Tag Archives: Jake Carman
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Presenting my Book in Central Square, Cambridge!

16 Jan

Presenting my Book in Central Square, Cambridge!

Hey friends,
It’s been a while since I’ve posted. It’s also been a while since I spoke about my book. Come out to Central Square!

Jake Carman Presents his Book: “Nine years of Anarchist Agitation: The History of the BAAM and Other Essays”
Wednesday, January 29, 2014, 7pm

Reflecting on the last decade and the History of BAAM
for revolutionary organizing today

At Center for Marxist Education
550 Mass Ave, Cambridge, Massachusetts
https://www.facebook.com/events/796660133681212

Jake Carman presents his book, “Nine Years of Anarchist Agitation – The History of the Boston Anti-Authoritarian Movement (2001-2010) and Other Essays.” A discussion on anarchist organization and practice, with author and organizer, Jake Carman.

About the Book: In the wake of the September 11, 2001 attacks, and in the midst of the subsequent nationalist fervor, Boston radicals came together to form the Boston Anarchists Against Militarism (BAAM) Coalition. Through interviews and an extensive study of BAAM’s public statements, activities, and publications, this history explores the evolution of BAAM from an anti-war coalition into a general union of Boston anarchists. The lessons of the past decade are useful to today’s generation of activists as they grapple with the questions of political organization and activity in the struggle against global capitalism.

http://www.JakeCarman.com Facebook.com/baamhistory

Strikers Deliver Demands to Insomnia Cookies; Company Targets Union Member

27 Oct

(Article first appeared at CradleofLibertyNews.org. For photos, check iwwboston.org)

 

Strikers Deliver Demands to Insomnia Cookies; Company Targets Union Member

By Jake Carman

On Thursday, October 24th, striking workers delivered a demand letter to the Harvard Square location of Insomnia Cookies. Niko Stapczynski and Jonathan Peña—who were fired after declaring a strike with two other employees on August 18th—and fifty members of their union, the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), visited the late-night cookie chain at 10 P.M. In their letter to management, the workers demanded reinstatement with back pay, compensation for nearly $1000 in short paychecks and withheld lunch breaks, company neutrality to the union and a card check election, and an end to the practice of forcing employees to sign a non-disclosure agreement. The union is threatening to turn these demands into legal charges if Insomnia fails to respond within two weeks.

Also on October 24th, Insomnia baker Tommy Mendes, who still works at the Harvard Square Insomnia location, declared to management that he, too, had joined the IWW. Mendes sent an email to his boss, simply stating “I just wanted to let you know that I’m a member of the Industrial Workers of the World.” While Mendes joined the IWW soon after his coworkers began their strike, according to the union, he only recently “made the courageous decision to go public and has announced his union affiliation to his manager…in part due to intolerable pressure and threats on the job.” The company suspended Mendes immediately, and the union promises to fight what they call “unlawful retaliation for his union activity.”

The public struggle at Insomnia Cookies in Harvard Square began at midnight on August 18, when the entire four-person night shift voted to initiate a strike for higher wages, healthcare, and freedom to form a union. Peña, Mendes, and coworkers Chris Helali and Luke Robinson—who have since moved out of state—closed the shop, contacted the IWW, and began holding pickets and building connections with Harvard and BU student organizations. Pickets have since spread to the new Boston University store.

Workers claim Insomnia has a bad track record when it comes to following labor laws and fairly compensating their employees. According to the demand letter, “For months prior to the strike, workers employed as ‘drivers,’ had not received minimum wage. Also, employees often did not receive the 30 minute meal break for shifts longer than 6 hours, to which they are entitled by MA State Law.” Drivers, who deliver cookies by bicycle until 3 A.M., and rely on tips to pad their $5 and hour wage, complain the company has unrealistic expectations of delivery times, and pressure from management causes unsafe riding and accidents. Whats worse, according to the union, “Insomnia does not give paid time off when drivers get hurt on the job, and instead blame them for the accidents.” The company doesn’t offer health benefits to the workers either.

Before the strike, the average turnover rate for a local Insomnia employee was only three weeks. The droves of Boston-area Insomnia workers who have recently quit the job, as well as the firing of the company’s regional manager—in part due to his inability to keep his stores staffed and functioning—attest to the aptly-named Insomnia work environment. Insomnia, which has 33 locations on college campuses across the US, sustains itself only by exploiting students two-fold: as employees, where they are underpaid, barely trained, easily-replaceable, and overworked, and also as consumers, where they are sold frozen cookies at unjustifiably high prices. In order to hold Insomnia accountable and to end the company’s reprehensible labor practices, IWW members are encouraging workers nationally to join the union, and if they are planning to quit already, to go on strike.

