Part eight of our history of the Wobblies celebrates the great contribution of radical songwriter Joe Hill.
Song played a vital part in the struggles and campaigns of the IWW. On the picket line, at meetings, during the free speech campaigns, around campfires and in prison cells, the Wobblies sang their defiance.
In 1908 James Wilson reported from Spokane that the local Wobblies had been livening up their agitational meetings with “a few songs by some of the fellow workers”. He went on, “It is really surprising how soon a crowd will form in the street to hear a song in the interest of the working class.”
Trotsky wrote Lessons of October in 1923, a time when the victory of the 1917 Russian Revolution had begun to feel distant; the revolutionary tide across Europe, crucially in Germany, had begun to fade; and in Russia, although most forms of soviet and party democracy remained, the bureaucracy headed by Zinoviev, Kamenev and Stalin was the dominant power.
Three recent arguments over cultural representations of anti-racist struggle expose a willingness to distort or ignore real historical events in order to fit with current ideas, writes Ken Olende.
The Metropolitan Police brutally attack a peaceful anti-racist demonstration in a key early scene from the new TV drama Guerrilla. It is 1971 and the police violence recalls two real incidents — the demonstration against police harassment that led to the arrest of the Mangrove Nine, and the later death of anti-racist activist Blair Peach.
Donald Trump’s “America First” is fanning trade wars across the Atlantic and Pacific, a confrontation with China over North Korea, and hot wars in the Middle East and Afghanistan. The complex conflicts pitting global and regional powers against each other mark a military fault line that has terrifying consequences.
This month marks 40 years since anti-fascists took on the Nazi National Front in multicultural north London. Simon Hester recalls the events running up to the day that became known as the Battle of Wood Green.
On 23 April 1977, St George’s Day, roughly 1,000 supporters of the National Front marched in multicultural Wood Green, north London. Over 2,000 anti-Nazi activists confronted them, in what became known as the Battle of Wood Green.
Nicola Sturgeon has played another blinder and lit a bonfire underneath the cosy Westminster establishment. There will be another independence referendum in Scotland, or at least she will ask that Westminster grants permission for one to take place between the autumn of 2018 and the spring of 2019.
The artist, refugee, political activist and influential creator of “auto-destructive” art, Gustav Metzger, died last month. Noel Halifax recalls his radical contribution to the culture of Britain in the 1960s and 1970s.
Art and artists come in and out of fashion, as does their influence and people’s interpretation of it. In recent years Gustav Metzger, who died in March, has been out of fashion. His heyday was the 1960s and 70s when he was central to the shape and direction of the British art world and ironically created one of the foundations on which the current bloated art scene is based. Ironically, because he was politically opposed to the current art world, hated the art market and all that it stands for.
Part seven of our series on the IWW looks at a victorious strike in Lawrence in 1912 and a defeat in Paterson a year later.
The two most famous strikes led by the Industrial Workers of the World were those in Lawrence, Massachusetts, in 1912, and in Paterson, New Jersey, in 1913. The first of these battles opened the way for IWW organising in the East while the second seemed to close that door.
In part six of our series on the Wobblies, John Newsinger tells how, at a time when lynchings were common, the IWW fought for unity between black and white workers.
One of the great weaknesses of the US labour movement was the way that many white workers fell for the race card and played into the hands of their employers, both North and South.
The concern of many white workers was to keep black workers off the job rather than to build a united movement to fight the bosses and their political representatives.
They stood by while black workers were oppressed, denied the vote, discriminated against and brutalised on a daily basis. The public torture and lynching of black men and women was almost an everyday affair.