At the intersection of global climate issues and all things monetary, well, it can be difficult to decide which word to italicize anymore:
The U.S.-based crypto exchange Kraken has announced that, despite the layoffs and hiring freezes among its competitors in the ongoing “crypto winter”, they intend to keep hiring aggressively. They also took the opportunity to announce that they “believe bear markets are fantastic at weeding out the applicants chasing hype from the true believers in our mission”, and that they had “taken this opportunity to align our internal culture around a set of shared values”. They also make it clear that anyone who disagree with the changes can GTFO: “In commitment to these values, we also expanded our permanent benefits program to make moving on a bit easier for anyone who feels it’s time for the next chapter in their career.”
That’s from Molly White’s terrific and wonderfully-named website and she’s is no danger of running out of content anytime soon. Because lots of everyones out there think all the other everyones are the suckers, or they’re not sure who is. But whatever, the sucker rule still applies.
And at the same time, it’s more than that. When the last necessary thing was another distraction from the burning and belching, from the fanning, the rising and the storming, everyones are out here convincing themselves to believe in yet another free ride. Yes, it would be great if blockchain ‘tech’ guaranteed that you could trust this invisible money (cf. the italics dilemma). But that’s not how people work. What people do is find the sucker, and adjust for scale, malheureusement.
At least for organized labor, that’s how May Day should have been celebrated this week. But for today, this awesome bit of history from the Rude Pundit on the Paterson Silk Strike Pageant of 1913:
However, employers refused to negotiate with the organized workers, primarily because they were Wobblies. As John Fitch points out, while the employers were against any kind of union, they might have negotiated with the AFL, but because of the reputation of the Wobblies as “hoodlum, radical, un-American unionists,” they would not sit at the bargaining table with the union. Interestingly, the public had a more violent reaction to the IWW than any violence the Wobblies ever committed. In an article unsympathetic to the Wobblies, Fitch cites several cases of such vigilantism. In Lawrence, two Wobbly leaders were charged with a murder they did not commit, while a soldier who openly bayoneted a striking worker was never even arrested. In San Diego, the IWW was banned from speaking on street corners. When the Wobblies kept returning, they engendered open hostility from the citizens who “tortured,” beat, and sent the defiant Wobblies into the desert. The events at Paterson followed much the same pattern: the Paterson Press implored its readers to help rid the town of the IWW “no matter how it is accomplished.” Others called more explicitly for violence, including one Civil War veteran who urged that new cemeteries “be filled with just such people as those who are now making this disturbance — the first graves to be filled with Haywood and his crowd.” Strikebreakers beat and killed Wobblies yet were never arrested. Only strikers were arrested and their leaders, like Quinlan, were brought to trial. Reed was radicalized even more when he was jailed by police for refusing to clear the streets. In jail with Tresca and others, he was impressed by the way the Wobblies kept up their spirits by singing and educating themselves.
The city officials of Paterson tried to get the AFL to come in once again to organize the workers because the larger union would presumably lead the strikers to a more peaceful and more accommodating resolution of the situation. In a meeting that was already filled with a sense of the theatre that would come later, the AFL organizers arrived and attempted to hold a rally in Turner Hall; they hoisted an American flag, an act that was booed by the workers who, in response, all thrust their red union cards into the air.
This theatricality would, of course, lead to the Pageant, which came into being, according to the memoirs of both Mabel Dodge Luhan and Hutchins Hapgood, when, at a gathering at the apartment of his mistress, Haywood complained to Mabel Dodge about the lack of publicity for the strike outside of the immediate area. Dodge suggested, “Why don’t you bring it to New York and show it to the workers?” Haywood liked the idea but had no concept of how to do so until Reed stepped forward and said, “I’ll do it! My name is John Reed. We’ll make a Pageant of the strike! The first in the world!”
If you don’t know the Rude Pundit, well, I say you should get on over there more oftener. And if there are any terms or people in that passage with whom or which you’re unfamiliar, well, don’t complain about me not giving enough homework.
On August 23, 1927, the state of Massachusetts executed two Italian immigrant anarchists by the names of Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti for the murder of two men in a 1920 armed robbery in South Braintree. Although the two men may or may not have been involved in the crime, as Italian anarchists, they were on trial for their beliefs as much as the murder. Despite the lack of concrete evidence and international outrage over the miscarriage of justice, the state of Massachusetts railroaded them into the electric chair.
Sacco and Vanzetti were anarchists, men deeply affected by the terrible labor and social conditions of the early 20th century. Both immigrated from Italy in 1908, though they didn’t meet for nearly a decade. The seeming inability for the capitalist system to treat working people with dignity and respect drove many to desperation. By the 1890s, anarchism was a growing threat in the United States, perhaps most personified by Leon Czoglosz’s assassination of President William McKinley in 1901. Although that and other incidents convinced enough upper and middle-class Anglo-Saxons to enact limited reforms during the Progressive Era, the fundamental conditions of working-class urban life had changed little by 1920.
