The Revolutionary Age Chronicle and Interpretation of lntemational Events o1. No. 23 fsuuri ay, March 22, 1919 Price Cents.
The Press as an Agent Provocateur lNDlNG. apparently. that the campaign to discredit Bolshevistn. waged with suclt persistency, particularly since the signing of the armistice. is not producing the desired results, the bourgeois press is developing new methods of attack. The publicity.
even though it has invariably been a lying and condelnnatory publicity. given to Bolshevism has proven to be a doublesedged sword and while, no doubt. many working people have been scared into antipathy, the majority of the workers, whose instinctive class consciousness has revolted against the absurdities daily displayed for their consumption. have become curious if not actually sympathetic towards the subject.
The rehash of the German atrocities with the substitution of Russian workers for Huns and Grand Dukes and gentle ladies for Belgians has not aroused the indignation expected. perhaps because after a time people become indifferent even to the death of Grand Dukes. Consequently the press has had to search around for new ways of combatting the menace. As before it underestimated the strength of the Socialist movement. now it runs to the other extreme and presents it as alarmingly strong. Flaring headlines disclose the eleventh hour discoveries of gigantic plots to seize the government of the United States by the organized forces of Bolshevism. The obvious impliv ration of these stories being that were it not for these fortunate discoveries this country would have already passed into the hands of the Bolsheviki at least half a dozen distinct times.
All over the world Socialism is makin igantic strides. strides which even the ablest Socialist theorists and oropagandists are unable to measure with more than approximate accuracy. The holocaust of war has aroused the class consciousness of the workers. and the examples set by Russia and Germany have done murh to bring the toiling masses to a realization of their own potential power. The masses of the people are seething with unrest. strikes are flaring up all over the world. strikes that are real movements of the masses themselves and are often directed against the old time leaders as much as against the capitalist class.
The common people are awakening and asserting their rights to the fruits of their labors. America is not escaping this general unrest anvmore than the countries of Europe. though as yet the labor disturbances: in this country are more sporadic. less conscious and.
in the main. confined to smaller issuetvthan the Furopean upheavals.
The brutalitv and ruthlessness of the master class are. however. forcing the issue. The assumption of power. the openly revealed detennination to force down wat es and the shameless attempts to utilize the returned soldier as a club for this nnrmsc. the utter disrrmrd of the war time promises and discharge of thousands of workers are producing a reaction which is projecting the class slrugglc in bold relief.
The ignorance of the bourgeois press regarding the Socialist and Labor movements of the world in general and of this country in particular has often been the theme of Socialist writers. but it is idle to pretend that this ignorance extends to the approximate numerical strength of the class conscious labor movement of this country. This ignorance is confined. for the most part.
to Socialist theory. On actual conditions the capitalist press is well infomted. Hitherto the newspapers have engaged itt a conspiracy of silence where labor troubles were concerned: even within the past few weeks snclt momentous happenings as the Seattle and liuttc general strikes received scant attention until they were over. Both these strikes were pregnant with tremen dous possibilities. both parth of the aspect of the recent Irish and English strikes. which in addition to being of gigantic proportions were semi political in character. in spite of the importance of these two strikes. involving tens of thousands of workers. the Press kept comparatively silent, but within the past week labor troubles have sprang into great prominence. The New York Er cuiug lVorId announces in fl lriug headlines: Plot flared For Soviet Control of the New York Triibmtc shrieks of Rods planning a reign of terror and all over the country the newspapers carry stories of a mining Red coup rt ctat.
In view of the fact that neither the plot nor the reign of terror proved to be anything but police stupidity in one case and an unemployed delegation visiting the Mayor of Buffalo in the other, it is reasonable to suppose that some ulterior motive lies behind this sudden change of front in the newspaper attitude. From a perusal of the stories dealing with these matters it is evident that in each case the events have been highly colored. colored, indeed, to such an extent as to lead the reader to believe that the Bob sheviki are a tremendous force, skilfully organized and only waiting the order to rise up over night and seize the government. The object seems to be to give the impression of great numbers behind these movePolice Brutality in hmence Serious rioting occured in Lawrence on Tuesday as a result of a police attack on the strikers returning from the picket lines. On Monday a body of forty or fifty soldiers. the Strikers Guard. turned out on the picket lines. Their appearance apparently angered the police and the soldiers were dispersed, one of their number being specially picked out by the police and arrested.
0n the way to the police station. after the other soldiers had gone. ten policemen set upon Ribaudo Francesco. the soldier in question. who has only recently returned from 18 months service in France with the 23rd Infantry. He was severely beaten about the head and shoulders. his eyes being injured, his teeth loosened and his back and shoulders bruised and cut from the blows of the clubs. After he was taken to the station. Francesco says. he was again beaten up by the police. this time. however, clubs were not used.
