on just violence. In these cases, that group or even individual violence or exploitation are situated in a discourse of class struggle that has an ideological structure consistent with other capitalist and even pre-capitalist practices. There is some literature on the political economy of arbitrary seasonal regional violence in France in the late middle ages. This same discourse exists in the justification or rationalization of individual and group religious practices in military organizations working for governments that represent a separation of church and state. This is historically a relatively new term considering the number of theocratic regimes that do not recognize that formal or informal separation in contrast to democratic rules of law which attempt to keep public order in a republic despite the actions of corporate despots.

The theory of the Asiatic mode of production, (AMP) was devised by Karl Marx around the early 1850s. The essence of the theory has been described as “[the] suggestion … that Asiatic societies were held in thrall by a despotic ruling clique, residing in central cities and directly expropriating surplus from largely autarkic and generally undifferentiated village communities.” The theory continues to arouse heated discussion among contemporary Marxists and non-Marxists alike. Some have rejected the whole concept on the grounds that the socio-economic formations of pre-capitalist Asia did not differ enough from those of feudal Europe to warrant special designation. Aside from Marx, Friedrich Engels was also an enthusiastic commentator on the AMP. They both focused on the socio-economic base of AMP society.

Marx and Engels were trying to reconcile why development was uneven in the East Asian context, partially to explain European colonialism and the creation of spheres on influence based on new forms of extractible exchange in the form of mobile surplus value, in this case, opium as a medium of exchange value.


Opium Godown (Storehouse) in Patna, Bihar (c. 1814)

“China, one of those faltering Asian empires, which one after the other fell prey to the entrepreneurial spirit of the European race, was so weak, so much collapsed, that it did not even have the strength to go through the crisis of a people’s revolution, so that an acute indignation has turned into a chronic and probably incurable disease, an empire, so much decomposed, that it was almost unable to rule its own people or to offer resistance to the foreign aggressors”.

Asiatic mode of production
This is a controversial contribution to Marxist theory, initially used to explain pre-slave and pre-feudal large earthwork constructions in China, India, the Euphrates and Nile river valleys (and named on this basis of the primary evidence coming from greater “Asia”). The Asiatic mode of production is said to be the initial form of class society, where a small group extracts social surplus through violence aimed at settled or unsettled band communities within a domain. Exploited labour is extracted as forced corvee labour during a slack period of the year (allowing for monumental construction such as the pyramids, ziggurats, ancient Indian communal baths or the Chinese Great Wall). Exploited labour is also extracted in the form of goods directly seized from the exploited communities. The primary property form of this mode is the direct religious possession of communities (villages, bands, hamlets) and all those within them. The ruling class of this society is generally a semi-theocratic aristocracy which claims to be the incarnation of gods on earth. The forces of production associated with this society include basic agricultural techniques, massive construction and storage of goods for social benefit (granaries).

Yet colonial extraction and power projected itself easily into East Asia in the 19th Century, partially because of the kinds of labor agreements made in parallel with native merchant capitalists as well as a hegemonic ensemble of colonizing projects, each bringing its own version of Orientalist (sic) value to Europe. Yet concurrently and administrative violence brought to a country has its relatively autonomous indigenous religion still operating as an ISA in parallel to missionary Christianity where spiritual volition could be retained.

Cetanā is a Buddhist term commonly translated as “volition”, “directionality”, or “attraction”. It can be defined as a mental factor that moves or urges the mind in a particular direction, toward a specific object or goal

It is no stretch to see the use of religion in legitimating state violence as seen in the image of the Taliban demolishing sacred Buddhist sites as motivating or rationalizing the initial invasion into Afghanistan and its continued use on a more informally profane way in the conduct of the subsequent wars. These are moments of justifying/rationalizing violence against self or Other (preemptive violence prevents a greater sin). In some historical cases they are the reasons for oppressing rival sects or religions to this day.


________________________________________________

Recall the earlier discussions on modes of production and uneven development. Infrastructure is still a key element as is a history of pre-capitalist labor formations or infant mercantile and capitalist industries operating on parallel paths even today in terms of formal and informal market cultures in developing countries.

