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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 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

Capitalism: Is It Fair and Just? by UnaSpenser

11:57 am in Uncategorized by Anti-Capitalist Meetup

This diary is a part of a series examining the nature of capitalism. I have been itching to explore not just the economics of capitalism but whether capitalism can ever be fair or just or sustainable. As this group is an anti-capitalist group, I felt the need to get beyond discussions of who owns production and distribution systems. I want to examine why anybody would even see capitalism as righteous. In the mainstream political discourse, if one dares to say that she is not supportive of capitalism, one is a heretic. So, what is this thing that we worship? What are it’s values? What makes capitalism so worthy of it’s righteous status in our culture?

I didn’t really know how to dive into the topic from this perspective. I wasn’t interested in starting the examination through an academic lens. I was thinking in terms of having a conversation with one’s next door neighbor when you’re both out weeding in the garden: is capitalism fair?

Perhaps, the exploration will broaden and deepen from here. I’d love to see that. To get things started NY Brit Expat had the wonderful idea of delving into what was niggling at me by asking questions and generating a dialog.

We share that with you today and ask that you join the discussion that we have started:

NY Brit Expat: When you say that the capitalist system itself is not fair and is not just, what do you mean by fairness and justice? What would consititute a fair and just system in your view?

To me, fairness and justice hinge on those that create things actually controlling the thing they create; so workers should get control over the product rather than capitalists. Another issue that should be discussed is how our notions of right and wrong ( ethics and morality) become conditioned by the system itself.

One more point relates to ownership and property rights that are ensured by the system and how this is then justified and no one ever questions these things.

UnaSpenser: to begin with, fairness and justice, to my mind are concepts which stand alone, regardless of an economic system. That is, if there are 10 hungry people in a room and there are 10 servings of dinner available, the fair distribution is to give each person a serving. It doesn’t matter how the meals got there, because food is a basic human need. If someone says, “but I worked harder” or “but I’m worth more” or “but my people contribute more”, then they are moving away from fairness. they are willing to deny someone else the foundation of survival when there is enough there to meet every person in the room’s needs. If someone needs more for a health reason, then, yes, the group may need to figure out how to redistribute to meet that additional survival need. But, “I think I should get more because” is simply selfish and runs off the track of fairness.

fairness is when everyone has the ability to meet their basic needs without being obligated to, or compromised by, others. if someone says, “I can see that you need this meal, but I’ll only give it to you if you agree to pay me later” or “i’ll only give it you if you let me have sex with you”, this is not fair. it is extortion, because the person must eat and cannot survive without meeting your demands. your willingness to make someone suffer or give up autonomy before they can meet the basic needs of life is cruel. fairness is a commitment to doing no harm to others and not impeding anyone else’s ability to thrive autonomously. (one can be interconnected and still be autonomous.)

justice, to my mind, is a state of being where healing and the ability for everyone to function in society, have been restored, to the greatest extent we are able, after a transgression has occurred. the healing can’t be to the fullest extent possible if anyone involved, even the perpetrator, has not received everything we can offer to regain the ability to function in society with fairness. so, justice would focus on returning all relationships to as balanced a state as possible. if things have become imbalanced, justice would demand working toward balance. also, justice is not born from fear. it is born from compassion. transgressions are born from fear. most often, when we make decisions based in fear, we further dysfunction and injustice. our response to a transgression then, must come from compassion for all. compassion which is not extended to everyone is not compassion. it includes treating some as though they are less than sentient than others. if you are treating anyone that you, you have corrupted your compassion and turned it into a tool for your fear.

back in that room: someone steals an extra meal and eats it. justice would demand that we understand why this person committed that transgression. that we work to resolve the issues that led to it so that the transgressor can function without harming or depriving anyone else. at the same time, we would need to figure out how to make sure that anyone who was deprived of a meal gets the needed meal. justice would demand that the one deprived and the transgressor work with everyone else on both the restoration of the transgressor’s ability to be part of society and the restoration of the deprived meal. only this will heal the social relationships. functioning relationships rely on trust. trust is the framework. everybody must work to find out why and address all the spots of corrosion in the framework. for the transgressor to steal a meal, there must have been a fear, a lack of trust which led that person to not care how it impacted others and only think of herself. then, the transgression itself bred more distrust. the framework will start to crumble, as it can only take so many weak spots and still bear the weight of social responsibility. it is the responsibility of everyone to to repair the corroded spots in the society’s framework.

everyone deserves to eat. When it comes meal time, depriving people of a serving, particularly if that person is aware that that everyone else will getting 10% more than needed by depriving her, is cruel and causes harm. if what someone needs is 1 serving, or 10% of the food, and they demand 11%, they are being unfair. if others agree to meet that demand, an injustice is committed by everyone. it isn’t just that someone demanded. even if that person is a bully or holds some kind of power. everyone who acquiesces to an abuse of power is complicit in the injustice.

in capitalism, the foundation of the economic system is this concept of profit. profit means demanding that you receive resources of a greater value than what you contribute. (its gets even more complicated when you start to consider labor structures and that people are demanding to receive resources for someone else’s labor. but, I don’t want to get into that, yet. that’s a symptom of an underlying moral/ethical issue with the basic precept of capitalism.) at the very core of capitalism is this axiom that all we do should produce a profit for us.

there are several problems with this axiom. first, there is a logical concern: it must include the precept that everyone could earn a profit. Otherwise, one would be saying that it’s okay for some people to lose. But, to lose in an economic system means to lose the ability to provide for the basics needs of life. back in that room again: if the person who happens to carry the meals into the room demands so much from me for my meal , that I no longer have the resources to get my critical medications, then I will die. but, this is not a consideration in the capitalist construct. transactions don’t have to take into account the ripple effects. they are only accounted for as independent transactions. the only time this is not true is when enough people gather enough power to demand that some effects be taken into account. in capitalism, power is measured by control of resources. so, those with control over more resources most often hold all the power when it comes to what will be accounted for. in capitalism, if you happen to be the one holding the tray with the meals, you automatically get more power. it doesn’t matter how you landed in that position. It is the rare victory when the “little people” win a dispute over such a thing as the collateral effects of a transaction. this idea that “the market” will correct injustices has already proven itself to be wrong. those with the most resources control “the market.” injustices abound. corporations can be deemed too big to fail. or too big to prosecute. that is because justice is not an ethic in the capitalist system. only winning the game of garnering control over resources.

for capitalism to be considered fair, it must assume that there are enough resources and enough equal access that everyone can pursue an unbounded accumulation for themselves without doing harm to others. yet, what we need for survival are resources from the planet: food, water, medicines, shelter, etc. No matter how large the Earth may feel, it is a limited resource. Access to the limited resources it offers is also limited. If that were not so, people would not be hungry or die from illnesses which can be treated. capitalism might pretend to be blind to this illogic, but that does not change the fact that is based on pursuing an unfair and unjust agenda.

