Spartacus Review

Volume 57: 26th February, 2012

Trade Union History

Title: Rebel Voices: An IWW Anthology

Author: Joyce L. Kornbluh (Editor)

Publisher: Merlin Press

Price: £22.50

Bookshop: Amazon

Spartacus Website: IWW

Category: Trade Union History

The Industrial Workers of the World, IWW, or 'Wobblies', organized the first sit-down strike (General Electric, 1906), the first major car workers' strike (Detroit, 1911), and the first "no-fare" transit-workers' job-action (Cleveland, 1944). With imagination, flair and pluck, the IWW wrote many bright pages in the annals of working class emancipation. And they spread all over. An IWW chapter organised a massive though unsuccessful strike at the Glasgow Singer factory in 1911, spreading radicalism across Clydeside. Wobblies made invaluable contributions to workers' culture. Many popular labour songs came from them, and their cartoons are of the funniest. An important influence on the 1960s New Left, the Wobbly theory and practice of direct action, solidarity, and "class-war" humour inspired several generations of civil rights and anti-war activists, and are a major source of ideas and inspiration for today. They were also among the first seeking to "make this planet a good place to live" (to quote an old Wobbly slogan).