Saturday, June 10, 2017

KENNETH REXROTH AND THE IWW, 1920-23


(Taken From Rexroth's "An Autobiographical Novel")
1. THE STORY OF JOHN LOUGHMAN
John Loughman volunteered to go up and talk for the strikers in the Montana copper mines. He got into Butte in the night in somebody's car, spent several days speaking four or five times a day. Anaconda was closed and the sheriffs posse and the company's nobles kept everybody connected with the strike from either entering or leaving. Loughman disguised himself rather superficially as a drummer-he was a hard man to disguise-and went up on the train, accompanied by a body- guard of Seattle and Chicago Wobblies scattered inconspicuously around the car. Two of the biggest got off first with Loughman immediately behind them. Two deputies came from between cars and without a word sandbagged them, and, in the next motion, pulled the porter's stool from under Loughman as he stepped down, and sand-bagged him. He woke up spread-eagled across the door of his cell, his hands and feet handcuffed to the bars and a pair of handcuffs with the chain tight across his throat. The sheriff had wakened him by putting matches between his toes. He said, "I'll fix you so you'll never talk again, you dirty Red bastard," and proceeded to ram a weighted night stick into his mouth until he had broken all but two or three teeth, broken the lower jaw in two places, and smashed the palate into the sinuses. They then stripped all his clothes off and threw him out into the desert. He walked to the nearest ranch house and got a ride back to Butte. None of the doctors in Butte would touch him, but after he had been patched up by a sympathizer, he went back to Chicago where a leading specialist was one of our group and carried a red card. This man did a complete job of restoration, a silver plate inside the roof of his mouth and an extraordinary set of lightweight dentures.
All this took about four months to heal, the strike was still on, and John went back to Anaconda. This time he got ofi the train in the center of eight men with springfield rifles. This was the generation of Wesley Everest, Frank Little and Joe Hill, and it's just an accident that these freinds of mine didn't get it too.
2. AS AN IWW ELECTRICIAN'S HELPER
One day a girl came in when I was alone in the office. She said, "Do you do locksmithing?" and I said, "Sure." She said, "Licensed locksmiths" and I said, "Yes, sure." "Could you change a lot of locks for us? Could you change them so that they all have different keys?'"Yes. Simplest thing in the world." And she said, "You'd have to do this at night. It's a big office building and we want all the keys in the office building changed." I said, "Fine." Dick came in and I told him what the girl wanted and he asked what was the building, and I said, "U. S. Five." He said, "Fellow worker, what have we got?" I looked puzzled and he said, "You know what it is, don't you?" "It's a group of insurance companies." "Yeah, I know, but they're big in this so-called industrial insurance business. They hire stool pigeons. One of the companies made a fortune off the Great Steel Strike. It is that industrial insurance outfit in that building which hired all the stool pigeons within the leadership of the Great Steel Strike, besides all the goons and plug-uglies, and right now they are hiring people on all sides for the coal war down at Centralia."
We went over with our kit that night, and the same girl, who was the secretary of. the manager of the building, let us in and left. The first thing we did was to go to the files of this one company, and there was the dope all right. It didn't take us long to find it. Later, Dick, who was handsome, always had a bottle of liquor in his hip, and was full of blarney, was able to find out from the girl why the locks were being changed. The place was being prowled by another detective agency and by the Department of Justice, which had apparently been unable to get its own trustworthy agents inside. Here was a file of both private and Federal stool pigeons, provocateurs, police agents, labor spies, the business. We got the same two girls, Angela and Liz, and we copied it all night for a week.
However, we were pretty naive in those days. The evidence we uncovered had a good deal to do with the split in the IWW at that time. Several people were quietly forced out of the IWW because of the evidence we uncovered. There were dossiers on agents in Bill Foster's Trade Union Educational League, which had been the ginger group of the Great Steel Strike, and on confidants of Fitzpatrick, the Ieader of that strike and of the Chicago Labor Council-an incorruptible individual and one of the finest men in the American labor movement. There were dossiers on agents in the United Mine Workers, the West Virginia Federation of Miners, the Progressive Miners Union, and the old Western Federation of Miners, intimate friends of Biil Dunne, the newspaperman from Butte, Montana, and leader of the Silver Bow Miners' Federation, who became a prominent Communist journalist and was eventually expelled with Browder. The ordinary trade unions and every conceivable radical sect had their stool pigeons-they were all there. Besides the documents on the employees of the insurance company there was material on every other kind of labor spy. They had to keep track: you couldn't have people going around shooting one another who were on the same side, although that is precisely what happened at Centralia that next year-possibly because parties unknown fouled up the records. They had dossiers on all the Department of Justice people and Pinkerton Detectives and Burns Detectives and all their competitors' employees. It was all there in a battery of filing cases. We could take care of our own and we gave the information to the regular Anarchist groups and to the Socialist Party and to the tradeunions. But what to do about the Workers' (Communist) Party?
Finally Dick said, "Well, I guess it's a workers' party. We'll go and see General Goosey. This was the Ukrainian Red Army general who had succeeded Pepper. He wouldn't see us, so we got hold of William BrossLloyd, the millionaire who was under indictment, having been arrested in the Michigan raids, and his lawyer, and we arranged an interview with Lloyd, the lawyer and General Goosey. Lloyd accused us of being police agents and stormed and raged at us and threw the stuff at us and threw us out of the place. The General sat, fat and impassive, and said nothing. We decided that they must all be employees of the Department of Justice. A few days Iater a woman at whose home I had met the General called me up and said, "Come over. I want to talk to you." She said, "You don't understand the position of the Party. The General can't talk to you about this directly, but we know all these people and we tolerate them. Many of them are double agents, the rest of them we keep track of and use for our own ends." Since the list included a sizable percentage of the leadership of the Communist Party, it was just a little difficult to see who was watching whom. p. 278