Ways to Get Involved:

 

-Dont Quit, Strike! http://iwwboston.files.wordpress.com/2013/10/dont-quit-strike.jpg

 

-Donate to the Insomnia Strike Fund:

https://www.wepay.com/donations/insomnia-cookies-workers-strike-fund

 

-Sign the petition to support the strikers’ demands:

https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1TLCetxHNxmGHk57FD1Sy9KAtUNHXP5alQWrgxPcb-Lk/viewform

 

-Find us Online: https://www.facebook.com/insomniaunion http://iwwboston.org/

 

To reach the Boston IWW:

Email: iww.boston@riseup.net

Phone Number: 617-863-7920

Mailing Address: PO Box 391724

Cambridge, MA 02139

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/BostonIWW/

 

 

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“The Peasants’ Revenge” – Painting, Oil on Canvas, Oct 2013. For the Ocassion of N. Makhno’s 125 Birthday

26 Oct

A new painting! I’ve been working on this one for over a year, and finished it just in time for Nestor Makhno’s 125th birthday (today). Here are two articles from the BAAM Newsletter, reedited for my book, about Nestor Makhno and the Ukrainian Peasant anarchists (the subject matter of my painting). I hope to get a better photo of this, anyone out there with a good camera and some time?

Click here to check out details of the painting!

Happy Birthday Nestor Makhno: You are not Forgotten
The Boston Anti-Authoritarian Movement Newsletter, Issue # 3 – October 2007

Nestor Ivonavich Makhno, peasant leader of the 1917-1921 Ukrainian anarchist revolution, was born on October 26, 1888, 119 years ago this month. Makhno was, as Alexander Berkman wrote in his essay, Nestor Makhno, the Man who Saved the Bolsheviki, a “[t]rue child of a revolutionary epoch…it is more than probable that but for him and his insurgent army of Ukrainian peasants Soviet Russia might now be only a memory.”

Born to a poor peasant family in 1888, Makhno joined the anarchists early and at the age of seventeen, he found himself condemned to death for revolutionary activities. Because of his youth, his sentence was commuted to life imprisonment at a notorious Moscow prison. There he stayed, reading and fighting off tuberculosis, until the February Revolution freed him. Makhno immediately returned to his hometown of Guylia-Pole and raised a peasant army to resist a Prussian invasion of the Ukraine. His enthusiasm and dedication quickly gained him mass support. His devilish military cunning helped rid the Ukraine of the Prussians, and the peasants and workers launched an anarchist social revolution. As Berkman writes, “He had organized communes…and a large part of the Ukraine, covering hundreds of miles, with millions of population, live a free life and refuse to submit to the domination of any political party.”

In 1918, Makhno’s 25,000-strong insurgent army joined with the Bolshevik Red Army and succeeded in routing the reactionary White Army. The insurgents even saved Moscow from a White Army offensive in 1919. Immediately after this victory, Leon Trotsky—general of the Red Army—and the Bolsheviks capitalized on a widespread disease that had put Makhno in a coma and infected much of the insurgent army. When Makhno awoke some weeks later, the Red Army had occupied much of the Ukraine, outlawed Makhno, destroyed the soviets (workers’ councils) for not submitting to Bolshevik authority, and arrested and executed many insurgents.

Makhno jumped from his sick bed and hastened to rebuild his forces to take the fight to both the Reds and the Whites. He rode into battle, as Berkman describes, “Invariably at the head of his light cavalry…[h]e was reputed never to have lost a battle and never to have been wounded, though his favorite method was hand-to-hand combat with a sword or sabor.” In very little time, using creativity and the element of surprise, as well as convincing whole units of the enemy’s armies to join the insurgents, Makhno’s Black Army had succeeded in liberating Guylia-Pole and a large portion of the Ukraine.

In the absence of the insurgent army to resist them, the White Army had fought back to Moscow’s doorstep. Trotsky again begged Makhno for aid, and the anarchists agreed on the condition that anarchist prisoners be freed and the Ukraine granted autonomy. The Makhnovtchina again saved the Bolsheviki from certain defeat, and Trotsky invited the anarchist leaders to a celebration. It was a trap: Makhno was shot off his horse upon arrival and many of the anarchists were arrested or killed. When Makhno and a few others made it back to the Ukraine, they found it occupied by 150,000 Red Army soldiers who were no longer worried about the defeated Whites. The Ukrainian anarchists fought every day for almost a year, constantly surrounded on all sides and vastly outnumbered. Makhno realized his cause was lost and that the fighting was only destroying the Ukraine. He fled in 1921 and finally settled in Paris in 1925.

Makhno lived on, heartbroken and forgotten, hated by many of his comrades who believed the Bolshevik myths about the Ukrainian Revolution. He died in 1934 from tuberculosis. The Bolsheviks tried to eradicate the memory of Makhno and the anarchist social revolution, but they have failed. He will live on and inspire revolutions to come, and encourage rebel leaders to lead by example, from the front of the charge, as he did.