When we see that food is accumulated in some places and lacking in others, we will also see that it is accumulated by those who have won at the profit game and lacking for those who haven’t. Who wins at the profit game? Those more able and willing to have no concern for the well being of others and to continue to demand more resources be given to them than they are contributing. They see people who are hungry, who don’t have warm clothes for the winter, who don’t have homes, who don’t have access to medical care and, still, they demand more for themselves. They start to have a skewed sense of what they are “due” or “need.” They could walk into that room and feel completely comfortable demanding that 90% of the food be given to them, regardless of how that deprives everyone else. What is the characteristic of a person who behaves this way? Someone who has no concern for the well-being of others? A sociopath. What is the methodology they must use to get people to give them more than their fair share? Bullying. Capitalism is sociopathic in nature and to be a leading capitalist, one must be a bully.

We see a disproportionate distribution of food in the United States. While people are starving, the capitalist system will report “good numbers” in their economic analyses. It even has determined that a certain percentage of people unable to provide the basics of life for themselves is “tolerable.” This is because, we know, deep down, that capitalism has to have losers. We train ourselves to believe in “competition” as an admirable, desirable thing, even though we know that in competitions there are very few winners and lots and lots of losers. Losing a baseball game may not seem like something to be concerned about when it comes to fairness and justice. But, we are inuring ourselves to the pain of the losers in all arenas. We are training ourselves to accept and tolerate that life has losers. We don’t care whether that is fair or just. Capitalism is not about that. Capitalism is about turning us all into sociopaths. When you see the nature of the political discourse happening now, you see sociopathy running rampant.

this profit basis for every transaction we complete with our fellow human beings doesn’t take into consideration whether you are taking more than you need, more than what you represent as a percentage of the people in your society, or if you are depriving others of what they need. it is without any morality. the moral code is “getting more for yourself, or your own people, is good” period. it is codified into capitalist laws, that corporations must do what they can to maximize profits for their shareholders. so, when a health insurance company has shareholders, it is their legal imperative to prioritize taking in more resources than they contribute to society, regardless of what this means to the health or suffering of human beings. it is not a system where the incentive is to provide the best care and do the most to reduce suffering. the incentive is to gather in more resources than you give out.

back to our room with 10 people and 10 meals. what is fair about demanding that you get 110% of a serving when you are only 100% of a serving? but, in a capitalist system, one isn’t concerned with a fair distribution of food. one is concerned with making a profit. yes, in a room of 10 people, those people might decide to become a clan, knowing there are other rooms of people out there needing the resources of life and that together they might bully that other group better and maybe everyone in the room could make a profit. but, you can’t extend that model very far, because at some point, you have to be getting your profit by causing someone else to take a loss. so, you can’t decide to include all humans in your clan or else you wouldn’t be able to be capitalists any more. if you are concerned with the well being of everyone, you can’t prioritize profit. you have to shift to a different system of transactions and priorities. you have start operating as a collective.

so, I’ve started to discuss right and wrong. I think we could delve more into that.

I don’t think I’ll get to production control tonight.

PS: I’m adding the comment from our Facebook conversation which you suggested I put here:

if we want to honor the sanctity of life, we should never allow a person to starve, be homeless, or die from an illness which we can treat. that is we should honor the basic human right of those who are living to thrive. that includes those whom we feel have committed transgressions. every life deserves every resource we can provide to return to a state of autonomous, interconnected ability to thrive

NY Brit Expat: Fairness and justice are broader than right and wrong to me; the latter are more individual in terms of individual behaviour; fairness and justice seem more global or universal to me … Isn’t that weird; they seem to me to be more like things that I perceive or don’t on a societal level. In that it is how we as people or society should relate to each other. Right and wrong I can view in a social way, but I often view them as individual behaviourally oriented. I wonder why I think this is so? Actions can, of course, be fair and just, as can decisions. But it is to me a social relation between people in a social context that I view it. So, what makes for a just society? That all are treated equally w/o reference to gender or false conceptions such as race, or w/o reference to property ownership or power relations. Does fairness relate to everyone being covered independent of ability, but with all needs covered?

UnaSpenser: I can see that perspective: that fairness and justice are on a societal level. The examples I gave were meant to illustrate that by metaphor. the 10 people in the room represent a whole society. it becomes a state when they decide to be a clan. the transgressor could be an individual with power or a system within the society/state. the other rooms are other societies/states and the decision to work together with some of them are alliances.

I, too, see the quality of relationships as key to the definition of fairness and justice. probably something along the line of a Buddhist notion of right relationships. one key to that is that no one should have power over another. one may acquiesce leadership in a given moment or for a certain experience, but one should never give up having power over one’s self, one’s time, and one’s ability to thrive. if access to food, clothing, shelter, medical care and education are not always accessible, one is forced to give up autonomy in order to acquire those things. this means giving others power over you, because you are coerced into a subservient position simply to meet the basic needs of life. power corrupts. therefore relationships where someone has power over another become corrupted. this corrupts society.

for me, a fair society is one where all have unfettered access to what they need to thrive, without being left in obligation to, or compromised by, others. (I am purposefully saying ‘thrive’ rather than ‘survive.’ Once can survive with a lot of unnecessary suffering inflicted by others.)

A just society is one in which we address any abuses of power or systems which inhibit that fairness and we return everyone to a state of being able to thrive in society.

I’ll have to think more about right and wrong. I don’t tend to think in those terms. will you tell me more about what you mean by right and wrong, please?

NY Brit Expat: I have always viewed right and wrong in terms of a moral relationship between individuals; that is, I behave in a certain way towards another person rather than how a society itself behaves which I think relates to justness and fairness. But societies can then take the individual moral relationship and use it to describe how we must treat each other … this sometimes takes place in the context of laws and rules. But those do not guarantee fairness and justice in a society which depends upon other things to me. So, a society can guarantee that you have a right of property through the use of law and state power, but that right actually ensures injustice and unfairness in that society.