Tuesday, May 09, 2017

On Reading THE REACTIONARY MIND

1. On reading "The Reactionary Mind" by Corby Robin.
One interesting thought has to do with the "private life of power". The fear of extending rights to the masses is rooted in the realization that this would upset the personal relationships of power which exist in the family and elsewhere. And this is why political arguments can be so hostile - you are touching a personal nerve of power. Or as Corby puts it "Behind the riot in the street...is the maid talking back to her mistress, the worker disobeying her boss. The Right tried to keep democracy out of both both public and private, fearing one would lead to the other. Or as De Bonald (reactionary thinker) said " to keep the state out of the hands of the people... keep the family out of the hands of the women and children." (This also helps explain the misogyny and emphasis on authoritarian child rearing on the Right)

2. Reactionary Snowflakes – the Inventors of Victimhood (from The Reactionary Mind Corby Robin)

"Far from being an invention of the politically correct, victimhood has been a talking point of the right since Burke decried the mobs treatment of Marie Antionette" The right speaks of loss, ie the loss of skin privilege and male authority etc. p. 58
"All conservatism begins with loss, as Andrew Sullivan rightly notes, which makes conservatism... the party of losers" P. 59 "What is truly bizarre about conservatism; a ruling class resting its claim to power upon its sense of victimhood." P98 "Conservatives thrive on a world filled with mysterious evil and unfathomable hatred where good is always on the defensive." P. 173 MY COMMENT – this helps explain the obsession with communists under the bed, conspiracy theories and relates to its victimhood complex. It also shows the correctness of Lakoff's view that the difference between left and right is value based.

"Making privilege palatable to the masses is a permanent project... but each generation must tailor that project to fit the contour of the times... p100 Social hierarchies persist because everyone but the lowest "enjoys the opportunity to rule and be ruled in turn... each person dominates someone below him in exchange for submitting to someone above..." p225. COMMENT – this helps explain the persistence among the lower classes of racism and misogyny, not to mention the contempt by so many lower class people of welfare victim and the homeless – but there is an essential sado-masochism to this relationship. (Bullied from above, bully those below)


The Right, Ape of the Left (from The Reactionary Mind by Corby Robin)

(paraphrase) Reaction is forced in two directions 1. critique of the old regime 2. absorption of ideas from the left. The Old Regime is criticized for being soft, not its essential hierarchical and authoritarian ideas. P 43
The reactionary starts from this principle. "that some are fit to rule others and then recalibrates that principle in light of democratic change...p 18 "No conservative opposes change as such, or defends order as such. [They] ...defend particular orders, hierarchical... on the assumption... that hierarchy is order." p. 24 Recently David Horowitz (far-right demagogue) urged rightists "to use the language of the left... on behalf of their own agendas. Reactionary populism is "to harness the energy of the mass in order to restore the power of the elites." p.55 There is also a "dialectical synergy of left and right, the progress of the former spurs on the innovation of the latter."