Wittfogel is best known for his monumental work Oriental Despotism: A Comparative Study of Total Power, first published in 1957. Starting from a Marxist analysis of the ideas of Max Weber on China and India’s “hydraulic-bureaucratic official-state” and building on Marx’s sceptical view of the Asiatic Mode of Production, Wittfogel came up with an analysis of Oriental despotism which emphasized the role of irrigation works, the bureaucratic structures needed to maintain them and the impact that these had on society, coining the term “hydraulic empire” to describe the system. In his view, many societies, mainly in Asia, relied heavily on the building of large-scale irrigation works. To do this, the state had to organize forced labor from the population at large. This required a large and complex bureaucracy staffed by competent and literate officials. This structure was uniquely placed to also crush civil society and any other force capable of mobilizing against the state. Such a state would inevitably be despotic, powerful, stable and wealthy. Wittfogel’s anticommunism led in “Oriental Despotism” to extend the hydraulic hypothesis to Russia, where it hardly is applicable.

Whereas for example, the California Water Project much like the New Deal WPA projects is less a despotic but clearly an imperious state/corporate action with both infrastructure costs and benefits.

Marx’s theory focuses on the organisation of labour and depends on his distinction between the following:
The means or forces of production; things such as land, natural resources, necessary for the production of material goods; and
The relations of production; the social relationships people enter into as they acquire and use the means of production.
Together these compose the mode of production and Marx distinguished historical eras in terms of distinct modes of production (Asiatic). Marx and Engels highlighted and emphasized that the role the state played in Asiatic societies was incredibly dominant and this was accounted to either the state’s monopoly of land ownership, its sheer political and military power or its control over irrigation systems. They accounted this state domination to the communal nature of landholding; this isolated the inhabitants of different villages from one another.

In order to exercise alienating power over land and water resources, a globalized Military Industrial Complex representing a variety of unevenly developed nations will project power first as surveillance to affect the discourse of remote killing, where the instrumental separation and distance possible resemble the Buddhist position or relative autonomy on just violence and where we will see the justification of greater pre-emptive projection of power using technology rationalized by ideological state apparatuses. It’s important to note that the despotism described above as with pre-war Japanese capitalism and ruling class militarism guiding a deified warlord State is no less modern than the avarice of Wall Street or the corporate wars for market or dominance. The post-US Afghanistan will have its own renewed moment of Central Asiatic despotism and it will come from a new breed of warlord.



RAW VIDEO: Drone Shoots vehicle… by NewsLook
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Anti-Capitalist Meet-Up: Hellraisers Journal, The Labor Martyrs Project, and WE NEVER FORGET by JayRaye

2:40 pm in Uncategorized by Anti-Capitalist Meetup

Back of Envelope Containing
Joe Hill’s Ashes

WE NEVER FORGET

At Joe Hill’s funeral, sashes were worn by many in attendance with “WE NEVER FORGET” written on them in big bold capital letters. This slogan was also written on the program for the day’s events. A year later, the ashes were handed out to IWW delegates from every state of the USA (except Utah) and from countries all around the world. The envelopes also carried this slogan. The Labor Martyrs Project uses this slogan to honor all of our Labor Martyrs, quite certain that Fellow Worker Joe Hill would not mind.

The Labor Martyrs Project

By way of explaination, I’ll give the simple “what-when-where-&-who” first. “Why” is a bit harder to explain, and a lot more personal.

What: the The Labor Martyrs Project honors those who have died in the class struggle on the side of the working class, by remembering, at minimum, their names and ages.

When: 1877 through 1937.

Where: the United States. I wanted to include Canada and Mexico, but the more I learned, the more I realized that just the task of covering the labor martyrs of the USA was an immense project, probably beyond what any one person can accomplish. For example, some sources claim that there were more than 200 workers who died in labor conflicts just in year 1934 alone. Each and every one of them deserves to have their name recorded for history.

Who: that would be us, the working class. These are our martyrs who died in the struggle to give us and our children a better life.

At The Ludlow Monument

It all started when I picked up a book called Labor’s Untold Story. That was the first I ever heard of the Ludlow Massacre. I think this might have been about 1986. I didn’t have a car at that time, so I took a Greyhound bus out to Colorado. The bus driver didn’t want to drop me off at Ludlow because it wasn’t a scheduled stop, but I talked him into it. Took me 3 hours to walk back to Walsenburg, but that’s alright, I had a lot to think about. It is difficult to describe the feeling that I had standing at the foot of the Ludlow Monument. Just a few days ago, I came by this poem written by our very own Richard Myers (RIP), I could not describe the experience any better:

Helen and Gust of Ludlow

The Ludlow Monument
The Ludlow Monument

“He’s haunted by the memory
Of heroes that he could not save,
And it was Gust that drove the dray
Collecting children for the grave.”