Walking, We Make the Road: An Account of the Crossroads of Ukraine and Spain’s Anarchist Revolutions
The Boston Anti-Authoritarian Movement Newsletter, Issue # 2 – September 2007

In Paris, in August 1927, while Sacco and Vanzetti were waiting to die here in Boston, Buenaventura Durruti and Francisco Ascaso—Spanish rebels who would later play a vital role in Spain’s anarchist revolution (1936)—met with Nester Makhno, the exiled leader of the failed anarchist revolution of the Ukraine (1918). Durruti and Ascaso were on the run, wanted by the governments of Spain, Cuba, Mexico, Argentina, and several other Latin American countries for stealing from the rich to fund revolutionary workers’ unions, papers, and schools. Still in their early thirties, Durruti and Ascaso were men of action, full of energy and life. They stood on the threshold of a revolution they had spent the previous decade agitating for.

Makhno, though only thirty-eight, was by then already a ghost of his former self. He was battered and burnt out from his years of leading from the frontline through the Ukrainian Revolution and Russian Civil War. In 1918, he helped build an army of 25,000 anarchist peasants and workers. Makhno soon proved to be a brilliant, daring, and creative military leader, as well as a visionary. While successfully fending off German invaders, Ukrainian nationalists, and White Army reactionaries, the anarchists inspired a vast social revolution based around communes and soviets (the Russian word for workers’ councils). The people claimed the land of the rich and the bosses, facilitated free exchange and solidarity between rural peasants and city workers, and worked to implement anarchist communism.
These Ukranian worker and peasant soviets differed from the Bolshevik soviets. They were not ruled by the Bolshevik Party, nor any other party. Instead, they were organized through democratic assemblies.
The Bolsheviks couldn’t stomach this example of soviets based on freedom and equality. Lenin and Trotsky, breaking a pact of alliance with the Makhnovtchina, sent 150,000 red soldiers to assert their control over the Ukrainian soviets. Makhno and his comrades were forced to fight both the Red and White armies simultaneously. The anarchist peasants proved themselves formidable warriors in this endeavor, but once the White Army was thoroughly defeated, the Kremlin was able to commit the bulk of the Red Army to crush the Ukrainian anarchists.

In 1921, the anarchists were finally overwhelmed. Makhno decided to flee rather than continue a futile war that was ravaging his country. He ended up in Paris in 1925, where he lived a tormented existence plagued by tuberculosis and battle wounds.

Makhno was undoubtedly relieved to find kindred spirits in Durruti and Ascaso, and honored when they told him of the Ukrainian Revolution’s influence on the Spanish anarchist movement. Standing on the other side of the revolutionary experience, Makhno gave Durruti and Ascaso invaluable advice for their own struggle. Even today, we should consider his words.

According to an account of this meeting in Abel Paz’s Durruti in the Spanish Revolution, Makhno told the Spaniards, “You have a sense of organization in Spain that our movement lacked; Organization is the foundation of the revolution….But,” he warned, “You have to work hard to preserve that sense of organization, and don’t let those who think anarchism is a theory closed to life destroy it. Anarchism is neither sectarian nor dogmatic. It is a theory of action. It doesn’t have a predetermined world-view….It’s a force in the march of history itself: the force that pushes it forward.”

Makhno, Ascaso, and Durruti believed in an anarchism of action, but they were not exclusively insurrectionaries. They understood that the ideas, needs, and efforts of the people must genuinely be the moving force behind the revolution. Fighting is but only one part. Makhno told the Spaniards that in the Ukrainian communes, it was “the revolutionary participation and enthusiasm of everyone, which made sure that a new bureaucracy didn’t emerge. We were all fighters and workers at the same time. In the communes, the assembly was the body that resolved problems and, in military affairs, it was the war committee, in which all the units were represented. What was most important to us was that everyone shared in the collective work: that was the way to stop a ruling caste from monopolizing power. That’s how we united theory and practice.”

Durruti and Ascaso, like Makhno, were toilers by trade. All three desired and fought for what amounted in both cases to a short attainment of successful and practical anarchist communism involving millions of people. However, they were successful because they first participated in the organizations of the masses, be they the peasant organizations of the Ukraine, or the syndicalist unions of Spain. They participated in these not to demand ideological purity of the masses, but to empower the millions of working and oppressed people to raise their voices and ideas, and to struggle for their collective liberation. Without these efforts, the anarchists never would have succeeded in building the popular movements that gave birth to two great anarchist revolutions that still inspire us.
The same applies today, eighty years later. We anarchists hold many different ideas, but anarchism is not the realization of one idea held by a political minority: it is the collection of the ideas and actions of a whole people, striving to solve the problems of society. So let’s join together, put aside sectarian infighting, and get to work within the existing social organizations of the people, as did Makhno, Durruti, and Ascaso. Let’s not let those for whom anarchism is a dead theory, a collection of old books, or a single, decided ideology, derail our efforts for a united popular movement for the liberation of all, with the theoretical input by all. Through our work within popular struggles, we anarchists can help bring cohesion through solidarity, and prove the worth of our ideas by our efforts. As Francisco Ascaso used to say, “Walking, we make the road.”

