Monday, July 31, 2006

The Great Crash


The Great Crash 1929

John Kenneth Galbraith

By Richard E. Noble




In the introduction to this book Mr. Galbraith states: “But it was plain that an increasing number of persons were coming to the conclusion - the conclusion that is the common denominator of all speculative episodes - that they were predestined by luck, an unbeatable system, divine favor, access to inside information or exceptional financial acumen to become rich without work.”
And then a few pages later he says: “I am a conservative and thus disposed to find antidotes for the suicidal tendencies of the economic system ... The causes of the crash were all in the speculative orgy that preceded it. These speculative episodes have occurred at intervals throughout history, and the length of the interval is perhaps roughly related to the time that it takes for men to forget what happened before. The useful task of the historian is to keep the memory green ... The years following the stock market crash produced a notable outpouring of books, articles, congressional documents, and reports, all exposing Wall Street for what it was ... Moreover, implicit in this hue and cry was the notion that somewhere on Wall Street - possibly at number 23 and possibly on an obscure corridor in one of the high buildings - there was a deus ex machina who somehow engineered the boom and bust. No one was responsible for the Wall Street crash. No one engineered the speculation that preceded it. Both were the product of the free choice and decision of hundreds of thousands of individuals. The latter were not led to the slaughter. They were impelled to it by the seminal lunacy which has always seized people who are seized in turn with the notion that they can become very rich. There were many Wall Streeters who helped to foster this insanity, and some of them will appear among the heroes of these pages. There was none who caused it.”
Well, first of all, just as I find the statement made by Mr. Galbraith that he is a conservative a rather large stretch or maybe oversimplification of the term conservative, I have similar doubts about the overall disclaimer in the above paragraphs.
I will accept the defense that no “one” man was responsible for the stock market crash, which was then followed by a series of catastrophic events culminating in the Great Depression. But at this point in my investigation I will not accept that this economic tragedy was more or less a random act of (human) nature somewhat comparable to a stamped of a herd of ignorant buffalo.
The second point would be in relation to the notion of an organized conspiracy.
I feel that this is more or less a “straw man” argument, an argument that is set up for the sole purpose of being simple enough to be destroyed, understood and accepted by even a grade school mentality. I am surprised to hear such a sophisticated author and economist in Mr. Galbraith’s category use such an obvious misinterpretation of the historical facts. I feel very confident that he knew better in his heart - even at the time that this book was written.
On the other hand in reading many college professors I do realize that much of their interpretation of events will be slanted by their intensive and sometime myopic investigation into their private and personal areas of intellectual interest.
I also realize that the “class” that one associates himself with or was born into will also have an undue bias and prejudice. For example in reading Winston Churchill one is made clearly aware that Winston was not a blue collar worker who got his education via a government subsidy. In all of Winston’s writing no one is left in any anticipation of hearing a tale of how his daddy came home from work one afternoon with coal dust imbedded into the pours of his face and coughing up blood from his lungs and spitting into his handkerchief due to a difficult day at the mine. The reader understands clearly who Winston was and where he was coming from. I would guess that Mr. Galbraith had a similar background and was from some branch of the upper class. I have read several books by Mr. Galbraith and though I have enjoyed them and learned considerable, I find his writing easily distinguishable from that of Tom Paine, Emma Goldman, William Z. Foster or Elizabeth Gurley Flynn - or even Jimmy Breslin.
The notion that the stock market was ever filled with a preponderance of cab drivers and third floor tenement dwellers from the Bronx is ludicrous. Even in its heyday of “common” popularity the vast majority of the money being invested (wagered) came from the class of the “Best and Brightest”.
Even granting that there were “hundreds of thousands” who had invested in the 1929 stock market this is not suggesting that the stock market is or was egalitarian or of a class-less sort. Ninety-nine percent of the money invested in the stock market of 1929 came from the top 20% of the nations populous - or even less.
Just a few short years before this calamity during the Wilson administration the Pujo committee had investigated the web of
American wealth and had come to the conclusion that the vast majority of this country’s wealth was in the hands or under the direct control of possibly a dozen people.
So to give one the impression that the stock market collapsed because of the general greed and avarice of the American people at large is not only a warped view of what was but I think could be considered an obvious falsification - certainly obfuscation.
I am not contending that the stock market was bankrupted intentionally - but it was the typical greed and avarice of the wealthy class that was responsible. The collapse of the stock market was the selfishness of the wealthy exploding in their own faces. And contrary to the historical legacy, most of the high-rollers received only minor bruises and abrasions - many of the biggest and the brightest actually profited from the experience. Mr. Galbraith tells us of this fact in this book.
The bank failure that followed might be construed as being precipitated by the general public - but this failure was due to the nature of the banking system itself and certainly not the “greed and avarice” of the common people - it had more to do with their fear, trepidation and security. Mr. Galbraith attributes this to the lack of public understanding and education and a general lack of knowledge on how banking and money work in a capitalist system and, of course, to a lack of federal safeguards which were later incorporated by the FDIC.
The industrial collapse that then followed can certainly be laid at the feet of the rich and famous - and here one may be able to find the roots of a legitimate class conspiracy.
Milton Freidman places the blame on the Federal Reserve System. He claims that they neglected to fulfill their mandate by refusing to pump more money into the system. Galbraith claims that it was because of the conservative money attitudes of the times and a lack of understanding of the System even by the experts who were running it. But I would say that this lack of the proper action was all a part of the collective intent of the rich and famous. Why would they (the super-wealthy) pump money into a system that they had purposely drained in order to undermine the revolution of the wage-earner class. Whether they knew or they didn’t know the “right” thing to do was not the question. Their intent and purpose was to do the “wrong” thing - and that is exactly what they did. And when Franklin Roosevelt tried to do the “right” thing - they tried everything they knew to undermine his effort - including assassination and armed revolution.
Here once again the word “conspiracy” presents the problem. Did the twelve wealthiest individuals in the U.S. get together in a room or out on a deserted island and devise a plan to bankrupt America? Maybe not - but they certainly could have. And from what I have read so far there is no reason to believe that they wouldn’t have - if it had been necessary.
A case can definitely be made to establish the fact that the moneyed people of America did remove their capital from the United States and invest it elsewhere. As the old saying goes with regards to great minds thinking similarly - the super-wealthy of that era did not need a meeting to make them aware of what was happening around them.
Mr. Galbraith touches on the problem once again in the introduction to this analysis: “The praise of communism had been extracted from a pamphlet of the National Planning Association dealing with problems of postwar Europe. It noted that the Communists had a better reputation for sincerity and determination in attacking old social grievances and that they also had a solution to the problem of petty nationalism by asserting the loyalty to the worker’s state.”
For the last several years I have been making my own personal study of the Labor movement here in the United States and, as a consequence of that inquiry, that same epidemic about the world. I now realize that without an understanding of the Labor movement any individual is at a serious loss in trying to make any sense of the 20th century.
In Chapter 10, “Cause and Consequence” Galbraith says:
“On the whole, the great stock market crash can be much more readily explained than the depression that followed it.”
I certainly agree with this statement.
Mr. Galbraith, like most economist, seems to believe in the god of economics who controls all via a natural (or unnatural) system of inevitable cycles and principles. He is probably considered a liberal because he believes that governments and societies can prepare for these inevitabilities and even take actions to counteract the obvious.
Conservatives on the other hand believe that what is inevitable is inevitable - it can not be avoided; it will not be avoided. Their answer is that it all simply must be endured. The only problem with this philosophy is that it is always the poor that do the enduring while the rich only have to wait. There is a big difference.
My personal feeling is that the Great Depression didn’t just happen but was caused. It was more a matter of politics and class conflict than economic happenstance. The details and consequences were, of course, not thought out - which is the usual and historical case - with economics as well as war.
Overall, I feel that this is the best book that I have read so far about the Crash. I intend to read it again and give it more thought. Although Mr. Galbraith denies my contention right in the introduction, I found page after page of support for my point of view in his explanations on the pages that followed.
Read it for yourself. It is a good book and Mr. Galbraith has the common touch in his writing - unlike a good many other economists. I find it inspiring and encouraging reading an economist and coming away from the experience feeling that I have understood him well enough to disagree with something. That is clearly a step in the right direction - for him and for me.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