The question of right and wrong seems to be a different thing; but it does relate in a broader sense as we can have morals underpinning our society to ensure justice and fairness; but this becomes very difficult in a system based upon private property and protection of that property being enshrined in a legal system. We can say that it is right that no one should starve and that it is wrong that some people have many things and some have nothing, but implementing this without threatening the property right becomes very difficult if it is treated as a zero sum game (that is a given amount where anything given to one takes away from the other).

- Agreed. Implementing true fairness and justice when so much unfairness and injustice is already in place and has been for centuries is another question, altogether. If you start off with inequities, you can’t just start by saying fairness requires that each transaction is a zero sum game. One has to start accounting for existing imbalances. One must restore balance first. That is, we must apply justice before we can enact fairness. How do restore justice is always the question that people use to stop the conversation about whether they believe we should work towards justice. It’s often the “get out of jail free” card of social responsibility.

Before even trying to figure out how justice could be restored when there is so much inequity in place, we must at least be able to agree on what justice and fairness are and admit that we are not living it. Without these agreements, we have no starting point for any mapping of a journey towards justice. We need to speak the truth about where we are and we need to agree on where we want to go. We need to commit to that mission. Then we can begin to work together to figure out the stepping stones we must place to take the journey. We can’t leap to building stepping stones, if we aren’t all starting in the same place and seeking the same destination. So, I don’t want to get into the itinerary of the journey, yet.

From UnaSpenser and NY Brit Expat: this is the beginning of a conversation. We invite you to think of it as the two people at one end of a table having started a discussion. As we get to talking more and more of you, sitting at the grand table with us are tuning in and listening. Then, you begin to offer your own thoughts and questions……

Anti-Capitalist Meetup: Capitalism – Is It Fair and Just? by UnaSpenser and NY Brit Expat

11:51 am in Uncategorized by Anti-Capitalist Meetup

This diary is a part of a series examining the nature of capitalism. I have been itching to explore not just the economics of capitalism but whether capitalism can ever be fair or just or sustainable. As this group is an anti-capitalist group, I felt the need to get beyond discussions of who owns production and distribution systems. I want to examine why anybody would even see capitalism as righteous. In the mainstream political discourse, if one dares to say that she is not supportive of capitalism, one is a heretic. So, what is this thing that we worship? What are it’s values? What makes capitalism so worthy of it’s righteous status in our culture?

I didn’t really know how to dive into the topic from this perspective. I wasn’t interested in starting the examination through an academic lens. I was thinking in terms of having a conversation with one’s next door neighbor when you’re both out weeding in the garden: is capitalism fair?

Perhaps, the exploration will broaden and deepen from here. I’d love to see that. To get things started NY Brit Expat had the wonderful idea of delving into what was niggling at me by asking questions and generating a dialog.

We share that with you today and ask that you join the discussion that we have started:

NY Brit Expat: When you say that the capitalist system itself is not fair and is not just, what do you mean by fairness and justice? What would consititute a fair and just system in your view?

To me, fairness and justice hinge on those that create things actually controlling the thing they create; so workers should get control over the product rather than capitalists. Another issue that should be discussed is how our notions of right and wrong ( ethics and morality) become conditioned by the system itself.

One more point relates to ownership and property rights that are ensured by the system and how this is then justified and no one ever questions these things.

UnaSpenser: to begin with, fairness and justice, to my mind are concepts which stand alone, regardless of an economic system. That is, if there are 10 hungry people in a room and there are 10 servings of dinner available, the fair distribution is to give each person a serving. It doesn’t matter how the meals got there, because food is a basic human need. If someone says, “but I worked harder” or “but I’m worth more” or “but my people contribute more”, then they are moving away from fairness. they are willing to deny someone else the foundation of survival when there is enough there to meet every person in the room’s needs. If someone needs more for a health reason, then, yes, the group may need to figure out how to redistribute to meet that additional survival need. But, “I think I should get more because ” is simply selfish and runs off the track of fairness.

fairness is when everyone has the ability to meet their basic needs without being obligated to, or compromised by, others. if someone says, “I can see that you need this meal, but I’ll only give it to you if you agree to pay me later” or “i’ll only give it you if you let me have sex with you”, this is not fair. it is extortion, because the person must eat and cannot survive without meeting your demands. your willingness to make someone suffer or give up autonomy before they can meet the basic needs of life is cruel. fairness is a commitment to doing no harm to others and not impeding anyone else’s ability to thrive autonomously. (one can be interconnected and still be autonomous.)

justice, to my mind, is a state of being where healing and the ability for everyone to function in society, have been restored, to the greatest extent we are able, after a transgression has occurred. the healing can’t be to the fullest extent possible if anyone involved, even the perpetrator, has not received everything we can offer to regain the ability to function in society with fairness. so, justice would focus on returning all relationships to as balanced a state as possible. if things have become imbalanced, justice would demand working toward balance. also, justice is not born from fear. it is born from compassion. transgressions are born from fear. most often, when we make decisions based in fear, we further dysfunction and injustice. our response to a transgression then, must come from compassion for all. compassion which is not extended to everyone is not compassion. it includes treating some as though they are less than sentient than others. if you are treating anyone that you, you have corrupted your compassion and turned it into a tool for your fear.

back in that room: someone steals an extra meal and eats it. justice would demand that we understand why this person committed that transgression. that we work to resolve the issues that led to it so that the transgressor can function without harming or depriving anyone else. at the same time, we would need to figure out how to make sure that anyone who was deprived of a meal gets the needed meal. justice would demand that the one deprived and the transgressor work with everyone else on both the restoration of the transgressor’s ability to be part of society and the restoration of the deprived meal. only this will heal the social relationships. functioning relationships rely on trust. trust is the framework. everybody must work to find out why and address all the spots of corrosion in the framework. for the transgressor to steal a meal, there must have been a fear, a lack of trust which led that person to not care how it impacted others and only think of herself. then, the transgression itself bred more distrust. the framework will start to crumble, as it can only take so many weak spots and still bear the weight of social responsibility. it is the responsibility of everyone to to repair the corroded spots in the society’s framework.