Paz, Able. Durruti in the Spanish Revolution. AK P, 2007.
Skirda, Alexandre. Nestor Makhno: Anarchy’s Cossak, the Struggle for Free Soviets in the Ukraine, 1917-1921. AK P, 2004.

Reading Group on Fast Food Strikes: Saturday September 21st: 6-8 PM

12 Sep
Hello friends and comrades,
           The article I posted here yesterday will be among three articles discussed at an upcoming reading group in Boston. Check it out, it looks like it will be a good and timely discussion.
 

Common Struggle Reading Group – Fast Food Workers, Recent Strikes, and “Alternative” Labor

-Saturday September 21st: 6-8 PM reading group at Community Church of Boston, 565 Boylston St, Boston, MA, 02116, in Copley Square.

This summer, fast food workers across the country have launched strikes and pushed for unions and better jobs. SEIU has played a large role in this movement, utilizing a “new” or “alternative” labor model, supporting smaller, independent workers’ initiatives, organizing symbolic strikes, and pushing for a higher national minimum wage. Locally, workers at Insomnia Cookies recently launched a strike and joined the Industrial Workers of the World.

Join us to discuss the strategies of and relationships between “Alt” labor, industrial and direct-action unionism, and the growing movement of fast food workers, with three short readings to guide our discussion.

 

Readings:

1. Fast food strikes to massively expand: “They’re thinking much bigger” By Josh Eidelson.
http://www.salon.com/2013/08/14/fast_food_strikes_massively_expanding_th…

2. Venture Syndicalism: Fanning and dousing the flames of discontent. By Nate Hawthorne.
http://libcom.org/blog/venture-syndicalism-fanning-dousing-flames-discon…

3. Striking Workers at Insomnia Cookies Join the IWW. By Jake Carman.
http://iwwboston.org/2013/09/11/striking-workers-at-insomnia-cookies-joi…

-Optional supplemental reading:

1. Upper Crust Pizzeria To Reopen as ‘The Just Crust.’ By Nikki D. Erlick,

http://www.thecrimson.com/article/2013/1/23/upper-crust-reopening/

Sponsored by Common Struggle-Libertarian Communist Federation:
www.CommonStruggle.org

Striking Workers at Insomnia Cookies Join the IWW

11 Sep
Hey all, check out this article I wrote for the Industrial Worker (due out next month).
Also, support Insomnia strikers by joining their rally tomorrow night at 8pm at the store’s location, 65 Mnt Auburn St, Cambridge: https://www.facebook.com/events/1405934196300747/
or by donating to their strike fund: https://www.wepay.com/donations/insomnia-cookies-workers-strike-fund

Striking Workers at Insomnia Cookies Join the IWW

By Jake Carman,

 

At 12:00 am on Sunday, August 18th, the night shift at the Harvard Square Insomnia Cookies voted unanimously to initiate a strike for higher wages, healthcare, and freedom to build a union. On Tuesday, August 20th, all four strikers joined the Industrial Workers of the World, and launched a public campaign to achieve their goals.

Insomnia Cookies, with 30 locations in the US, caters to college students and runs late night deliveries of warm cookies and milk to dorm rooms. Delivering cookies until 2:45 am, Insomnia workers who double-duty as bakers and cashiers receive only $9 an hour. “Drivers,” who are expected to deliver cookies by bicycle within a half hour, receive only $5 an hour plus tips. Neither receives healthcare and the turnover is so high, the typical employee lasts only a month. As Niko Stapczynski, a striking driver at Insomnia, told the Industrial Worker, “I was being paid below minimum wage. We had no breaks because we were understaffed. Sometimes we’d work without breaks until 3:15 am. We were supposed to keep delivery time as fast as possible, which encouraged unsafe riding.”

Peak hours are late at night when college students return from parties. As the lines of customers thickened on the evening of Saturday, August 17th, Chris Helali noticed his coworkers were stressed. “I gauged the overall feeling that night and people were pretty down. I basically said guys lets go on strike. It took about an hour to get everyone to agree and to figure out what we were going to do.” The entire night shift—four workers, Chris Helali, Jonathan Peña, Niko Stapczynski, and Luke Robinson—used the store computer to type up a strike agreement, and made signs for the store’s windows. Then, Helali continues, “we told the customers we were going on strike. Some of the customers asked ‘can we at least get a cookie before you close down the store?’ So we said sure, why not. We served everyone in the store. Then we went outside to put up the signs and lock the door.”

