Skip to main content

View Diary: How progressives talk about July 4 and our national history (170 comments)

Comment Preferences

  •  I wish I could find the speech by (6+ / 0-)

    Elizabeth Gurley Flynn about her love for America. Yes EGF who was imprisoned in fed prison for her beliefs.

    She talked about the working people of this nation and their struggle for unity. Unity was acheived in strikes like at Lawrence where they spoke 23 (maybe more) different languages.

    And Mother Jones often waxed poetic about the American Revolution. She saw it as incomplete, but something to build on.

    Mother Jones
    Trinidad, Colorado
    Sept 16, 1913

    Boys, let Mother tell you one thing. Freedom is not dead, she is only gently resting. She is sleeping quietly waiting only for you to call.

    God spare me the Heart to fight them... I'll fight the Pirates forever. -Mother Jones

    by JayRaye on Thu Jul 04, 2013 at 04:11:14 PM PDT

    •  Let's be clear about two things: (0+ / 0-)

      Elizabeth Gurley Flynn, the martyr Joe Hill's "Rebel Girl," was convicted of being a "Red" in 1951 and sent to prison.  In this respect, she followed many of her fellow Wobs to prison, exile or death for her anti-Capitalist beliefs.

      EGF was, first of all, a Wobbly dedicated to revolution in this country.

      Let's not identify either Elizabeth Gurley Flynn or Mother Jones with the idiotic, ethnocentric, and proto-fascist "love" of 'Murca that permeates the 4th of July.  Yes, they may have loved the workers who happened to live in this geographic space, but they had no love of the government of this country that in their time and ours was a tool of their bitter enemies, the Capitalists.

      Since their time, 'Murca has grown even worse, becoming the most outrageous and arrogant Imperialist power in the world.  Let's not let anyone misunderstand that both the Rebel Girl and Mother Jones would have been vehement and revolutionary opponents of the U. S. as it is currently embodied.

      •  There's a big difference (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        JayRaye, SD Goat, nickrud, Batya the Toon

        between being committed to a national community and "love of government."

        People who love their country and love their fellow Americans can be the harshest critics of their government.

        •  Those who love their fellow Americans... (0+ / 0-)

          can risk their lives to overthrow the current American government.

          That's where Elizabeth Gurley Flynn was at, along with Emma Goldman, Big Bill Haywood, Joe Hill and the rest of the Wobblies.

          •  Where do you get your info? (6+ / 0-)

            I don't know about Emma Goldman, but none of the others ever said anything about overthrowing the American government.

            Being anti-capitalism and working on behalf of the working class is not the same as trying to over throw the government.

            God spare me the Heart to fight them... I'll fight the Pirates forever. -Mother Jones

            by JayRaye on Thu Jul 04, 2013 at 06:04:42 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Agree (7+ / 0-)

              and I think that's true of many of its harshest critics who also happen to be peace loving people who strongly advocate for change within the system, though perhaps radical change, precisely to avoid inevitable violent revolution after the corruption becomes so overwhelming that change from within is no longer possible.  I count myself in that number and I strongly subscribe to this statement by JFK:

              Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.
              John F. Kennedy


              "Justice is a commodity"

              by joanneleon on Thu Jul 04, 2013 at 06:09:16 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  This is disappointing. (0+ / 0-)

                If you want to disagree with the IWW's historical position re: revolution, fine, but don't agree with someone who's completely misinformed about Wobbly views.

                And of course, the Beard shows up to register his authoritative opinion.

                Really.

                In the past few days, I've learned that Mandela was just another incarnation of Gandhi and MLK.  He had no interest in armed revolution.  He never adopted the tactics of Che and asked for support from Mao.

                Now, we're turning Big Bill Haywood and the Rebel Girl into cuddly progressives.

                Next thing you know, the Reuthers will have been handing out daisies to the cops and scabs at Flint.

                Let's take revision further.  The Spanish Anarchists in Catalonia turned back the Fascist coup with a polite, four-abreast march up La Rambla.

            •  The Preamble to the IWW Constitution, (0+ / 0-)

              which dates from the time of EGF--and is still in effect, states:

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

              It is the historic mission of the working class to do away with capitalism.

