Occupiers of the World Unite

Daniel Gross' preface to Rebel Voices – PM Press's newly reprinted treasury of stories, testimonials, songs, and jeremiads from the heyday of the Industrial Workers of the World – was penned recently enough to celebrate the labor-led seizure of the Wisconsin capital but just long enough ago that there's not a word in it about the Occupy movement. The contrast is fascinating: The Wobblies dared direct action to enact clearly defined changes in the lives of a membership rather than undefined changes for the benefit of all society. That all society itself benefited from those specific changes is a point made again and again in Rebel Voices. Its other highlights include theater (a description of a powerful funeral “pageant” at mills in Paterson, New Jersey, in 1913), satire (Chazzdor's scathing 1957 fiction “Parable of the Water Pump”), and the rabble-rousing of Ralph Winsetad's “Chin-Whiskers, Hay-Wire, and Pitchforks,” which concerned the radicalization of lumberjacks. Gross will undoubtedly address Occupy tonight, when he discusses Rebel Voices at Green Arcade, but Wisconsin – or the port shutdown - might be the stronger parallel than the camps: A reminder that the collective action most likely to win the hearts of the public is that in response to specific, conquerable injustices.
Mon., Jan. 16, 7 p.m., 2012

 
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