At 3 am the regional manager, who runs the only Insomnia Cookies in Massachusetts, arrived to file the paperwork to fire all four strikers. He then called Luke Robinson to threaten him with a lawsuit for “violating contractual obligations,” says Helali. The store did not open again until 1 pm on Sunday, August 18, two hours later than usual.

Picketing began that morning at 10 am, and all of the strikers were on the line by 11 am. The police, according to Helali, “came about eight or nine times and told us to stay away, do not bother the store…They said we’d be arrested if we went inside. They told us to stay on the center median, about thirty feet from the store, or we would be arrested.” While workers have a legal right to picket on the sidewalk outside their store, so long as they remain moving in a circle or otherwise, the police, called in by the boss, intimidated the workers.

That afternoon, members of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) arrived to lend support. Helali, who reached out to the IWW, said, “I knew that the IWW in Boston was pretty militant and was ready to go straight to action, as opposed to some of the business unions who probably would not even come or try to organize us. I knew the IWW would do everything in their power to help us out. So I decided to reach out on the Facebook page and post about our strike.” One organizer arrived around noon, and by 3:30 pm five others had arrived. On Tuesday, all four strikers joined the IWW and held a meeting with union organizers.

On Thursday, the strikers and their union held a march from the Harvard Square T Station to the store, with fifty IWW members and allies, including Harvard dining hall workers, members of Harvard Student Labor Action Movement, Common Struggle/Lucha Común, Boston Solidarity Network, and others, participating.

Insomnia workers marched to their shop again on Monday evening, following a union rally against racially-motivated firings at Harvard University, organized by Harvard No Layoffs Campaign, led by “dual card” members of the IWW and the Harvard Union of Clerical and Technical Workers (HUTCW). Jonathan Peña addressed the crowd. Around 50 people, including students from the Harvard Student Labor Action Movement, joined the march from Harvard to the Insomnia location, surprising the manager and leafleting the public.

While the workers at Insomnia had not joined a union prior to striking, some workers had been discussing workplace conditions, unions, and strikes for weeks. According to Helali, he and other workers “would speak about the issues that pertain to our job and the conditions there. I heard a lot of the other workers’ gripes, what they wanted to be changed, how they felt they were treated. I tried to gauge the general overall feeling, and concerns of the workers. It prompted me to eventually put the idea out for a strike, as a joke at first maybe about two weeks before the strike. I’d sort of casually say, hey we should go out on strike. Why not?”

Along with low pay, no benefits, and unrealistic expectations on the part of the company, workers complained about a lack of breaks. According to Helali, “Customers would flood in and sometimes we’d have to have all of us up front helping. It was constant on our feet. Rarely did we get an opportunity to sit down and relax.” It was the pressure of the crowd of hungry customers that finally drove these workers to strike. However, in not contacting the union prior to striking, and not organizing the day shift to join the strike or union, the strikers began at a disadvantage. With dedication to their cause and plenty of support from the IWW and other allies, strikers hope to overcome the obstacles in front of them and turn Insomnia Cookies into a job worth having, and to spread the union to Insomnia Cookies locations across the country.

The Insomnia strike began just a week and a half before a national wave of fast food workers’ strikes organized by the Service Employees International Union (SEIU). On Thursday, August 29th, fast food workers across the country participated in a one day strike for a $15 minimum wage, highlighted in Boston by a 4 pm rally at the Boston Common. As Jonathan Peña told the Industrial Worker, “we want to show solidarity with the struggles of other fast food workers, because their fight is our fight.” Insomnia workers were present at the Fight for Fifteen pickets in Boston beginning that morning at 6 am, and ending with an evening picket at Insomnia in Harvard Square at 6 pm.

While half of the striking Insomnia workers have moved from Boston this September, the other two workers are continuing to plan public demonstrations and discuss unionization with their coworkers, Harvard students, and other service workers, while they pursue legal charges against their employer for withholding breaks and back pay and failing to meet minimum wage.
The company opened a new location on September 2nd near Boston University at 708 Commonwealth Avenue.

For updates and information on how to contribute to the strike fund or get involved, please visit https://www.facebook.com/insomniaunion or http://iwwboston.org/.

Link

“Nine Years” Now Available at AK Press

7 Aug

“Nine Years” Now Available at AK Press

Hey friends and comrades,

I’m happy to announce that AK Press–an awesome worker run and collectively managed publishing group specializing and anarchist and radical writings–has picked up my book to distribute. Follow the link above to grab a copy of “Nine Years of Anarchist Agitation: The History of the Boston Anti-Authoritarian Movement (2001-2010) and Other Essays.”

