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(en) US, Labor Day - People’s Historian Howard Zinn* on Occupied Iraq, the Role of Resistance Movements, Government Lies and the Media.

From Worker <a-infos-en@ainfos.ca>
Date Tue, 2 Sep 2003 11:44:15 +0200 (CEST)

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Howard Zinn*, author of the People’s History of the United States, reviews the
history of the abolitionists and the Vietnam War to encourage a new generation
of resistance against the Iraq occupation and the war at home.
Labor Day was established more than a century ago. It was a time of tremendous unrest in
America, Grover Cleveland was president, railroad workers organized by Eugene V. Debs were
leading a nationwide strike against George Pullman. Pressured by the railroad executive,
president Grover Cleveland declared the strike a federal crime and called out 12,000 troops.
U.S. deputy marshals fired on protesters near Chicago. The strike was over, and
Cleveland tried to win the labor vote in his re-election by signing off on a
congressional bill establishing Labor Day.

He was not reelected.

In 1898, Samuel Gompers head of the American federation of
labor called it, "the day for which the toilers in past
centuries looked forward, when their rights and their wrongs
would be discussed. . . that the workers of our day may not
only lay down their tools of labor for a holiday, but upon
which they may touch shoulders in marching phalanx and feel
the stronger for it."

But according to the Encyclopedia of the American left,
Gompers and the A.F.L. elevated Labor Day as the preferred
holiday of the American House of Labor over May Day, he
criticized May Day for its ties to anarchists and socialist

Today we're going to turn first to Howard Zinn. He wrote
"People’s History of The United States." He spoke in August
in Provincetown on Cape Cod. He talks about Iraq, about
labor and the people's history of the United States.

Howard Zinn, historian speaking in Provincetown,
Massachusetts in August.


* ]Ed. Note: Howard Zinn is of the anti-authoritarians of the left]


Mon Sep 1, 2:53 AM ET

The Knights of Labor had their first Labor Day parade in New
York in 1882. Two years later, they formally designated the
first Monday in September as Labor Day. In 1894, Congress
made it a legal federal holiday.

A contemporary Labor Day conjures up images of parades,
department store sales, barbecues and trips to the beach.
But things were rather different when the holiday was
instituted. In the early years, Labor Day was an occasion
for demonstrations against low pay and harsh working
conditions. Often, orators from the Industrial Workers of
the World -- the Wobblies -- would be at the forefront.

The Wobblies were Marxist utopians. They weren't very good
at organizing -- at their peak, they numbered only about
100,000 members. But they wrote some splendid songs. Indeed,
it's fair to argue that their most enduring legacy to the
trade-union movement was their music. One of their most
prolific songwriters was Joel Haggland, a Swedish-born
itinerant laborer who changed his name to Joe Hill after
immigrating to America. One of his most memorable efforts

Pie in the Sky

Long-haired preachers come out every night
Try to tell you what's wrong and what's right
But when asked how 'bout something to eat
They will answer you with voices so sweet:
You will eat, bye and bye
In that glorious land above the sky;
Work and pray, live on hay
You'll get pie in the sky when you die.
The starvation army they play
They sing and they clap and they pray.
Till they get all your coin on the drum
They tell you when you are on the bum;
Working men of all countries unite,
Side by side we for freedom will fight:
When the world and its wealth we have gained
To the grafters we'll sing this refrain:
You will eat, bye and bye,
When you've learned to cook and to fry;
Chop some wood, 'twill do you good,
And you'll eat in the sweet bye and bye.

In 1914, Hill was convicted of murder; his execution by
firing squad the following year prompted protests from
around the land: President Woodrow Wilson was among those
who asked that the execution be stayed. Joe Hill's final
poem, his will, was scribbled shortly before his death:

My Last Will

My will is easy to decide
For there is nothing to divide
My kin don't need to fuss and moan
"Moss does not cling to a rolling stone."

Hill's name became a legend in organized-labor circles -
within a few years of his death, a ballad was written to
honor his memory:

Joe Hill by Alfred Haynes

I dreamed I saw Joe Hill last night,
Alive as you or me, Says I, "But Joe, you're 10 years dead."
"I never died," says he.
"I never died," says he.
"In Salt Lake, Joe," says I to him,
Him standing by my bed,
"They framed you on a murder charge."
Says Joe, "But I ain't dead."
Says Joe, "But I ain't dead."
"The copper bosses killed you, Joe,
"They shot you, Joe," says I.
"Takes more than guns to kill a man,"
Says Joe, "I didn't die."
Says Joe, "I didn't die."
And standing there as big as life
And smiling with his eyes,
Joe says, "What they forgot to kill
"Went on to organize.
"Went on to organize."
"Joe Hill ain't dead," he says to me,
"Joe Hill ain't never died.
"Where working men are out on strike
"Joe Hill is at their side.
"Joe Hill is at their side."

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