1876: Lakota, Cheyenne & Arapahoe defeat General Custer & US Army at Little Big Horn, Montana.
1878: Ezra Heywood sentenced to two years hard labor for advocating free love/sexual emancipation as part of women’s rights.
1893: Haymarket Martyrs’ Monument by Albert Weinert is dedicated. Erected by the Pioneer Aid and Support Association, an organization begun by the anarchist Lucy Parsons, Albert Parsons’ widow.
1894: Eugene Debs & American Railway Union demand boycott of Pullman railway cars during US Pullman strike of 50,000 rail workers.
1903: George Orwell born in Motihari, India.
1905: 1905 Revolution: Łódź insurrection in Poland ends.
1916: Clandestine meeting of the Council general of the militant Unione Sindacale Italiana (USI; anarcho-syndicalist labor union) in Florence, Italy.
1921: In the play R.U.R, Czech author Karel Čapek introduces the word robot. The play is about robots which organize & rebel over work & pay.
1922: Delegates of the first congress in Saint-Etienne, France of the C.G.T.U. (Confédération générale du travail unitaire) align with the Communist International. This decision marks the defeat of the anarcho-syndicalists within its ranks.
1926: In Paris, three Spanish anarchists are arrested, accused of preparing to assassinate Alphonse XII: Ascaso, Durruti and Jover. Louis Lecoin mounts a major protest campaign to prevent their extradition.
1933: James Meredith born in Kosciusko, Mississippi. He is a Civil Rights Movement figure, writer, political adviser and Air Force veteran. In 1962, he became the first African-American student admitted to the segregated University of Mississippi.
1938: United States passes the Wages & Hours Act. The Act bans child labour and sets a 40 hour work week.
1943: Jews in the Częstochowa Ghetto in Poland form the Jewish Fighting Organisation and stage an uprising against the Nazis.
1944: Anarchist-pacifist Eugene Humbert dies, killed in prison during WWII during an Allied bombing raid — the day before he was to be released.
1955: Arrest of Pierre Morain, militant of the F.C.L. (Fédération Communiste Libertaire).
1975: Mozambique wins independence from Portugal.
1978: The Rainbow flag representing Gay Pride was flown for first time in the San Francisco Gay Freedom Day Parade.
1984: Michel Foucault dies in Paris. He was a philosopher, historian of ideas, social theorist, and literary critic.
2001: Protests in Barcelona during World Bank summit.
In history class we learned about the Pullman Strike but never Debs. His name is left out of our textbooks for a reason, just like Big Bill Haywood, Mother Jones, Emma Goldman, and Lucy Parsons. Knowing their names can lead to kids learning about them and their ideas, and they and their ideas remain dangerous.
On Conservative Economics: America As A Company Town
Just like how the racism that led to slavery morphed into Jim Crow laws and morphed again after the Civil Rights Act, conservative economic ideology has done the same. Before FDR’s New Deal, government played a limited role in society. Roosevelt showed not only that the government can help society, but it can do so much better and without the self-serving interests of the private sector. Conservatives have been trying to undo not just FDR’s New Deal, but LBJ’s Great Society and every other government program that helps society. Their mantra is “government isn’t the solution to problems, it is the problem.” They believe the private sector can do anything the government does better and for less money. Never mind the history of the country shows differently, conservative ideology isn’t beholden to facts. When left unchecked, conservatives push policies that undo and disempower the public sector in favor of the private sector. Currently, Kansas under Governor Brownback and a Republican-dominated legislature have put this conservative economic ideology to the test and within a few short years have turned the state into an economic wasteland.
Kansas should be the canary in the conservative coal mine. Anyone with two working neurons and a single moral fiber would look at the results in Kansas and say, “This approach not only doesn’t work, it makes the problems much, much worse.” This is what the lesson from Kansas should be. In reality, the lesson for conservatives, as it always is when their ideas fail, is to say, “The only reason it failed is because it wasn’t CONSERVATIVE ENOUGH! Conservatism doesn’t fail. People fail conservatism.” Don’t try and make sense of this “logic” because none exists. It is like saying, “I got really, really sick drinking this concoction that was promised to bring me vitality. The reason I got sick must be I didn’t drink enough.” The idea that the concoction is the problem and not the solution does not cannot enter their analysis because their view is it is the cure is an accepted, fundamental belief. It is a belief they’ve been spouting for over a century. For conservatives, The Great Depression didn’t happen because of the failures of the private sector, FDR’s policies didn’t help us get out of it, George W. Bush’s policies didn’t lead to the Great Recession, President Obama’s policies didn’t have any impact on getting us out of it… A Mount Everest of evidence-be-damned.