George Washington

George Washington

President from 1789-1796

By Richard E. Noble




George Washington, well, well ... no wooden teeth, no cherry tree, and it is even questionable whether he actually won the American Revolution or not. If it weren’t for the French joining in at Yorktown, doubling the size of George’s army and providing a navy off shore, Cornwallis probably would never have surrendered.
George may also have been sterile or impotent. His pear shape and particular ailments may have been indicative of a genetic distortion precipitous of this condition. This may explain his marriage of convenience to Martha - no children of their own; and his overwhelming desire to prove himself a brave, courageous leader.
His argumentative and illiterate mother, Mary Washington, didn’t think much of her little boy. She refused to participate in any ceremony honoring little Georgie, and always claimed of being neglected. To Georgie’s embarrassment she actually asked the Virginia legislature, at the height of the Revolutionary war, to come to her financial aid.
George was himself quite meticulous when it came to watching his pennies. Though he asked for no salary as Revolutionary General or as President, his expense accounts are a topic of a good deal of historical inquiry. There are those who contend that it might have been cheaper to pay him a salary after
Some letters show that he may have had a little thing going with a neighbor’s wife, a Mrs. Sally Fairfax. Of course if he was actually impotent, it would have been ... a very little thing, I’d imagine.
One thing does seem to be certain though. George Washington was a brave and fearless warrior. How smart, bright, or tactical a warrior he was, seems to be another matter. His best tactic seemed to be getting beat, but yet surviving long enough to escape overnight in order to come back again to fight on another day. He does seem to be a pretty lucky guy who led a rather charmed life. His marriage to the chubby, affable little widow Martha, made him just about if not, the richest man in the Colonies.
You could say that he was lucky in marriage, lucky in war, and lucky in business, but the truth is he sought out each in a planned determined way. When he decided to be married, they said that he rode all over the state proposing to any super-rich widow who might have him. In his business he was watchful and meticulous, and in war he was brave, courageous, determined, and if not the smartest, a man who learned well from his mistakes.
His greatest fame comes not from what he did, but from what he didn’t do. He was a military leader who won a revolution and didn’t attempt a permanent takeover of power after his victory. Unlike Cromwell, Napoleon, Lenin or Mao tse tung, Castro and who knows who else throughout history, he walked away from the seat of power, and had to be lured back and even begged to take a second term as a lowly president; never mind King or Caesar, or his Royal Majesty or something.
This may not seem to be much to some but it stands as unique in the annuls of human history. And if he didn’t take the reins for those first few years, it does seem that this Republic - for which it stands - might never have come about.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Paganism

Paganism
By Richard E Noble




Paganism, and its notion, that the universe and the affairs of mankind were controlled by a multitude of equally powerful and sometimes competitive Gods, was the curse of ignorant, superstitious primitive people, I was taught as a young boy. As I read history it seems, as usual, it is the exact opposite that is the truth. In the world of the polytheist just about anybody’s God was O.K. It is in the world of the monotheist that everybody else’s God becomes a problem.
It seems that the Jews were the first to present, in no uncertain terms, this horror story, that there is only one God. It is suspected that Moses picked up the idea while spending some time in Egypt. A guy named Akhenaton, here yesterday - gone today, was really the first serious monotheist. He created quite an uproar in Egypt. Contrary to common knowledge Abraham was not a monotheist. He is alleged to have proclaimed his God as above all other Gods but did not deny the validity of other Gods.
“There is only one true God and that God’s name is Yahweh,” the Jews proclaimed to all of their neighbors, and even to their Roman rulers. The Romans said, that’s fine, let’s put a statue of Yahweh in the Temple next to Jupiter. The Jews then flipped out. They told the Romans that one day a great Jewish general was coming, sent to them by Yahweh, and with this new General’s help they would not only whip Roman butt, but they would run them off the planet earth and into the fires of Hell. (You have to remember when you listen to talk like this, that the Jews, at their root, are really Arabs.)
The Jew spawned the Christians. The Christians had basically the same story as the Jews with a few variations and a couple of twists. The big difference sociologically speaking between the Jews and the Christians was that the Christians allowed even gentiles and even Romans to become Jews. (You have to remember that the Christians at their root are really Jews.) The Jews said that they were the chosen people and that nobody else could become a Jew and that a Jew shouldn’t even marry anyone who wasn’t already a Jew. But the Christian Jews said that anybody could become a Jew so long as they took the right attitude. So to make a long story short the international Christian Jews and their One God, eventually take over the whole Roman Empire, under Constantine. The Christians and their international One True God, Jewish idea end up murdering, torturing, and killing one another for the next thousand years in a manner that makes the Roman Tyrants look like pikers.
During this period the Christians spawn the Muslims. The Muslims have the same basic One God story, and the our god can beat up your god idea; but they change the One True God’s name from Yahweh to Allah. (You have got to remember that Muslims are, at their root, Arab Jews.)
So here we are today and all of the - there is only One True God and his name is whatever people - are still killing one another. They have been killing one another for about two thousand years now. This alone should be proof to any of us that there is not One True God no matter what name you give to him. The Greeks and Romans were obviously closer to the truth and had a much better idea in a whole bunch of, take them or leave them, not entirely true and not entirely false, Gods. With their program you could just pick one that you liked or make one up on your own, and as long as you paid your taxes, bought your permits and licenses nobody knew who was going to Hell or who wasn’t. We could all have our suspicions, and make our guesses but only the Gods knew for sure.
Oh for the simple days of Polytheist Paganism where everybody could be loved by their own God and nobody had to petition for the affections of yours.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Silas Deane

Silas Deane

Silas Deane and Colonial Arms

By Richard E. Noble




Silas Deane was born in Groton, Connecticut. His father was only a blacksmith but he managed to get the boy to Yale where Silas received his law degree. Silas was a very ambitious young man. He married well, not once, but twice. His first bride was a widow and her late husband was a merchant. Silas took over the business. After his first wife died he met and married the granddaughter of a former governor of Connecticut. This must have peeked Silas’s interest in politics. He became a delegate to the first and second Continental Congress.

In 1776 Congress sent Deane to France. He was the first American to represent the American Colonies abroad. He also had a rather clandestine mission. The Americans wanted him to purchase war materials and arms for the upcoming battle. In France, he was secretly hooked up with a playwright, named Beaumarchais and a dummy company called Hortalez and Company. The French were on shaky terms with the British. They wanted no publicity with regards to their helping British Colonies to revolt. The French King was not ready for a war with England at the moment.

Beaumarchais ... “The courtly gentleman of ‘wit and genius’ as Deane called him, sold gunpowder to Americans at a 500 percent markup and sent bills of lading with the shipments indicating these were not gifts. Muskets discarded by the French army and given to Beaumarchais for nothing were passed along to the United States at half their original cost. Robert Morris, another well known Patriot, told Deane before he left Philadelphia ... “If we have but luck in getting the goods safe to America the profits will be sufficient to content us all. Late in 1777 Congress got the bill from Hortalez and Company for 4,500,000 livres. It was authorized by Deane. The Congress decided to call Deane home for a little talk.

Congress, through the year 1778 had been having a little difficulty with scandals of a similar nature. A Dr. William Shippen, head of the medical department, seemed to have a good deal of extra money from his negotiations in hospital supplies. Then there was Thomas Mifflin an army quartermaster-general who had done a little too well at his post. And good old General Nathanael Green was rumored to be making a rather quick fortune. “By late 1778 the American Revolution for many had lost the quality of a crusade. Those who had prospered on wartime contracts now rolled about Philadelphia in gaudy coaches.

While the ragged continental army survived on half rations, slim supplies and often no pay, the city’s rich, many of them friends of Deane, dressed their women in finery and loaded their tables with delicacies. John Adams was worried. He feared that the publicity from all these money scandals and profiteering could result in an actual civil war.

Deane had a couple of other scams going at the time. Deane would use his political connections in France to ship goods without declaring what the cargo was. If the ship would arrive safely, he would declare it private ... his personal goods. If the ship sunk, or the goods were damaged, he would declare it a U.S. government cargo. On top of that he seemed to have a little gambling problem. One of the more interesting gambling casinos of the day were the insurance companies. The insurance companies would insure anything. They would even give you odds on current events. You could “insure” yourself on the possibility of an upcoming war, or who might win or lose the present war. Deane being an “insider” in the political shenanigans going on between France and the Colonies had been doing quite well in many of his “insurance” ventures.

When Deane got back home a big brouhaha erupted. The inspectors asked to see the account books, only to find that Deane had “forgotten” them in Europe. Tom Paine who had proudly taken the position of Secretary for Foreign Affairs to Congress in the American War, at no pay I might add, had privileged information in his files. These privileged files clearly stated that the King of France had donated the bulk of these materials to the Colonial war effort, free of charge. When Tom pointed this out to the investigating committee, he was called a liar. Deane not only called Tom Paine a liar, but he went to the newspapers with his side of the story. Paine demanded an apology from Deane. When Deane refused, Paine went to the newspapers himself. Deane then demanded an apology and a retraction from Paine. Paine proceeded to document his allegation to the committee and the newspapers with information from his privileged files. This mess caused the president of the Congress, Henry Laurens, to resign and the French ambassador, Mister Gerard, to have convulsions. If the King of England found out that the King of France had been supplying arms to the Colonists, the English would attack the French immediately.

Now Mister Gerard entered the committee room and the newspaper columns. He demanded that Paine denounce all such accusation about his beloved France and its proper King. The French government would never, never do such a thing, and certainly not the King. Tom Paine had made this whole thing up. In private, Mister Gerard was not at all upset with Mister Paine. He even offered to put Tom on the French payroll as a propagandist for French causes in the Colonies. In public, though, he was “hot.”

