When Capitalism goes unchecked….A lesson in History


Originally posted in the WSWS, this is a lesson we all can understand. Never forget that the want of money can lead many people to the disregard of others. This is again happening. Unions are why you have your children in school and not working beside you in the factory or fish house. They are why you have a forty hour work week and some safety in the workplace. Much suffering and many deaths were caused by those that profited from the toil and sweat of the workers. Route out the infiltrators in the unions , take back the union for the worker and support others when they need it.

100 years ago: Triangle fire kills 146 in New York City

Triangle fireTenth floor of Asch building after Triangle fire

On March 25, a fire broke out in the Triangle Shirtwaist factory, which was located on the eight, ninth, and tenth, and eleventh floors of the Asch building in the Greenwich Village neighborhood of New York City. Before the blaze could be brought under control 146 garment workers died, most of them Jewish and Italian girls and young women.

The disaster, one of the worst in the history of US industry, illustrated in the most horrific fashion the brutality of American capitalism. The women, whose wages were not enough to support a family and were typically handed over to parents, worked in appalling conditions.

Their workplace was littered with the flammable cotton refuse used to make shirtwaists          (women’s blouses). To control “worker theft,” factory owners Max Blanck and Isaac Harris had factory doors locked from the outside; in the aftermath of the fire, charred bodies were found grouped together around these still-locked doors. The fire department of New York, the largest and most advanced city in the US, had no means of reaching the women screaming for help from the high rise factory. This resulted in dozens of women jumping to their deaths to avoid the flames.

A court acquitted Blanck and Harris of all wrong-doing that year, and a later civil settlement resulted in just $75 payment to the families of each dead worker. Taking into account a sizable insurance settlement, the owners actually gained money as a result of the tragedy.

It is often claimed that the Triangle fire encouraged the advance of reform in the US, and especially in New York. While this is undoubtedly true, the main impetus to reform was the threat posed by the growing militancy and radicalism of the workers. The garment industry was home to some of the first large industrial unions in the US. One of these, the International Ladies Garment Workers Union, had in 1909 been at the head of the “Uprising of the 20,000,” largely immigrant garment workers in New York City. At the same time, socialism was exerting a profound and growing influence among New York’s immigrant workers.

For many more photos go to Cornell University

 

Fire fighters arrived at the Asch Building soon after the alarm was sounded but ladders only reached the sixth floor and the high pressure pumps of the day could not raise the water pressure needed to extinguish the flames on the highest floors of the ten-story building. In this fireproof factory, 146 young men, women, and children lost their lives, and many others were seriously injured. Photographer: unknown, March 25, 1911

A police officer and others with the broken bodies of Triangle fire victims at their feet, look up in shock at workers poised to jump from the upper floors of the burning Asch Building. The anguish and gruesome deaths of workers was witnessed firsthand by many people living or walking near the corner of Greene Street and Washington Place. Others read about it in the many newspaper reports circulated during the following days and weeks, bringing the conditions of garment worker into public scrutiny as it had been during the shirtwaist strike of 1909. Photographer: Brown Brothers, March 25, 1911

After the Triangle factory fire was extinguished, broken bodies, hoses, buckets, and debris around the building testify to the extent of the struggle and the scale of the tragedy. Photographer: unknown, March 25, 1911

International Ladies Garment Workers Union Local 25 began the strike with $10 in their treasury. A special edition of the city's Socialist paper, The New York Call, told the story of the strike in English, Italian and Yiddish. Copies were donated to local 25 by the publisher and sold by union members to raise money for strike expenses. Photographer: unknown, December 1909

International Ladies Garment Workers Union Local 25 began the strike with $10 in their treasury. A special edition of the city's Socialist paper, The New York Call, told the story of the strike in English, Italian and Yiddish. Copies were donated to local 25 by the publisher and sold by union members to raise money for strike expenses. Photographer: unknown, December 1909

Shirtwaist strikers march in snowy streets, often without warm clothes or sturdy shoes. Photographer: unknown, ca. 1910

Women who were arrested on the picket lines and sent to Blackwell’s Island wear “Workhouse Prisoner” signs claiming their service with pride, and were cheered by other strikers and supporters. Photographer: unknown, ca. 1910

Is it wrong to want food for your family? Is it wrong to want a roof over your head? A warm dry place for your children to rest?  From each according to his ability, to each according to his need. Then and now it is a fight! Never let the mind of the oppressors rest.

