portland independent media center  
images audio video
newswire article creative global

actions & protests | corporate dominance | imperialism & war

The Daily Poetry Movement

As long as being a liberal proves my white superiority you can sign me up! Shit, I'll get me some peacemaker badges, some of them American flags, and set me a booth up infront of Sam walmart. Them unions is corrupt and the reason they don't exist is cause people don't want 'em. Them union workers that got killed carried guns. It's watcha get for not being a pacifist!
The idea of armed struggle or armed self defense or whatever you want to call it... practiced by the Black Panther Party, the Weathermen and a few other groups is a very bad scene, a really dangerous thing for all of us. This isn't Algeria or Vietnam, it's the United States... these tactics are not only counterproductive in that they alienate people who are otherwise very sympathetic to us... and lead to the sort of thing which just happened in Chicago... but THEY RUN THE VERY REAL RISK OF BRINGING THE SAME SORT OF VIOLENT REPRESSION DOWN ON ALL OF US.
--Irv Kurki anti draft organizer 1969-70
(Capitalization added by me for emphasis. ) (Taken from Pacifism as Patholgy by Ward Churchill pg 61)

Unfortunately, we have been brought up on parlor games, where the participants discuss whether or not they are "for" or "against" violence. Can you picture a similar discussion on whether we are for or against disease? Violence, class struggle, and disease are all real. They do not go away through mystification... those who deny the reality of violence and class struggle-like those who deny the reality of disease- are not dealing with the real world.
- Blasé Bonpane North American pacifist discussing the need of armed resistance in the "third world." (Ibid pg 86)

Magic Realism
A poem by Maggie Jaffe ©2001 Maggie Jaffe

She's a minor union functionary.
For weeks she and her co-unionists
have negotiated with the government
to set a minimum working wage for children.
Her file is directed to appropriate channels.
The White Hand (Las Manos Blancas),
funded by the government,
break into her house, decapitate
her five children, seat
them around the kitchen table.
One soldier drives a nail through
the youngest child's head
to keep it from slipping.
In the barracks that night
soldiers watch their favorite TV programs:
The Adventures of Bat Man and Robin,
followed by a local Televangelist,
trained in the USA,
who confirms what everyone knows:
there are murderous
Communistas everywhere.
In El Salvador
dollars magically
make things happen.
Shit happens.
Many thanks to Maggie Jaffe for permission to include her poem in the Union Songs collection.

Maggie Jaffe's publications include How The West Was One, Continuous Performance, 7th Circle and 1492: What Is It Like To Be Discovered, a collaboration with artist Deborah Small.

Ten Young Women And One Young Man
A song by Ewan MacColl©Ewan MacColl

Pause a while my friends and listen to what I'm going to tell to you
About the events in Dublin City and the girls of the IDATU
Dunne's stores branch in Henry street was where the trouble first began
That led to the strike, the famous strike
Of ten young women and one young man

At the union conference that year they said we should not compromise
With apartheid, and they voted to boycott all South African merchandise
Karen Guerin, and the Dunne's shop steward, told their mates about the ban
They said "We'll stick by the resolution"
Ten young women and one young man

Mary Manning, from Kilmainham, a twenty one year old cashier
Was put to the test the very next morning and she spoke up loud and clear
"No, I'm afraid, I cannot serve you. That grapefruit's South African
Some of us here are opposed to apartheid"
Ten young women and one young man

Well what a hell of a hullaballoo, the groans and threats and angry cries
The management foaming at the mouth and the suits running round like blue-arsed flies
"You'll sell that fruit or be suspended, we'll tolerate no union ban"
Little did they understand the will
Of ten young women and one young man

Mary Manning got the push, a lass of independent mind
And ten of her workmates came out and her and joined her there on the picket line
For days and weeks and months they stood there held their nerve and kept the ban
Showing the will and determination
Of ten young women and one young man