Paine had P.O.ed a number of other people besides Mister Gerard; both Robert and Gouverneur Morris where not happy with Tommy. Gouvernouer Morris was a friend of Deane and Tommy had insinuated that such notables as Robert Morris might actually be in on some of the ill-gotten gain themselves. Needless to say Paine was asked to resign. Paine resigned from the committee, but not as a journalist. He continued to defend himself and attacked publicly several prominent members of the committee who had forced his resignation; Gouvernor Morris, John Penn, William Drayton, and others.
Paine was disgraced and ostracized and Deane went back to France. As Deane bumped about Europe, he was approached by the British to write home to some of his influential friends encouraging the Colonies to capitulate with the British. The British double-crossed Deane and had the letters printed in occupied New York. Immediately Deane became a traitor and Paine, once again a hero. Deane was forced to remain in Europe. He took to alcohol and most likely gambling. He went broke.

Finally, after a number of years, a relative in the Colonies agreed to pay his passage home. He died mysteriously aboard the ship. Some say he committed suicide; others say that he was poisoned. If he was poisoned, it was probably by a guy named Edward Bancroft who is alleged to have been a double agent. Bancroft was an old friend. They were involved in many an “insurance” deal together. Bancroft had done quite well in the espionage game and may not have wanted the publicity that an old, wimpy, soul searching Deane might have engaged in upon returning to his home land. *

* “Paine” David Freeman Hawke. . .Harper & Row
* Ibid
* Ibid
* Three works used in this essay; “After the Fact”, James West Davidson & Mark Hamilton Lytle.... “Paine” David Freeman Hawke... The Oxford History of the American People, Samuel Eliot Morison

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

The Soul of Capitalism

“The Soul of Capitalism”

William Greider

Book Review

By Richard E. Noble
As a practicing freelance philosopher, I always begin with a definition of terms. In “The Soul of Capitalism” my first questions are; What does Mr. Grieder mean by the word “soul” and how does he define Capitalism? We want to be on the same page here.
The sub-title of this book is, “Opening Paths to a Moral Economy”. So I interpret the Soul of Capitalism to be concerned with its fairness - the fairness of the economic system.
We already know from reading “Who Will Tell the People” that the fairness of the Political System has been corrupted and marginalized - to say the least. We also have learned from reading Mr. Greider that the two are impossibly intertwined.
Capitalism, as we all know, has never been much on fairness. Capitalism has always been considered more like Mother Nature - the way it is; not the way it should be. It’s like mathematics. It’s supply vs. demand; it’s guns or butter. Its operation can not be denied or interfered with, without deleterious effects, we are told.
There are many who consider this to be “fair”. If that is the way it is, that’s the way it is. I would guess that there are many who because of the title of this book will not even bother to pick it up. Because, they believe that Capitalism is the way it is and that by its very nature it is soulless - as is a machine or a hurricane.
But in picking up on this discussion Mr. Grieder is continuing an old philosophical discussion among “The Worldly Philosophers” as Mr. Heilbroner refers to them; Ricardo, J. S. Mill, Marx, Veblen, Henry George, St. Simon, Godwin, Smith, Maithus etc.
Economics was once discussed as “Political Economy”. There are those radical fundamentalists today who claim that there should exist a “Separation of State and Economics”. And that only if this separation is maintained will the natural economic evolution of proper events take place. Any interference by government will result in disaster.
Those on the other side of this argument claim that the above theory is impossible to substantiate since 1) no such state or condition has ever existed to substantiate the argument 2) when, in the past, such a condition was approached, collapse and failure were invariably the inevitable results 3) and failure and collapse will always be the case with such a scenario because of the basic fallacies of the fundamental principles of the Free Capitalist dogma - supply vs. demand (even in regard to human beings) and unfettered destructive competition, being the two most obvious.
Mr. Greider on his web site refers to his promotion of this book as; Trying to sell hope in hardback.
I’m sure that I am not going to be the first to inform Mr. Grieder that this book does not fill one with a great deal of hope. On the other hand it is encouraging me to think - ever so slightly - in a more egalitarian and economically positive manner. It is nice to know that there is at least one other human being who is still concerned about these matters. Mr. Grieder tells me that there are many, many more and he provides some of their names and email addresses. I have not entertained such utopian thoughts since my junior college days in the 1960s.
Mr. Grieder does suggest in this book that he hopes that it will inspire the younger generation. I hope so too, because I am well aware that this particular member of the older generation is very difficult to inspire.
But if you are looking for positive, practical and sensible economic ideas - that are currently working and in practice by a few folks right as we speak - Mr. Grieder has pages full of them in this latest book “The Soul of Capitalism”.
My problem is that I have and even deeper cynicism than Mr. Grieder - or Tom Paine or even Karl Marx.
I struggle to believe that the problems of mankind are merely systemic. Sometimes, I think that they are endemic - endemic to all of humankind. I must say that I sometimes believe as did Jesus, Buddha, Confucius, Gandhi and others - that first we must find our own soul and then put the seed of that soul into humankind. If we can do that, almost any system will work.
When I said that to my wife, she said: “Yeah right! Tell that to your buddy Adolf Hitler and his Nazi Germany. I think your philosophy is a good rationalization for not doing anything.
Hummm?
So with my wife’s criticism in mind, I recommend reading Mr. Grieder’s book. At least he is trying to do something and actually doing something is better than philosophizing about the virtuous self-righteousness of doing nothing.
One other thought occurs to me with regards to Capitalism.
When J. S. Mill was analyzing this particular problem in his “A Theory of Political Economy” he said something to this effect:
So if we admit that the fundamental rules of economic dogma can not be denied and that we must conform to them in our attempts at earning money and operating our businesses - competition, supply and demand etc. - well so be it. But after we have conformed to these demands and made our fortunes we are then free to do with our incomes and our wealth as we please - and so too are governments who gain their wealth after the fact. There are no economic rules or dogmatic restrictions on how we must spend our money after we have earned it. We are once again in command and fate is once again in our hands.
This being the case, can we not redistribute or spend this wealth in any manner we choose? Who is to say that now that we have our wealth and have earned it according to the rules, we can not dispense with it in any manner we now choose? We can give it to the poor; we can buy land for the land-less; we can cure the sick; or we can use it to conquer the world; or gamble it away at a Casino or a stock market. At this point we are once again in control of our economics and our economics are not in control of us.
So then if governments and individuals choose to use their economic wealth to compensate for what seem to be the obvious inadequacies of our hard and fast and oftentimes cruel economic system who is to say otherwise?

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Bread and Roses - Bruce Watson

Bruce Watson

Mills, Migrants, and the American Dream

Bread and Roses - 1912

By Richard E. Noble




My discovery of the Bread and Roses Strike of 1912 in Lawrence, Massachusetts has provided me with an extremely interesting source of intellectual and personal insight.
Although I was born in Baltimore, Maryland my life from a few months old to age 27 was spent in Lawrence, Mass. My father and my mother were ex-mill workers - as were their fathers and mothers. My father was from the established English heritage and my mother descended from the later Eastern European migration. She was Polish.
I only worked briefly as did my older brother in a reconstituted worked-over enterprise that rented old mill space after the mills were abandoned by their textile owners. But even though I never worked in a textile mill, those mills played an ominous and hauntingly important part in my life.
The original mills were the reason for being for the city of Lawrence. First God built the mills and then he sent the people to work them. The mills came first and the people came second - and that is the history of the mills of Lawrence - and maybe mill towns all over America. And it is always interesting to me that when it was all over what was left was row upon row of empty red brick pyramids and mile after mile of drained sapped people and landscape. It was like a war zone where the weapon of choice was not explosives but a psychological sort of Neutron bomb.
Fighting for the jobs and positions at the mills basically determined the social status of the populous. From the 1840s to the 1950s the mills were the heart and soul and supplied the bread and the few roses that might have been scattered here and there throughout the city.
From approximately the time of my birth forward the mills were on a steady decline and by the end of World War II the mills had for the most part abandoned Lawrence. Unemployment through the late forties and onward through the fifties rose to over forty percent. That was a number that I had been seeking for quite some time. The 1929 Depression was only 30% unemployment. I knew the situation was serious because my dad was one of that 40%, but as is always the case - even with 40% unemployed, 60% still had a job. That 60% living at the time knew only too well how lucky they were, but their descendents have long since forgotten – or were never even made aware of the hardship of their neighbors. I found that 40% figure in this book by Mr. Watson.
Another question that had perplexed me is why I had never heard of this strike; why I had never seen any monuments in the city parks; why my parents and relatives never spoke of it; why the Nuns in grade school never mentioned such an event even in passing; why the Brothers didn’t teach it in high school; and the bigger question why the history books ignored the American labor movement almost entirely.
I first got interested in this subject matter by discovering, quite by accident, the Bread and Roses Strike. Researching this strike then led me to the labor movement in the U.S. and then in the world.
For me making this discovery was like finding the missing link or the lost piece of the puzzle. I truly feel now that understanding labor history or the history of the labor movement is the Rosetta Stone for interpreting our modern civilization. This is where our modern history begins - and this period in man’s evolution has not come to an end yet. It is the latest episode in a long continuous battle for freedom, dignity and equality.
Mr. Watson explains in his Epilogue that the history of the Lawrence Bread and Roses Strike was suppressed in the area because it had been a brand of shame for the city as a whole throughout the entire U.S. and throughout the world. Lawrence became a poster child for how not to handle a mill strike and how not to treat new immigrants, working women and children in America. The City (establishment) of Lawrence had been disgraced and shamed and they then proceeded to propagandize a “cover” story or a rationalization to hide and cover over what they had done and what had actually happened. And it worked because all that remained for the rest of the century was their version of the event. It is only until recently that the whole truth of the matter has been seeping out.
It seems to me that this is basically the same story with regards to the American Labor Movement. And the truth about it is also beginning to seep out.
Just as the Germans have been the last to admit the horror of the holocaust and the Japanese the last to accept the Rape of Nanking and their other World War II atrocities, America will be the last to admit its persecution of the working class and the working poor. America hates poverty - and it hates to accept or admit the fact of it even more.
America is filled with poverty, slums and industrial blight and it seems that it always has been - but yet most Americans will deny its very existence - and so it goes on and on and on.
Reading this book was more than a history lesson for me. Since I was raised in the area, every street name brought back an old memory; all the family names brought back friends and neighbors; and the stories brought back reason and insight into many personal mysteries.
I really enjoyed this book and I’m happy Mr. Watson wrote it. I will add it to my collection of Lawrence memorabilia and labor union history.
I am left with the desire to read more about Lawrence and I know from other reading that there is a lot more to read. Every open door leads to another door yet to be opened.
Very surprising to me is the discovery that at Cornell University there is actually a school of Industrial and Labor Relations that offers a four year degree in labor studies. It was started in 1945 and is the only college in the United States offering such a degree. I intend to do a good deal of reading and learning at their web site. It should be fun.
Bread and Roses by Bruce Watson is a great read for anyone interested in history in general, and the Labor Movement in particular. This book should be required reading in every high school in the Greater Lawrence area - but I have no doubt that it is not and will not be in the future.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Traffic light in Apalachicola