New Song: “Buenas Noches, Buenaventura”

19 Jul

Hey friends and comrades!
We’re proud to announce a new song! An advanced release from our upcoming album, due out next year!
We hope you enjoy,
-Jake and the Infernal Machine

https://archive.org/details/BuenasNochesBuenaventura

Listen here: https://archive.org/details/BuenasNochesBuenaventura
Buenas Noches, Buenaventura (July 19, 2013)
06:37

“Buenas Noches, Buenaventura,” an advanced release from the upcoming 4th album by Jake and the Infernal Machine. This song tells the tale of the life and struggle of famed Spanish Anarchist Buenaventura Durruti.

https://archive.org/details/BuenasNochesBuenaventura

Lyrics:
It was a dark time in Spain
Storm clouds always gather thick before the rain.
And in his hand he found a gun, to his friends he was the one
He was the people’s bravest son, fought on behalf of them.
Bullets flying towards the priest, and the beast it gnashed its teeth
Chased the friends onto the streets, into the world they were released.

(Chorus)
Buenas Noches, Buenaventura, its been a good fight
You’ll come back to us when its time.
Buenas Noches, Buenaventura, when you close your eyes
All your people are there inside.

Hijo del Pueblo, more precious than a pearl
Running fugitive from the world
Back at home the jackboots fall, and the friends they heed the call
Slip back in, commence the brawl, sent straight to the prison walls.

(Chorus)

Spanish people, go retrieve your stolen sons and daughters
The fascists in the barracks are ready for the slaughter
The anarchists unleash their guns, the workers rise, the fascists run,
And giving chase, the people come. Militia of revolution.

Buenas Noches, Buenaventura, you live by the gun
You’ll come back to us when we’ve won.
Buenas Noches, Buenaventura, under the sun
Grows the sweet fruit of revolution.

The world ignores the cries of the Spanish people
Them reds and anarchists are burning down the steeples.
November storm clouds come around, and fascist bombs break Madrid’s ground
But when our hero comes to town, Buenaventura is shot down

Buenas Noches, Buenaventura, its been a good fight
You’ll come back to us when its time.
Buenas Noches, Buenaventura, the day that you died
All your people lay down and cried.

This audio is part of the collection: Community Audio
https://archive.org/details/BuenasNochesBuenaventura

Link

Now available at the library!

19 Jun

Now available at the library!

Haven’t yet read Nine Years of Anarchist Agitation?  It is still available for purchase, and now also for borrowing or browsing at the Watertown Free Public Library!  WFPL is part of the Minuteman Library Network, so you can request it to be delivered to any of your local libraries (Brookline, Cambridge, Somerville, etc.) for easy check-out.

Pasta dinner to benefit the Cradle of Liberty publication!

8 May

Please tell your friends and coworkers!

This Saturday, May 11, 2013 – Please join us for a pasta dinner to benefit the Cradle of Liberty publication

6:00pm -8:00pm at the Community Church of Boston, 565 Boylston St, Boston, MA 02116, in Copley Square.

Come celebrate a new publication, the Cradle of Liberty, and help ensure a future for the paper with a pasta social: food, drinks, and socializing. Suggested donation of $5-$10.
 – Co-sponsored by the Community Church of Boston

 For more information:

http://www.CradleofLibertyNews.org
http://www.facebook.com/CradleofLibertyNews

Want to support this paper in other ways? Support the paper by writing for it or publishing your events in the calendar:

Call For Submissions!
The Cradle of Liberty Collective is looking for news articles, editorials, short essays, and event announcements relevant to the Massachusetts working class community. The next issue of *Cradle of Liberty*, a bi-monthly newspaper, will be published in June and we are currently soliciting submissions. If this sounds appealing to you and you would like to submit an article or would like to get involved in any other way, please get in touch. If you cannot submit content, we are also looking for financial support in producing this free publication. For the next issue, we ask that all content be submitted by May 18th. Contact us at CradleofLibertyNews@gmail.com
Check out Issue #1 here: http://cradleoflibertynews.org/?page_id=126

If you are interested in writing, but don’t know what to write about, take a look at the calendar of upcoming Boston-area events on our website and consider writing a report about one. If you have never written before or would like some pointers or suggestions, feel free to email us at: CradleofLibertyNews@gmail.com

History of May Day

1 May

Hey friends,

  Below is an essay that appeared in my book, Nine Years of Anarchist Agitation: The History of BAAM, and Other Essays. We ran various versions of this article in the old BAAM Newsletter, updating it each May. Enjoy, and hope to see you in the streets today!

       -Jake Carman

 

How Migrant Workers Won the Eight-hour Day: A History of May Day

The Boston Anti-Authoritarian Movement Newsletter, Issue # 33 – May, 2010

 

 

In the United States in the late 1800s, workers in general and migrant workers in particular faced abysmal conditions on the job. Workers, including children, could suffer sixteen or more hours a day under dangerous, stifling, sweatshop conditions to earn starvation wages and live in cramped quarters. Like today, workers poured in from all over the world to pursue the American Dream through their own honest labor. Workers came from Ireland, Italy, Germany, China, Russia, Japan, Spain, Mexico, Norway, Syria, Slovakia, Poland, and elsewhere in search of better lives. When they arrived, however, they faced blatant racism and hate, just like migrant workers do today. Eking out hard livings in tight-knit ethnic communities, most were considered second-class citizens, regarded as diseased criminals, untrustworthy scoundrels, and, more importantly, a cheap and dispensable source of labor.