MY COMMENT – Thus, by using and absorbing ideas of the left, a kind of right-wing populism and use of left ideas has been part of reaction from the beginning. We see this with the "King and Country" mobs in the 1790s in opposition to English Radicalism, and the slave owners paeans to "liberty". The right, in time, accepted parliamentary democracy, but began to use it to its own ends. Italy at the time of WW1 had a powerful syndicalist movement – Fascism declared itself "national syndicalist" and adopted the color black of the anarchists. Social democracy was popular in Germany so the fascists there called themselves "National Socialists" and adopted the color red. In the 1960s there was White Power, fascist ape of Black Power. While basic democratic rights such as freedom of speech, press and assembly were always regarded by the far right as examples of modernist decadence, today's fascists pretend to be the guardians of such freedoms and smother their verbiage with the language of rights and identity politics. But the end is always the same – maintaining authoritarian hierarchy, domination and exploitation.

3. Maintaining the Authoritarian Hierarchy (from The Reactionary Mind by Corby Robin)

With the Reactionary, who is a product of Modernity – power is not so much inherited as with feudalism – at least in theory - but is the product of struggle and conflict. The "natural proving ground of superiority" "Liberty as conquest" according to W. G. Sumner (reactionary liberal writer) Burke saw the need for "painful stimulation" for growth to exist. Violence and struggle were needed or as Robin states, "War is life, peace is death." for the reactionary. There is a definite fear of "softness". The true life consisted of competition and conflict or as Burke stated "Curiosity leads to weariness, pleasure to indifference, enjoyment to torpor."

The Right actually believes that the best rule (in the "natural" authoritarian hierarchy) and that real democracy means the destruction of civilization. This allows for the unlikely alliance of the "libertarian" who wishes untrammeled control of their work force with the traditionalist who sees the patriarchs heavy hand in the family. In more recent times, we have an article in the National Review August 24 1957, entitled "The South Must Prevail" which says, "The central question... is whether the White community of the South is entitled to take such measures as necessary to prevail... The sobering answer is Yes. - The White community is so entitled because... it is the advanced race."

COMMENT – What we see is the Right's fundamentally negative view of humanity. But paradoxically they think that the best way to deal with humanity's flawed nature is to put a minority of other flawed creatures in change of them. We also see with the emphasis on struggle and competition in Burke, the precursor of the later Right's doctrine of Social Darwinism. We see how the notion of "the best succeeding" leads implicitly to racism. But that is not all;

Examine the Right's fundamental attributes – authoritarian hierarchy, victimhood, Social Darwinism, racism, sexism, fear of "softness", the absorption of left languagewhat you find is that these are the same essential ingredients that make up fascism. We on the left are sneered at for seeing fascists in every conservative, but at least as far as the reactionary right goes, I don't think we are always that wrong given what we see in THE REACTIONARY MIND.

Mind you there is one omission in the book. and that is the kind of conservatives I grew up with – the "Red Tories" . These were pragmatists who were not against reform, nor the extension of democratic rights. Then the Catholic social doctrine that encouraged the formation of cooperatives and trade unions. Many of these people would become socialists or Liberation Theologists in the 1960s.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Thoughts on Triggering

In reading about BPD and childhood trauma, I came across the concept of "triggering". I understood this concept intellectually, but only recently understood how I too am triggered. Whenever I see, or read about, any abuse, bullying or cruelty, I go into a towering homicidal rage. (Internal raging, sparing friends and family, thankfully) Not that I would act upon that rage, for intellectually I know the perps are themselves "only a pawn in their game" , that bullies were themselves bullied, and the sources of our problems are structural, not personal. (Capitalism authoritarianism, patriarchy, institutionalized racism etc)