The conservative economic failures of Kansas are going to be promoted from Single-A to the Majors with Republicans controlling the Executive and Legislative branches for at least next two years. The economic policies that turned Kansas into an economic wasteland are going to be given a triple shot of stupidity, zealotry, and scope as they are imposed on a lot more states and the country in general. America is about to be Kansas on steroids. The government programs and services that helped create the largest middle class in the world are about to be severely damaged or outright destroyed. America is about to be turned into a company town.
During the industrial revolution, company towns sprung up around the country usually near factories, plants, and mines. A company town is one where almost all of the businesses, housing, and services are owned by the company. The company controlled every aspect of your life-job, wages, supplies, water, housing… In a few select cases, like Hershey Pennsylvania, these places were model towns. A benevolent owner would create and use the amenities the company town offered to attract workers. Places like Hershey PA were the exception, not the rule. Far too many companies used the monopoly in their town to mistreat and basically enslave their workers. Sometimes companies only paid in company script that was good only in the company-owned business in town. The company could, and did, lower wages and/or raised the cost of goods and housing high forcing workers to go into debt to the company, then they made it so employees could not leave until they paid their debt in full. Children of employees went to the company-owned school and learned only what the company deemed permissible. Company towns in their less than benevolent sense are an example of what happens when the private sector takes over public services. The company benefits, the public suffers.
The privatization of social services and programs is nothing more than the conservative economic morphing of company towns into a modern form. If the private sector controls your health care, your roads, your food safety, your water supply, your education system…then they control you. You’ll take what they feel like giving you and like it because there will be nothing to stop them, nothing to protect you. If the private sector gets a hold of your social security, it can and will be put into risky ventures by people who will benefit whether or not the ventures pan out or flop. Private prisons lobby for more strict laws and sentencing because they help their bottom line. Private heath insurance with no regulations intentionally kicks people off their plans if they look like they might become a liability. Privatizing schools pushes disadvantaged students out, takes money from the states who in turn cuts funding from public schools, leading to even greater disadvantages which leads to workers who are forced to take low-paying jobs with no power. Privatizing the public sector leaves no one to protect the public. When the private sector controls the resources, the laws, and the power over just about every aspect of people’s lives, the result is a company town.
In order to make a company town work for the company and not for the workers, it needs to make sure the employees have few choices, few rights, and no power. Anything that gives the workers power must be eliminated. This is why conservatives are so anti-union and against collective bargaining. These gives some leverage to the workers. In 1894, the Pullman strike occurred because the Pullman company town on the Chicago’s Southside when the company laid off workers and cut wages but kept the cost of housing and services the same. This resulted in Eugene Debs forming a union of many of the unskilled Pullman workers who later went on strike. This strike impacted most of the railway lines west of Detroit. Opposition to the union was formed. Riots and violence broke out. Thirty people were killed. Finally, President Grover Cleveland ordered the Army in to break up the strike which led to more violence. When the strike was broken, Debs was tried and found guilty of violating a court order and sentenced to prison and the union was dissolved. This cycle of abuse, workers organizing, violent opposition, and unions dissolved or made powerless was played out over and over again across the country. It wasn’t until FDR’s New Deal that unions really began to prosper. By 1954 35% of American workers belong to a union. Today it is 11.3% almost exclusively due to conservative efforts and policies to take away the power unions have to represent and bargain for workers. They want people to think that a single individual has power against a company. They don’t and what little power they do have is consistently being taken away by conservative policies.
Conservatives don’t want workers to have any leverage of any kind. Their hatred of the Affordable Care Act is rooted in a lot of conservative ideology, that it gives workers freedom, choices, and leverage is part of this. If your health insurance is tied to your job, then the company controls your health outcomes. If it is difficult to quit or take another job because you will lose your health insurance, then the company has undue influence and control over your choices. If your health insurance coverage is not tied to your job, then you can take a job that doesn’t offer coverage, start your own business, take a part-time job, quit working… because you have access to affordable coverage through the exchanges. Along with not wanting a minimum wage, stripping workers of bargaining rights, and gutting unions, repealing the Affordable Care Act is part of the conservative plan to turn America into a company town.