So here's to the girls of Dublin City who stretched their hands across the sea
That action surely is a lesson in workers' solidarity
Here's to the folk who heed the boycott, won't buy Cape and spurn Outspan
And to the lad who joined the lasses
Ten young women and one young man

This song describes the Dunnes Store strike in Dublin in the 1980's with young workers putting their jobs on the line in support of the union boycott of South African products, part of the world wide struggle to end apartheid.
The song is on the 1998 CD "Songs of Irish Labour"

Solidarity Forever
A Song by Ralph Chaplin
When the union's inspiration through the workers' blood shall run
There can be no power greater anywhere beneath the sun
Yet what force on earth is weaker than the feeble strength of one
For the Union makes us strong
Solidarity forever, solidarity forever
Solidarity forever
For the Union makes us strong
Is there aught we hold in common with the greedy parasite
Who would lash us into serfdom and would crush us with his might?
Is there anything left to us but to organize and fight?
For the union makes us strong
It is we who ploughed the prairies, built the cities where they trade
Dug the mines and built the workshops, endless miles of railroad laid
Now we stand outcast and starving 'mid the wonders we have made
But the union makes us strong
All the world that's owned by idle drones is ours and ours alone
We have laid the wide foundations, built it skyward stone by stone
It is ours, not to slave in, but to master and to own
While the union makes us strong
They have taken untold millions that they never toiled to earn
But without our brain and muscle not a single wheel can turn
We can break their haughty power gain our freedom when we learn
That the Union makes us strong
In our hands is placed a power greater than their hoarded gold
Greater than the might of armies magnified a thousandfold
We can bring to birth a new world from the ashes of the old
For the Union makes us strong

Ralph Chaplin was a poet , artist, writer and organiser for the Industrial Workers of the World. He wrote this song in 1915 just six months before his fellow IWW songwriter Joe Hill was executed. It was to become the anthem of the American labour movement. It goes to the tune of the American Civil War song John Brown's Body. Ralph Chaplin said "I wanted a song to be full of revolutionary fervour and to have a chorus that was singing and defiant"

The 1913 Massacre
A Song by Woody Guthrie
Take a trip with me in nineteen thirteen
To Calumet, Michigan, in the copper country
I'll take you to a place called Italian Hall
Where the miners are having their big Christmas ball
I'll take you through a door, and up a high stairs
Singing and dancing is heard everywhere
I will let you shake hands with the people you see
And watch the kids dance round that big Christmas tree
You ask about work and you ask about pay
They'll tell you that they make less than a dollar a day
Working the copper claims, risking their lives
So it's fun to spend Christmas with children and wives
There's talking and laughing and songs in the air
And the spirit of Christmas is there everywhere
Before you know it, you're friends with us all
And you're dancing around and around in the hall
Well, a little girl sits down by the Christmas tree lights
To play the piano, so you gotta keep quiet
To hear all this fun you would not realize
That the copper-boss thug-men are milling outside
The copper-boss thugs stuck their heads in the door
One of them yelled and he screamed, "There's a fire!"
A lady, she hollered, "There's no such a thing!
Keep on with your party, there's no such a thing"
A few people rushed, and it was only a few
"It's only the thugs and the scabs fooling you"
A man grabbed his daughter and carried her down
But the thugs held the door and he could not get out
And then others followed, a hundred or more
But most everybody remained on the floor
The gun-thugs they laughed at their murderous joke
While the children were smothered on the stair by the door
Such a terrible sight I never did see
We carried our children back up to their tree
The scabs outside still laughed at their spree
And the children that died there were seventy-three
The piano played a slow funeral tune
And the town was lit up by a cold Christmas moon
The parents they cried and the miners they moaned
"See what your greed for money has done"
From The Digital Tradition
In Calumet, Michigan, in 1913 hired copper company thugs broke up a striker's Christmas party by shouting "fire", and then barring the door. In the panic that ensued, 73 children were smothered to death.