everyone deserves to eat. When it comes meal time, depriving people of a serving, particularly if that person is aware that that everyone else will getting 10% more than needed by depriving her, is cruel and causes harm. if what someone needs is 1 serving, or 10% of the food, and they demand 11%, they are being unfair. if others agree to meet that demand, an injustice is committed by everyone. it isn’t just that someone demanded. even if that person is a bully or holds some kind of power. everyone who acquiesces to an abuse of power is complicit in the injustice.

in capitalism, the foundation of the economic system is this concept of profit. profit means demanding that you receive resources of a greater value than what you contribute. (its gets even more complicated when you start to consider labor structures and that people are demanding to receive resources for someone else’s labor. but, I don’t want to get into that, yet. that’s a symptom of an underlying moral/ethical issue with the basic precept of capitalism.) at the very core of capitalism is this axiom that all we do should produce a profit for us.

there are several problems with this axiom. first, there is a logical concern: it must include the precept that everyone could earn a profit. Otherwise, one would be saying that it’s okay for some people to lose. But, to lose in an economic system means to lose the ability to provide for the basics needs of life. back in that room again: if the person who happens to carry the meals into the room demands so much from me for my meal , that I no longer have the resources to get my critical medications, then I will die. but, this is not a consideration in the capitalist construct. transactions don’t have to take into account the ripple effects. they are only accounted for as independent transactions. the only time this is not true is when enough people gather enough power to demand that some effects be taken into account. in capitalism, power is measured by control of resources. so, those with control over more resources most often hold all the power when it comes to what will be accounted for. in capitalism, if you happen to be the one holding the tray with the meals, you automatically get more power. it doesn’t matter how you landed in that position. It is the rare victory when the “little people” win a dispute over such a thing as the collateral effects of a transaction. this idea that “the market” will correct injustices has already proven itself to be wrong. those with the most resources control “the market.” injustices abound. corporations can be deemed too big to fail. or too big to prosecute. that is because justice is not an ethic in the capitalist system. only winning the game of garnering control over resources.

for capitalism to be considered fair, it must assume that there are enough resources and enough equal access that everyone can pursue an unbounded accumulation for themselves without doing harm to others. yet, what we need for survival are resources from the planet: food, water, medicines, shelter, etc. No matter how large the Earth may feel, it is a limited resource. Access to the limited resources it offers is also limited. If that were not so, people would not be hungry or die from illnesses which can be treated. capitalism might pretend to be blind to this illogic, but that does not change the fact that is based on pursuing an unfair and unjust agenda.

When we see that food is accumulated in some places and lacking in others, we will also see that it is accumulated by those who have won at the profit game and lacking for those who haven’t. Who wins at the profit game? Those more able and willing to have no concern for the well being of others and to continue to demand more resources be given to them than they are contributing. They see people who are hungry, who don’t have warm clothes for the winter, who don’t have homes, who don’t have access to medical care and, still, they demand more for themselves. They start to have a skewed sense of what they are “due” or “need.” They could walk into that room and feel completely comfortable demanding that 90% of the food be given to them, regardless of how that deprives everyone else. What is the characteristic of a person who behaves this way? Someone who has no concern for the well-being of others? A sociopath. What is the methodology they must use to get people to give them more than their fair share? Bullying. Capitalism is sociopathic in nature and to be a leading capitalist, one must be a bully.

We see a disproportionate distribution of food in the United States. While people are starving, the capitalist system will report “good numbers” in their economic analyses. It even has determined that a certain percentage of people unable to provide the basics of life for themselves is “tolerable.” This is because, we know, deep down, that capitalism has to have losers. We train ourselves to believe in “competition” as an admirable, desirable thing, even though we know that in competitions there are very few winners and lots and lots of losers. Losing a baseball game may not seem like something to be concerned about when it comes to fairness and justice. But, we are inuring ourselves to the pain of the losers in all arenas. We are training ourselves to accept and tolerate that life has losers. We don’t care whether that is fair or just. Capitalism is not about that. Capitalism is about turning us all into sociopaths. When you see the nature of the political discourse happening now, you see sociopathy running rampant.

this profit basis for every transaction we complete with our fellow human beings doesn’t take into consideration whether you are taking more than you need, more than what you represent as a percentage of the people in your society, or if you are depriving others of what they need. it is without any morality. the moral code is “getting more for yourself, or your own people, is good” period. it is codified into capitalist laws, that corporations must do what they can to maximize profits for their shareholders. so, when a health insurance company has shareholders, it is their legal imperative to prioritize taking in more resources than they contribute to society, regardless of what this means to the health or suffering of human beings. it is not a system where the incentive is to provide the best care and do the most to reduce suffering. the incentive is to gather in more resources than you give out.

back to our room with 10 people and 10 meals. what is fair about demanding that you get 110% of a serving when you are only 100% of a serving? but, in a capitalist system, one isn’t concerned with a fair distribution of food. one is concerned with making a profit. yes, in a room of 10 people, those people might decide to become a clan, knowing there are other rooms of people out there needing the resources of life and that together they might bully that other group better and maybe everyone in the room could make a profit. but, you can’t extend that model very far, because at some point, you have to be getting your profit by causing someone else to take a loss. so, you can’t decide to include all humans in your clan or else you wouldn’t be able to be capitalists any more. if you are concerned with the well being of everyone, you can’t prioritize profit. you have to shift to a different system of transactions and priorities. you have start operating as a collective.

so, I’ve started to discuss right and wrong. I think we could delve more into that.

I don’t think I’ll get to production control tonight.

PS: I’m adding the comment from our Facebook conversation which you suggested I put here:

if we want to honor the sanctity of life, we should never allow a person to starve, be homeless, or die from an illness which we can treat. that is we should honor the basic human right of those who are living to thrive. that includes those whom we feel have committed transgressions. every life deserves every resource we can provide to return to a state of autonomous, interconnected ability to thrive

NY Brit Expat: Fairness and justice are broader than right and wrong to me; the latter are more individual in terms of individual behaviour; fairness and justice seem more global or universal to me … Isn’t that weird; they seem to me to be more like things that I perceive or don’t on a societal level. In that it is how we as people or society should relate to each other. Right and wrong I can view in a social way, but I often view them as individual behaviourally oriented. I wonder why I think this is so? Actions can, of course, be fair and just, as can decisions. But it is to me a social relation between people in a social context that I view it. So, what makes for a just society? That all are treated equally w/o reference to gender or false conceptions such as race, or w/o reference to property ownership or power relations. Does fairness relate to everyone being covered independent of ability, but with all needs covered?

