John Newsinger

Ethel Mannin: hidden from history

Issue section: 

Ethel Mannin, successful author, activist and fighter for sexual liberation, has truly been hidden from history. She moved in the same circles as George Orwell, CLR James and other radicals in the 1930s, yet few have heard of her today. John Newsinger recounts her fascinating political life story.

Towards the end of the 1930s Frederic Warburg published a number of dissident left wing books, including George Orwell’s Homage to Catalonia, CLR James’s World Revolution, Boris Souvarine’s Stalin and Andre Gide’s Back from the USSR. These anti-Stalinist books are still readily available today.

There is one remarkable volume that he published at the same time, Ethel Mannin’s Women and the Revolution, which has been altogether forgotten, however. Indeed, Mannin has been pretty much written out of the history of the 1930s left.

Henry Ford's dirty history

Issue section: 

Donald Trump’s reluctance to denounce neo-Nazis marching on the streets of the US has shocked many people. But there is a long history of US businessmen flirting with fascism, writes John Newsinger.

Donald Trump is by no means the first US businessman to flirt with the far-right and even fascism. In the 1920s and 1930s many American businessmen looked to fascism as a way to protect their interests.

One particular individual stands out though — Henry Ford. Ford is still celebrated as one of the greatest US businessmen, as someone who transformed modern capitalism.

What is less often acknowledged is that he was also a vicious antisemite. Indeed, far from Ford being influenced by the Nazis, it was very much the other way round.

Hanging is none too good for them'

Issue section: 

Part five of our series looks at the free speech campaigns the Wobblies waged in their efforts to organise agency workers.

The Industrial Workers of the World set about organising migratory workers across the west of the US. In this effort they encountered fierce resistance.

The corrupt and exploitative role played by employment agencies was a particular focus. The Wobblies would have found the role of employment agencies and the working conditions at the likes of Sports Direct in Britain today very familiar.

Every obstacle was put in the way of their campaigns. Street meetings were banned, speakers were arrested and the distribution of literature prevented.

Gurley Flynn will be the boss

Issue section: 

The fourth part of our series on the Wobblies looks at the role of women in the workers’ and socialist movement.

Only 12 of the 200 delegates at the founding convention of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) were women, but they included the African American anarchist and veteran revolutionary Lucy Parsons. In her speech to the convention, Parsons urged all women to read August Bebel’s Marxist account of the position of women, Woman in the Past, Present and Future (first published in 1879).

Solidarity Forever: ‘Driven by rage and desperation’

Issue section: 

The third part of our series on the IWW looks at the victorious battle to unionise steel — an industry dominated by migrant workers.

One of the great historic defeats suffered by the US working class was the crushing of union organisation in the steel industry. The decisive moment was the Homestead strike of July 1892 when the multi-millionaire “philanthropist” Andrew Carnegie declared the plant non-union.

Solidarity forever: 'Undesirable citizens'

Issue section: 

Part two of our series on the Wobblies looks at the bosses' attempt to have Bill Haywood framed and executed.

When the IWW was formed in 1905 the most important constituent was the Western Federation of Miners (WFM). Under the leadership of Bill Haywood and Charles Moyer, the WFM had fought strikes in the West that sometimes assumed the dimensions and characteristics of small wars.

The History Thieves

Issue section: 

Nothing demonstrates the importance of Ian Cobain’s new book better than the secrecy that surrounds British involvement in Saudi Arabia’s war in Yemen today. Not only will we never be told the truth by our masters but the records that could have exposed the truth to the light of day will almost certainly be destroyed to prevent any such eventuality. And this, as Cobain shows, is as it has always been.

Founded on the class struggle

Issue section: 

In a new ten-part column John Newsinger tells the the remarkable story of US revolutionary trade unionists the Industrial Workers of the World, known as the Wobblies

On Tuesday 27 June 1905 Bill Haywood of the Western Federation of Miners called the first and founding convention of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) to order. He told the 200 delegates assembled in Brand’s Hall, Chicago, that they had come together “to confederate the workers of this country into a working class movement that shall have for its purpose the emancipation of the working class”.

The Norman joke

Issue section: 

The death of billionaire landowner and Duke of Westminster George Grosvenor was announced on 10 August. John Newsinger reminds us where the wealth of such parasites came from in the first place.

The sad death of George Cavendish Grosvenor, the 6th Duke of Westminster, has left the nation – or at least Prince Charles – distraught.

He leaves an estimated fortune of £9.35 billion (a billion down since Brexit) upon which the family is expected to pay absolutely minimal death duties. One could almost say that the British tax system seems to have been designed around the principle of rich toffs like Grosvenor having to pay as little as possible whether alive or dead.


Subscribe to RSS - John Newsinger