From the August 2006 Idaho Observer:
Learning the lessons in history—over and over again
by Andy Jolliff
"Call it a terrorist secret society; say it is really an organization known to its initiates as the inner circle, devoted to murder and the overturning of society."
James McParlan was the director of the Denver Pinkerton Detective agency in 1907. He was coaching Harry Orchard on what to say about the Western Federation Of Miners. Orchard had only days before blown up Idaho’s fourth governor, Frank Stunenburg.
Orchard was the man arrested and eventually sentenced to life in the Idaho State Penitentiary, a term he ultimately served. He also confessed to bombings all over the west that killed several persons and critically wounded several others.
Harry was Idaho’s oldest prisoner for a while. He wrote a book "The Man God Remade." He got a special little cell built along the outside wall of the prison where he raised chickens and turkeys for the prison. Pretty good treatment for a multiple murderer, don’t you think?
He said he did it on the orders of the heads of the miners’ union, all of whom were arrested in the middle of the night in Denver, bound in chains and put on a special train, transported to Idaho and put in the Idaho state penitentiary. They were tried and eventually acquitted of all charges. All were taken into custody on the word of a confessed multiple killer and undercover Pinkerton agent. Orchard’s accusations broke the miners’ union, which was the intended result.
What got my attention about the above quote by McParlan, was how similar it sounded to the weapons of mass destruction dialog spouted by several of our current "world leaders." Even as early as 1907, the plan of demonizing someone and making them an enemy by framing them as violent, was part of the game plan of the super rich.
The point I intend to show is that, once again, we the people of these United States have been used by the greedy descendants of these Robber Barons—men who bought proxies to fight and die in the Civil War so they wouldn’t have to fight and die themselves.
Instead, those Robber Barons amassed huge fortunes buying up properties while men were away fighting the war and unable to make payments to the banks.
The Civil War era
Before the Civil War, the wages for working people had been very low, usually not enough to live on. Whenever labor organized and asked for more money or better conditions, Capital (the super rich or big business) answered that the south was full of free black workers or slaves and if the workers didn’t like things the way they were, they could be replaced with blacks for almost nothing.
Before the Civil War, the threat of cheap (slave) labor from an outside source kept wages down. Today jobs are moved to third world countries where there are no unions and lots of people are glad to work 12 or 14 hours a day for pennies. Early labor leaders pointed this out and voiced the opinion that a wound to one was a wound to all working people.
Capital found it easy to arouse racial prejudice to keep black and white workers from uniting. The Civil War ended much of the early labor strife as workers went off to fight, and loyalty dictated that all strife cease until the end of the war. The attitude of the Robber Barons is shown best by a quote from Jay Gould, " I can hire one half of the working class to kill the other half."
From the fat of Civil War contracts for the instruments of mass killing came the great American fortunes and the beginning of "monopolies."
"Chesty and imperial for all his youth, and he was only 24 at the beginning of the war. [J.P.] Morgan perceived from the first that wars were for the shrewd to profit and the poor to die in. When thousands of less calculating young men, their hearts touched with fire, marched off to Bull Run and the defense of Washington, D.C., young Morgan advanced on a government arsenal in New York City. He had received a tip that a store of government-owned rifles had been condemned as defective and with the simplicity of genius he bought them from the government for $17,500 on one day and sold them back to the government on the next for $110,000."
After the war, the foreign born, the abolitionists and the trade unionists hoped they had heard the last of the old charge that they were conspirators; foreign agents intent on overthrowing the government by force and violence. All had fought on many a bloody battlefield against the real conspirators; the real users of force and violence. Those had not been the poor, or the old ruling class that ruled no more.
Of the new Robber Barons, an investigating congressional committee said, "...worse than traitors, are the men pretending loyalty to the flag, who feast and fatten on the misfortunes of the nation."
Or to quote wealthy Fredrick Townsend Martin from 1894, "It matters not one iota what political party is in power or what president holds the reigns of office, we are not politicians or public thinkers; we are the rich, we own America; we got it, God knows how, but we intend to keep it if we can by throwing the tremendous weight of our support, our influence, our money, our political connections, our purchased senators, our hungry congressmen, our public speaking demagogues into the scale against any legislation, any political platform, any presidential campaign that threatens the integrity of our estate... The class I represent cares nothing for politics. In a single season a plutocratic leader hurled his influence and his money into the scale to elect a Republican governor on the Pacific coast and a Democratic governor on the Atlantic coast."