UnaSpenser: I can see that perspective: that fairness and justice are on a societal level. The examples I gave were meant to illustrate that by metaphor. the 10 people in the room represent a whole society. it becomes a state when they decide to be a clan. the transgressor could be an individual with power or a system within the society/state. the other rooms are other societies/states and the decision to work together with some of them are alliances.

I, too, see the quality of relationships as key to the definition of fairness and justice. probably something along the line of a Buddhist notion of right relationships. one key to that is that no one should have power over another. one may acquiesce leadership in a given moment or for a certain experience, but one should never give up having power over one’s self, one’s time, and one’s ability to thrive. if access to food, clothing, shelter, medical care and education are not always accessible, one is forced to give up autonomy in order to acquire those things. this means giving others power over you, because you are coerced into a subservient position simply to meet the basic needs of life. power corrupts. therefore relationships where someone has power over another become corrupted. this corrupts society.

for me, a fair society is one where all have unfettered access to what they need to thrive, without being left in obligation to, or compromised by, others. (I am purposefully saying ‘thrive’ rather than ‘survive.’ Once can survive with a lot of unnecessary suffering inflicted by others.)

A just society is one in which we address any abuses of power or systems which inhibit that fairness and we return everyone to a state of being able to thrive in society.

I’ll have to think more about right and wrong. I don’t tend to think in those terms. will you tell me more about what you mean by right and wrong, please?

NY Brit Expat: I have always viewed right and wrong in terms of a moral relationship between individuals; that is, I behave in a certain way towards another person rather than how a society itself behaves which I think relates to justness and fairness. But societies can then take the individual moral relationship and use it to describe how we must treat each other … this sometimes takes place in the context of laws and rules. But those do not guarantee fairness and justice in a society which depends upon other things to me. So, a society can guarantee that you have a right of property through the use of law and state power, but that right actually ensures injustice and unfairness in that society.

The question of right and wrong seems to be a different thing; but it does relate in a broader sense as we can have morals underpinning our society to ensure justice and fairness; but this becomes very difficult in a system based upon private property and protection of that property being enshrined in a legal system. We can say that it is right that no one should starve and that it is wrong that some people have many things and some have nothing, but implementing this without threatening the property right becomes very difficult if it is treated as a zero sum game (that is a given amount where anything given to one takes away from the other).

– Agreed. Implementing true fairness and justice when so much unfairness and injustice is already in place and has been for centuries is another question, altogether. If you start off with inequities, you can’t just start by saying fairness requires that each transaction is a zero sum game. One has to start accounting for existing imbalances. One must restore balance first. That is, we must apply justice before we can enact fairness. How do restore justice is always the question that people use to stop the conversation about whether they believe we should work towards justice. It’s often the “get out of jail free” card of social responsibility.

Before even trying to figure out how justice could be restored when there is so much inequity in place, we must at least be able to agree on what justice and fairness are and admit that we are not living it. Without these agreements, we have no starting point for any mapping of a journey towards justice. We need to speak the truth about where we are and we need to agree on where we want to go. We need to commit to that mission. Then we can begin to work together to figure out the stepping stones we must place to take the journey. We can’t leap to building stepping stones, if we aren’t all starting in the same place and seeking the same destination. So, I don’t want to get into the itinerary of the journey, yet.

From UnaSpenser and NY Brit Expat: this is the beginning of a conversation. We invite you to think of it as the two people at one end of a table having started a discussion. As we get to talking more and more of you, sitting at the grand table with us are tuning in and listening. Then, you begin to offer your own thoughts and questions……

Anti-Capitalist Meet-Up: Life So Cheap & Property So Sacred by JayRaye

10:12 am in Uncategorized by Anti-Capitalist Meetup

The Real Triangle by John Sloan
The Real Triangle by John Sloan
The New York Call, March 27,1911

January 10, 1910
Jewish Daily Forward

The “Triangle” company…With blood this name will be written in the history of the American workers’ movement, and with feeling will this history recall the names of the strikers of this shop-of the crusaders.

December 28, 1910
City Hall, New York City, NY
Testimony before the New York State Senate and Assembly Joint Investigating Committee
on Corrupt Practices and Insurance Companies Other Than Life Insurance:

Judge M. Linn Bruce, Counsel
Chief Edward F Croker, NYC Fire Department
Bruce: How high can you successfully combat a fire now?
Croker: Not over eighty-five feet.
Bruce: That would be how many stories of an ordinary building?
Croker: About seven.
Bruce: Is this a serious danger?
Croker: I think if you want to go into the so-called workshops which are along Fifth Avenue and west of Broadway and east of Sixth Avenue, twelve, fourteen or fifteen story buildings they call workshops, you will find it very interesting to see the number of people in one of these buildings with absolutely not one fire protection, with out any means of escape in case of fire.

Saturday at about 4:45 PM
March 25, 1911
Triangle Shirtwaist Factory

In 1935, Mary Heaton Vorse recalled that terrible day:

“They’re burning!” “They’re jumping out of the windows!”

Screams of sheer horror came over the wires. I called police headquarters and found out that a shirtwaist factory just off Washington Square was on fire. The girls were trapped, the doors having been locked to prevent their going out for a breath of air. I hurried over to the Square, drawn by the contagion of disaster. I could not get very near; fire lines were drawn. People ahead of me were crying:

“Another’s jumped! Another’s jumped, all on fire!”

Like burning torches, girls jumped into the street….

March 29, 1911
Jewish Daily Forward

This poem by Morris Rosenfeld “Poet Laureate of the slum and the sweatshop,” was printed down the left side of the entire first page:

Now let us light the holy candles
And mark the sorrow
Of Jewish masses in darkness and poverty.
This is our funeral,
These our graves,
Our children,
The beautiful, beautiful flowers destroyed,
Our lovely ones burned,
Their ashes buried under a mountain of caskets.

There will come a time
When your time will end, you golden princes.
Meanwhile,
Let this haunt your consciences:
Let the burning building, our daughters in flame
Be the nightmare that destroys your sleep,
The poison that embitters your lives,
The horror that kills your joy.
And in the midst of celebrations for your children,
May you be struck blind with fear over the
Memory of this red avalanche
Until time erases you.

-translated from the original Yiddish
Entire poem here.