              Perhaps you can find some way to reconcile these words with the preservation of a Constitution that enshrines the rights of property and wealth to be the ultimate arbiters of "who decides" in the United States.  I don't think the IWW, with its historic prohibition against involvement in electoral politics concedes any kind of validity to the current government.  Instead, its anarcho-syndicalist philosophy looks forward to the day of the "Great Strike" that brings down Capitalism and its servant State to establish a new world.
              •  Ending capitalism is not the same as overthrowing (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Ian Reifowitz

                the government. The constitution does not enshrine property rights, that is written no where. The word capital does not appear anywhere in the constitution. You are confusing bourgeois interpretation with what is actually written. The working class can reinterpret the constitution any time it chooses to.

                you need to go to the IWW web site and read it. It does not prohibit involvement in electoral politics. The union itself does not get involved in politics, but members are free to do as they please and support candidates (or not) as they please. The founders were mostly Socialists, and were very involved in electoral politics. At the time of the founding, Big Bill Haywood was on the NEC of the Socialist Party of America.

                I guess you didn't see the part of the IWW web site that specifically states that they are a union. They are neither political nor anti-political. The web site specifically states that the IWW is not an anarchist organization. It is a Union organized for class struggle along Industrial lines. Members are free to join any church, or political party that they so desire.

                I'm done here because I make a practice of not arguing with people who don't have a clue what they are talking about. You are putting your emotions ahead of the facts. And rewriting history to support your political or anti-political views.

                God spare me the Heart to fight them... I'll fight the Pirates forever. -Mother Jones

                by JayRaye on Thu Jul 04, 2013 at 06:44:09 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  You're the one who needs to read the IWW (0+ / 0-)

                  Constitution and bylaws:

                  Constitution, Article II:

                  No member of the Industrial Workers of the World shall be an officer of a trade or craft union or a political party.

                  We have dual carders in our branch who must avoid being elected as officers of their business unions because of this.  Of course, we have no one interested in being involved in a political party.  One cannot hold any office in a political party, e.g. country treasurer of the Dems in Podunk, Illinois, and be a Wob.
                  Bylaws, Article IV:

                  To the end of promoting industrial unity and securing necessary discipline within the organization, the IWW refuses all alliances, direct and indirect, with any political parties or anti-political sects...

                  This means that the Wobs will not donate a dime to the Democrats or any other political party.

                  If you don't understand what the 'Murcan Constitution is all about, I suggest reading Beard or Zinn.

                  I'm a red-card carrying Wob.  You're the one who's quite confused about who Flynn, Haywood and Hill were and what the IWW is about.

                  It is a revolutionary union, not the AFL-CIO.

              •  Where in the constitution is capitalism? (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Ian Reifowitz, JayRaye

                I don't see it, these days.

                •  Our lovely Founders didn't know who they were yet. (0+ / 0-)

                  They were overwhelmingly nascent Capitalists trying to protect their property from the "mobs," but they lacked self-awareness as to who they were in the historical scheme of things.

                  Read some Madison and Hamilton.  They hated democracy.  The 'Murcan Constitution is a brilliantly anti-democratic document.  If you're brainwashed enough not to see that yet, consider how successful it's been in thwarting change during its existence.

                  Distinguish the Constitution from its first ten Amendment, i.e. the Bill of Rights.  They read like the French Declaration of the Rights of Man.

                  The Constitution was a reactionary document purposely designed to secure the position of the rich against the threat of too much democracy.

                  •  I repeat (2+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    Ian Reifowitz, JayRaye

                    Whatever the men who created it were, where in the US Constitution (which includes its first ten amendments, plus all the rest) is capitalism?

                    It is not there. We could have any kind of economy we chose to have.

                    There is nothing in the US Constitution that keeps us from having the economy of, say, Sweden.

            •  From Big Bill Haywood: (0+ / 0-)
              I as an Industrialist say that industrial unionism is the broadest possible political interpretation of the working-class political power, because by organizing the workers industrially you at once enfranchise the women in the shops, you at once give the black men who are disfranchised politically a voice in the operation of the industries; and the same would extend to every worker. That to my mind is the kind of political action that the working class wants. You must not be content to come to the ballot box on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November, the ballot box erected by the capitalist class, guarded by capitalist henchmen, and deposit your ballot to be counted by black-handed thugs, and say, "That is political action." You must protect your ballot with an organization that will enforce the mandates of your class. I want political action that counts. I want a working class that can hold an election every day if they want to.
              That pretty well describes Big Bill's respect for the current government.
              •  And more from Haywood: (0+ / 0-)
                A strike is an incipient revolution. Many large revolutions have grown out of a small strike.

                Audience Member (commenting) - Well, I heartily believe in the general strike if it is a first step toward the revolution, and I believe in what you intimate, that the workers are damn fools if they don't take what they want, when they can't get it any other way. (Applause.)