I left. I went alone that night
Where miners and their families died.
I searched for answers in the pits
Where helpless children tried to hide.

I raged at phantoms on the hill
Whence gunfire ‘cross the plain had swept,
And then before the monument
I knelt down on the ground and wept.

I went back again for the 75th commemoration. That was on June 10, 1989, and of that date I am certain since Zeese Papanikolas was there and kindly signed my copy of Buried Unsung with the date and location (Ludlow.) I made that trip by Greyhound also, but that time I packed up my mountain bike, so I was able to get around a bit better. A very kind family put me up for the night, fed me, and we had a great visit. I loved all the folks I met in Walsenburg and Trinidad. The woman who ran the little history museum in Walsenburg was an incredible help. She directed me to the exact location where Mother Jones was held in the underground cell. I was able to go there and stand there for a little while. It had been turned into someone’s office, but no one seemed to mind me stopping by. A very kind shopkeeper boxed up my bike and even delivered it to the bus stop for my return trip home. I was only asking for a box, but he offered to take care of everything, and wouldn’t take any payment.

Well, this is turning into a ramble, but it is all part of how I became obsessed with Labor Martyrs. While in Trinidad on that visit, I rode my bike up to the cemetery. Again standing there where the martyrs are buried changed me. That I could be a working class union woman, and a Socialist to boot, and yet reach my 30s without ever hearing of them and what they went through upset me in a way that I can not describe. They deserve better from us than to be forgotten.

And from there I ate, slept, and dreamed labor history. Reading, taking notes. I never knew for sure what I would do with all those notes, boxes full of notes arranged mostly in chronological order, but they sure do come in handy now.

So the “Why” boils down to this: our labor martyrs deserve to be remembered by us. Each and every one. And remembered, at minimum, by their names and ages.

Memory and Class Consciousness

The Monument reads:

In Memory of
The men, women and children
Who lost their lives
In Freedoms’s Cause
At Ludlow, Colorado
April 20, 1914
Erected by the
United Mine Workers of America

Wesley Everest
“Tell the boys I died for my class.”

I won’t go into a long analysis here. Suffice to say that as we lose the memory of our history as a class, so goes our class consciousness. The heroes of the day understood that they were fighting for their class. From Joe Hill who writes in the Rebel Girl, “she is true to her class and her kind,” to Wesley Everest who went to his death saying “tell the boys I died for my class,” these workers understood that they were undertaking a struggle which was The Class Struggle. That they were up against a powerful and ruthless foe. They fought, not only for themselves, but for the Working Class as a whole and for the future generations of working people. They voiced this class conscious view over and over again in speeches, verse, and song. We owe them a debt that we can never repay. The very least we can do is to honor their memory.

The Unknown Worker Tag

Being somewhat of a perfectionist, I kept researching and avoided actually publishing anything, hoping to find missing names. However, if I were to stick with that plan, the Project would never be published. Some names will probably never be found. And so I’ve created the [Unknown Workerhttp://www.dailykos.com/news/Unknown%20Worker] Tag. These Labor Martyrs will be honored by whatever information I can find about them . For example, in [this diaryhttp://www.dailykos.com/story/2013/10/06/1244695/-WE-NEVER-FORGET-August-3-1913-Bloody-Sunday-in-Wheatland-California], I could say that one was Puerto Rican and the other was an English “lad.” Here’s hoping that others will take this information and search further. Perhaps, their names can yet be discovered! When there names are found, the tag can be removed from that diary.

What Makes a Labor Martyr?

Julius Wayland
d. Nov 10, 1912

Most of the time this question is easy to answer. Workers go out on strike, and they are shot down in the streets, their union halls are raided and they are shot down in their own hall, or dragged out of the hall tortured and hung; they are put into filthy cold crowed jails, beaten and battered, and then refused medical care. Machine guns were very efficient means of murdering working people without much exertion on the part of the military, the police, the gunthugs, the deputies, etc. These are the easy cases to decide.