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About sixathome

بِسْمِ اللَّهِ الرَّحْمَٰنِ الرَّحِيمِ Mom to six children that have never been sent to school.
This entry was posted in Dying, education,truth, family, Human Rights, Marx, Prison, socialism, unschool and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to When Capitalism goes unchecked….A lesson in History

  1. Robin says:

    I was talking about the US job market, but those are competitive wages if they are in line with the cost of living. One of the perks of setting up shop in a third world country is the lower wages because the cost of living is so much reduced than it is here. Some of the owness has to come from the leadership of the countries that have massive poverty. Much has to do with corruption of government officials and it should be up to the citizens of each country to hold their officials accountable, as it is our duty to do it here.

    Why would anybody think they could solve hunger when charity only lines the pockets of those that are in a position to steal it? I’m against forced child labor; I think it’s a morality problem also. Look at the hundreds of billions of dollars sent to Haiti and nothing has been rebuilt.

    Welfare issued by government creates a downward spiral of dependence, there’s a big difference between a hand-up and hand-outs. Read this case in point by John Stossel Regarding an Indian tribe that didn’t qualify for the government handouts,
    “We shouldn’t take it!” says Lumbee Ben Chavis, another successful businessman. Chavis says not getting any handouts is what makes his tribe successful, and if the federal money starts coming, members of his tribe “are going to become welfare cases. It’s going to stifle creativity. We don’t need the government giving us handouts.”

    Read more: http://stossel.blogs.foxbusiness.com/2011/03/25/freeloading-doesnt-help-the-freeloaders/#ixzz1JSGIvBT8

    It should be in our hearts to take care of the weak and poor in our respective communities, if some people do more for than others…so be it. There would be a great deal more help if they weren’t mandated to and took a personal interest in others. The help coming from neighbors would have a great deal more transparency and less corruption. Perhaps people busy with their own lives just need communication that others need help (perhaps that’s the fix).

    • sixathome says:

      That article was by a freeloader, Stossel has made his living off the backs of others. If the AIM was interviewed I doubt they would say the gov helped them , More like stole from them and then made sure they could not stay united. Informants and infiltrators, Leonard Peltier was and is a political prisoner. http://www.aimovement.org/csi/Scans/InterviewWTTW3_12_75_02.jpg

      Stossel re invented Indian history. Fox won the case in US courts to lie.
      Welfare by a capitalist government does much of what you say because of the hoops it constrains itś recipients by. Chavez and others are doing it but have to also contend with US intervention like AIM did.
      ¨Getting at poverty’s roots: In the past few months, more than half a million illiterate Venezuelans have received basic reading and writing instruction. Hundreds of thousands of poor children have begun attending school for the first time in their lives. Doctors imported from Cuba as part of a petroleum deal are paying house calls to poor neighborhoods.

      Perhaps most important, tens of thousands of people such as Lopez have been given title to land that their families have been squatting on for generations, both in poor urban slums like this one and in vast rural tracts. Using new government credits, poor families are planting crops, organizing businesses, fixing up their homes and redesigning their neighborhoods.¨

      ¨Perhaps people busy with their own lives just need communication that others need help (perhaps that’s the fix).¨ Yes, that´s socialism. Community councils and workers not an elite group of representatives.

      • Robin says:

        Stossel didn’t re-write Native American history, and he did interview other tribes. Is Leonard Peltier a political prisoner or did he kill two FBI Agents? Although, Stossel does say, “I’m a freeloader” – I highly doubt it was in the same context as you have alluded to. If your statement, “making a living off the backs of others” is anti-capitalism, it would mean that every manufacturer and business owner that has something to market is guilty of the same thing.

        I prefer to laud the efforts of entrepreneurs because they are the employers of the world who gives poor people jobs.

        Communication isn’t Socialism but what Chavez is doing absolutely is. After he’s alienated the business community, the unions etc., he has little choice but to exploit the poor, he needs some sort of support for his rigged elections. If you’re aligning with Chavez, you’re against the USA. I also find it amusing that Venezuela is a source, destination and transit country for human trafficking of sexual exploitation and forced labor (tier 2 and tier 3) under Chavez’s dictatorship. See – http://www.state.gov/g/tip/rls/tiprpt/2010/

        Even Nancy Pelosi has called Chavez a thug. I have no idea why you would want to hand all your rights and liberties to the government and have government control everything in your life, is it a misguided effort? Is it not corruption and immorality that should really be addressed? How would you expect to fight for any of your beliefs after giving up your rights?

