My Radical Past

The Paterson strike did not begin as a defensive battle against a wage cut. The broad-silk weavers called the strike on 25 February as a way of blocking an increase in loom assignments from two to four. As skilled workers, broad-silk weavers had fought since the 1880s for control over the rate of production. Responding to their strike call, the ribbon weavers and unskilled dyers’ helpers joined the 1913 strike, making it the biggest in Paterson history.

A Revolutionary Vision
Many of the silk workers had brought militant traditions of struggle with them from European textile centers; in Paterson they had welded their traditions together. The Industrial Workers of the World (I.W.W.) organizers whom they invited to help them in 1913 — Elizabeth Gurley Flynn, Carlo Tresca, and Bill Haywood — added some traditions of their own. Flynn held successful weekly meetings for women only. With I.W.W. encouragement, Italian and Jewish women like Carrie Golzio and Hannah Silverman joined the traditional local leadership of male weavers (Adolf Lessig, Louis Magnet, Evald Koettgen). I.W.W. organizers stressed that the active role played by rank-and-file silk strikers in the management of their strike was training for the democratic management of industry and society. This revolutionary vision of workers’ control reached its fullest expression in the “Pageant of the Paterson Strike” performed by over a thousand workers in Madison Square Garden on 7 June. The even was conceived by John Reed and supported by the I.W.W., the Socialist Party, Greenwich Village intellectuals, and a social circle associated with heiress Mabel Dodge.
This strike was lead by the Italian (Calabrese) Community. Who inhabited the Totowa section.

My radicalism probably began in Kindergarten when a friend named Freddy was picked on by white boys who where using racial epithets.  I was angry and stepped in to defend Freddy.

I was never one to choose friends according to race, they where always ethnically distributed and even immigrants (From Yugoslavia and South America.)

By the 7th grade my  I affirmed myself a Democratic Socialist and hung out with a Friend named Nick who was Communist. We had a sense Capitalism did not work.

Paterson was a working class town. And the surrounding towns a s Wayne, West Haledon, and other affluent communities. When someone from Paterson was in another town, the police what ask what you are doing out of Paterson.

White people where considered workers and unworthy of leaving their town. We where the workers, they where the accountants, Doctors, Lawyers, and achievers who where snobbish hateful upper class money makers who despised us because we where lower then them.

People who generally tend to find charges of classism against “lower” classes to be unfounded or unreasonably harsh often characterize the perceived prejudice as expressive of classist. Those who argue classism is especially pervasive or fundamental to the society that they live in often identify classism as the expression of systematic economic exploitation by the “higher” classes.

My  parents where factory workers and that was not good for me or anyone else.

It made it tough to get a part time job.  People who generally tend to find charges of classism against “lower” classes to be unfounded or unreasonably harsh often characterize the perceived prejudice as expressive of classist, class envy. Those who argue classism is especially pervasive or fundamental to the society that they live in often identify classism as the expression of systematic economic exploitation by the “higher” classes.

In 1972 I read a book called the Three Isms. Capitalism, Socialism, and Communism. And Democratic Socialism. I awoke to Revolution. I knew where I stood. One day we wore caps to school, Russian looking caps with Red Stars. The teachers was pissed. He said, Don’t you know you are wearing the symbol of the enemy?” We had a Socialist Street Hockey Team called the Red Stars.  I attended many protests and in NYC I met folks like Bayard Rustin and David McReynolds.

When the Revolution Book Store was on W 10t Street, I read Debs, Thomas, and Marx books there. I bought a Copy of Das Kapital.

When the Democratic Primaries where on I attended an meeting at the  Town Hall NYC. I was a Democratic Socialist Organizing Committee Member of Now known as Democratic Socialists of America.  I met Michael Harrington (not the first time) who I thought was an intellectual puffer. I told Michael, The Democrats are not even Socialist , Why work with in the Democrats? We got into a Debate, he actually tried to give me a pop quiz on his book on “Socialism.”  I also met Ceasar Chevez, who I thought was the real deal. We had a great talk about labor and exploitation.  He was more real than Harrington.

I learned a while ago, only to be confirmed by Harrington that the Left does not represent everyone. And elite intellectuals and limousine liberals where just as bad as their conservative counter parts.

In 1985, after a brief stint in the Socialist Party USA  I quit socialism and thought what America needs is a Socialism that embraces everyone.  Not one  that embraces competing interest groups.

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