But what of workers driven to suicide through persecution? Or the lawyer who worked himself into an early grave with a bleeding ulcer on behalf of his unjustly convicted union clients? The old man kept in the same cold cellar cell as Mother Jones who got sick there and died soon after release? The young man, a neighbor to the Ludlow Tent Colony, who caught a stray bullet and was killed? Reasonable people can disagree on these questions. The answer as to who should be considered a Labor Martyr is not always completely clear.

Hellraisers Journal

Mother Jones,
“You ought to be out raising hell.”

[Hellraisers Journalhttp://www.dailykos.com/blog/Hellraisers%20Journal] is designed to keep me on track with the WE NEVER FORGET diaries. It’s less than perfect system. I’m still behind from when I went on vacation in August, and events are producing more and more Martyrs. Hellraisers is good at forcing me to work hard at catching up. Also, because of the Hellraisers diaries, I can simply write about the martyrs without going into the entire history of the strike. I’m not saying that I won’t write anymore diaries like [this onehttp://www.dailykos.com/story/2012/04/20/1083217/-WE-NEVER-FORGET-April-20-1914-The-Ludlow-Masscre] or [this onehttp://www.dailykos.com/story/2012/05/30/1092207/-WE-NEVER-FORGET-Spring-1912-The-San-Diego-Free-Speech-Fight], but the Martyrs didn’t always die in big events, they were often shot down casually here and there, and their names were lost to history. Those Martyrs deserve to be remembered also. And now, with Hellraisers giving the back-ground story, I can write these diaries with much less difficulty.

Hellraisers Journal will cover the period 1897 to (but not including) 1922, covering the life and times of Mother Jones. This will take 10 years (God willing and creek don’t rise.) These were the most active years of Mother Jones. This will cover 25 years of the 51 years that I want to eventually cover for the Labor Martyrs Project. And these are the years that I know the best, so, for me, that’s a good place to start.

[Today's Hellraisers Journal:http://www.dailykos.com/story/2013/10/13/1246838/-Hellraisers-Journal-Mother-Jones-Remembers-Virden-Martyrs-at-Union-Miners-Cemetery-in-Mt-Olive] “Mother Jones Remembers Virden Martyrs at Union Miners’ Cemetery in Mt Olive.”

Something’s gotta give!

And so, some of the readers of Hellraisers may have noticed that I’ve stopped covering modern day events. This is regrettable, but unavoidable if I’m going to keep up with the Labor Martyrs Project. A lot goes into research, reviewing, comparing sources, compiling and integrating my notes, etc. There are books on the shelf that need to be read, and many more books on my list to buy. As well as books I’ve already read that need to be reviewed as I write. Therefore, I’ve made the decision to focus exclusively on the Labor Martyrs Project which includes both Hellraisers Journal and WE NEVER FORGET.

Future Plans

I own the domain name WE NEVER FORGET as dot com and as dot org & a few others also. Eventually, I hope to republish everything to one of them (probably dot org.) This is way off in the future as I have zero expertise in web site building.

I want to thank everyone who has read my diaries, tipped & rec’d them, repub’d them, and invited me to join groups so that I can repub them myself. Special thanks to gooderservice, Brae, and ruleoflaw, Big Al, and others who visit every day or almost every day.

Solidarity,
JayRaye

I Am a Union Woman-Leenya Rideout

[The bosses ride fine horses
While we walk in the mud.
Their banner is a dollar sign
While ours is striped with blood.

-Aunt Molly Jacksonhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O25Oy0RsJkA]

Photos:

Joe Hill’s Ashes:

http://levantium.com/2011/09/05/gilded-age-barons-labor-day-2011/

Names of Ludlow Martyrs by Kossack [MKSinSAhttp://www.dailykos.com/user/MKSinSA],
for which I am eternally grateful!

The Ludlow Monument (with larger view):

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Ludlow_Monument_Cropped.jpg

Wesley Everest:

http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/USAeverest.htm

Julius A Wayland:

http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/USAwaylandJ.htm

Entire Poem by Richard Myers here:

http://www.workingclassheroes.me/?p=2182

Books Mentioned:

Labor’s Untold Story
-by Richard O. Boyer & Herbert M. Morais
United Electrical, Radio & Machine Workers of America, 1979)

Buried Unsung
Louis Tikas and the Ludlow Massacre

-by Zeese Papanikolas
U of Utah Press, 1982

Yet another windy response to “What is Capitalism”