Cruelty triggers my subconscious – in a sense "reliving" my abuse as a child. I must emphasize the subconscious nature of this. When, for example, I see a cop beating up a demonstrator I do not consciously see myself as a child being assaulted by a bully, but it brings to the fore immense feelings of injustice and of helplessness. (I am sure that much of my dislike for Trump is because he is an archetypal schoolyard bully) And the rage? When you are a child you are forbidden to express your anger at the cruelty done to you. Authorities, whether parents, teachers or cops, will always make it far worse for you if you react with hostility toward their oppression. Thus, you learn to hold in your emotions, especially anger. But the repressed always returns. As an adult you will be prone to outbreaks of violent anger and not know why.

Will knowing this make you rage less? Sure would be nice. But here's something else I have learned – not from books – but experience. You are never cured. You come to terms with your abuse, you can forgive your abusers, knowing that they were victims as well. Therapy lets you HANDLE your problems and allows you to have a "normal" life. But the pain is always there.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Borderline - A Song About Borderline Personality Disorder

Borderline - The following words and music by Larry Gambone, arrangement, instrumentation and voice by Maurice Soudre.


Thursday, January 07, 2016

Anna Delso

ANNA DELSO - Poet, anarchist, revolutionary and feminist, member; CNT-FAI, Mujeres Libres, French Resistance and the CSN


I met Anna at Librarie Alternative in Montreal in 1988 and was so impressed with this tiny woman with such immense revolutionary spirit. We would converse in French – not knowing any Spanish at the time and her modesty was such I had little idea of her background except for hearing she was in the Mujeres Libres. When she presented me with her book, Trois Cent Hommes et Moi, I found out that she just wasn't a member of Mujeres Libres, but its secretary, and that at age 16! Fleeing Spain after the defeat by Franco, she ended up in a concentration camp.
 
                                             Anna age 66

 Eventually free of the camp, she like so many Spanish revolutionaries, joined the French Resistance. By this time she was all of nineteen. After Liberation she and her partner organized a movement which united the CNT, the UGT, POUM, the Socialists and the Libertarian Movement in a united front against Franco's fascism. Moving to Quebec she was involved as a militant of the CSN in the textile industry. She was also a cancer survivor.  I lost contact with Anna over the years but am pleased to learn that she is still alive - at age 93! See also https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anna_Delso

Friday, November 27, 2015

Anarchism and counter-culture podcast

This is the podcast of the interview I did for the CFRO program, Red Eye a few weeks ago. Discusses the Vancouver counter culture and anarchism as well as my book "No Regrets". See; 

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

UNIVERSAL BASIC INCOME AND DISABILITY

UNIVERSAL BASIC INCOME AND DISABILITY
by H. W. Honeycutt
Discusses the need for a Universal Basic Income (what is also called the Guaranteed Annual Income) in the United States. Special emphasis on how the Universal Basic Income would positively effect people with disabilities.
UNIVERSAL BASIC INCOME AND DISABILITY is available at  amzn.to/1NokwzL  
Quotes from the book:
    While UBI likely would not discourage labor on the whole, turning us into a nation of slugabeds, it would almost certainly allow individuals of all abilities to recognize and embrace different types of non-income generating labor. Labor conditions with UBI would provide a significant change from our current system, which primarily reflects the views of market-ideologues who only see value in labor which generates income.
    We thus need to recognize disability as a much more ingrained feature of human existence, and account for it accordingly, not with a continuance of market discipline for people who, through no fault of their own, cannot generate income. We should instead stabilize the living situations of all Americans via a UBI.
    With UBI, disabled workers would be in a better position to remain selective about when they would chose to work, and the income from any part-time employment would be an addition to, not a reduction of, their UBI benefits. And because UBI puts more power in the hands of workers to negotiate not only wages, but also labor conditions, people with disabilities would experience greater leverage in shaping their work environments; if they experience the unwelcoming





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