Sacco and Vanzetti both followed the teachings of Luigi Galleani, an anarchist theorist who advocated violence to overthrow the state. The Galleanists did in fact use violence in the United States. They were believed to be the group behind the bombing of Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer’s home in 1919. Palmer, already cracking down on radicalism with the help of his young eager assistant by the name of J. Edgar Hoover, built upon this incident to intensify the Red Scare, that nation-wide crackdown on radicalism in all forms during and after American entry into World War I.
It was in this atmosphere that men like Sacco and Vanzetti were suspects in murders like that which took place on April 15, 1920, when armed robbers attacked a company payroll, killing two men. Although the evidence was indirect, the police suspected the greater Boston anarchist community, which was suspected in a series of other robberies to fund their activities. The police also discovered that one anarchist, Mario Buda had worked in two shops subjected to similar robberies. Upon questioning, Buda let slip that the local anarchist community had an automobile under repair, leading police to stake out the repair shop. The police convinced the garage owner to notify them when the anarchists arrived to pick up the car. When 4 men did, including Buda, Sacco, and Vanzetti, they sensed a trap and fled, but Sacco and Vanzetti were soon picked up. Both had guns at their homes; Sacco having a loaded .32 Colt similar to that used in the killings.
and that’s a great series on the history of Labor by Loomis. Check it out.
How far removed are we from understanding our society? Sure, it’s easy to demonize labor unions, but what have they actually accomplished?
Perhaps the first nation-wide labor movement in the United States started in 1864, when workers began to agitate for an eight-hour day. This was, in their understanding, a natural outgrowth of the abolition of slavery; a limited work day allowed workers to spend more time with their families, to pursue education, and to enjoy leisure time. In other words, a shorter work day meant freedom. It was not for nothing that in 1866, workers celebrated the Fourth of July by singing “John Brown’s Body” with new lyrics demanding an eight-hour day. Agitating for shorter hours became a broad-based mass movement, and skilled and unskilled workers organized together. The movement would allow no racial, national or even religious divisions. Workers built specific organizations—Eight Hour Leagues—but they also used that momentum to establish new unions and strengthen old ones. That year, the Eight Hour Movement gained its first legislative victory when Illinois passed a law limiting work hours.
The demand for an eight-hour day was about leisure, self-improvement and freedom, but it was also about power. When Eight Hour Leagues agitated for legislation requiring short hours, they were demanding what had never before happened: that the government regulate industry for the advantage of workers. And when workers sought to enforce the eight-hour day without the government—through declaring for themselves, through their unions, under what conditions they would work—they sought something still more radical: control over their own workplaces. It is telling that employers would often counter a demand for shorter hours with an offer of a wage increase. Wage increases could be given (and taken away) by employers without giving up their power; agreeing to shorter hours was, employers knew, the beginning of losing their arbitrary power over their workers.
An intense labor battle is happening in Longview, Washington, but it is not news so pay no attention.
One of the most determined local union struggles in recent times is unfolding on the waterfront at the Port of Longview. The struggle pits members and supporters of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) against EGT, a multinational consortium that built a $200 million grain terminal in Longview, largely with nonunion, out-of-town labor, and now seeks to operate it without employing ILWU members, in violation of its lease.
On July 11, up to 100 members and supporters of Longview’s 202-member ILWU Local 21 were arrested after demonstrators knocked down a chainlink fence and entered the terminal; arrestees included the presidents of ILWU locals in Vancouver and Portland. Then, after midnight on July 14, as many as 600 demonstrators gathered, and about 200 occupied train tracks to block a mile-long Burlington Northern Santa Fe train from delivering grain to the terminal. That prompted the railroad to say it would suspend deliveries while the dispute continued.
ILWU’s cause appears to have widespread support in Longview, a town of 37,000 with an economy centered on manufacturing, forest products, and the port. An initial print run of 800 support placards ran out in three or four days, said Local 21 President Dan Coffman; more are on the way. As many as 250 local businesses are displaying the signs, which read: “We Support the ILWU in the fight for a decent standard of living in our community.” Hundreds more appear in yards and vehicles.
Pickets and placards are the latest front in a four-year local battle with EGT LLC, the multinational consortium; the dispute is also in federal court.
EGT, which stands for Export Grain Terminal, is a joint venture run by the giant agribusiness multinational Bunge in partnership with Japan-based ITOCHU Corporation and South Korea’s STX Pan Ocean Co. Bunge, which reported a $2.4 billion profit for 2010, has a 51 percent controlling interest in the venture.