2:45 pm in Uncategorized by Anti-Capitalist Meetup

Written by Annieli


I’ve been writing diaries here as a matter of praxis, that is, bringing theory and practice together as dialectically critical action, this is yet another attempt to make the somewhat odious task of understanding the core of marxist thought and applying it to coherent contemporary circumstance. This example shows the fundamental problem in taking an oppositional stance to capitalism as anti-capitalist thinking, how to discuss the alternatives as types of post-capitalism, and what comes afterward in terms of development. One first must understand the materialist approach to history and see capitalism’s place. Human development as cultural/social development laid upon nature’s development is always sets of uneven development even in terms of the prehistoric, knowing that many different versions of humanoids did at some moments live in parallel, some evolving to survive and others not, in a godless ecological struggle. Similarly uneven development exists for each of the historical stages of human social/economic development often described as Modes of production and the Five stages of history. Where it can get complicated is specifying the forces of production.

History can be described as divided into these stages
2.1 Primitive Communism
2.2 Slave Society
2.3 Feudalism
2.4 Capitalism
2.5 Socialism
2.6 Communism

We can still see echoes of more primitive relations even today in the informal economies of barter as forms of primitive communism and the indentured labor of some immigrant labor whether in this country or others. Enslavement exists in many forms in these uneven developments whether as actual human ownership in sex traffic or wage slavery as in globalized mass-market, corporately-owned consumer industries. Socialism or collective ownership of the means and forces of production has been achieved at various historical moments with varied success and failure and always exists as a non-totality in that other historical stages have and continue to exist in an uneven relationship and in various evolutionary forms.

This diary’s example will be of necessity a schematic version applied to the current situation of wind energy production in the United States signifying those uneven stages of historical development

The economy in which these modal stages are situated have three moments: production circulation consumption, which as a circuit reproduces itself. that is. each consuming moment induces a new, subsequent producing moment, much like the dialectic of thesis, antithesis, and synthesis producing a new thesis.

Writers who identify with historical materialism usually postulate that society has moved through a number of types or modes of production. That is, the character of the production relations is determined by the character of the productive forces; these could be the simple tools and instruments of early human existence, or the more developed machinery and technology of present age. The main modes of production Marx identified generally include primitive communism or tribal society (a prehistoric stage), ancient society, feudalism, and capitalism. In each of these social stages, people interact with nature and produce their living in different ways. Any surplus from that production is allotted in different ways. Ancient society was based on a ruling class of slave owners and a class of slaves; feudalism was based on landowners and serfs; and capitalism based on the capitalist class and the working class. The capitalist class privately owns the means of production, distribution and exchange (e.g., factories, mines, shops and banks) while the working class live by exchanging their socialized labour with the capitalist class for wages.

Read the rest of this entry →

Anti-Capitalist Meetup: Solidarity Forever (A Sing Along) by EK Hornbeck

2:30 pm in Uncategorized by Anti-Capitalist Meetup

An Annual Tradition at The Stars Hollow Gazette (http://www.thestarshollowgazette.com/) and DocuDharma (http://www.docudharma.com/).

Solidarity Forever is perhaps the most famous Union anthem yet it’s composer, Ralph Chaplin, came to hate it, writing-

[T]here is no one (among the Industrial Workers of the World, or Wobblies) who does not look with a rather jaundiced eye upon the ‘success’ of ‘Solidarity Forever.’

I didn’t write ‘Solidarity Forever’ for ambitious politicians or for job-hungry labor fakirs seeking a ride on the gravy train.

All of us deeply resent seeing a song that was uniquely our own used as a singing commercial for the soft-boiled type of post-Wagner Act industrial unionism that uses million-dollar slush funds to persuade their congressional office boys to do chores for them.

I contend also that when the labor movement ceases to be a Cause and becomes a business, the end product can hardly be called progress.

For you see, the essence of the song is class consciousness as laid out in the Preamble of The Little Red Book which says, “The working class and the employing class have nothing in common.” Between Labor and Capital “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.”

By this analysis any Union that did not at it’s core embrace syndicalism, the most famous examples of which in the United States are the craft unions of the American Federation of Labor and the industrial unions of the Congress of Industrial Organizations, was betraying the movement by giving workers the false impression that they have interests in common with and could control the employing class through contracts.

Instead of the conservative motto, ‘A fair day’s wage for a fair day’s work,’ we must inscribe on our banner the revolutionary watchword, ‘Abolition of the wage system.’

