Mar 272014
 

 3. “Bennett’s Pets”

aa_news_1930s-Henry_Ford's_Man_BennettAmong the feverishly active workers at the River Rouge Plant, there were always a number of conspicuously idle men. Muscular hulking fellows, with broken noses, cauliflower ears and scarred faces, they sauntered up and down the busy assembly lines, stood beside the doorways to the various shops, and hovered near the gates leading into the plant. They were members of the Service Department’s strong-arm unit. Ford workers called them “Bennett’s pets.”

Continue reading »

Feb 282014
 
HenryFord
Henry Ford (July 30, 1863 – April 7, 1947)
Ford has directly created and distributed more wealth than any other man since the beginning of time. None of his wealth and consequent employment was at the expense of any one or anything.
From “Way to Wealth, an article by Samuel Crowther published in the Saturday Evening Post on May 17, 1930.
 
Maybe we were endowed by our creator
With certain inalienable rights including
The right to assemble in peace and petition . . ..
Maybe God Almighty wrote it out
We could shoot off our mouths where we pleased  
   and with what and no Thank-yous
But try it at River Rouge with the Ford militia.
Try it if Mister Ford’s opinions are otherwise.
Try it and see where you land with your back broken . . .
            From Land of the Free, by Archibald MacLeish

 

1. Man and Myth

“We’ll never recognize the United Automobile Workers or any other union,” declared Henry Ford after all other leading auto manufacturers had signed contracts with the UAW. “Labor unions are the worst thing that ever struck the earth.”

No other American industrialist had waged so ruthlessly effective a fight as Henry Ford against trade unions; and the passage of the Wagner Labor Act had by no means diminished his determination to see that his employees remained unorganized. Ford had long regarded himself as above the laws of the land.

In the three and a half decades that had elapsed since Ford first experimented in an empty stable in Detroit with a strange looking contraption resembling a large perambulator with a motor in the back, the once obscure mechanic had become one of the richest and most powerful men in the world.

Continue reading »

Feb 022014
 

Huberman_LaborSpy_ModernAge_frontChapter IX 2 Blackguards and Blacklists

“We see no reflection in any way in the employment of detectives,” an attorney representing the Michigan Manufacturers Association told the members of the Senate Civil Liberties Committee in 1937. “‘Detective’ and ‘spy’ are two names that are used in a derogatory sense, but even a spy has a necessary place in time of war.”

In the war against trade unionism in America, labor espionage had long been regarded by big business as a weapon of vital importance. For more than half a century, secret battalions of professional labor spies, detectives, agents-provocateurs and paid informers had been waging clandestine warfare against the labor movement. But it was not until the advent of the New Deal, and the outmoding of the crude strikebreaking tactics of the Bergoff era, that labor espionage operations reached their peak offensive.

Continue reading »

Jan 262014
 
BergoffBk2

1935: Edward Levinson was the New York Post’s Labour Editor

 Chapter IX 1. Force and Violence

 It is one of our proudest boasts that the American working class has, generally speaking, the highest standard of living of any working class in the world. How did our workingmen achieve this position? Only through struggle, intense struggle against bitter opposition, and especially through the struggle of organized labour. — From a speech by Rockwell Kent, September 1948

Those who call for violence against radicals, strikers and Negroes go scot-free. Not a conviction, not a prosecution in fifteen years . . .. But the reactionaries not only incite violence; they practice it … It is plain . . . that those who defend majority prejudice or property rights may not only advocate but practice violence against their enemies without fear of prosecution. — American Civil Liberties Union Report, 1936

Continue reading »

Jan 242014
 

Chapter VIII 2. First Term

fdr inauguration2

F.D.R. inauguration, January 1933

In his first inaugural address, President Roosevelt had promised action; and action there was, from the start— bold, hectic, intense, electrifying and sometimes confused and confusing action, action on a scale never before witnessed by the American people.

Within his first ten days in office, Roosevelt called Congress into special session, and demanded and received special emergency powers — seventy-five distinct grants of sweeping power— such as no peacetime president had ever had. He decreed a national bank holiday; drafted the National Economy Act; prohibited the export of gold and all dealing in foreign exchange; slashed Federal expenses; asked Congress to legalize beer; reopened the banks; and, as the opening week of his Administration ended, addressed the nation in the first of his famous, informal and warmly intimate Fireside Chats.

Continue reading »

Jan 232014
 
FDR_in_1933

Franklin Delano Roosevelt (1882-1945) in 1933

Chapter VIIINEW DEAL

“A great man is great not because his personal qualities give individual features to great historical events, but because he possesses qualities which make him most capable of serving the great social needs of his time. A great man is precisely a beginner because he sees further than others, and desires things more strongly than others. … he points to the new social needs created by the preceding development of social relationships; he takes the initiative in satisfying these needs.  He is a hero. But he is not a hero in the sense that he can stop, or change, the natural course of things, but in the sense that his activities are the conscious and free expression of this inevitable and unconscious course.”

From George Plekhanov’s essay, The Role of the Individual in History, published in 1898,

“My anchor is democracy— and more democracy.” President Franklin D. Roosevelt August 18, 1937.