Traffic light in Apalachicola

My god! Come to a complete stop!

By Richard E. Noble
We measure our lives by traumatic events. I measure my life in Franklin County by three such traumatic events.
The first occurred when George, the Postmaster in Eastpoint, retired. My favorite uncle was a lifetime postal employee. Like George, he knew everybody in town; and like George, he knew them by their first name - but in most other ways George and my favorite uncle differed. George was Country. My uncle and I were city slickers. George talked country, chewed tobacco, and epitomized the Country Colonel, to me. I loved it. I loved living in a small country town as opposed to an industrialized, smoke-stack filled metropolis. I bragged to all my friends about the simple life I lived down here in the Florida Panhandle. When George left, I felt this to be the first trembles of an encroaching civilization. I asked my wife if she wanted to move. I felt that life in Franklin County without George, the country-talkin’, tobacco chewin’, knows-everybody-by-their-first-name, postmaster was hardly worth our efforts anymore.
We decided to stay, nevertheless, and next Percy Mock was gone and Bevin Putnal came a’ knocking at my single-wide, out in the boonies, country palace door. Bevin, the fine gentleman that he is, was running for the County Commission. “You vote for me,” he told me, “and I’ll do my best to get that dirt road out here in front of your place all paved - no more dust, flood-outs and busted rear axles for you.” Well, little did Bevin know but the last thing that I wanted out in front of my single-wide was a paved road. Man, I had been writing back home again to all of my friends about how I lived on a dirt road with a light pole right in my front yard. Sometimes late into the night when I couldn’t sleep or I had had too many beers, I’d go walking in my pajamas - with no shoes on and several of my cats trailing behind - rubbing my naked toes into that soft sand out on my own personal dirt, country road. That was really living, I thought.
When I opened my small business, I once more wrote to my friends telling them of my great opportunity. I would have the unique advantage of opening my business on the corner of two paved roads on a two lane highway going east and west. My friend, who owns a barroom in the metropolis back home, pinned my letter onto his bulletin board. “Rich is going to open his business on the corner of two paved roads,” he announced to all my old city slicker buddies. They thought that was the funniest thing that they had ever heard. Dirt roads and people who lived on them were a part of Fairy Tales and history books, nobody in my hometown of Lawrence, Mass. ever actually saw one.
The County paved my dirt road nonetheless.
I told my wife what a paved road would mean - explaining that paved roads spawn fire-hydrants, fancy houses, speeding automobiles, TAXES, and new fancy-livin’ neighbors, and possibly a shopping mall. We’ve got ‘em all now, exceptin’ the mall - but, I suppose that’s on the way. It makes me heartsick. Civilization, who needs it?
Now, the final shoe has been dropped; the die has been cast; we’ve forded the Rubicon; the boats have all been burned; the white man has arrived - they have a traffic light in Apalachicola; an actual, come to a complete stop - wait for the light to change colors, traffic light in Apalachicola. My god! A Complete Stop - red to green traffic signal light! You mean to tell me these new city slickers don’t know when to stop and when to go? This is even worse than in-and-out signs at the Eastpoint Post office. I actually saw some new guy coming in the out the other day. Can you believe it! This guy drove right in the out. I nearly died.
There was a time when we had people here in Franklin County who would have stood up and fought a red and green come to a complete stop, traffic light in Apalachicola. There is only one thing that it can be, as fur as I kin tell - YANKEES!