Likewise the IWW opposed participation in politics as mere compliance with an inherently corrupt system, “by organizing industrially we are forming the structure of the new society within the shell of the old.”

Now the lyrics I like best are the original 1915 version in which these revolutionary arguments find their clearest expression.

Chorus

Solidarity forever,
Solidarity forever,
Solidarity forever,
For the union makes us strong.

Verses

When the union’s inspiration through the workers’ blood shall run,
There can be no power greater anywhere beneath the sun;
Yet what force on earth is weaker than the feeble strength of one,
But the union makes us strong.

Is there aught we hold in common with the greedy parasite,
Who would lash us into serfdom and would crush us with his might?
Is there anything left to us but to organize and fight?
For the union makes us strong.

It is we who plowed the prairies; built the cities where they trade;
Dug the mines and built the workshops, endless miles of railroad laid;
Now we stand outcast and starving midst the wonders we have made;
But the union makes us strong.

All the world that’s owned by idle drones is ours and ours alone.
We have laid the wide foundations; built it skyward stone by stone.
It is ours, not to slave in, but to master and to own.
While the union makes us strong.

They have taken untold millions that they never toiled to earn,
But without our brain and muscle not a single wheel can turn.
We can break their haughty power, gain our freedom when we learn
That the union makes us strong.

In our hands is placed a power greater than their hoarded gold,
Greater than the might of armies, magnified a thousand-fold.
We can bring to birth a new world from the ashes of the old
For the union makes us strong.

Alas hardly anyone uses them anymore, instead substituting various bowdlerized and watered down versions of the more controversial parts. Even Pete Seeger (by far the best YouTube version) skips the master and own verse.

In my house when we raise the fist of solidarity in the international socialist workers salute we sing it a cappella using the Chapin lyrics and follow with Which Side Are You On? by Florence Reece.

Come on you poor workers
Good news to you I tell
How the good old union
Has come in here to dwell.

Which side are you on, which side are you on

We’re starting our good battle
We know we’re sure to win
Because we’ve got the gun thugs
Looking very thin

Which side are you on, which side are you on

You go to Harlan County
There is no neutral there
You’ll either be a union man
Or thug for J.H. Blair

Which side are you on, which side are you on

They say they have to guard us
To educate their child
Their children live in luxury
Our children almost wild

Which side are you on, which side are you on

Gentlemen can you stand it
Oh tell me how you can
Will you be a gun thug
Or will you be a man

Which side are you on, which side are you on

My daddy was a miner
He’s now in the air and sun
He’ll be with you fellow workers
‘Til every battle’s won

Which side are you on, which side are you on

As always when I write pieces like this, I intend them to be mostly descriptive. They are not necessarily reflections of my beliefs. Likewise I prefer to use Wikipedia as a source, not because it’s the most comprehensive or accurate, but because, as a crowd sourced document, it represents the lowest common denominator of general agreement about the subject. Read the rest of this entry →

Anti-Capitalist Meetup: Once Upon Time: American Socialism by Richard Lyon

12:00 am in Uncategorized by Anti-Capitalist Meetup

Striking garment workers rally in Union Square holding banners in Yiddish and English, 1913

Striking garment workers rally in Union Square holding banners in Yiddish and English, 1913

 

Last week JayRaye brought us a very powerful diary that used the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire as a point of embarkation. This week I’d like to takes into the world where that historically important tragedy happened. I want to focus on the American Jewish immigrant community from the late 1880s up to the beginning of WW I. It is a rich and vibrant chapter in American history.

Most of us have a rather vague awareness that there was once a fairly active socialist party in the US and that a man named Eugene V. Debs ran for president on its ticket. Somehow it got swallowed up in the various red scares and the words socialist and socialism became pejorative terms in the American political lexicon. Beyond that we know very little about the historical details. I recently read a most enjoyable book that got me interested in the history, particularly that which happened in the Jewish immigrant community. The book is How Jews Became White Folks: And What That Says About Race in America by Karen Brodkin. She provides an interesting overview of the history of Yiddish socialism from a feminist perspective. Finding it very interesting, I have been doing some more reading about it.

A Fire in Their Hearts: Yiddish Socialists in New York is a detailed political, social and intellectual history of various socialist movements in the Jewish immigrant community in the US at the turn of the 20th C. It focuses on New York which was the largest and dominant community. It is from this book that I got the term Yiddish socialism.