Sunday April 2, 1911
Metropolitan Opera House
New York City, NY

Mary Heaton Vorse remembered the meeting as a mass funeral:

A mass funeral was given for the victims. New York labor filled the Opera House from top to bottom, everyone dressed in mourning for their murdered fellow workers. A tiny girl with flaming red hair, Rose Schneiderman, made the unforgettable funeral speech.

The immigrant workers from the Lower East Side filled the galleries while the wealthy reformers decked out in their high hats, furs, and feathers took their seats in the orchestra, and boxes. The working people were skeptical of any promised civic-reform. Such promises, they knew, were seldom kept. Tensions between the two groups mounted as the meeting progressed and threatened to disrupt the meeting altogether.

Frances Perkins, who was sitting near Rose, described her as a pretty little (4’6″) girl with fiery red hair, and blazing eyes, and noticed that she was trembling as she waited to speak. Rose was there as a speaker for the Women’s Trade Union League. When she began to speak the hall grew silent. Her voice was low and quiet, but her words were heard in the hall, printed in the press and sent out all across the nation:

I would be a traitor to those poor burned bodies, if I were to come here to talk good fellowship. We have tried you good people of the public—and we have found you wanting.

Rose Schneiderman, 1910
Rose Schneiderman, 1910
Source Credit: Kheel Center

The old Inquisition had its rack and its thumbscrews and its instruments of torture with iron teeth. We know what these things are today: the iron teeth are our necessities, the thumbscrews are the high-powered and swift machinery close to which we must work, and the rack is here in the firetrap structures that will destroy us the minute they catch fire.

This is not the first time girls have been burned alive in this city. Every week I must learn of the untimely death of one of my sister workers. Every year thousands of us are maimed. The life of men and women is so cheap and property is so sacred! There are so many of us for one job, it matters little if 140-odd are burned to death.

We have tried you, citizens! We are trying you now and you have a couple of dollars for the sorrowing mothers and brothers and sisters by way of a charity gift. But every time the workers come out in the only way they know to protest against conditions which are unbearable, the strong hand of the law is allowed to press down heavily upon us.

Public officials have only words of warning for us—warning that we must be intensely orderly and must be intensely peaceable, and they have the workhouse just back of all their warnings. The strong hand of the law beats us back when we rise—back into the conditions that make life unbearable.

I can’t talk fellowship to you who are gathered here. Too much blood has been spilled. I know from experience it is up to the working people to save themselves. And the only way is through a strong working-class movement.

Wednesday, April 5, 1911
One hundred thousand mourners
Followed those sad biers.
The streets were filled with people
Weeping bitter tears.
-Ruth Rubin

The day of the mass funeral for the seven unidentified victims of the Triangle Fire was described by the World as a day when “the skies wept [and] rain, ever and again descended in a drenching downpour.” The American fretted:

There was something ominous about the gathering, it was so silent and it was to march through a section of the East Side-the thickly populated foreign districts-where emotions are poignant and demonstrative. The police were plainly worried.

The working people marched from the East Side in silence, dressed in mourning, and carrying their Union banners draped in black. The police need not have worried; the marchers provided their own parade marshals from the Central Federated Union, the Socialist Party, the Bonnaz Embroidery Workers’ Union, and the Women’s Trade Union League.

The American continued:

It was not until the marchers reached Washington Square, and came in sight of the Asch building [the Triangle factory building] that the women gave vent to their sorrow.

It was one long-drawn-out , heart-piercing cry, the mingling of thousands of voices, a sort of human thunder in the elemental storm-a cry that was, perhaps, the most impressive expression of human grief ever heard in this city.

The Twenty-Third Street Ferry took eight hearses across the waters to Brooklyn. The unidentified victims of the Triangle Factory Fire were buried in the Evergreen Cemetery. There were seven graves for the caskets numbered 46, 50, 61, 95, 103, 115, and 127. An eighth grave was for the unnumbered casket containing dismembered body fragments found after the fire and never claimed.

The Aid-Campaign

Many of the grief stricken families were also left without a breadwinner. The City reached out with a massive relief effort. Being one of the few Yiddish speakers in the WTUL, Rose was able to lead relief teams into the East Side tenements. She later remembered:

We went to the East Side to look for our people. Our workers in the Women’s Trade Union League took the volunteers from the Red Cross and together we went to find those who, in this moment of great sorrow, had become oblivious to their own needs.

We found them.

You could find them by the flowers of mourning nailed to the doors of tenements. You could find them by the wailing in the streets of relatives and friends gathered for the funerals. But sometimes you climbed floor after floor up an old tenement, went down the long, dark hall, knocked on the door and after it was opened found them sitting there-a father and his children or an old mother who had lost her daughter-sitting there silent, crushed.

June 30, 1911
Albany, NY

Meetings and resolutions and committees of civic-reformers did produce results for the working women and girls of New York, for on this day the State Legislature created the New York Factory Investigating Commission. There were nine members, among them Robert F. Wagner, Sr, Alfred E. Smith, labor leader Samuel Gompers, and Mary Dreier, President of Women’s Trade Union League. Frances Perkins and Rose Schneiderman were among the corps of inspectors. By the end of 1914, the Commission had produced 36 new laws, marking the beginning of the “golden era in remedial factory legislation.”

March 25, 1961
Washington Place and Greene Street
New York City, NY

As the people of New York City gathered for the Fifty Year Memorial to honor the workers who lost their lives in the Triangle Fire, also on their minds were the twenty-five workers who had died in the Monarch Garment Factory fire just three years earlier. Meanwhile, on the desk of Governor Nelson Rockefeller lay a bill which favored the factory owners and landlords of the City with yet more time to comply with fire and safety regulations.

David Dubinsky, President of the International Ladies Garment Workers Union, gave a speech opposing the delay:

Yes, they need more time. The three years since Monarch is not enough time. The fifty years since Triangle is not enough time,-and the lives that have been lost, the lives of garment workers and firemen, are not enough lives.
We say enough! We say no more Triangles or Monarchs! We say that the toll of life taken by industrial slums must end just as we are wiping out the human cost of residential slums. And we say that it is an outrage in this state that has pioneered so much labor legislation, to have its Industrial Commissioner take a stand that increases rather than cuts down the danger in the shop.
We want a fitting memorial to the martyrs we honor today. No better one can be found than to increase the respect for and the safety of workers. I call on each and every one of you to write today to Governor Rockefeller and to demand that he veto the Albert-Folmer bill. Write to him in Albany, New York. In memory of those who have already been sacrificed to greed – write.