      • sixathome says:

        Rebuttal statement given Friday, 14 december 2000, at the National Press Club in Washington DC, by former Rep. Don Edwards of California, to the FBI’s statements against clemency for Peltier.
        Rep. Edwards served 16 terms in the House of Representatives, is a former FBI agent himself, and was the longtime chairman at the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Civil and Constitutional Rights which oversaw the Bureau.

        12/14/00
        As a former Congressman from California for over thirty years, a former FBI agent and a citizen committed to justice, I wish to speak out strongly against the FBI’s efforts in opposing the clemency appeal of Leonard Peltier. I served as Chairman of the Subcommittee on Civil and Constitutional Rights in the U.S. House of Representatives. I took a personal interest in Mr. Peltier’s case and became convinced that he never received a fair trial. Even the government now admits that the theory it presented againstMr. Peltier at trial was not true. After 24 years in prison, Leonard Peltier has served an inordinate amount of time and deserves the right to consideration of his clemency request on the facts and the merits. The FBI continues to deny its improper conduct on Pine Ridge during the 1970’s anin the trial of Leonard Peltier. The FBI used Mr. Peltier as a scapegoat and they continue to do so today. At every step of the way, FBI agents and leadership have opposed any admission of wrongdoing by the government, and they have sought to misrepresent and politicize the meaning of clemencyfor Leonard Peltier. The killing of FBI agents at Pine Ridge was reprehensible, but the government now admits that it cannot prove that Mr. Peltier killed the agents. Granting clemency to Mr. Peltier should not be viewed as expressing any disrespect for the current agents or leadership of the FBI, nor would it represent any condoning of the killings that took place on Pine Ridge. Instead, clemency for Mr. Peltier would recognize past wrongdoing and the undermining of the government’s case since trial. Finally, it would serve as a crucial step in the reconciliation and healing between the U.S. Government and NativeAmericans, on the Pine Ridge Reservation and throughout the country. [signature] Don Edwards (D-CA), ret. Member of Congress, 1963-1995 Hon. Don Edwards PO Box 7151 Carmel CA 93921
        Venezuelans Celebrate Rescue of Democracy as Threats Continue
        Thursday, 14 April 2011 21:43

        This week, Venezuelans commemorated the 9-year anniversary of the failed coup d’etat that briefly ousted President Chavez from power and dissolved the nation’s democracy, installing a US-backed dictatorship. In an extraordinary turn of events, a popular uprising crushed the coup just hours later.

        by Eva Golinger

        This Wednesday, April 13, thousands of Venezuelans marched on the nation’s capital, celebrating what has come to be known as the “Day of Civil-Military Strength and Dignity”. It was nine years ago on this day that millions of Caracas residents, together with loyal armed forces and the Presidential Guard, defeated a US-backed coup d’etat that had forcefully taken power just 48 hours prior.

        The coup, executed by business leaders, corrupt union officials, private media owners, power-hungry military officers, former ruling-party politicians and “civil society” organizations – all financially and politically supported by US government agencies, the State Department and the White House (see “The Chavez Code: Cracking US Intervention in Venezuela” by Eva Golinger, Olive Branch Press 2006) – succeeded briefly in ousting President Chavez and his government from power on April 11, 2002.

        Utilizing images manipulated by private television station, Venevision, the coup forces justified their actions by blaming the violence and deaths that occured that day on the Venezuelan head of state. In reality, as top secret Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) documents have revealed, the coup was planned in the days and weeks prior to its execution. The objective was to use an anti-Chavez protest to provoke violence and unrest in the capital, Caracas, putting into action a detailed plot using snipers to fire on the crowds, causing deaths and injuries, which would be blamed on the government, justifying its ouster. As one top secret, now partially-declassifed CIA document from April 6, 2002 (5 days before the coup took place) outlines, after the violence was provoked by coup forces, “President Chavez and other top members in his cabinet…would be arrested” and a “transitional government” would be installed.

        Chavez was detained by force on the evening of April 11, 2002, and kidnapped by dissident military officers, on the orders of the coup leaders. Meanwhile, the US ambassador in Caracas, Charles Shapiro, was coordinating the actions on the ground with media owners, metropolitan police forces involved in the sniper shootings, and of course the business and political leaders that forcefully took over the government. Documentary evidence proves that Shapiro held several meetings and conversations during the events of April 11, 2002, with the metropolitan police commissioner, Henry Vivas, as well as with Gustavo Cisneros, owner of Venevision, and Pedro Carmona, who subsequently took over the presidency and declared himself head of state.