They were the new ruling class. They had only one thorn in their side that kept irritating and it wouldn’t go away—those uppity workers. Labor was beginning to realize that, united, they could withstand the forces of the super rich, bought politicians, Pinkerton thugs, strike breakers, scabs, state militias, state cops, news media, and other security personnel. Even the legislatures and city governments were called out as random persons were chosen and executed, hung in public to serve as examples to show workers who was in control.
These new rulers brought America into the midst of the industrial revolution, speedups, 12 to 18 hour days, seven days a week, mass production and sweatshops. Labor soon learned that its only chance at dignity and a fair way of life was to organize into unions and stick together against the ruthless capitalists. Almost immediately charges of communism, foreign conspiracy and Red plot were brought against the unions and used to hang 14 people on June 21, 1877. Ten people were hung at Pottsville and four at Mauch Chunk during the Pennsylvania Railroad strike. The only crime any of them had been guilty of was talking about labor organization.
A Pennsylvania State Legislative committee report stated, "The railroad strike of 1877 was not a communist insurrection but the result of specific grievances of railroad workers."
Here began the career of James McParlan, the Pinkerton spy. McParlan claimed the men were members of the dreaded Irish gang, "The Molly McGuires," a secret organization whose members were bent on destroying society with violence and bloodshed. McParlan’s testimony was backed by that of a witness they called "Kelly the Bum," who said he "would testify against Jesus Christ to get out of prison."
On May 1, 1886, in Chicago, labor strikes and speeches favoring the eight-hour workday were held, but a paid troublemaker threw a bomb into the crowd. One person was killed and seven were wounded. Four labor leaders were framed for the bomb and hanged. Leaders, celebrities and people from all over the world pled for these men but they were hanged anyway. One Chicago businessman said, "No, I don’t consider these men to be guilty of anything, but they must be hanged. I am not afraid of anarchy; oh no, it’s the utopian scheme of a few philanthropic cranks who are amiable with all, but I do consider that the labor movement must be crushed. The knights of labor will never dare to create discontent again if these men are hanged."
In May of 1920, Sacco and Venzetti had been active in organizing labor meetings, signing up new members, and organizing a labor strike. When a friend of Venzetti’s, an Italian printer by the name of Andrea Salsedo, was arrested in New York City, Venzetti went there to try to find out what was happening to him. Scarcely had he returned on May 3, when Salsedo’s crushed body was found beneath the 14th story window of the Department of Justice in New York’s Park Row Building.
Held illegally for eight weeks Salsedo had either jumped or been pushed from the offices of the Department of Justice. With this occurrence Venzetti and Sacco began organizing a meeting to protest the death of Salsedo. It was to be in Brockton on May 9. It was never held. On May 5 both men were arrested with leaflets announcing their meeting in their hands. Picked up originally for dangerous radical activities, they soon found themselves charged with a payroll robbery in which two guards were killed at South Braintree, Mass., on April 15, 1920.
Significantly, it was on this charge and not the one on which they were arrested, that Sacco and Venzetti were sent to their deaths. Later investigation showed that both men were innocent.
Once again people from all over the world pled for their lives. However, because they were union troublemakers, they were hanged. One would think that the press would have come forward with the truth and proclaimed it to the mountain tops ‘til justice was served, but like John Swinton, a preeminent New York journalist, said in 1880, "There is no such thing, at this date of the world’s history, in America, as an independent press. You know it and I know it. There is not one of you who dares to write your honest opinions, and if you did, you know beforehand that it would never appear in print. I am paid weekly for keeping my honest opinion out of the paper I am connected with. Others of you are paid similar salaries for similar things, and any of you who would be so foolish as to write honest opinions would be out on the streets looking for another job. If I allowed my honest opinions to appear in one issue of my paper, before twenty-four hours my occupation would be gone.
The business of the journalists is to destroy the truth, to lie outright, to pervert, to vilify, to fawn at the feet of mammon, and to sell his country and his race for his daily bread. You know it and I know it, and what folly is this toasting an independent press?
We are the tools and vassals of rich men behind the scenes. We are the jumping jacks, they pull the strings and we dance. Our talents, our possibilities and our lives are all the property of other men. We are intellectual prostitutes."
War and corporations
No wonder the truth wasn’t written out for the average American. If more people were aware of how we are being used, revolution would gallop through our land.
One of the industrialists said that he considered his workers as just another machine.