Conservatives have sold and convinced a lot of their base that wealthy business owners are wealthy and successful because they are better, smarter, and more moral people. Workers don’t deserve leverage because they aren’t smart or good enough. They also don’t need it because the company is being run by a good, moral person who will do what’s best. The entire idea of trickle-down economics rests on this assumption about the nature of the wealthy. If they get massive tax cuts and have more money, they, in their benevolent kindness, will spread this wealth down. Of course, this is complete bullshit and defies all evidence and understanding of human nature. There are some business owners who do this, but they are a rarity. The main reason income inequality has risen so sharply since Reagan and the conservatives pushed trickle-down policies is because the wealthy often not kind, moral people but rather egocentric, hyper-competitive individuals who want more and more no matter how much they have. As wealth has become more concentrated in the hands of a few, so too has power. With conservative efforts and policies limiting workers’ rights, companies have more power and control over their workers. With no way for Democrats to stop conservatives from imposing even more company-friendly policies and taking away even more workers’ rights. Kansas was just the beta test. Conservatives want to turn America into a company town. It’s what they want. It’s what they’ve always wanted.
While conservative politicians are in the process of turning America into a company town, conservative voters are more than willing to play along. How many rural towns are dominated by a single company or sector? How many rural conservatives work in a mine, plant, business that has economic control of the area? How many of them have been more than willing to allow the company to hold their town/area hostage when it comes to paying their share of taxes? How many have become so used to and comfortable with the expectation they and their kids will get a job at the company, they don’t broaden their education? How many of these towns haven’t diversified their economic base relying too heavily on one company? Conservative voters have been more than willing to create the situations where their economic well-being is reliant on a single company. When this company becomes outdated or decides to move, the people who allowed it to dominate their area are left with nothing. When this happens, it isn’t the fault of coastal liberal elites or immigrants or social safety net spending. It is the fault of conservative politicians and conservative voters.
This would be fine if the only people affected were the ones responsible for the situation but they aren’t. Everyone in the area is negatively affected when a company controls the economics that area. Everyone is the state is affected when conservative politicians allow this to happen across a state. Everyone in the country is affected when enough states allow this to happen and right now, this is exactly what is happening and it is about to get a whole lot worse. The Republican-led Congress and the Trump administration are going to do everything they can to privatize as many things as they can, undo regulations that keep companies in check, and turn America into a company town. When this happened in the 1800s, the only thing that stopped it were massive strikes, protests, and a lot of violence. I expect the same this time around.
Tomorrow, you will be taking the APUSH Advanced Placement Exam. Determining on what college you want to go to, at least a three is commonplace. I don’t know about you guys, but my biggest problem is going the length of an entire essay (for example if they want me to talk about Colonial Times through the Revolution, but they just write “1763-1781” I wouldn’t know what to write about). Furthermore, I’m going to list eras, what happening during them in chronological order and a very brief description of what they did. Keep in mind that many eras (such as the 1960’s) are important both in foreign policy and domestic affairs. I will divide them accordingly. The DBQ will not ask for specific years, but it’s better to have a general understanding of the era they are asking you about so you can throw in some “specific evidence” to get that 7-9 essay. This chart is also particularly helpful with the FRQ. Anyway, let’s begin.
For those who think of the “good old days” in America, you should remember EVERY generation sees those “good old days” as different periods and in a different light.