Monday 27 November 2000
The Guardian
Arshad Mahmud in Dhaka

The death of about 50 workers – mainly women and children – in a Bangladesh garment factory on Saturday has refocused attention on the poor working conditions in the industry…
The Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association’s failure to protect the 1.2m workers, mostly women, who form the backbone of the industry, is causing growing anger.
About 300 have died since 1990, mainly in fires. People are asking how many more must die before something is done…
Few factories have an alarm system and the fire extinguishers rarely work. Staircases are invariably narrow, gates remain locked during working hours, and most factories lack emergency exits.
As a result, in an emergency – especially a fire – the workers often find themselves trapped, leading them to join potentially fatal stampedes or jump from the windows.

Nov 30, 2012
ANI
Dhaka, Bangladesh

Calling for better working conditions in the garment industry, protesters in Bangladesh took to the streets of Dhaka after 111 people perished in a factory fire last Saturday. Police watched from a distance as the protesters wearing Muslim white death robes lay down on the pavement in front of the Bangladesh Garments Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BMGEA). The protest was organised by a group called “Magic Movement”.

The brave young woman speaking out at this protest is Sabhnaz Rashid Diya:

This incident has happened before, there were fires before, there were no reports. No proper jurisdiction, no proper um.. there was no law executed through the whole process and the families were not compensated enough. And this has been happening for year after year.

YouTube Video of Protest

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xt5XaQqA_zk

Magic Movement on Facebook

https://www.facebook.com/magic.movement?sk=wall&filter=3

STAND TOGETHER TO RESIST!
The girls and women by their meetings and discussions come to understand and sympathize with each other, and more and more easily they act together. So we must stand together to resist, for we will get what we can take – just that and no more.
-Rose Schneiderman, 1905

Sources:

Jewish Daily Forward
April 3, 1911: “Metropolitan Opera House Packed With Protest Meeting About the Fire
Jacob Schiff and Other Wealthy Individuals Speak — a Few Sharp Comments by a Representative of the Women’s Trade Union League” (translation)

The New York Times (pdf)
April 3, 1911: “Mass Meeting Calls for New Fire Laws”

A Footnote to Folly by Mary Heaton Vorse
NY, 1935

Speech at Memorial Meeting
by David Dubinsky, ILGWU President
Washington Place & Greene Street
New York City, NY, March 25, 1961

The Triangle Fire by Leon Stein
NY, 1962

Women and the American Labor Movement,
From Colonial Times to the Eve of World War I

by Philip S. Foner
NY, 1979

Reading American Art by Marianne Doezema
p. 319
Yale U. Press, 1998

Triangle by David Von Drehle
NY, 2003

For Further Study

The Diary Of a Shirtwaist Striker by Teresa S. Malkiel
-a novel written in 1910 about the Uprising of the 20,00
I cannot recommend it enough! Good for adults and older children.
With introductory essay by Francoise Basch
NY, 1990

There are many online sources available, this is my favorite:

http://www.ilr.cornell.edu/trianglefire/story/introduction.html

All for One by Rose Schneiderman & Lucy Goldthwaite
NY, 1967

Madam Secretary, Frances Perkins by Elisabeth P Myers
MY, 1972

And this excellent photo diary by Kossack, Eddie C
On the 100th Triangle Memorial

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2010/03/26/850933/-Yesterday-s-Memorial-for-the-Triangle-Factory-Fire-Victims

International Solidarity Action Resources

International Labor Rights Forum

http://www.laborrights.org/about-ilrf

International Labor Organization

http://www.ilo.org/global/about-the-ilo/lang–en/index.htm

Worker Rights Consortium

http://www.workersrights.org/

Global March Against Child Labor

http://globalmarch.org/aboutus/who-we-are

International Trade Union Confederation/Child and Forced Labor

http://www.ituc-csi.org/forcedlabour.html

Institute for Global Labor and Human Rights

http://www.globallabourrights.org/

Child Labor Public Education Project
-no longer active, but good source for more links.

http://www.continuetolearn.uiowa.edu/laborctr/child_labor/

This diary is dedicated
To the men, women, and children who lost their lives while trying to make a living
Sewing the garments that clothe the world.
May we continue to fight for social and economic justice
That we might yet make sweet their resting place.
Solidarity,
JayRaye

Mayn Rue-Platz

Anti-Capitalist Meet-up: Three Tales of Three Cities; Karachi, Liverpool and Caracas by NY Brit Expat

2:52 pm in Uncategorized by Anti-Capitalist Meetup

Today’€™s anti-capitalist meet-up is a discussion of three news-stories in three different countries whose purpose is to serve as an illustration of the different types of working class struggles we are seeing. In many senses, they illustrate exactly where different countries are in the struggle for change and how important is the term “€œunite and fight.”€

The first two stories came out on Wednesday, 12th of September. They left me angry and despairing; this was compounded by the BBC abandoning discussion of these two stories on Friday for a whole day of a fit of pique about the Duchess of Cambridge’€™s (Kate, William’€™s wife) breasts being displayed in a French magazine as though that story was of any import following what major stories had preceded it. I honestly do not want to discuss this at all, but the concentration of the BBC television news on the exposure of the royal teats story nearly made me weep in frustration. Perhaps if they spent one-twentieth of the time on this story and others like it, further information about the corruption in the capitalist system leading to the deaths of working people in Pakistan could have been reported on the television or the exposure of the perfidy of the police in South Yorkshire would not have had to wait 23 years.

1. Karachi, Pakistan

karachitextilefire
The deaths of at least 264 people in Karachi at the Ali Enterprise Factory (and 25 in a shoe factory in Lahore) due to two factory fires in unsafe working conditions brought to my mind the pictures of the aftermath of the Triangle shirtwaist factory in NYC in March 1911. There are some pictures that never leave your memory, no matter how hard you try to erase them, this is one that came to my mind:
triangleshirtwaistfactorybodies-1
With windows barred and fire doors locked, people leapt to their deaths from the rooftops. The vast majority of those that died did due to suffocation because they were trapped in the basement of the factory. According to the Labour Start campaign, to make the situation worse in terms of identification of the dead, the factory was illegally established, the workers did not have contracts to sign and hence records of who was at work that day are lacking; some people were actually there only to pick up their pay and hence even if records were there, they wouldn’t be listed necessarily for that day. Finally, identification of badly burned bodies is difficult; as of the 13th, 100 bodies still needed to be identified at the various morgues in hospital in the city (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-19577450). Adding to the problem was the fire services running out of water during the attempt to put the fire out, delay in bringing the Navy fire brigades in and the lack of aerial water spraying.
Read the rest of this entry →

Anti-Capitalist Meetup: We Need an Economic Jesus by bigjacbigjacbigjac

4:04 pm in Uncategorized by Anti-Capitalist Meetup

First of all, I’m an adamant non-believer,
and I’m using the name of Jesus,
the concept of a savior,
as a metaphor,
a metaphor representing
the kind of idea we need,
the idea that could be the savior
of the economy,
the economy of the USA,
and,
potentially,
the economy of the world.