Use it to it’s fullest for as long as possible then toss it, them, into the street. This attitude still is prevalent among the corporate elite who have spent millions, even billions, on Pinkerton spies, strike breakers, weapons, crooked politicians, news media (and the list could go on and on) rather than give it to the people who make them wealthy—their workers.
Mark Twain said, "the benefits of civilization’s trust is a real daisy to those who knew how to apply it best."
From Labors Untold Story: "In 1929, J.P. Morgan and his cronies controlled assets of approximately 74 Billion dollars. More than enough to give them an adequate voice in the country’s policies. Of those billions, they had invested some 16 billion abroad. Throughout the 1920s, American armed forces followed American investments, ousting governments who favored repudiation of Wall Street loans; guarding American oil properties from expropriation and squelching all attempts at genuine independence through the machine gun and bomb. Hundreds of Latin American patriots died on the bayonets of American imperialism with scarcely anyone knowing or caring in the United States."
Major General Smedly Butler, U.S. Marine Corps said, "I spent 33 years and four months in active service as a member of our nation’s most agile military force, the Marine Corps. I served in all the ranks from second lieutenant to major general and during that time I spent most of my time being a high class muscle man for Big Business, for Wall Street and for bankers. In short, I was a racketeer for capitalism. Thus I helped make Mexico and especially Tampico, safe for the American oil interests in 1914. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank to collect revenues in. I helped purify Nicaragua for the international banking house of Brown Brothers from 1909 to 1912. I brought light to the Dominican Republic for the American sugar interest in 1916. I helped make Honduras ‘Ripe’ for the American Fruit Company in 1903. In China, in 1927, I helped to see to it that Standard Oil went its way unmolested."
Now here we are up to World War One, and all the problems of the young nation can be traced directly to the fact that capital is taking too much, and labor is getting too little. The editor of The Scholastic (Nov.10, 1943) made the following calculation as to the cost of WWI. Most of these monies went into the coffers of the super rich munitions makers. Today that cost is trillions. Remember these are 1943 prices. "The cost would have been sufficient to furnish: 1) every family in Germany, Belgium, France, England, Russia, the United States, Canada and Australia with a $2,500 house on a $500 one-acre lot, with one thousand dollars worth of furniture. 2) A $5,000,000 Library for every community of 20,000 in these countries. 3) A $10,000,000 University for each such community. 4) A fund that at 5% interest rate would yield enough to pay indefinitely $1,000 a year to an army of 125,000 teachers and 125,000 nurses and 5) still leave enough to buy every piece of property and all the wealth in France and Belgium at a fair market price."
President Wilson said of the war, "Is there any man or woman, let me say, is there any child who does not know that the seed of war in the modern world is industrial and commercial rivalry?"
The Roaring 20s
So, by the 1920s we have: A) A new autocracy ruled only by money and profits. B) The Robber Barons own the national media and therefore its news. C) A ruthlessness on the part of Capital that will do whatever it takes to keep its control. D) Bought and paid for politicians. E) Several incidents of innocent people (labor organizers) being hanged. F) The threat of "Red, Communist, foreign agents," out to overthrow civilization by violence. G) Secret organizations known only to their initiates.
Purchased politicians passed whatever laws Capital desired: It was made illegal to speak out against WWI and WWII. People were arrested and given heavy prison sentences for pointing out that Capital was in charge and it was their war. When legislation is passed to silence the masses, those who must speak out do so, even though prison and possible hanging or, today, "diesel therapy," is a constant threat.
"The red scare," a tactic for labeling someone or some organization a red, communist, or secret organization, was very effective in the early 1900s. WWI marked the end of an age for the U.S. Up to that time, many people thought it was possible to turn the country back to that of the Jefferson vision. WWI moved big business firmly onto the international scene and the Robber Barons started using countries as they had used the American people, to make themselves more money.
"Protecting" the Caribbean
J.P. Morgan & Co., together with three of its other allies on Wall Street, added the Caribbean Sea region to its plot, plus Latin America. Battleships, marines and soldiers, all at public expense, were sent to Haiti (1914-15), The Dominican Republic (1916), Cuba (1916-1917) and Mexico (1914-1916). By the end of WWI the United States laid claim to the Caribbean Sea Region, Puerto Rico, the Panama Canal Zone and the Virgin Islands. Held as protectorates were Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Cuba, Nicaragua, and Panama.
For better or worse, American monopolies were in the saddle stronger than ever; foreign rivals coming increasingly under their power. As never before, the whole world beckoned as a prize to be won.
