July 6, 2011
Historical analysis is based upon empirical facts of all parts of a larger social whole interact and change over time and how nations react to both communities within the nation and the entire planet outside the nation is central to any serious discipline in social science. Historical studies are empirical, descriptive, narrative story telling, theoretical and scientific.
In the second half of the 1930’s, two things were going on as far as the labor movement is concerned.
1st There was a popular front, also known also known united front, Democratic Front or people’s front in which communists, socialists, social democrats, and most important New Deal Democrats agreed to cooperate. This would lead to a massive union organizing effort. It would also create a movement for legislation for public employment social security and an economic safety net.
2nd This was the heyday of CIO organizing. The Committee for Industrial Organizations would be expelled from the American Federation of Labor and would form the Congress of Industrial Organizations. In 1935 with the passage of the Wagner Act for the first time the federal government would protect workers rights to join unions bargain collectively and even to strike. Federal law requiring employers to honor the contracts would enforce labor contracts. With the CIO organizing entire industries in a single union, labor gained a great deal of strength and credibility. Workers in large manufacturing, mining, wood products, shipping, transportation and maritime companies voted in excess of 85 or 90 percent to join unions. Auto, big steel and etc for the first time became unionized legally. Little steel refused to allow their employees even to vote on joining unions, anyone sympathetic to unions would be fired and black listed in other little steel firm. Republic Steel led the fight to keep unions out of Little Steel.
What happened, there were a demonstration, picnic and an attempt to call public attention to Little Steel violation of the law and forced federal, state and local authorities to enforce the law. The demonstration organizers received permission from the city of Chicago to put on the event. The officials at Republic Steel contacted the mayor’s office to break up the demonstration. The demonstration organizers having gotten permission ahead of time seriously did not expect any trouble. The police department was ordered by the mayor’s office to break up the demonstration by any means necessary, because Republic Steel was a major campaign contributor. Police violence sectioned by the Chicago Mayor’s office followed the result was the Memorial Day massacre.
Historical actions are products of human action. Interactions between individuals, groups of individuals, and their environment create our social and cultural institutions. Because the results of our conscious actions are often beyond our command much of our social world exist in a world that escapes the one we choose. This contradiction is a major motor of our collective history. The more we try to create our own history the more escapes our control.
July 13, 2011
In 1932 there was an election for president in the US like no other in history. The Great Depression was on. The Previous administration which was the Hoover presidency, tried to deal with the bad economy by stimulating the private sector purposely. Programs like the Reconstruction Finance Corporation gave money openly to financial institutions and other entities in the private sector directly to stimulate the economy. The result was the private investors chose not to invest in plans to put people back to work, but kept their money save. Roosevelt came into and tried many things which did not work at first but he continued to try new things by 1935 thing were slowly improving. Programs like the CCC, CWA later replaced by the WPA, PWA, and public projects like the TVA began to employ more and more people the recovery was slow and painful, but there were real improvements. With the economy slowly starting to recover, Roosevelt faced real pressure to let the private sector take over. Not only Republicans but also many Conservative Democrats thought it was time to stimulate the economy through budget cuts and tax cuts to major investors. In 1938 the Roosevelt Recession hit and hit hard. The result was that the gains that were made over previous five years were largely lost and unemployment was as high as ever. Private investors did not invest in industry that would put people back to work. Instead they saved their money. The economy hit bottom and Roosevelt did not have the support from congress to restart the recovery and things would not turn around until W.W.II broke out and with a wartime economy.
Today with the demand for budget cuts and tax breaks for wealthy investors we face the same problem. If we continue down this road there will be no significant increases in employment. But with tax breaks for the wealthy and serious cuts in the employment in the public sector, unemployment will remain high. For the wealthy there will be more investments in speculative assets with the hope of quick returns, isn’t this how we got into this mess in the first place?