by Paul Buhle & Nicole Schulman (editors) - £19.95 Verso (2005)
paperback ISBN 13: 9781844675258 | ISBN 10: 1844675254
The Industrial Workers of the World - according to its members and devotees the "Greatest Thing On Earth", but according to employers and labor's conservatives a menace to society - is exactly a century old in 2005. How could a movement that in its best years averaged a hundred thousand members have brought together, for a time, the poorest and most downtrodden working people from every race and group, and written some of the most moving and funniest songs mocking the rich exploiters and their willing slaves? Why would American poets, novelists and radicals from John Dos Passos to Noam Chomsky (whose father was a wobbly) continue to invoke "the Wobblies" when the memory of most unions is utterly gone from personal or family recollection? This book looks at the Wobblies in many different ways. But perhaps the most important of these is the vision of plain folk running society for their own benefit - without bosses, without politicians, without a coercive state. But also without hatred or suspicion of "foreigners" or the frequently all-encompassing guilt that because we are rich, someone wants to take our riches away from us. The belief in freedom and internationalism makes the Wobblies just about the most American ideal possible, and got them arrested and sent to prison for long sentences during the First World War. Not really because they told anyone to resist that pointless, brutal war, but because their ideas, their very existence, represented a threat to the big men who wanted war.
"America, contrary to what you might have been led to believe, has a deep indigenous radical tradition. Wobblies! excavates an essential part of American history that has been conveniently overlooked in recent years, and does so with style, great graphics, and no punches pulled."
(Price & availability last checked: March 2018)