[Marxism] IWW and anti-imperialism

Nestor Gorojovsky nestorgoro at fibertel.com.ar
Mon Aug 15 10:09:38 MDT 2005

[I won't give any opinion whatsoever on whether the Wobblies were 
anti-imperialist or not.  But I am afraid that Louis Proyect's 
argument  in this respect is quite weak:]

«When the leaders of the IWW were put on trial for their activities 
against the First World War, one of them spoke to the court:

"You ask me why the IWW is not patriotic for the United States. If 
you were a bum without a blanket . . . if your job had never kept you 
long enough in a place to qualify you to vote; if every person who 
represented law and order and the nation beat you up, railroaded you 
to jail, and the good Christian people cheered and told them to go to 
it, how in hell do you expect a man to be patriotic? This is a 
businessman's war, and we don't see why we should go out and get shot 
in order to save the lovely state of affairs that we now enjoy."»

That is:  give us blankets, safe and lifelong jobs, unqualified 
voting rights, decent behavior from power and a good public image.  
Then we shall consider this "businessman's war" our own war.  What 
one would call a Keynesian program.  FDR before FDR.

Such an argument cannot be seriously taken as a proof of anti-
imperialist faith.  The British workers in the cotton trade fared 
much better -admittedly, not without strong influence from Marx and 
Engels- during the American Civil War.  They supported the North 
against the slavocrats _even though their immediate interests were at 

Néstor Miguel Gorojovsky
nestorgoro at fibertel.com.ar

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"La patria tiene que ser la dignidad arriba y el regocijo abajo".
Aparicio Saravia
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