Comparing their tortured conditions to the lives of luxury and leisure that their labor provided to the factory owners and bosses, these workers became determined to do more than exist as slaves; they would organize and win for themselves lives worthy of humans. Many immigrants brought with them the radical traditions of their native countries. Anarchists, socialists, and other revolutionaries found eager ears among their fellow workers, foreign and native-born alike. Recognizing the injustices of the United States, they dreamt of a world where workers control the products of their labor, where all people have access to food and housing, and where communities, not politicians and bosses, make the decisions.

A movement for the eight-hour day started gaining momentum across the country. This struggle, undertaken by reformers and radicals alike, demanded eight hours for work, eight for sleep, and eight for leisure. Chicago’s strong labor movement pressed for, and was rewarded with, eight-hour legislation in 1867, to be enacted May 1. However, when that day came, the bosses refused to respect it and the government didn’t force them to. Chicago’s militant, organized workers went on strike to protest, but the police brutally crushed their resistance within a week and the despondent workers returned to their jobs. The only thing that changed for Chicago’s toilers is that they lost confidence that change could be achieved through legislation.

This rejection of reformism remained in the collective memory of Chicago’s workers and by 1886, another, more radical eight-hour movement sprang up. Led by migrant and other workers of the anarchist International Working People’s Association (IWPA), a general strike was planned for May 1 to proclaim the power and strength of Chicago’s determined workers. On May 1, 1886, 400,000 went on strike in Chicago, with another 350,000 joining them across the nation. Eighty thousand people marched through Chicago’s streets on May Day, defying the artificial boundaries the rulers used to divide them—race, sex, nationality, and trade—and their demonstration of unity terrified the upper class. Determined not to concede anything and to hoard all of the wealth they had robbed from the poor, the rich set out to crush the movement with violence.

 

Labor Crucified

The workers’ momentum continued with strikes and demonstrations. On May 3, the striking “lumber shovers” union held a public meeting of 6,000 near the McCormick plant. The police, loyally serving and protecting the interests of wealthy capitalists, attacked the meeting with guns and batons, killing one worker and wounding more. Outraged, anarchists posted a call in their daily German-language paper, the Arbeiter-Zeitung (“Workers’ Newspaper”) for a May 4 protest meeting at Haymarket Square.

On May 4, thousands gathered at Haymarket to denounce police violence. The crowd listened to speeches by migrant anarchist workers, such as August Spies and Samuel Fielden. Even the mayor of Chicago, who attended the beginning half of the rally, said, “nothing looked likely to happen to require police interference,” and he advised police captain Bonfield to send his forces home. Bonfield didn’t. Around 10 P.M., after the mayor and many attendees left, and as Fielden was calling the meeting to a close, Bonfield’s force of two-hundred officers marched on the rally, threatening violence and demanding it break up. Just then, someone threw a bomb at the police, killing one instantly and injuring many. In the chaos, police fired indiscriminately, killing seven of their own officers and numerous demonstrators, though they never counted how many workers they slaughtered.

A reign of terror followed while the state prosecutor publicly advised the police to target anarchists: “make the raids first and look up the law afterwards.” Police arrested all known anarchists and raided meeting halls, printing offices, and homes. Eight prominent anarchists, newspaper editors, and unionists were charged with the Haymarket bombing. They were August Spies, Sam Fielden, Albert Parsons, Adolph Fischer, George Engel, Michael Schwab, Louis Lingg, and Oscar Neebe. Of the eight men, seven were immigrants, and only three were at Haymarket that night. The state prosecutor handpicked a biased jury, and presented no evidence connecting the accused to the bomb. As the prosecution argued in court, “Anarchy is on trial. These men have been selected, picked out by the Grand Jury, and indicted because they were leaders. They are no more guilty than the thousands who follow them. Gentlemen of the jury; convict these men, make examples of them, hang them and you save our institutions, our society.” So they did.

A massive international campaign for their freedom emerged, led by Lucy Parsons, wife of Albert and a skilled labor organizer in her own right. In response, the state commuted the sentences of Schwab and Fielden to life imprisonment, and Neebe got fifteen years. The gallows awaited the rest. The fiery young German carpenter, Louis Lingg, cheated the hangman. He committed suicide in his cell the day before his execution. On November 11, 1887, Parsons, Engel, Spies, and Fischer were hanged. Six hundred thousand people attended their funeral.

The state murdered those five anarchist organizers. At the time it was seen as a setback for the eight-hour movement, but the event radicalized many more, like Emma Goldman and Voltairine de Cleyre, who later became influential anarchists. Their radical careers were inspired by the anarchists of Chicago.