Monday, July 17, 2006

Mein Kampf Chapter 5

Mein Kampf Chapter 5

Part I

The Revolution

By Richard E. Noble




In chapter seven, Adolf establishes ‘the stab in the back conspiracy’. Here it becomes fairly clear that Adolf Hitler is a composite from the battle of World War One. Adolf makes his case against all the ‘traitors’ back home.
“… In the height of the summer of 1918, after the southern banks of the Marne had been cleared, the German press, above all, behaved so miserably and clumsily, nay criminally stupidly, that with my daily growing wrath the question arose in my mind whether there was really nobody at all who would put an end to this waste of the army’s spiritual heroism ... In this same way, the lamenting letters from home had long since begun to have an effect. Now it was no longer necessary for the enemy to forward these letters to the front in the form of leaflets, etc. Also nothing was done against this except for some indescribably stupid ‘warnings’ from the ‘side of the government’. Now as before, the front was flooded with this poison, manufactured by thoughtless women at home, without their guessing, however, that this was the means to strengthen enormously the enemy’s belief in his victory, thus prolonging and increasing the sufferings of their own people on the battlefront. The German women’s silly letters in the time that followed cost hundreds of thousands of men their lives...”
What a horrible thing to say. But this immediately gives us scope to Adolf’s attitude; a disgruntled soldier looking for someone to blame. He even finds hatred for the young women back home who were sending their letters of regret and fear for their brothers, sons, husbands, and lovers fighting at the front.
Adolf certainly didn’t like loosing. But once again we have a true human feeling. There are still Vietnam vets here in America who harbor intense hatred for the American press and the folks back home who protested against that ‘conflict’, and ‘stabbed their efforts in the back’. I think that this is only understandable. It would be a sad state for the human condition if soldiers were able to commit themselves to endanger their own well-being, and put themselves in a position to take other human lives without a rational and emotional commitment to their cause. Adolf committed himself gladly to the cause of World War One, which he considered to be the defense and establishment of the German nation and its people. And truthfully, though I haven’t a considerable knowledge on the subject, it doesn’t seem that Germany was any more the ‘cause’ of the war than any other of its European participants. The problem that I see here is not committing one’s self to specifics but to generalities. Committing yourself cart blanche to your ‘nation’ is a moral difficulty for the world and the nations of the world. The notion of defending “the nation” under whatever cause, is or was a part of the problem with World War Two Germany, and leaves no quarter to the ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ of whatever is going on.
What about when the cause of your nation is in conflict with your personal morality? What, for example, if you didn’t consider the ‘Jew’ to be the scum of the earth and an enemy in general to mankind, yet you were ordered to kill them? Do you perform your patriotic duty, or do you resist? Is there an acceptable line for personal conscience even in time of war?
This question was debated at the Nuremberg trials. Many German soldiers argued for the cause of “duty”, many thousands of victims and others argued for the priority of the individual moral conscience. This argument has yet to be clarified even in our own society and military thinking today. Adolf’s argument was very simple; anyone who didn’t act one hundred percent in accordance with his nation’s cause or direction was a traitor to his homeland. This even included young girls sending letters to the front. I can imagine that any young girl sending a patriotic soldier at the front a ‘dear John’ letter would be considered for a firing squad in Adolf’s eyes.
He goes on to criticize malingering soldiers, and the ‘cowards’ who injured themselves purposely to escape from the battlefield. He goes on to make his case against labor, the Marxist, the Social Democrats, Bavaria, and the government and political opposition parties in general. He is vehemently against anyone and everyone who, for whatever reasons; personal, political, or otherwise, did not support ‘his’ war (World War I).
“…Towards the end of the year 1917 it seemed as though the depth of the army’s despair had passed. After the Russian breakdown the entire army now breathed new hope and fresh courage ... Especially the Italian breakdown of the fall of 1917 had exercised the most wonderful influence; for one saw in this victory the proof of the possibility that one would be able to break through the front at a place distant from the Russian battlefield ... Suddenly a fierce red light flashed up in Germany and threw its rays as far as into the remotest shell hole of the enemy’s front, at the moment when the German divisions received their last instructions for the great attack, the general strike broke out in Germany ... Now with one blow the means was found with which one was able to raise the sinking confidence of the Allied soldiers ... One could let the Germans win as many victories as they might want to; Revolution awaited its entry into their country and not the victorious army...”
The dissatisfaction with the war was obviously corrupting the war effort everywhere. For one thing, the war was lingering on and the death toll on all sides was immense. The Russians walked. The Italians were toppling. The French were on the ropes of defeat. The British were having riots and protests and the like. The United States was involved with its own bitter battle against “Marxist-union-socialists-anti-government” activity. And Germany was having a ‘revolution’ at home. For some reason Adolf thinks that this ‘revolution’ in his own country was more of an influence on the outcome of the war than the same efforts, by the same factions, for basically the same reasons (discontent with the war for one reason or another) in other countries, was on those nation’s war efforts.
The Marxist revolution was clearly working to his advantage. It had toppled the Russians, crippled the Italians, and was in general weakening the abilities of all of his enemies, but to all of this he gives no points. It was solely the fault of ‘his’ Marxists in Germany who had sacrificed the war and unjustly taken over the government at home. He closes out this chapter with a very emotional appeal.
“… Now all had been in vain. In vain all of the sacrifices and deprivations, in vain the hunger and thirst of endless months, in vain the hours during which, gripped by the fear of death, we nevertheless did our duty, and in vain the death of two millions who died thereby. Would not the graves of all the hundreds of thousands open up, the graves of those who once had marched out with faith in the fatherland, never to return? Would they not open up and send the silent heroes, covered with mud and blood, home as spirits of revenge, to the country who had so mockingly cheated them of the highest sacrifice which in this world man is able to bring to his people? (death in the name of victory, I presume. Certainly they weren’t cheated out of death, or of the sacrifice of their lives for their fellow man or countrymen.) Was it for that that they had died, the soldiers of August and September, 1914, was it for this that the regiments of volunteers followed the old comrades in the fall of the same year? Was it for this that boys of seventeen sank into Flanders Fields? Was that the meaning of the sacrifice which the German Mother brought to the fatherland when in those days, with an aching heart, she let her most beloved boys go away, never to see them again? Was it all for this that now a handful of miserable criminals was allowed to lay hands on the fatherland? ...”
I think that it becomes very clear here where much of Adolf’s hate is coming from. He is an unhappy veteran of a lost cause. And the loss was through no fault of his or their own, and it had nothing to do with the genius, or courage of the enemy. They lost because of the cowardly influence of the ‘Traitors’ back home the press, the pacifists, the Marxists, the workers, the social democrats who supported the workers and Marxists, and even the stupid young girls who wrote their regrets to the newspapers.
Another point here of what I consider a trap of incorrect thinking is this notion that unless there is a victory all the dead of the past have been sacrificed uselessly. This is a consequence of ‘WAR’, not of the victory or loss of a war. The time to think of the wasted dead is before the conflict or before the war begins. Once war or violence begins all the dead are wasted. The dead are dead whether their side won or lost, and no victory on the battlefield has ever killed the propagation of an idea. Incorrect thinking must be defeated by stronger more convincing arguments to the contrary. Adolf expressed this exact thought earlier.
I remember reading a quote by someone whose name slips my mind, but it does seem fitting here. He said something to this effect; The war is not over until the last soldier dies.
I don’t know what it is to be a soldier in a war. I also do not know what it is to be a defeated soldier in a war. But I do know what it is to be beaten and humiliated, and for sure the feeling never goes away. How so it must have been for a man to see thousands of his battle buddies blown apart, or suffocated in a horrible death by poison gas or other methods. Adolf’s appeal here to dead soldiers is reminiscent of Abraham Lincoln, or Winston Churchill, or Teddy Roosevelt, or Douglas MacArthur. This type of appeal can not be underestimated, especially in a nation of ex-soldiers; ex-soldiers who had fought their hearts out, right on the borders of their own country, their ‘Fatherland’ as Adolf puts it.
But, what was the cause for fighting World War I? What was this “just” cause that Adolf was fighting for? For that matter, what were the Allies fighting for? What was the just cause of the Allies?
Adolf claims that he was fighting for the Fatherland. The Allies claim that they were fighting for “freedom” and more specifically against world domination by the Germans. And if we listen to what Adolf has to say in this book, fighting for the Fatherland does mean fighting for the domination and control of the world and its people by the German Nation. And Adolf considered this to be a “just” cause? Okay, what more can be said.
I would have to say that the cause of the German people in fighting World War I was not just – if world domination was their goal. I conclude that the German soldiers were rightfully defeated in their attempt to unjustifiable rule the world. But the German soldiers who lost World War I felt justified in promoting World War II for the same unjust purpose.
It then seems just to conclude that soldiers who lose a war – whether their cause was just or unjust – still feel righteousness on their part to revenge their losing. This unfortunately seems to be a part of the irrational nature of war. And as was stated above – once a war has begun it does not end until the last soldier (or maybe even participant) is dead.
Knowing, or feeling the depths of an ex-soldiers hate and revenge, a revenge reinforced by the visible bloody, personal nightmare of their immediate past, I am very grateful for our system of civilian control above the military. I am also grateful that this respect has even permeated the minds of our military leaders and soldiers themselves. It is interesting to note the final days of Douglas MacArthur. After being fired in Korea by President Harry S. Truman, MacArthur returned home to a tickertape parade, a hero’s welcome. He was clearly acknowledged by the American people as a brave and bold defender of their country. Yet in his bid for the presidency a short time thereafter, he was soundly defeated. Americans, in this case, had no problem putting their hearts aside for their heads.
This chapter also brings to mind something that General Schwarzkopf said on a TV interview shortly after the Desert Storm War. He was asked about nuclear weapons, and almost laughingly he interjected that the most foolhardy thing that any nation can do would be to put the Atomic bomb into the arsenal of a combat general in the field. He explained that he did not think that there would be any General who would not use whatever weapon in the defense and protection of his boys in the field.
When Adolf Hitler gained control of his country, their homeland was now in the charge of a combat hardened ‘grunt’; a trench fighter who would use any weapon; just as any weapon was used against him and his comrades - a man whose philosophic principles were that of a warrior; kill or be killed.
And Adolf knew who is enemies were. And the biggest of these were his countrymen. More than all the allies combined, he hated these, his own countrymen, more. He would purge the land of these traitors, these back-stabbers who had caused defeat, and destroyed the honor of his country and reduced his homeland to a country of occupation, economic deprivation, massive unemployment, and personal depression. And, who specifically were these scoundrels?
“… Kaiser Wilhelm II was the first German Emperor who extended his hand to the leaders of Marxism without guessing that scoundrels are without honor. While they were still holding the imperial hand in their own, the other was feeling for the dagger.
With the Jews there is no bargaining, but only the hard either - or. I, however, resolved now to become a politician...”
The editors of this edition of Mein Kampf go on at the close of this chapter to discuss the support, or lack of historical support, for this ‘stab in the back’ theory, but from my point of view this doesn’t matter. Every loyalist German veteran of the World War One war understood him perfectly. And there can be no doubt that there is a strong emotional foundation for this attitude whether it holds up to the facts or not.
It is his conclusion on who to hate that presents the problem to my mind. I can understand his hate for his fellow countrymen who turned on the war effort, or didn’t support it from the beginning. I can understand his hate for the Marxists who for a brief moment near the surrender had actually taken over the government. I can understand his hate for the capitulators who now in the eyes of defeat were willing to sacrifice the causes and the lives of the soldiers still in the fields for a better negotiating position with the soon arriving enemy. I think that this is where a part of his inordinate hate for the Socialist Democrats comes in. They capitulated not only with the enemy but with the internal rebellion of the Marxist labor movement. I can even understand his annoyance with the ‘silly’ young girls who, with their whimpering, assisted the enemy. I can understand all these feelings. I don’t agree with these feelings, but at least I can understand where they are coming from - but where do the Jews come into all of this?
I have no doubt that Adolf considered Karl Marx a Jew, and that there were other Jews supporting anti-war efforts at home along with Jews who were members of those leaning towards Marxism. But there were also German Jews who fought and died or were wounded at Adolf’s side on the front lines. There were Jews on all sides of all of the issues. So how does Adolf isolate an entire religion, or “race” of people as being the ones entirely responsible for his country’s humiliation? But there is no doubt that by picking out the Jews, Adolf had provided a flesh and blood outlet for him and his ex-soldier comrades to persecute.
The bitterness and revenge that lingers in the defeated after a war, is a very strong reason against getting into a war in the first place. The time to prevent a war is before it starts. This is the time for the anti-warriors, and the pacifists to mount their opposition. After the bodies begin to pile up it becomes more difficult. And after the war begins, the ideological arguments become absurd and obfuscated by the blood and personal tragedy. The time to strike is before the first shorts are ever fired. War is only a stall in the negotiation. War is only an intermission, in which the basic arguments are temporarily forgotten. After the war ends, immediately, the ideological dispute resumes. The real problems are never solved until there is a meeting of the minds. Even if all of ones opponents are destroyed, his arguments will remain to re-emerge once again in the future. The arguments must be defeated in the minds of all of the survivors. War is merely an interlude in the battle for the truth of ideas. The truth will prevail, eventually; the better argument, temporarily.
Adolf and his Comrades were injected with the blood of killing, death, and hatred on the battlefields of Flanders, Somme and elsewhere. Once the hate was instilled, and unable to find a quenching and satisfaction in victory, where does it go?
It doesn’t. It festers inside until it drives a man insane or to acts of insanity or retribution. Adolf was obviously not one for therapy. And besides this new psychology-hogwash was just another part of the Jewish conspiracy, and Jew science. Sigmond Freud along with Albert Einstein would have found a not too comfortable death if Adolf could have gotten his storm trouper’s hands on them.
At this point I am reminded of a poem or translation of a poem that I once read written by the Russian Poet Boris Pasternak. I won’t quote the poem here but just give you my interpretation of his poetic idea, or expression.
The poet paints a picture of a soldier at the bottom of an enemy hill. The enemy is encamped at the top; the hill is mined and littered with the bodies of his comrades. The soldier sits at the bottom of the hill with the sights of his weapon aimed upon the enemy. The battle for the hill is a gory one, and the soldier at the bottom must face and is facing the prospects of his own destruction. Yet Boris stops here and interjects a sigh ... a sigh of relief, and longing. How lucky this soldier is, Boris explains, for he is blessed with a visible, explainable, actual, external enemy. How lucky it is for a man to know his enemy, and have an actual tangible outlet for his bitterness and hatred. How lucky is this man who does not have to continue the search for his own bitter hate, misery, discontent and lust for revenge, into the depths of his own soul. How lucky is the man who can simply kill another creature and rid himself reasonably and justifiably of all this frustration, hate and misery.
How lucky indeed. And what a penetrating look into ourselves, and the confused heart of mankind provided by Mister Boris Pasternak, the Poet.
And here, in a very practical way, Adolf finds an enemy for he and his friends, to rape, murder, and torture, and to vent their wildest hatreds, and most confused passions and lusts, and satisfy and return to the world that had given them World War I, all that had been heaped onto them; and give it back not only in kind, but double and triple, and feel no regret or remorse, because these were the enemy and they had earned what they had inherited. This is another possible reason for being very careful about considering hardened Military officers for Civilian leadership. They have been hardened by the battlefield, and the human tendency, whether conscious or subconscious, is to return to the world what he feels the world has given to him. Adolf returned to the world, World War II as payment for the World War I; the War that the world had given to him.