Socialism was essentially a movement brought to America by immigrant groups. It was the German, Finnish and Jewish communities who participated most actively in it. It had difficulty find places to take root in the rocky soil of the dominant WASP bourgeois culture. The descendants of the Puritans who shoved their way into New England in an effort to escape ideological conflicts had little sympathy for the later arrivals from central and eastern Europe who came for similar reasons.

The first socialists to arrive were German Social Democrats escaping Bismark’s repression that began in 1878. The waves of Jewish immigrants from eastern Europe fleeing Tsarist persecution began in the late 1880s. These were culturally a different group of people from the German Jewish immigrants who had arrived in the mid 19th century. They had become established and somewhat integrated into bourgeois American society. A number of the immigrants in this new wave had been active in radical political movements in Russia. They made contact with the German socialists in New York and began to incorporate their Marxist perspectives.

What I want to focus on here is the rich yeasty development of the Yiddish radical labor and political movements. The term Yiddish is employed because it ties it to a language and a culture that provided cohesion and momentum. By no means were all radicals at the dawn of the 20th C Jews, nor were all Jews radicals. Samuel Gompers who led the relatively more conservative American Federation of Labor was Jewish. However, centered in New York, there was a radical Yiddish socialist labor movement that developed organizations and institutions adapted to its purposes. It offers a very interesting piece of American history.

One of the most visible and enduring of these institutions was the socialist Yiddish language newspaper Forverts or The Jewish Daily Forward. Over 100 years after it founding in 1897, it is still being published today. It was the most widely read of a large number of Yiddish publications of a broad range of ideological perspectives that had highly variable life spans.
Read the rest of this entry →

Anti-capitalist meetup: How did we get here? A look at human social evolution. And a book preview by Don Mikulecky

2:51 pm in Uncategorized by Anti-Capitalist Meetup

Our new book: Global Insanity: How Homo sapiens Lost Touch with Reality while Transforming the World Is about to come out. This diary is a brief introduction to the book with additional comments about why it is in the Anti-Capitalist Meetup tonight. I will start by saying that the frames “capitalist” and “anti-Capitalist” are really not of much use anymore. We have created an entire new epistemology. The old categories neither work nor do the free us from what has caused us the problem. Any attempt to work within the old paradigm feeds the system that enslaves us. We need a revolution that is total. Capitalism, as it has evolved to this day is very much like an economic and social cancer. As one who has developed computer models of cancer and then therapy to fight it I can speak with some authority.Cancer is not an infectious disease. It is a way the system develops that eventually does that very system in. So my analogy is appropriate here. Capitalism has grown as a system that will do in the system it arises from. In that context, who could be for cancer? Once the present state of capitalism is understood, who could be for it? Clearly we have large numbers of people who are so there is more to the story than my simple analogy. That is really the simple part even though large parts of the human population still do not understand. Let’s carry the cancer analogy a bit further. How do we “cure” cancer? It can not be reversed. It must be stopped. All ways of stopping are harmful to the host. That is because it is such an integral part of the host. Chemically killing or surgically removing or radiating cancer cells does damage beyond just the cancer itself. Stopping capitalism before it destroys us is a similar problem. You and I are part of capitalism and we contribute to the damage it is doing by the way we live. You can not even have a remote hope that we can survive its destructive march to the cliff without dealing with our contribution to the disease. Every treatment for cancer involves pain and suffering. We claim to be concerned about future generations but will we willingly put that claim into action? Before you jump to the conclusion that I am trying to lay a guilt trip on you, realize that our book deals with how we got here and why no one is “to blame”. On the other hand knowledge transforms people and once they see the problem further inaction is certainly no longer excusable. I have spent my life trying to understand. Fortunately, when I thought I was close I published my initial thoughts and my friend and colleague Jim Coffman read that paper. Now we have this book. In it we speak about our continuing contribution to the cancerous blight of capitalism as an addiction. They pushed the “drug” and we are hooked! So if you are able to handle a quick diagnosis that is not at all pleasant then please continue reading

Our book is not a recapitulation of anything you have seen before. It is a radical new analysis that uses a lot of our cultural evolution to put that evolution into an entirely new perspective. First from the preface:

