The Other Side of Life
The other night I was in a room with a few other members of Clydeside Industrial Workersof the World, watching films, uploaded from Youtube about Blair Mountain.
No the mountain isn't the cash Tony Blair has accumulated for himself as a stooge to the U.S. War machine. Blair Mountain is in the Appalachians in West Virginia. In 1921 it was the scene of an armed confrontation between miners wearing red bandanna – nickname “red-necks” - seeking to organise throughout the State, and a reactionary militia mobilised by the authoritarian regime in Logan County. It resulted in the intervention of thousands of federal troops sent in to halt and disarm the biggest clash on U.S. Soil since the Civil War. Years later it was dramatised in the film, Matewan.
On page 3 of Industrial Worker, the story is brought up to date by the battle to preserve the historical site and environment of forests, against current mine companies engaged in devastating open cast mining. A hidden agenda is to physically obliterate any record of the miners struggle which saw 20,000 mobilised to defend and to organise those suffering terrible exploitation and working conditions in company towns.
Looking at such a video brings it home to you just how tough life was back then. In USA, the “land of the free”, the owners regularly turned to “Pinkerton” type agencies to assassinate workers involved in strike action, recruit desperate scabs & evict strikers from “company provided” housing.
There is a wealth of material in the internet now from the IWW and radical union sites, determined not to forget our history. Despite all the knowledge that can be accessed, the authorities prefer the mass of people to stay as passive consumers, lulled into a “social amnesia”, where a diet of pap, glosses over a history based on class violence & subjugation. So many valiant efforts by workers and radicals are wiped from consciousness & memory, as new generations are bombarded with the propaganda of our rulers. In the USA it has a subtle twist, with all the nonsense of religious fundamentalism, a racket by manipulators & money makers to feed off the human need for group solidarity, common cause and to be uplifted “spiritually”.
Jim McFarlane, email@example.com
Some of Glasgow's working class HERE.