Saturday, July 15, 2006


“BIG JIM”

By Richard E. Noble

Big Jim was his name, and plumbing his game.
When it came to a leak, a pipe or brass fixture,
he was the man with the torch and lead mixture.
There wasn’t a joint that Big Jim couldn’t sweat,
be it horizontal or vertical.
He knew his stuff, you bet,
when it came to things metallurgical.

But I say with a sigh, and this no lie,
our Big Jim was a Mister Five by Five.
And as he grew older,
his waist far surpassed his broad shoulder.
He was quite a guy, Big Jim Sheehy, Mister Five by Five.

One night when Big Jim was on his way home from Cain and Bernard,
He stumbled into a cruiser that had jumped in the path to his yard.

By way of explanation,
Big Jim began to recite, in expletive, the American Declaration.
Then, with intention beguiling,
he burst into stanza …
the theme from Bonanza
and a chorus or two of ‘When Irish Eyes Are Smiling’.

Big Jim thought it quite appropriate,
but the cops thought that he should go to-the-poke-for-it.
So one by one, they leapt from the cruiser,
thinking that they would subdue the five by five bruiser.

They wailed with their clubs and grabbed for his thumbs,
while Big Jim just laughed and dropped to his buns.
“I give, I give ... I’m a peaceable fellow,”
Big Jim, from the ground, he did bellow.

“Well you’re disturbin’ the peace, and we’re the police,
and we’re here to entail and cart your butt down to the jail.”

“Well you go right ahead, and I’d never resist,
but I’m afraid I’m too tipsy to help or assist.”

So with effort of perspiration and sweat,
It was something to see,
as Mister Pee and Wee
struggled ‘till soaking wet.

They swore and they cussed,
as they tumbled and fussed
and tugged at Big Jim’s anchor.
But he was broad a’ beam
and jellyroll mean,
and too laughable to cause any rancor.

So they gave him a stay,
as on the ground he lay,
then wagged their fingers in warnin’.

“We’re gonna let ya go,
though you darn well know,
that we’re the police
and you’re disturbin’ the peace,
One wise peep and we’ll be back with recruits,
pulleys and shoots
and cart ya off to the jail house in the mornin’.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Agrarian Justice / Tom Paine

Agrarian Justice / Tom Paine

[The following is an organized series of excerpts from Tom Paine’s essay “Agrarian Justice”. A better understanding of his argument is gained from reading the essay in its entirety. I thought that this piece would be of special interest to those political Conservatives who have of late been claiming Tom Paine as one of their own.]

By Richard E. Noble




“It is wrong to say that God made rich and poor; he made only male and female; and he gave them the earth for their inheritance.”

