Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Postscript: On the Death of Joe Hill

I've been thinking a lot about Joe Hill lately, a man who laid his life down to further the cause of workers and their struggle against Capital.  There's a new biography of Joe, The Man Who Never Died: The Life, Times, and Legacy of Joe Hill, American Labor Icon by William M. Adler that's now at the top of my reading pile.

In the course of poking around the Internet for information about Joe hill, I ran across this, from The Little Review, December, 1915, nestled between a short story, Sister, by Sherwood Anderson and a poem, Images of Life and Death by Maxwell Bodenheim, Margaret C. Anderson, the founder and editor of The Litte Review penned this short eulogy of IWW organizer Joe Hill.  It asks the question I ask myself every day I see a Teabagger whine about "class war."  What's wrong with class warfare? The working poor have nothing to loose.

Toward Revolution

ON Thanksgiving Day some five thousand men and women marched in Joe Hillstrom's funeral. Why didn't they march for Joe Hillstrom before he was shot, everybody is asking.

Yes, naturally. Why not?

Incidentally, why didn't some one shoot the governor of Utah before he could shoot Joe Hill? It might have awakened Capital—and Labor. Or why didn't five hundred of the five thousand get Joe Hill out of jail? It could have been done. Or why didn't fifty of the five thousand make a protest that would set the nation gasping?

There are Schmidt and Caplan. Why doesn't some one see to it that they are released? Labor could do it. And there are the Chicago garment strikers. Why doesn't some one arrange for the beating-up of the police squad? That would make a good beginning. Or set fire to some of the factories, or start a convincing sabotage in the shops?

Why aren't these things done?

For the same reason that men continue to support institutions they no longer believe in; that women continue to live with men they no longer love; that youth continues to submit to age it no longer respects; for the same reason that you are a slave when you want to be free, or a nonentity when you would like to have a personality.

It is a matter of Spirit. Spirit can do anything. It is the only thing in the world that can.

For God's sake, why doesn't some one start the Revolution?
We could use some of this revolutionary zeal today.  Some fire in the belly of the workers that would ignite the nation into changes that would shake the foundations of the financial robber-barons and bring about a new America.

Awwww, fuck it, Dancing with the Stars is on.  We'll have the Revolution tomorrow.  Maybe.  If there's nothing good on TV.  And if Fox News says it's OK.  Maybe.

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