Thursday, May 14, 2015

Today -100: May 14, 1915: I live wherever the workers are fighting the robbers

Yesterday there were rumors that Italy’s Cabinet would punt the issue of whether to go to war to the Parlamento. Today, the Salandra government resigns. While the dominant feeling is for war, there is also strong anti-war sentiment in Parliament led by former four-time prime minister Giovanni Giolitte.

Torpedoes from a Turkish destroyer sink the British battleship HMS Goliath, killing 570 men.

More anti-German rioting in Britain. Several hundred of yesterday’s rioters are sentenced (prison sentences of up to 4 months for the men, and mostly just fines for the women, as was the custom), with men of military age also getting lectures about what to do if they really wanted revenge on the Hun. Since these are riots within the meaning of the Riot Acts, localities will have to compensate those whose property was damaged. But while a few actual Germans are man-handled a bit – thrown out of the London Stock Exchange, for example – few if any are actually hurt, and none killed.

Prime Minister Asquith changes his mind, and will intern all male German and Austrian nationals aged 17 to 55 after all (but not naturalized aliens, who are “to be regarded as innocent until proved guilty”). All other citizens of those countries will be deported to... somewhere.

American Legion membership has doubled since the Lusitania sinking.

Turkey is sending 50 British and French civilians to the Gallipoli Peninsula as human shields in response to Allies (allegedly) bombarding civilians and undefended places. Only 4 were actually born in Britain or France, Turkey being full of people born in Turkey but holding other countries’ valuable passports.

At the Industrial Commission hearings, Big Bill Haywood of the IWW denounces socialism, noting that the German socialists have “gone in for war.” He admits that his idea of organizing people along industrial rather than geographic lines “may not come for one hundred years.” Mother Jones also testifies. Asked her residence: “I reside wherever there is a good fight against wrong. I live wherever the workers are fighting the robbers.” (Yes, we’re all thinking Henry Fonda right now). The NYT rather stints on quoting from her testimony.

South African troops capture Windhoek, the capital of German Southwest Africa, which is German no more. So now South Africa has a colony. It always wanted one.

Yaqi Indians attack a colony of Americans in Sonora, killing 3 or 4.

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  1. The American Legion as we know it today, reactionary and so on, was founded in 1919. What is this one? And why won't google tell me about it?

  2. I already did. Had I realized it was that long ago, I'd probably have re-explained it in this post.

  3. Big Bill doesn't actually denounce socialism in his testimony, just the methods used by some. During one part of his session he says the IWW is socialism with its working clothes on (according to the May 13, 1915 Washington Herald, anyway).

  4. Haywood was an anarcho-syndicalist whose relations with the organized socialist movement weren't great. The NYT has him denouncing socialism, but only in paraphrase; there's relatively little in the way of direct quotes.

  5. Yeah, Big Bill would have like the Spanish anarchists way more than the Soviet or Chinese statists. If you are interested, here is the final report of the Commission on Industrial Relations. It is VERY long but pretty interesting, talking about things like income inequality, working conditions, relationships between the families of the capitalist class, conflict between labor and capital etc. There are also quite a few quotes from testimony.