The enemy of humanity
is human nature,
the natural tendency
of some of us
to rape,
rob,
torture,
and kill
others of us.

In order to reduce
the occurrences
of rape,
torture,
and killing,
many people,
for thousands of years,
have figured out,
and written down,
basic principles which,
if faithfully followed by most,
should reduce violence
a great deal.

Two such principles are
those of Hammurabi,
and those of the fictional Jesus.

(I’m convinced the person of Jesus
is a literary device,
used to present many points of philosophy,
with the fictional Jesus presented as simply
wisdom,
personified.

“Jesus said,”
means
“Wisdom says.”)

So,
Hammurabi said,
make the punishment fit the crime,
an eye for and eye,
a tooth for a tooth,
no less,
but no more,
exactly what is fair,
not letting either party have the upper hand.

The fictional Jesus/wisdom said,
do not demand an eye for an eye,
but rather,
if someone takes from you,
freely give more,
and wish them well,
to boot.

If we ask ourselves why
the gospel writers wrote such things,
maybe we can see
that if we demand exact justice,
it usually leads to escalation of the conflict,
because there may be harsh disagreement
on what is exactly fair,
what is equal to what,
in real world application,
in real world conflict.

The fictional Jesus,
I surmise,
is asking us to make certain
we don’t escalate the conflict.

The way the gospel writers suggested
for avoiding escalation of conflict
is to be certain to demand less,
make it a point to be the generous party,
in any conflict.

Many people do this,
and it feels good,
(which is the real reason to do it;
folks are always completely selfish;
it feels good to be the hero,
the generous one.)

Now,
to move on to the topic
of armed robbery.

Here is a link to a short article on mercantilism:

http://www.landandfreedom.org/ushistory/us3.htm

I call mercantilism armed robbery,
because it’s robbery,
taking things by force,
and the mother country in each case
had military people,
with weapons,
to enforce the robbery:
armed robbery.

Here is a link to an article on Adam Smith,
and his book,
and his invisible hand:

http://www.fairfightfilm.org/crf/AdamSmithProduction.pdf

Adam Smith is the Hammurabi of economics.

He suggested that everyone should give each other
exactly what is fair,
no more,
no less,
an eye for an eye,
a tooth for a tooth.

I don’t have extensive research,
just a general impression I get from bits and pieces,
picked up over the years.

My general impression is
that now,
in modern times,
mercantilism is in full swing,
armed robbery still dominates our economy.

Once again,
I call it robbery,
because the rich get richer,
and I call it armed,
because the police,
who are armed,
side with the rich.

Let me explain the charge of robbery,
using the example of the biggest single company on Earth:
Walmart.

I work at a Walmart store,
and even though I have no inside knowledge of the details,
I have the impression that Walmart is cheating,
cheating in such a way that’s completely legal,
no laws broken,
but doing things that seem like cheating,
if you look at the big picture.

No inside information,
just a guess.

Think about the many suppliers,
those many companies Walmart buys goods from.

Many items in the store,
fairly good quality items,
are simply priced about 5% lower
than the same or similar item
at any other store.

Because of this,
the vast majority of working class folks
shop at Walmart.

(It also helps a lot
that most Walmart stores are open 24 hours,
while K-mart and Target
close at 10PM.)

Notice,
Walmart is not robbing money from its customers,
it’s robbing customers from K-Mart and Target.

This is my guess,
and it’s only a guess,
as to how this works,
and why it’s cheating:

I’m guessing that Walmart has cut special deals,
special agreements,
with many of its suppliers.

They have found a way
to prevent those suppliers
from making a similar deal
with any other retailer.

There is simply no way
that any other retailer
can get the special wholesale price
that Walmart gets.

Once again,
I don’t know this for a fact,
but I simply don’t understand any other way
they could have the prices
on nearly every item
so much lower than any other retailer.

Even if it’s not true,
there must be examples of someone in the system,
the capitalist system,
cheating,
and,
by way of their cheating,
practicing some kind of mercantilism,
some kind of armed robbery.

I’m certain of this because,
the only goal of capitalism is profit,
and we turn again to the words of the fictional Jesus/wisdom:
You cannot serve two masters.

With time,
you will gradually come to love one of them,
more and more,
and despise the other.

The two masters in the Bible verse are:

1. Your net worth.

2. Your family, friends, neighbors, customers, etc.

Think about it.

Capitalism demands profit,
so,
the capitalist,
the true capitalist,
will gradually come to love his or her net worth,
or the profits of the company,
more and more,
and all humans less and less,
eventually despising nearly everyone.

This human tendency
is the tendency to commit
armed robbery.

We need an economic Jesus.

We need the idea,
the idea of not demanding fair trade,
to stop people from cheating,
to bring folks back from the brink of armed robbery.

We must,
somehow,
embrace the idea
that we cannot serve the master of profit,
we cannot demand an eye for an eye,
we cannot demand too much work from the workers,
we cannot demand special deals from suppliers,
we cannot push for more and more money,
no matter what.

I don’t have a vision of how this would work.

I don’t naturally go from this to communism,
or anarchism.

I simply suggest
that we look clearly at human nature,
the natural desire of some
to rob,
rape,
torture,
and kill.

Hammurabi took us one step away,
with fair exchange;
‘Jesus’ tells us,
to avoid escalation of conflicts,
do not demand and eye for an eye.

Adam Smith took us one step away
from armed robbery;
we need to turn to an idea,
the idea that will be our savior,
the idea that if capitalists
are allowed to act freely,
they will not conduct fair trade,
the will indulge in mercantilism,
they will indulge in armed robbery.

And,
remember,
it’s armed robbery
because the police are on the side of the capitalists,
and the police are armed.

Thanks for reading.