The American Federation of Labor and the anarchist IWPA took the streets again on May Day, 1890, and the movement for the eight-hour day pressed on. Carrying on the legacy of the Haymarket Martyrs, organized labor began to make headway. The United Mine Workers achieved the eight-hour day in 1898, as did the Building Trades Council of San Francisco in 1900, printing trades across the U.S. in 1905, and Ford Motor workers in 1914. In 1916, threatening a nationwide general strike, U.S. railroad workers forced the government to pass the Adamson Act, which won them an eight-hour day, with additional pay for overtime.

Finally in 1938, massive militant movements of workers and the unemployed forced the Roosevelt government to pass the Fair Labor Standards Act, establishing for many the eight-hour day with extra overtime pay, as well as a national minimum wage, and the abolition of “oppressive child labor.”

 

Repression: The Decline of Labor

Frightened by the gains of the U.S. labor movement and by the revolution in Russia, the U.S. ruling class utilized their government to undermine labor’s achievements and used violence, racism, nationalism, and red baiting to splinter the movement. On May Day 1919, police and citizens bitten by the bug of blind patriotism attacked workers’ parades. Hundreds of workers were arrested, hundreds more were badly beaten, and many workers’ headquarters were ransacked. In Roxbury, MA, police and nationalists assaulted parading workers, beating them with clubs, trampling them with horses, and shooting at them. In the ensuing battle, two workers and two officers were shot, and a police chief died of a heart attack.

Beyond the violence of the police club, the government also passed a slew of laws to make the deportation of immigrant activists easier, and to keep foreign radicals out. In 1903, a new law excluded anarchists and other revolutionaries from entering the United States and enabled the government to deport radicals who had lived here for three years or less. It was broadened in 1917 to make immigrants deportable for up to five years, with no time limit for those who advocated anarchism or revolution. In 1918, a new law allowed the deportation of “aliens who are members of, or affiliated with, any organization…that writes, circulates, distributes, prints, publishes or displays, or causes to be written…or has in its possession…any written or printed matter” of an anarchist or revolutionary nature. From 1919 until 1921, U.S. Attorney General Palmer used these laws in a wave of arrests and deportations, targeting Italian anarchists and other radicals. Radicals who were not deported either fled overseas or went underground. The Palmer Raids decimated the workers’ movement. During this time, Massachusetts framed and executed immigrant workers Sacco and Vanzetti based on their Italian heritage and anarchist beliefs in what is recognized worldwide as one of the worst miscarriages of justice in history.

From the Palmer Raids to the Red Scare, the government used fear of radicals and hatred of foreigners to divide the labor movement. These divisions still cut through the working class. As a direct result, organized labor is a depressing shadow of what it once was. Most unions are too weak and corrupt to effectively combat the dominance of the capitalists. With help from the U.S. government and pro-capitalist unions, workers have even forgotten their holiday! Although International Workers’ Day is celebrated throughout the world, until 2006 only a small handful of U.S. radicals commemorated May Day.

 

We Struggle On: May Day Today

In May 2006, it was again the migrant workers who led the struggle for the rights of workers worldwide. Reviving the tradition of International Workers’ Day with El Gran Paro Estadounidense (the Great American Strike), migrant workers organized a one-day strike of work and school and a boycott of commerce. Millions participated in the demonstrations, especially in Los Angeles and also Chicago, the birthplace of International Workers’ Day. Tens of thousands marched in Boston and Everett, MA. Everywhere, workers and student allies joined the immigrants, and the demonstrations helped to stop H.R. 4437, a bill that would have made felons of all undocumented immigrants. In Boston, as across the country, workers again marched for migrants’ rights on May Day 2007 and 2008.

In 2009, we march on May Day once more. Bosses and politicians, aware of the economic depression their system has caused, look for scapegoats. Fearing a renewed movement of united workers that might force them to share the wealth and power, the rich spread racism and nationalism. They hope to turn U.S.-born workers against their migrant sisters and brothers. We will not let this happen.

The state terrorizes migrant worker communities with raids and tears families apart with deportations. They beg U.S.-born workers to separate themselves from the “foreigners,” and celebrate not May Day, but “Loyalty Day” on May 1st. To this we reply: we U.S.-born workers are loyal. We are loyal to our class, loyal to our communities, and loyal to the workers of the world! No human is illegal, and all workers deserve the same rights and freedoms. Just like the Haymarket Martyrs, we will march onward until the day when workers are no longer divided, exploited, or terrorized. We will work together to free ourselves from the bosses and politicians who have dominated our lives with fear and violence for so long.

Until that day, we remember the Haymarket Martyrs, and all of the other nameless workers who have fallen in the struggle for justice, for freedom, and for the workers’ revolution.

No Borders! No Deportations! No Bosses! No Nations!