        PEOPLE’S POWER

        As the coup unfolded and Carmona, then head of Venezuela’s chamber of commerce, Fedecamaras, unilaterally and illegally swore himself into office as president, the constitutional president, Hugo Chavez, was held hostage and incomunicado on a small island military base off Venezuela’s coast. The only non-private national television station, state-owned VTV, was taken off the air by then governor of the state of Miranda, Enrique Mendoza, in an effort to silence pro-Chavez forces and conceal information and events from the people. Private media – all involved in the coup – broadcast cartoons, old movies and soap operas, while print media published articles justifying and supporting the “transition government”.

        Before an audience of about 400 people in the presidential palace, Miraflores, Pedro Carmona issued a decree dissolving all of the nation’s democratic institutions: the Supreme Court, the National Assembly (Congress), the Attorney General, Public Defender, Comptroller, the Executive cabinet, and even the national Constitution. Police forces, under the control of the coup regime, repressed pro-Chavez protestors in the streets, killing and injuring over 100 people during those hours.

        But despite the media blackout on the real events that were taking place, millions of Venezuelans, unwilling to accept the disappearance of their constitutionally-elected president and the imposition of a dictatorship that openly dissolved their democracy, took to the streets in protest. Armed forces loyal to President Chavez began taking over military barracks and urging people to come out in the streets to express their popular will. Within hours, the presidential palace was flooded with demonstrators, demanding the return of President Chavez and the ouster of the coup government.

        Meanwhile, a low-ranking soldier guarding Chavez, urged the Venezuelan chief to write a note saying he was alive and still President of Venezuela, pledging he would find a way to get the letter into the public light. He succeeded. The famous letter, written in Chavez’s unmistakable handwriting, declaring the Venezuelan president had never “renounced the legitimate power given to him by the people”, made it into the hands of military forces loyal to their Commander in Chief. A rescue mission was immediately activated and Chavez was flown back in a helicopter to the presidential palace right around midnight on April 13.

        The millions that surrounded the palace, together with the loyal presidential guard, were able to force out the coup leaders, who incredulously emptied the presidential safes and stole as much as they could before escaping. As Chavez descended from the helicopter, cries and cheers were heard from the crowd. An extraordinary feeling of community power, justice and love eminated from those who had risked their lives to rescue their democracy, their constitution, their president, and most of all, their dignity.

        THREATS CONTINUE

        During the celebration this Wednesday, President Chavez, speaking before a volumunious crowd that marched to the presidential palace grounds, reaffirmed that “Nobody can topple our Revolution again”, warning those who continue with destabilization plans that they will be “swept away” and “never return”.

        As the crowds chanted “The people united will never be defeated”, the Venezuelan President, reflected on the events 9 years ago, “They came at us with a coup backed by powerful interests, the US government and the elite, but they were met but something even more powerful: the people of Venezuela and our real soldiers”.

        Nonetheless, the majority of those involved in the coup remain present in Venezuelan politics today, still aiming to oust Chavez’s government and put an end to the Bolivarian Revolution. During the 9 years since the coup, US government funding for opposition groups and parties in Venezuela has increased exponentially, reaching nearly $15 million annually from State Department agencies alone.

        Several of the key members of the coup, who were given amnesty by President Chavez in 2007 in an attempt to promote national dialogue, today hold positions in regional governments (governors and mayors), and in the nation’s National Assembly. From these legitimate platforms, they continue to conspire against the Chavez administration.

        Ironically, during this week’s coup anniversary, one participant in the April 2002 events, Maria Corina Machado, now a member of the National Assembly, was invited by the Department of State to dictate several conferences in the US, including one in Miami titled “600 Days to Eradicate Authoritarianism: Transforming Venezuela”. While in Miami, Machado “celebrated” with a community of self-exiled Venezuelans, many of whom played key roles in the coup. Machado is slated to be an opposition contender in Venezuela’s presidential elections in 2012.