When brought into court he was fined 20.
News of the treatment meeived by Francesco so roused the strikers that: they turned out in large numbers on the picket liner the following morning. 01: their return from picket duty the strikers were met by the police who, after the mmhall had read the riot act.
charged the workers fight ensued, over twenty persons hfing hurt and as many arrested.
In spite of this. police intimidation the workers are determined to continue the strike until their demands are granted. Money is urgently needed, the strike having now entered its seventh week.
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mculs and the inference is that the whole matter is a plan to lend some hot headed irrcspimsibles into actions that will enable the forces of reaction to crush insurgent labor in blood.
The plot for Soviet control of the lc nited Status proved to be nothing more than a sensational account of a raid 0n the headquarters of a Russian workers organization in which apparently every person in the building was arrested and dragged to police headquarters for nination. Out of one hundred and sixtyt our persons thus arrested all but four were released in a fcw hours. there being absolutely no evidence against them. What purports to be the constitution and program of the organization is published and. of course. contains a clause relative to the nationalizalion of women which is invariably dragged into all news stories dealing with Socialist activity since it was introduced as evidence before the recent. verman Committee. Although the raid was conducted by the bomb squad the story fails to say how many bombs were discovered or what preparations had been made for the seizure of the state; In the Bufialo incident it finally developed that the whole afiair consisted in a parade of a few hundred unemployed to the city hall. he account was interspersed with frequent referfocus In the arrival of troops in Buffalo. though it omitted to mention whether the troops were to shoot the nipple for being out of work or whether they were to proceed against the employers that discharged the men and women in question.
One of the principle features of all the recent labor disputes is the attitude of the soldiers and on this subject the press has remained silent. In practically every recent strike the employers have attempted to use the returned soldier or sailor as a scab and in almost every case they have been unsuccessful. In Seattle and Butte the soldiers and sailors were in active sympathy with the strikers and took their places on the picket lines in unifonn. In the street car strike in New Jersey the soldiers and sailors paraded in sympathy with the carmen, and in the Lawrence textile strike the number of soldiers and sailors in the ranks of the strike 7.
variously estimated at from five hundred to one and. over two hundred having formed themselves a Strikers Guard to maintain order during 11 strike.
All these movements are mass movements. the workers themselves striking as a protest against intolerable conditions. The war was used to keep the workers on the job, the plea of national necessity overshadowing the grievances of the workers. but now the war is over and the people are looking for the fruits of democracy for which they fought and suffered, only to find that they are facing a period of unemployment. want and poverty. They are beginning to realize that while the owners of the factories made enormous profits out of the war. they are staring the grim spectre of unemployment. with all its attendant evilS. in the face.
Against these conditions and the potentialitv of these conditions the workers are protesting, striking.
asserting themselves. The press has immediately labelled their protests Bolshevism and while the average worker may believe that the happenings in Seattle or Butte. two or three thousand miles away.
were the work of a menace to society Bolshevism he knows the real conditions of his own fight and when he finds that it is also Bolslievism he immediately becomes very partial to the Bolsheviki.
The Soldiers and sailors. returning from the sacrifices tnadc in the war. are finding that they are no longer in Toes in the eyes of the employers unless they are prepared to become scabs on their own class. They are learning from the newspapers that instead of being heroes they are becoming a menace to society once they dare line tip with their fellow workers in a labor dispute: they are also learning through other channels than the newspapers. through the agency of the policeman club and the police court sentences. which invariably follow their appearance on the picket line.
They are becoming used to being called Bolsheviki and s, and these terms are losing their erstwhile terror. Conditions are forcing the soldiers and sailors to recognize that there is a class struggle going on in socict and that they are part and parcel of the working class.
The press has howled Iolf so often that its shriek is losing its terror. and as a result the press is now attempting to incite the workers into premature action by representing their every move as a revolution. Finding that slandering tolshevism while at the same time it is forced to slander every protest made by the workers has only had the effect of connecting Bolshevism sympathetically in the mind of the people with their own struggle. the press is apparently detennined to play on the emotion of the uninformed to the end that they may he betrayed into actions which will recoil on the heads of the masses of the people.
Labor struggle for its place in the sun must come from the workers themselves, its actions must rise out of the needs of the people masses, and its strength will lie in its ability to choose its own time to enforce its demands. The masses must develop a clear understanding of their position in society, must be the arbiters of their own destiny. the judges of their own strength. They must learn to judge the importance of the press reports of the activities of their class as they are already learning to know the real import of the movement that has broken down the slavery of the Russian workers and is even now struggling to burst the chains that the bourgeoisie. led by majority Socialism. would bind tighter round the workers of Germany. Action is coming in our own country: that mass action which cannot be provoked. but which is detennined. implacable. irresistible.