                Big Bill Haywood - That is a better speech than I can make. If I didn't think that the general strike was leading on to the great revolution which will emancipate the working class I wouldn't be here. I am with you because I believe that in this little meeting there is a nucleus here that will carry on the work and propagate the seed that will grow into the great revolution that will overthrow the capitalist class.

                •  By definition, a "revolution" seeks to overthrow (0+ / 0-)

                  the existing government.

                  This ain't beanbag.

                  •  Big Bill Haywood was on the NEC of the (2+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    Ian Reifowitz, Eric Nelson

                    Socialist Party of America at the time of the founding of the IWW. The SPA did believe in the overthrow of capitalism, they believed it could be done thru elections combined with union activity.

                    There is nothing in that quote about overthrowing the government violently. Revolutions can be violent, they can also be peaceful.

                    Haywood always counseled peace: "keep your hands in your pockets or your arms folded," was something he always told the strikers.

                    God spare me the Heart to fight them... I'll fight the Pirates forever. -Mother Jones

                    by JayRaye on Thu Jul 04, 2013 at 06:50:56 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  Haywood didn't last in the SPA. (0+ / 0-)

                      They were shocked, shocked I say, at his commitment to direct action.  They kicked his ass out of the SPA.

                      There is no better counter to your uninformed argument that the IWW is "patriotic" while somehow demanding revolution than Big Bill's speech at his kangaroo "Red Scare" trial toward the end of WW I.  Note that this is recounted not in some obscure journal but in Zinn's People's History, something you should read:

                      You ask me why the IWW is not patriotic to the United States.  If you were a bum without a blanket; if you had left your wife and kids when you went went for a job, and had never located them since; if your job had never kept you long enough in a place to qualify you to vote; if you slept in a lousy, sour bunkhouse, and ate food just as rotten as they could give you and get by with it; if deputy sheriffs shot your cooking cans full of holes and spilled your grub on the ground; if your wages were lowered on you when the bosses thought they had you down; if there was one law for Ford, Suhr and Mooney, and another for Harry,; if every person who represented law and order and the nation beat you up, railroaded you to jail, and the good Christian people cheered and told them to go to it, how in hell do you expect a man to be patriotic?

                      This war is business man's war and we don't see why should go out and get shot in order to save the lovely state of affairs that we no enjoy.

                      •  Where did I say the the IWW (as a whole) (2+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        Ian Reifowitz, Eric Nelson

                        was patriotic? Some members were & some weren't. Wesley Everest was, Frank Little wasn't. They both died as IWW Martyrs. You don't seem to realize that that more than a million workers came and went in the IWW. It was a union back then not a cult like it is nowadays.

                        Some members were patriotic, some weren't, some were religious, some weren't. Most of the Paterson Strikers were practicing Catholics. And yet the leaders like Haywood and Flynn were able to work with them because showed respect for them and their beliefs. The IWW Silk Strikers carried American Flags at all of their marches. The Silk Strikers had this slogan:

                        We weave the flag, we march under the flag, but we won't scab under the flag.
                        You are rewriting history and pulling out a few quotes to support the cult like beliefs that, sadly, the IWW has become. It used to be an organization capable of mass action that could lead strikes of 25,000 strikers. Here are the Paterson Strikers marching thru Manhattan on their way to perform in the Pageant. Note the American flags:

                        God spare me the Heart to fight them... I'll fight the Pirates forever. -Mother Jones

                        by JayRaye on Thu Jul 04, 2013 at 08:18:20 PM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  We're not an authoritative institution. (0+ / 0-)

                          Never have been.

                          Unlike the AFL-CIO, we won't send your dues money to support Democrats no matter what your views are.

                          If strikers think it's a good tactic to play the patriotic bullshit and wave the flag, fine.  I hope they know better than to think this government cares about them.

                          On the other hand, we're not going to sell you out to HUAC or McCarthy because you're a Red.  We'll let them ban us as a permissible bargaining agent first.

                          We're still One Big Union with the goal of ending wage slavery.

                          Here's what Big Bill had to say at the founding meeting:

                          Fellow workers...This is the Continental Congress of the working class.  We are here to confederate the workers of this country into a working-class movement that shall have for it purse the emancipation of the working-class from the slave bondage of capitalism...the aim and objective of this organization shall be to put the working0class in possession of the economic power, the mans of life, in control of the machinery of production and distribution, without regard to the capitalist masters.
                          If you want to try and twist that into support for the State arm of Capitalism, you can try.