To work against your own short-term interests requires that you acknowledge that those interests are harmful or unhealthy. So it is reasonable to ask why more people do not acknowledge and act on the increasingly serious health problems that confront us all as a result of anthropogenic environmental degradation. The answer to this is, in a word, complex.
The efforts of science to speak to the condition of the planet are often met with hostility, to say the least. One working scientist who has been subjected to a living hell merely for doing his job is climatologist Michael Mann. A quote from his recent book gives a flavor of what is at stake:
We look back now with revulsion at the corporate CEOs, representatives, lobbyists, and scientists-for-hire who knowingly ensured the suffering and mortality of millions by hiding their knowledge of tobacco smoking’s ill effects for the sake of short term corporate profits. Will we hold those who have funded or otherwise participated in the fraudulent denial of climate change similarly accountable—those individuals and groups who both made and took corporate payoffs for knowingly lying about the threat climate change posed to humanity, those who willfully have led the public and policy makers astray, and those politicians and media figures who have sought to intimidate climate scientists using McCarthyite tactics?

Two things need to be pointed out in preparation for what we are offering here. First, the issues described by Mann are not isolated. The entire spectrum and character of political and civic life is subject to powerful economic forces, and while those forces may on the surface reduce to simple greed, below the surface are undercurrents that are not at all that simple, emanating from among other things our animal nature, human psychology and the historical origins of our culture. The second point concerns why political arguments cannot be won with empirically demonstrable facts and logic. We will attempt to address these issues in what follows.

Clearly I can not develop what we put forth in this short diary. There are those who will see this as a “book promotion” and it is that too, but it is also, and more importantly, an attempt to get get your attention for we have something very important to say. Here is the beginning of the introduction:

Introduction: Our Thesis, and What We Hope to Achieve
The thesis of this essay is that Western science has misconceived life. As a consequence, civilized humanity, by way of its scientifically informed industrial economy cum existential nihilism cum retreat into fantasy, is destroying the biosphere—and hence itself.
The misconception is that life is engendered and fully explained by mechanisms.
This is absurd. In biology anything that can be construed as a mechanism can also be logically construed as having a purpose. Means imply ends, and are thus meaningful. Life is neither created by mechanisms, nor an emergent property thereof: to the contrary, mechanisms, to the extent that they perform useful work, are created by living systems in the service of life. Wherever they exist, they do so in order to realize some subjective goal.
And at some level, all biologists know this to be true.

Let me try to remind you that George Lakoff and others have been saying these same things to us in a political context and our book bravely marches into that forbidden territory. Forbidden to “objective” science which is one of the myths that makes change so hard. Going further into the introduction:

We contend that Western civilization, in developing a global consumer economy based on industrial mechanization requiring rapid dissipation of non-renewable, high-grade energy, lost touch with reality and embarked on a path of self-destruction. Accessing a new path conducive to long-term human survival and quality of life will require that we fundamentally change our relationship with nature, which will in turn require that we significantly improve our comprehension of nature—including human nature. It will require that we develop a more realistic way of life, and healthier ways of imbuing our existence with meaning.
We are not alone in calling attention to the urgency of our situation. We do however have a unique explanation for how we got here, and the role of human intellect in that process. Contrary to what is now almost universally accepted as given, our technological creativity and scientific inquisitiveness have not served us well. The reason for this is that the development of our cognitive abilities produced an unhealthy mental imbalance. The technological aspect of the human mind has come to repressively dominate other aspects, and this is intimately linked to the unconstrained development of the consumer economy. Science and technology feed that system by supplying a continuous stream of ‘disposable’ commodities, as well as techniques for ensuring that people keep buying them, in order to drive economic growth, which then feeds back to drive science and technology. What many (perhaps most) people fail to appreciate is that this is a vicious cycle whose continuance assures the collapse of civilization, and quite possibly the extinction of humanity.
As will become clear in what follows, meaning is constructed by way of interpretation, and interpretation is a subjective matter. Depending on your perspective, the world can appear either simple or complex—and either very big or very small.

That should challenge you to read the book. I’ll be here when the diary is published to discuss what I have said. Thank you for the opportunity.

A footnote,/strong>: We develop a thesis based on the acknowledgement That “Cartesian Reductionism” is one of the fundamental epistemological bases for modern “enlightened” thought. What Descartes left us with is the mind/body dualism and the idea that all things can be seen as machines and therefore reduced to their parts. Then the study of the parts would lead to total understanding of the whole. We refute this and base our argument on the idea that reducing systems to parts removes their essence and makes them impossible to understand..