As part of those “good old days” you might want to look into…
Anti-Chinese immigration laws
Mixed race marriage laws
Homosexuality as a mental illness/felony
The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire
Henry Clay Frick
Boss Tweed and Tammany Hall
The Pullman Strike
The Ludlow Massacre
The Memorial Day Massacre
The Homestead Strike
The Haymarket Riot
No unemployment pay
No social security
No food stamps
No health insurance
The Panic of 1873
The Panic of 1893
Native American Boarding Schools
The Spanish Influenza Pandemic of 1919-20
Yellow Fever in New Orleans
Upton Sinclair’s “The Jungle”
The photographs of Jacob Riis
In 1900 18%of all American workers were under the age of 16
Children as young as 3 working in food production
Boys as young as 8 working 10 hour shifts underground in coal mines
Girls as young as 6 working 12 hour shifts in textile mills
No food safety standards
No water safety standards
Women and people of color denied the right to vote
Poorhouses and work farms
No workplace safety
The Great Depression
The Tuskegee Experiment
Jim Crow laws
The Bonus Army
Iroquois Theater Fire
Coconut Grove Fire
And that’s just a bit, and that’s just American. There’s tragedy,corruption, Misery and all the trappings everywhere.
The “good old days ” look better when you’re not going through them. Bad goes with good. You can’t go back
All you can do is try to fix NOW
1878: German anarchist Max Hödel attempted to assassinate Wilhelm I of Prussia to draw attention to plight of workers.
1894: Pullman Strike in Chicago. 4,000 workers go on wildcat strike.
1910: Mexican Revolution: Emiliano Zapata’s army captures Cuautla.
1914: Daniel de Leon dies in New York City. He was a Marxist
theoretician and regarded as the man behind the idea of revolutionary
1926: British General Strike: The TUC led by rail leader JH
Thomas, calls off strike despite growing support & resolve from
1963: A double bombing in Birmingham, probably organized by
the KKK with help from local police, precipitates rioting, police
retaliation, intervention of state troopers, and finally mobilization of
1966: Teamsters union ends 4-week strike that had disrupted transport in Ontario.
1968: “Night of the Barricades” in Paris: Over 20,000
students gather & march for release of arrested students. Police
tear gas them.
1968: 4,500 British Columbia lumber workers end 7-month strike.
1968: Poor People’s Campaign caravan arrives in Washington, DC, demanding economic & human rights for the US poor.
1973: Charges dropped against Daniel Ellsberg for releasing the Pentagon Papers.
1975: More than 80,000 gather in Central Park for a “War is Over” rally marking end of Vietnam War.
1983: General strike in Chile to support textile workers on
strike since 1982. Police attack with tear gas; two die & 600
1995: More than 170 countries extend the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty indefinitely and without conditions.
Sons & Daughters of Liberty (1764): organized in Boston in response to the Stamp Act (1765), which they successfully stopped through mobs/shows of force and printed information. Knights of Labor (1869-1885): admitted anyone who worked for a living; wanted an 8-hour work day and opposed child labor; its membership significantly decreased after the Haymarket Square Riot. American Federation of Labor AFL (1886): led by Samuel Gompers, this union grew as KoL declined; admitted only skilled workers; merged with the CIO in 1955. United Mine Workers of America (1890): its goals were collective bargaining power, freedom from the company store, and better working conditions. Industrial Workers of the World IWW (1905): strove to unite all laborers, including unskilled workers and African Americans; its goal was to create “One Big Union;” embraced the rhetoric of class conflict and endorsed violent tactics; the organization collapsed during WWI. Congress of Industrial Organizations CIO (1932): founded by John Lewis and members of the AFL, this union was somewhat radical and included black workers. American Railway Union (1933): founded by Eugene V. Debs, this union was prosecuted for obstructing mail delivery and organizing to restrict trade, which was illegal under the Sherman Anti-Trust Act, for the Pullman Strikes of 1894, and Cleveland sent troops to stop the strike. Southern Christian Leadership Conference SCLC (1957): civil rights group of both black and white Christians, including MLK, who organized nonviolent, orderly protests. Students for a Democratic Society SDS (1960): founded by Tom Hayden and Al Haber, this group pursued “participatory democracy,” the rights and participation of individuals instead of institutions; founded the New Left; protested the Vietnam War. National Organization for Women NOW (1966): with one of the founders as Betty Friedan, this feminist group pursued equal rights for women in the work place, state support for child care, and legalization of abortion; partially responsible for Title IX. United Farm Workers UFW (1962): led by Cesar Chavez, this union that consisted primarily of Catholic, migrant, Hispanic, farm laborers; successful in improving wages & treatment through nonviolent strikes and organizing consumer boycotts of grapes. Community Service Organization (1940s-1960s): California group that worked to educate and organize poor migrant workers, but did not believe that a union was possible.