                          So now you try to shit on today's IWW?  That's fine.  The IWW has never been large.  It has always been like yeast in the dough.  Today, it organizes workers that the business unions don't want to mess with because they will never provide much dues income for headquarters.

                          If you're going to try to be the "voice of labor" on this site, you need to read a little history first.  And I don't mean scrambling around the Web trying to find some justification for what you're already written.

                          And you might become a member of a real labor union, go to meetings, take part in organizing efforts, etc.

                          Sitting at your keyboard and pretending to be a union expert isn't helpful.

                          •  You don't know anything about me why would you (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            Ian Reifowitz

                            assume I've never been in a union or done any organizing? That sort of assumption makes no sense.

                            Now you are becoming just plain uncivil.

                            God spare me the Heart to fight them... I'll fight the Pirates forever. -Mother Jones

                            by JayRaye on Thu Jul 04, 2013 at 09:16:37 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

      •  Um... (4+ / 0-)

        Mother Jones was very patriotic, she even supported WWI, something I disagree with her on. She voiced her patriotism many many times in many different speeches.
        It doesn't sound like you really know her that well. She was a complicated person. You might be surprised to learn that even as a Socialist, she supported some Democratic and even some Republican candidates.

        The IWW was first and foremost a union. United in class struggle, but with many different political differences. From anarchist, to socialist, and even democrats as well as anti-political direct actionist.

        During WWI, some like Frank Little, opposed the war, others like Wesley Everest supported that war and fought in that war. They were both IWW martyrs in the end.

        Mother Jones and EGF would both be opponents of Capitalism now, just as they were then. Mother Jones, for sure, would never say that she opposed the U.S. She was very patriotic. She supported President Wilson during the war, saying that once your country is in a fight, you have to support that fight. Now, I disagree with her on that. But that was her position, we can't take her and mold her into someone else to fit our image of her.

        Elizabeth Gurley Flynn was diplomatic most of the time and able to meet with people of all walks of life without speaking in the strident tones that you are using here. She worked among people in extreme poverty, she worked with priests and ministers, and even met with President Wilson (on behalf of Joe Hill.) Most everyone who met her "fell in love with her," according to Art Shields.

        Mother Jones and EGF were two of the best union organizers that the workers of this country have ever known. And no union organizer will get very far in the union organizing business running around saying that they oppose the US. Criticized government actions, yes. But a blanket statement about opposing the U.S.? Well you just turned off more than half of your potential membership right there and then.

        God spare me the Heart to fight them... I'll fight the Pirates forever. -Mother Jones

        by JayRaye on Thu Jul 04, 2013 at 06:00:20 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  She recanted that position. (0+ / 0-)

          In her autobiography, she railed against WW I, calling it a betrayal of workers and democracy.  She never mentioned any support for Wilson's war, perhaps because she was rightly ashamed.

          Most labor leaders sold out in WW I.  Most sold out to McCarthyism as well.

          The IWW never did.  It was decimated by its opposition to WW I in the "Red Scare" initiated by Wilson.  It was outlawed during the McCarthy period.

          •  Do you know where the Rebel Girl was buried? (0+ / 0-)

            Red Square.  Not Arlington Cemetery.

          •  I have worn out three copies of her (0+ / 0-)

            Autobiography, plz show were she recanted her position. She was against war in a general way. But stated many times that once her country was at war, a patriot should support that war. (I disagree with her on that.) I think you like things simple and can't deal with complexity.

            I have an entire trunkfull of books just on Mother Jones, her speeches, her writings, her letters. Books by people who worked with her and knew her personally. Mother Jones was not a simple person. She was a complicated person living in extremely difficult times where there were no simple answers.

            God spare me the Heart to fight them... I'll fight the Pirates forever. -Mother Jones

            by JayRaye on Thu Jul 04, 2013 at 08:28:58 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  You could just admit you're wrong. (0+ / 0-)

              It's nice that you write your pro-labor diaries, but when you try to turn the Rebel Girl into some flag-waving idiot, you can expect some blowback.

              Mother Jones fucked up in WW I when she abandoned her comrades and jumped behind Wilson's parade.  She admitted as much later, or rather tried to distance herself from her own failure.

              But the Rebel Girl was not in that parade.  Nor was Big Bill.  Nor was Emma.  Nor was Joe Hill.

              And they all paid for it.

              Patriotism is bullshit created to divide the working class.  No one has put it better than Grace Slick:

              I'd rather have my country die for me.

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site