        Source: Postcards from the Revolution

  2. Robin says:

    In Canada, education does not fall within the scope of federal jurisdiction – it is the singular responsibility of each province or territory. Under the British North America Act of 1867, each province and territory has the power to establish its own autonomous education system and to make all decisions regarding schools, teachers and curriculum pertaining to education within the specific province/territory. http://www.ctf-fce.ca/TIC/Default.aspx?SID=625889

    Evolution in industry accounts for something too…more is known today about workplace safety and hazards. Even today, there are fires in high-rises where people get trapped – all is still not perfect. Most Corporations pay competitive wages and compensation, learning that attracting skill and talent improves their bottom line. As far as child labor goes, some children are willing to work to get spending money, having a menial workmarket is essential, who cares if there were advancement opportunities?

    Privatization for schools is not a bad idea…it would compel competition, allowing the cream to rise to the top, participating in a natural reward system. Even in a voucher system, educators and facilities would find a way to become the best they could be.

    Welfare is not inspirational.

    How hard would you try if your pay was the same no matter what you did? Is inefficiency considered broken to you? Does a system have to be broken before improvements can be made?

    • sixathome says:

      Is this what is meant by competitive wage? Example Nike pay; Indonesian workers make $2.46 a day, Vietnamese workers make $l.60 a day, Chinese workers make $1.75 a day all with forced overtime and hazards that are not acceptable. All is not perfect to be sure , the Union Carbide incident in India is still denied by the company. And it is STILL not cleaned up 25 years later. https://secure.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/wiki/Bhopal_disaster Or maybe it was the easy idea of ¨spending money¨ and ¨menial market¨ that came from the ILO´s End Child Labour project that have the numbers at 200+ million children at work. http://mediavoicesforchildren.org/?p=6033
      Yes , well fare is inspirational. Just ask any out of work family that can now put food on the table while looking for employment. Or the family who had their home foreclosed on and does not have to live in their car. Civilization is judged by how it cares for the weakest members.“It is poverty to decide that a child must die so that you may live as you wish.”Mother Teresa
      I believe food,shelter, and clean water are rights not privileges. I am not driven by money but by a desire to do good for my creator.

  3. Robin says:

    “Unions are why you have your children in school and not working beside you…” In Canada Unions are not why they have children in school and not working beside them. Canada has enforceable labor laws and it’s illegal to have kids out of school, they also have truancy officers. There are no teachers unions in Canada and they pump out a higher grade of education.

    • sixathome says:

      This is interesting. We too have truancy officers,every police officer. But Canada did not always have child labour laws.
      ¨Opportunities for paid employment broadened for the minority of children not in school. From the mid-19th century Canada began to undergo industrialization and urbanization. As the proportion of urban residents grew from about 17% at Confederation in 1867 to over one-third by 1901 and almost one-half by 1921, new jobs for children became available in Montréal textile mills, Hamilton businesses, Cape Breton and BC mines, and small manufacturing enterprises in the Maritimes. At the end of the 19th century, approximately 70% of Canadians lived in rural communities. While the number of children 10-14 years old employed in agriculture dropped from 62 700 in 1891 to 5400 in 1911, the total otherwise gainfully employed, primarily in business and industry, actually expanded from 13 000 to about 20 000.

      Many jobs were “dead end”: poorly paid, menial positions without any opportunity for advancement. Some positions, such as those of messenger boy and newspaper vendor, did not lead to adult employment. Moreover, most children holding jobs came from working-class backgrounds and were of special concern to middle-class reformers intent on improving Canadian society. As well as supporting compulsory schooling and measures to combat juvenile delinquency, reformers sought to ban child labour. Although the first provincial legislation regulating child labour in factories and mines had been passed in the 1870s and 1880s, the prohibition of child labour came only in the new century. ¨ Child Labour http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.com/index.cfm?PgNm=TCE&Params=A1ARTA0001577
      When Canadian children were free to attend school in the early 20th century, British children were brought in for ¨humanitarian ¨ reasons ¨Almost all were apprenticed to rural families and in general became child labourers rather than adopted children. ¨ http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.com/
      Canada also has a teachers union ….¨
      Founded in 1920, the Canadian Teachers’ Federation (CTF) is a national alliance of provincial and territorial teacher organizations that represent nearly 200,000 elementary and secondary school teachers across Canada. CTF is also a member of the international body of teachers, Education International (www.ei-ie.org).¨
      As for the higher grade of education, why then are the Canadian ministers trying to tie teachers to merit pay like the US? If there is not a problem why try to ´fix´ one? Seems like it is another step toward privatizing schools in Canada just like corporations would like done here.

Arouse my imagination!

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