The commies are coming
The "Red Scare" made more money than speedups, increased profits faster than new machinery or labor saving devices. It was ageless and forever new. It had been used against Americans for many years, even the abolitionists had been called communists. It had hanged eight hour a day advocates in 1887. It had been a mighty help against Debs in the Pullman strike. It had helped smash the steel strike in 1919. It divided workers almost as effectively as using white employees against blacks. The Red Scare was valuable because it could be used with or without a communist party.
Remember the Maine?
And we must not forget the USS Maine. The money people wanted to take the last of Spain’s territories from them but the Spaniards would not comply. The battleship Maine was sent into Havana Harbor, Spanish territory. While it was at anchor it was blown up on Feb. 15, 1898, killing American sailors. Using this as a precedent for war, the U.S. took Spain’s holdings. A few years ago, divers went down into the wreckage of the Maine. They discovered the explosion had occurred from inside the ship.
What are the chances of an enemy climbing onto an American battleship in a foreign harbor in stressful times and blowing it up from deep within its powder magazine? I’d say very little to none. Once again American lives had been sacrificed so the Robber Barons could gain their 30 pieces of silver.
The "old" Pearl Harbor
Now to jump ahead: When I was attending classes at North Idaho College in Coeur d’Alene, I had a professor who was a retired military man. He told us that he had heard the rumor for all his military years that FDR had known about the attack on Pearl Harbor at least two weeks before the attack. He said that his masters thesis proved that for sure Roosevelt had known. American lives had been sacrificed to unify the nation. Prior to the Pearl Harbor, many Americans (with the memories of WWI still vivid in their minds) were opposed to the U.S. entering WWII. The "leaders" knew they needed something to rally the people for war, so they allowed the Pacific fleet to be destroyed and 2,000 sailors to be killed. Congress then declared war on the "Japs" and, shortly thereafter, declared war on Nazi Germany. We had been used again.
Capital though, had hedged its bets by making sure we had an enemy by paying Adolph Hitler to arm Germany and spread his venom. John Foster Dulles, one of the prime architects of the Cold War, made important financial contributions to the Hitler regime. The Dulles law firm of Cromwell & Sullivan financed a large part of Nazi armaments in preparation for WW II. In 1933, representing New York banks, Dulles went to Berlin where he arranged for cancellation of one billion dollars in German debt, providing the Nazis with new credit for armaments. In addition Dulles’ law firm facilitated the placing of American capital at the service of the German industrialists, financing Hitler chiefly through the Anglo-American banking firm of Henry J. Schroeder and Co. They were not investing in Hitler or his dialogue, but in an upcoming event, WW II.
Once again the super rich were taking America’s youth and using it as they saw fit in order to make more money. After all, who makes and sells the weapons (and planes and tanks and uniforms and...)?
So by WW II, we have firmly established the pattern of demonizing the opposition, sacrificing American lives for the sake of military action to generate huge short and long-term profits for Capital.
Imagine the profits they made selling weapons of mass killing to both sides. Same old game, kill the poor and make money. Following WWII, the Cold War built up with its Red scare. Americans prepared by building bomb shelters, buying supplies, arming up and standing ready. Again we have huge profits from just the rumor of red agents. Then we have Korea, Viet Nam and all the rest. More and more profits from each war.
History repeats itself again
As the Common Dreams News Center reported, "In the midst of a film industry crackdown on digital movie privacy, filmmaker Robert Greenwald is urging rampant, unauthorized copying of his documentary criticizing the Bush administrations reasons for invading Iraq."
The 56-minute film, "Uncovered: The Whole Truth About The Iraq War," concludes that President George W. Bush and his team distorted intelligence data and mislead the American Public in advance of the March invasion that toppled the regime of Saddam Hussein.
I believe they knew we Americans wouldn’t go along with what they were going to do so, to rally us once again for war on false pretenses, they gave us 9/11 and the Twin Towers. Here, once again, we are chasing a terrorist secret organization, this time known as the "al Qaeda."
Hmm. I used to think war meant we are right. Now I know it stands for they are richer.
Labor’s Untold Story by Richard Boyer and Herbert Morais
Big Trouble by Anthony Herbert.
The Rocky Mountain Revolution by Stewart H. Holbrook.
Cowboy Detective by Charles A. Siringo
Andy Jolliff is a logger and former Libertarian Party candidate for Idaho State Representative.
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