Continue reading »

Jan 202014
 

MarchtoWash1

Chapter VII — 3 MARCH ON WASHINGTON

During the second week of May, 1932, two hundred unemployed World War veterans in Portland, Oregon, hastily packed together a few of their meagre belongings and set out on a 3,000-mile trans-continental journey to Washington, D.C. “to petition Congress for the immediate payment of veterans bonuses.” Their departure heralded the beginning of one of the most extraordinary, spontaneous popular demonstrations in American history: the Veterans March on Washington . . .

After two-and-a-half grim years of joblessness and destitution, the smouldering resentment of American ex-servicemen had flared into a nationwide demand that Congress enact legislation providing for immediate payment of funds still due on veterans’ bonus certificates.1

With the scheduled adjournment of Congress only a few weeks away, the veterans began converging on Washington to present their “petition on boots.”

Continue reading »

Jan 192014
 

dresiser1During the second year of the Great Depression, the famous American author, Theodore Dreiser wrote in his [anti-capitalist] book Tragic America [1931):

I had heard much and studied much of present-day living conditions, but I also wanted to see for myself certain definite examples of life under our present economic regime … I visited the western Pennsylvania miners’ zone . . . and there I found unbelievable misery. Miners receiving wages of but $14 to $24 for two weeks’ work . . . Their food was of the poorest; I studied their menus. One of their main foods at that time was a dandelion weed.

I chose to visit Passaic, New Jersey, because I believe it to be a fairly representative small industrial city … A local minister told me of instances of eight and ten persons living in one or two rooms . . . The minister also told me of many cases of unemployment for over a year; in particular he mentioned one woman who, trying to earn a living for her family (the husband out of work) by making artificial flowers at the rate of 15 cents for 24 flowers, could not possibly earn more than 90 cents a day . . .

… on January 3, 193 1, James Golden, aged 50, an unemployed  tin-smith, went into a bakery at 247 Monroe Street, and asked for  something to eat. As Rosenberg, the proprietor, reached for a loaf of bread. Golden fell to the floor and died . . . Then there was John Pitak, 43, of 183 High Avenue, who committed suicide, leaving a wife and three children, because he could not find work . . .

Continue reading »

Jan 132014
 
augustobernardinoleguia

Augusto Bernardino Leguía y Salcedo (1863 – 1932) — Peruvian politician who twice served as President of Peru, from 1908 to 1912 and from 1919 to 1930.

During the first week of April 1927, Juan Leguia, the twenty-one year old son of President Augusto Leguia of Peru, slipped quietly into New York City on a highly confidential mission.

Although young Leguia was considered good newspaper copy because of his periodic mad escapades and international reputation as a polo player, no New York paper mentioned his presence in the city. The son of the Peruvian dictator was travelling incognito, and all other necessary precautions had been taken to avoid the publicity usually attending his movements.

Juan Leguia had come north to conclude a secret multi-million dollar deal with a small group of Wall Street financiers.

Shortly after he had established himself in a luxurious apartment at the Ritz Towers hotel, Leguia conferred privately with representatives of the banking firm of J. W. Seligman & Company. The subject under discussion was the size of a bribe Leguia was to receive for his “personal services” in facilitating a loan by an American banking syndicate to the Government of Peru.

Continue reading »

Jan 112014
 

CoverGrannywebMy Granny Made me an Anarchist: The Christie File: Part 1, 1946-1964. First published by ChristieBooks in 2002 in a limited edition of 100 copies, this fully revised, updated, unabridged eBook (Kindle edition, 2014) is published by Christie(e)Books  —  Check out all Kindle editions of ChristieBooks titles  NOW AVAILABLE ON KINDLE — £2.51/€3.03/$4.00  READ INSIDE!  ¡LEER EL INTERIOR!

UK : £2.51 ; USA : $4.00 ; Germany : €3.03 ; France :  €3.03 ; Spain:  €3.03 ; Italy:  €3.03 ; Japan: ¥ 419 ; India: R249.00 : Canada: CDN$ 4.25 ; Brazil: R$9.51 ; Mexico: $52.43 ; Australia: $4.47

“This fascinating personal account offers a remarkable picture of the late-20th century, seen through sensitive eyes and interpreted by a compassionate, searching soul.” Noam Chomsky

“Stuart Christie’s granny might well disagree, given the chance, but her qualities of honesty and self-respect in a hard life were part of his development from flash Glaswegian teenager — the haircut at 15 is terrific — to the 18-year old who sets off to Spain at the end of the book as part of a plan to assassinate the Spanish dictator Franco. In the meanwhile we get a vivid picture of 1950s and early 1960s Glasgow, its cinemas, coffee bars and dance halls as well as the politics of the city, a politics informed by a whole tradition of Scottish radicalism. Not just Glasgow, because Stuart was all over Scotland living with different parts of his family, and in these chapters of the book there is a lyrical tone to the writing amplified by a sense of history of each different place. When we reach the 1960s we get a flavour of that explosion of working class creativity and talent that marked the time, as well as the real fear of nuclear war and the bold tactics used against nuclear weapons bases. It is through this period of cultural shake-up that Stuart clambers through the obstructive wreckage of labour and Bolshevik politics, and finds a still extant politics of libertarian communism that better fitted the mood of those times. Now, in 2002,it is Stuart who finds himself quoted in an Earth First pamphlet as the new generation of activists for Global Justice by-pass the dead hand of Trotskyist parties and renew the libertarian tradition.” John Barker

Continue reading »