Argument for improving the condition of the unpropertied

“To preserve the benefits of what is called civilized life, and to remedy, at the same time, the evil it has produced, ought to be considered as one of the first objects of reformed legislation ... The most affluent and the most miserable of the human race are to be found in the countries that are called civilized.
“To understand what the state of society ought to be, it is necessary to have some idea of the natural and primitive state of man; such as it is this day among the Indians of North America. There is not, in that state, any of those spectacles of human misery which property and want present to our eyes in all the towns and streets of Europe. Poverty, therefore, is a thing created by that which is called civilized life ... Civilization, therefore, or that which is so called, has operated two ways, to make one part of society more affluent and the other part more wretched than would have been the lot of either in a natural state.
“The thing, therefore, now to be done is to remedy the evils and preserve the benefits that have arisen to society by passing from the natural to that which is called the civilized state.
“Taking the matter then upon this ground, the first principle of civilization ought to have been, and ought still to be, that the condition of every person born into the world, after a state of civilization commences, ought not to be worse than if he had been born before that period. But the fact is that the condition of millions in every country ... is far worse than if they had been born before civilization began, or had been born among the Indians of North America of the present day. I will show how this fact has happened.
“It is a position not to be controverted that the earth, in its natural uncultivated state, was and ever would have continued to be the common property of the human race ... And as it is impossible to separate the improvement made by cultivation from the earth itself, upon which that improvement is made, the idea of landed property arose from that inseparable connection; but it is nevertheless true that it is the value of the improvement only, and not the earth itself, that is individual property. Every proprietor, therefore, of cultivated land owes to the community a ground rent...
“... neither Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, or Job, so far as the history of the Bible may be credited in probable things, were owners of the land. Their property consisted, as is always enumerated, in flocks and herds and they traveled with them from place to place.
“Man did not make the earth, and, though he had a natural right to occupy it, he had no right to locate as his property in perpetuity any part of it; neither did the Creator of the earth open a land office, from whence the first title-deeds should issue ... when cultivation began, the idea of landed property began with it ... It is only by tracing things to their origin that we can gain rightful ideas of them …The additional value made by cultivation, after the system was submitted, became the property of those who did it, or who inherited from them, or who purchased it. I advocate the right, and interest myself in the hard case of all those who have been thrown out of their natural inheritance by the introduction of the system of landed property, I equally defend the right of the possessor to the part which is his ... it is a right and not a charity that I am pleading for.
“To create a National fund out of which there shall be paid to every person, who arrived at the age of twenty-one, the sum of Fifteen Pounds sterling, as a compensation in part for the loss of his or her natural inheritance by the introduction of the system of landed property; and also the sum of Ten Pounds per Annum during life to every person now living of the age of fifty years, and to all others as they shall arrive at that age.
“The fault is in the system, and it had stolen imperceptibly upon the world, aided afterwards by the Agrarian law of the sword … It is proposed that the payments, as already stated, be paid to every person, rich or poor such persons as do not choose to receive it can throw it into the common fund.
“Taking it then for granted that no person ought to be in a worse condition when born under what is called a state of civilization, than he would have been had he been born in a state of nature, and that civilization ought to have made, and ought still to make, provision for that purpose, it can only be done by subtracting from property a portion equal in value to the natural inheritance it has absorbed ... it will be the least troublesome and the most effectual, and also because the subtraction will be made at a time that best admits it, which is at the moment that property is passing by the death of one person to the possession of another. In this case the bequeather gives nothing; the receiver pays nothing. The only matter to him is that the monopoly of natural inheritance, to which there never was a right, begins to cease in his person. A generous man would wish it not to continue, and a just man will rejoice to see it abolished.
“It will always happen that the property thus revolving by death every year, part will descend in a direct line to sons and daughters, and the other part collaterally, and the proportion will be found to be about three to one; that is, about thirty millions of the above sum will descend to direct heirs, and the remaining sum ... to more distant relations and part to strangers.
“It is not charity but a right - not bounty but justice, that I am pleading for ... though I care as little about riches as any man, I am a friend to riches, because they are capable of good. I care not how affluent some may be, provided that none be miserable in consequence of it. But it is impossible to enjoy affluence with the felicity it is capable of being enjoyed, whilst so much misery is mingled in the scene.
“There are in every country some magnificent charities established by individuals ... It is only by organizing civilization upon such principles as to act like a system of pulleys, that the whole weight of misery can be removed ... The plan here proposed ... (It) will immediately relieve and take out of view three classes of wretchedness: the blind, the lame, and the aged poor.
“When a young couple begin in the world, the difference is exceedingly great, whether they begin with nothing or with fifteen pounds apiece. With this aid they could buy a cow and implements to cultivate a few acres of land; and instead of becoming burdens upon society, which is always the case where children are produced faster than they can be fed, they would be put in the way of becoming useful and profitable citizens.
“The great mass of the poor in all countries are become an hereditary race, and it is next to impossible for them to get out of that state of themselves. It ought also to be observed that this mass increases in all the countries that are called civilized. More persons fall annually into it than get out of it.
“It is from the overgrown acquisition of property that the fund will support itself ... War ... has already laid on more new taxes to be raised annually upon the people ... than would annually pay all the sums proposed in this plan.
“Land, as before said, is the free gift of the Creator in common to the human race. Personal property is the effect of society, and it is as impossible for an individual to acquire personal property without aid of society as it is for him to make land originally. Separate the individual from society, and give him an island or a continent to possess, and he can not acquire personal property. He can not become rich ... All accumulation, therefore, of personal property, beyond what a man’s own hands can produce, is derived to him by living in society; and he owes on every principle of justice, of gratitude, and of civilization, a part of that accumulation back again to society from whence the whole came ... if we examine the case minutely, it will be found that the accumulation of personal property is, in many instances, the effects of paying too little for the labor that produced it.
“It is, perhaps, impossible to proportion exactly the price of labor to the profits it produces; and it will also be said, as an apology for injustice, that were a working man to receive an increase of wages daily, he would not save it against old age nor be much the better for it in the interim. Make then society the treasurer to guard it for him in a common fund; for it is no reason that because he might not make a good use of it for himself, that another shall take it.
“When wealth and splendor, instead of fascinating the multitude, excite emotions of disgust; when instead of drawing forth admiration, it is beheld as an insult upon wretchedness; when the ostentatious appearance it makes serves to call the right of it in question, the case of property becomes critical and it is only in a system of justice that the possessor can contemplate security. When the more riches a man acquires, the better it will be for the general mass; it is then that the antipathies will cease and property be placed on the permanent basis of natural interest and protection.”

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

America On Strike - The Great Strikes of 1877

The Great Strikes of 1877

By Richard E. Noble




In June of 1877, in Camden Junction, just outside of Baltimore, an eruption took place that nearly precipitated a third American Revolution. The powers that be had announced to the workers of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroads that there would be yet another pay cut. This would be the forth pay cut in three years. Their wages had already been cut over the last three years by 35%. The owners and bosses would still be getting their huge salaries, bonuses and incentives, and the shareholders would still be getting their substantial dividends, despite the perils of excessive, uncontrolled competition. But the workers wages would have to be cut once again.

The workers didn’t know the finances of the railroad. All that they knew was that they were already starving. There had been a continuous line of depressions and panics in the past; 1819 ... 1837... 1857... 1873 and now, once again in 1877. These always seemed to be appropriate and convenient times to break any labor unions by cutting wages and laying-off employees. Excessive immigration made employees more than plentiful. The law of the land strongly supported management. The railroads were the most powerful businesses in the nation. Private property was considered sacred. Workers were still considered by owners and bosses much as they were in early Colonial times. They were uneducated, dirty, lazy miscreants; many of whom had been convicts in their homelands. Worker organizations that joined together to raise wages or improve working conditions were considered to be “conspirators” in restraint of trade. It was not too long ago that they could be hung for such activities. The attitude of government and management was much the same in 1877. What could the workers do? They had no power. They had no status. They had no rights. They had no food. They had nothing.

Nevertheless, they stopped working and walked off their jobs. They clustered around the train yard and stopped the trains from running. The workers in Martinsburg, West Virginia heard about what had happened at Camden Junction and they did the same. The Captain at the B&O called the Governor and said that he needed the Militia to go down there and protect his property. The Militia arrived, listened to the complaints of the workers and immediately joined the side of the strikers. The president of the B&O went to President “Rutherfraud” B. Hayes and demanded that he send in the federal troops. “Rutherfraud” obeyed, and sent in a small contingent of about 250 soldiers. In the mean time, word of the strike had spread among railroad workers like wild fire. The strike had now spread to Philadelphia, Columbus Ohio, Chicago, Cincinnati and St. Louis.

The “Dandy Fifth,” a bunch of little rich boys serving in the Maryland National Guard, was sent out to teach the working scum a lesson. Shortly thereafter the Maryland sixth was called out also. The Guardsmen were pelted with stones and verbal assaults. The Sixth opened fire. They gunned down several strikers and wounded and injured a good many more. Reporters covering the scene were shocked by the number of old men, woman, and children participating in the strikes. “Rutherfraud” saw this situation as a possible revolution. He brought his cabinet together in a virtually permanent session.

In Pittsburgh, the railroad owners had instituted pretty much the same policies. Most recently, they proclaimed a 10% wage cut and “double headers” for the workers. Double Headers meant twice the work for the same pay. Thirty four freight cars would be placed behind a single engine instead of the usual seventeen. The workers in Pittsburgh followed suit with the Baltimore workmen. They shut down the train yard while the crowd screamed, “We want bread”.

This chanting for bread was not figurative. In a speech before a congregation of workers at Plymouth Church in Brooklyn, the Rev. Henry Ward Beecher, father of Harriet Beecher Stowe of “Uncle Tom” fame, gave a speech admonishing the poor workers. In the style of the Rev. Malthus who suggested in England that the poor of the world should stop having sex and producing unnecessary children as a solution to their problems, the Rev. Beecher admonished the workers for their unwholesome lifestyle. He scolded them on their drinking and gambling and instructed that a diet of good, wholesome bread and water, three times a day was good enough for any laboring man and his family. One dollar a day wage, spent in the manner described, should be adequate for any man and wife and their five children.

Another “moral” argument of the day was whether or not an employer had an obligation to pay a wage suitable to feeding a man’s entire family. After all, the employer had only hired one individual. If others of this individual’s family needed bread also, should they not find employment themselves? Needless to say, woman and children were employed in all capacities in the labor force of the day. And, of course, because they were not as strong and “efficient” as the men, they were paid considerably less. Naturally, when layoffs became necessary, the high priced men were the first to go. This was all simply a matter of “common sense”. The Country had come a long way in their idea of “common sense” since the days of Tom Paine.

Instead of relief and discussion at Pittsburgh, the disgruntled workers faced Gatling guns. Two Gatling guns and 3,400 rounds of ammunition were ordered to Pittsburgh. By July 21, the guardsmen and Militia in the city amounted to several thousands. The hostilities increased and then a slaughter ensued. When the Pittsburgh Militia saw all of their friends and neighbors, old men, woman, and children, laying in the streets, dead and wounded, they threw down their arms and joined the strikers. The mob then picked up the arms, and raided local businesses for more. It is estimated that they ended up with in excess of 2,000 weapons. The strikers charged the troops and remaining loyal Militia and backed them into the roundhouse. While the soldiers were held at bay, the rebels proceeded to wreak and set the Pennsylvania Railroad ablaze. They even found an artillery piece and fired it at the roundhouse. When all was said and done; 125 locomotives were burned, 3,500 cars with their cargo of coal were destroyed, the grain elevator was gone, the Union Depot was gone ... the Pittsburgh and St. Louis freight depot covering half a dozen blocks and hundreds of small buildings were all gone.

On July 30, a trainload of soldiers arrived at Johnstown. In Reading Pennsylvania, Brigadier General Frank Reeder, with the Easton Grays, a unit of the favored and better off, opened fire on a crowd. They killed bunches of strikers and innocent observers. They even wounded five local policemen. In Newark New Jersey the police department joined the strikers along with several of the Guard companies. A Mister Tom Scott, head of the Pennsylvania Railroad, urged that the strikers be given ... A rifle diet for a few days and see how they like that kind of bread ... The newspapers proclaimed that this was all a “Communist” plot.

