Sunday, September 6, 2009

A Brief History of the Industrial Workers of the World

So, it's Labor Day weekend. At the company where I work, the big bosses have a three day weekend, with Monday off. Meanwhile, the toiling peons in my department have to work on the holiday. Sure, we'll get double time pay, but I'd rather have the day off. It is supposed to be labor day, isn't it?

Even as the government was using the public's fear of communism to validate their oppressive actions; the IWW was experiencing its own internal struggle over communism. Historically, divisions had always existed between Communists and Anarchists, the two main groups comprising the IWW, involving statism and the role of politics in the union. While the two groups had, for the most part, been able to coexist prior to WWI, the combination of a lack of leadership, brought about by the government repression. and the success of the Russian Revolution brought those divisions to the forefront.

In 1920, the IWW suspended the Philadelphia Longshoreman's Local no. 8, one of it's largest and most celebrated branches, over false allegations by a communist rival that they had supplied weapons to anti-Bolshevik forces in Europe. Erosion of membership continued in the early 20's as some members began to leave to join communist organizations. Soon, the remaining communist members began pushing for the IWW to align itself with the Red International of Trade Unions (also called the Profintern), a Soviet created organization of worldwide communist labor unions. Anarchist members, who disagreed with communism's statist approach and the abuses under communist rule in Russia, resisted these efforts. Further defections were caused by increases in criticisms of Soviet leaders and policies being printed in the Industrial Worker and other Wobbly publications.

We Need the Wobblies Now More Than Ever!

Industrial Workers of the World

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