Archive for April 2015

May Day Greetings: The Triumph of Labour

April 29, 2015

May Day Greetings –

“The Triumph of Labour. Dedicated To The Wage-Workers of All Countries.”

Morna ONeill-Figure-5 1895

Walter Crane, 1895

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The Jungle: Uncensored Proletarian Literature

April 24, 2015

The Jungle.

I have known about the book for many years. I knew that it was about the meatpacking industry in Chicago in the early 1900’s; the men, women, and children who labored in the industry; and that what was exposed in the book led the federal government to enact the the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906. I also knew that the author was Upton Sinclair, an American writer, author, and Socialist.

While I knew these basic facts about the book, I had never read it. A couple of months ago I decided to do something about that.

So, I went to the local half-price book store to search for a copy of the book. I found several copies, in different editions, of JungleThe Jungle on the shelf, copies sold after they had been read in high school and university literature classes.

One copy of the book stood out to me. The cover design was distinctly different from the other two or three editions. The book was thicker because it contained more chapters than the others. And, it had this note across the bottom of the cover: “The Uncensored Original Edition. Lost For Over 80 Years.”

That note intrigued me, so I purchased the See Sharp Press edition of The Jungle.

I started reading Sinclair’s novel until this week and have just finished the Forward and Introduction. The Introduction, written by Kathleen De Grave, has been amazing. What De Grave revealed about the writing of the book, the initial intent and purpose.of the book, and the editing process the book went through before it was published has proven to be as exciting, educational, and motivating as I expect the book itself to be.

Here are a couple of facts about the book that were noted in the Introduction:

  • In 1904, The Appeal to Reason, a leading Socialist newspaper, commissioned Sinclair to research and write a series of articles about the Chicago meatpacking industry.
  • The book was written in 1905 and submitted to Macmillan press for publication.
  • Macmillan returned the book to Sinclair along with a list of changes they wanted made in it if they were to publish the book. The publishers simply wanted a novel that focused on the horrors of the meatpacking industry in the early 1900’s, not one that would indict the capitalist system for its brutal use and abuse of working men, women, and children for capitalist profit and gain.
  • The “expurgated” version of The Jungle was published in 1906

Regarding the revisions requested by MacMillan, Upton Sinclair later wrote, “They told me that they could not publish it as it stood, and would have to require omissions and alterations that would ruin the book for the purpose for which I had written it.”

“That purpose,” De Grave wrote, “the purpose for which he had written the book, was to argue for workers’ rights and the Socialist vision.”

Sinclair did make omissions and alterations to the book in order to get it published. The result is the emasculated version of the book that is read in high school and university literature classes across our nation and the world.

I am glad that I came across and will be reading a copy of the uncensored version of The Jungle as Sinclair intended it to be read, as a political commentary on the capitalist system in the early Twentieth Century, not just the meatpacking industry of Chicago.

Governor Greg Abbott Of Texas Opposes Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals

April 24, 2015

This evening I received an email from the Texas Organizing Project. It contained the graphic below.

Greg Abbott of Texas, our recently elected governor, is obviously opposed to providing safety, security, and hope to undocumented immigrants who come to Texas seeking a safer and more secure place to live, rear their families, and better their futures.

Abbott and DACA

No Human is Illegal.

DebsSpeak: “I Am In It; I Am Of It; I Am Not Free”

April 22, 2015

In an address to the court during his sentencing to federal prison after having been convicted for “obstructing recruitment” during World War I, Eugene V. Debs said,

“… years ago I recognized my kinship with all living beings, and I made up my mind that I was not one bit better than the meanest on earth. I said then, and I say now, that while there is a lower class, I am in it, and while there is a criminal element I am of it, and while there is a soul in prison, I am not free.”

(Eugene V. Debs, Statement to the Court Upon Being Convicted of Violating the Sedition Act”, September 18, 1918)

DebsSpeak: Canton, Ohio Anti-War Speech

April 14, 2015

On the afternoon of June 16, 1918, Eugene V. Debs delivered what is perhaps the most well-known and famous speech of his labor and political career. The speech was delivered in Canton, Ohio and is known as the Canton, Ohio Anti-War Speech.

For this speech, the federal government charged Debs with “obstructing recruitment” under the provisions of the Espionage Act of 1917. He was found guilty and sentenced to ten years in federal prison.

-Eugene V. Debs-  Canton OH Speech 2

“To speak for labor; to plead the cause of the men and women and children who toil ; to serve the working class, has always been to me a high privilege; a duty of love.”

“I would be ashamed to admit that I had risen from the ranks. When I rise it will be with the ranks, and not from the ranks.”

” … in every age it has been the tyrant, the oppressor and the exploiter who has wrapped himself in the cloak of patriotism, or religion, or both to deceive and overawe the people.”

“Wars throughout history have been waged for conquest and plunder. … The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and all to lose – especially their lives.”

“There is no room in our hearts for hate, except for the system, the social system in which it is possible for one man to amass a stupendous fortune doing nothing, while millions of others suffer and struggle and agonize and die for the bare necessities of existence.”

“You need at this time to know that you are fit for something better than slavery and cannon fodder. You need to know that you were not created to work and produce and impoverish yourself to enrich an idle exploiter. You need to know that you have a mind to improve, a soul to develop, and a manhood to sustain.”

“… the capitalists and their henchmen … know how to exploit, how to gouge; how to rob, and do it with legal sanction. They always proceed legally for the reason that the class which has the power to rob upon a large scale has also the power to control the government and legalize their robbery.”

” … you insist upon voting a capitalist ticket and giving your support to the present wage-slave system. The trouble with you is that you are still in a capitalist state of mind.”

Debs’ sentence was commuted in December  of 1921.

DebsSpeak: Workers Fight the Master’s Wars

April 6, 2015

“Wars throughout history have been waged for conquest and plunder. … The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and all to lose – especially their lives.”

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(Eugene V. Debs, “Canton, Ohio Anti-War Speech”, June 16, 1918)