On July 24, “Rutherfraud” and his cabinet decided that this was an “insurrection”. The Federal Army was sent in under the leadership of Gen. Winfield Scott Hancock. By the time the General had arrived, the strikers and citizens themselves had organized and quelled most of the violence and gotten things under control.

The property damage exceeded 10 million and hundreds were killed and many, many more injured and wounded. The Revolution had been dissipated momentarily, but it was not over.
* ‘‘
Works used in this essay: A History of American Labor , Joseph
G. Rayback; “Labor Problems in American History”, Carroll R. Daugherty; “The Rise of Industriaal America”, Page Smith; “American Economic History” Harold Underwood Faulkner.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Truth

Truth?

“What is Truth?”

By Richard E. Noble




“Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.”
If there were no life or any type of living, interpreting ‘things’ in the Universe, as it is said that there once was, what would really be?
If there were no living thing, would the concept that we call ‘time’ still exist?
Yes. There would be a legitimate laps between events. There would be no ‘thing’ to perceive it or recorded it, but these events with pauses in between, would still take place.
Would ‘space’ exist?
Yes. There would be gaps and distances between the objects in the remaining Universe.
Would beauty exist?
No. This requires judgment, interpretation and perception. There would be no beauty in a world without life.
Would Justice exist?
No. With no living thing being affected positively or negatively, how can something be fair or not fair? What does it matter if one moving rock obliterates another rock?
Would matter exist?
Yes. The objects of the universe would still be floating around in space and time.
Would ‘good’ and ‘evil’ exist?
No. With no living, feeling, perceiving thing, all events would be events and nothing more. No ‘thing’ to benefit; no ‘thing’ to suffer ... no Good; no Evil.
Would pain exist?
With nothing alive to feel, how can there be pain and suffering?
Would energy and light exist?
Yes. Even without living interpreting things suns would still explode and stars collapse. The plants would still rotate and the Universe would remain in motion.
Would love exist?
No. With no living things, there would be no love, no feelings, no emotion, no kindness, no joy, no laughter, no tears, no sadness, no remorse, no hate, no cruelty
Would God exist?
Yes. There would still be the necessity of a source of the existence of matter and motion, and light, and time, and space and all the things that are, whether living or not. Matter cannot move itself. Energy is something. Matter is something. If not a Prime Mover or a First Cause, there still would have to be of necessity a Power keeping the planets a-float in the infinity of space; if not a Source, then a Force. The question, or explanation for ‘existence’ is still valid even with no one to ask it.
If then God does exist, what part of God is truth; and what part is the product of the perceptions and feelings and imaginings of man?

Sunday, July 09, 2006

John Glenn Said

“John Glenn Said”

A response

By Richard E. Noble

With regards to your right wing propaganda message.
To the defense of soldiering by John Glenn: John Glenn did give the defense of soldering as stated in your memo.
It was not given on the Senate floor recently nor in defense of any Republican policy, but in a campaign for a Senate seat against his Democratic opponent Howard Metzenbaum in 1974.
Metzembaum made the charge to challenge Glenn - assuming Glenn's inexperience in the business world. He made it during a very heated and vitriolic campaign. He never brought it up again.

Metzenbaum did not defend Communists during WWII - at least there is no evidence of any such activity.

But, in my personal opinion, if he did he should be commended. After all the Communists were our number one ally during WWII. The author of your memo may not be aware of this but we were fighting Fascism and Nazism during WWII - not communism.
Soviet Russia and Britain were our two main allies. Both countries suffered far more causalities than the U.S. who really didn't have any troop strength in Europe until 1943. In fact the U.S. had the fewest number of causalities of all the allied countries.
The Communist Soviet Union had more causalities than all the other allies combined. Communist China also supported the Allies in World War II. If any allied country can make claim to being the chief victor and warrior combating fascist world domination during WWII, it would be the Communist Soviet Union.
Far and away the greatest opponents of Fascism here and around the world were the communists.
 
The American Communist Party was key and in many instances heroic in battling for free speech, equal rights for blacks, woman and children, woman suffrage, fair and decent housing, prison reform, a living wage, family planning and birth control and the Bill of Rights in general. They also battled the American Fascists and Nazi Party here at home. As an interesting aside on this subject insert the name Prescott Bush into your favorite search engine.  
 
John Glenn is a Democrat not a Republican. John Glenn supported John Kerry against George Bush.
John Glenn has been a supporter of protecting the environment and a staunch opponent of Bush and Republicanism. He supports soldiering but does not necessarily support war under all circumstances and for any reason.
 
In reference to part one of your Republican propaganda message:
It would take too much space to clear up all the historical inaccuracies of this memo but let me make just a few clarifying remarks.
 
On December 7, 1941 Pearl Harbor was attacked pre-emptively by the Japanese; an act which was condemned by all the non-fascist world and Republicans and Democrats alike. Shortly thereafter Germany declared war on the United States aligning itself with the Japanese. We did not pre-emptively attack Germany; nor has any Democratic or Republican president ever pre-emtively attacked another country on information known to be false at the time. Even Adolf Hitler made attempts at justifiable excuses for his multiple aggressive adventures in Europe. What has happened under the current administration (known falsified intelligence), if found under future investigations to be true, is a first in America history.
 
The major contention of this memo is that the United States whether under the leadership of the Democratic Party or the Republican Party has been more than willing to engage in wars of unjustified aggression against foreign countries.

This has been the argument of the Communist World since they first got a foothold in Russia in 1917. These "war mongering" charges are the basis of all anti-Americanism in general. Ones first impression from this memo would be that its author is a Communist.
Pacifist and anti-war proponents have been arguing this point of view for decades.
But then the author goes on to criticize Communist at the end of his memo? Go figure.
 
This author's argument seems to be on a partisan basis. In other words, because Democrats have engaged in unjust wars of aggression, then what is wrong with Republicans doing the same?
 
Nothing ... so long as you believe that war is a "good thing".
 
The author even goes so far as to say why should we be feeling sorry for a few dead and maimed soldiers when just as many are murdered by individual criminals (terrorist) in Chicago each year.

True. And why should we oppose any war when more people have been killed in traffic accidents in the United States alone since the invention of the automobile, than in all the wars of Civilization since the beginning of recorded history?
 
The author may consider this answer rather shallow - but the reason traffic accidents and crime are not put in the category of war is because they are - as with death, flood, famine and disease -considered to be uncontrollable acts of God ... or Mother Nature ... or fate or chance - or whatever it is that you believe is the power above that of human control.
 
War is considered under the category of "managed" killing. It is therefore considered to be a matter of human "choice" ... or governmental choice - not a matter of circumstance or happenstance ... fate or destiny.  
 
If you think that war is a good thing and in general serves to benefit mankind (population control, increased dividends, more jobs and less job competition, stable economy etc.) then you have no problem in defending any war. Adolf Hitler defends this position in his autobiography "Mein Kampf". He also thought, like so many Americans today, that war builds character - if you live through it, of course.
 
Third argument:
The author also makes the point that a few "soldiers" loosing their lives is really of no consequences when one considers the "greater good" of any war effort.
 
Although it may be true as the author of this memo claims that we do not have to feel pity or sorrow at the loss of soldiers or willing combatants in any war - especially those who make the choice to participate - those of us (Democrats and Republicans) who are of a compassionate nature hate to see anyone die - even if they freely make the choice, perform the act by their own hand; succumb to natural causes - or die in a war. They feel that any death is a sad tragedy.
 
Anti-war advocates oppose war in general most often on the behalf of those who did not chose to be involved but find themselves suffering the consequences nevertheless - the civilian and non-combatant populations of the country under attack or those countries so involved. The death of civilians in Iraq is now into the hundreds of thousands. If we consider the first Bush war, and the second Bush war, and the instigation and support of the Iran/Iraq war by the Reagan administration the deaths are into the several millions.
 
The death of the soldiers is often brought to the foreground because unlike the author of this e-mail memo some feel that the life of the soldiers involved in a war - on either side - are important. They are also brought forward because unfortunately most people seem to be unable to feel compassion for non-combatants in any war torn areas. As a result of this immunity to the pain of strangers, the death of a country's soldiers and loved ones are used in an attempt to stop the madness of the war.
 
I could go on but I think this is sufficient. If you would like to find left wing answers to all this right wing slanting you can go to Howard Zinn or Noam Chomsky's web site; Zinn for overall history and Chomsky for politics and foreign policy. 
 
PS I have tried not to sink to the level of partisanship in this response because I do not consider myself to be either a Democrat or a Republican; but if one would like to search the historical record, almost every terrorist organization existing in today's world whether in South America, Asia, or the Middle East - can be found to have received funds, weapons, training, and often its original start-up money from the Reagan administration in particular or the CIA in general; this includes: Sadaam Hussein and Osama bin Laden.