98 YEARS AGO, on April 20, 1914, it was not a good day to be in Ludlow, Colorado, when the Colorado National Guard and Colorado Fuel & Iron Company camp guards started shooting a tent colony of 1,200 striking coal miners and their families, killing between 19 and 25 people. According to Wiki,
|Ludlow after the shooting stopped |
and the fires were extinguished.
sources vary but all sources include two women and eleven children, asphyxiated and burned to death under a single tent. The deaths occurred after a daylong fight between militia and camp guards against striking workers. Ludlow was the deadliest single incident in the southern Colorado Coal Strike, lasting from September 1913 through December 1914.
And this incident, known as the Ludlow Massacre, was merely one of the highlights in the struggle against the fascist plutocrats that were running the American economy. Kind, sensitive people, like Jay Gould, who was seen as the archtype of the Robber Baron.
During the Great Southwest Railroad Strike of 1886, he hired strikebreakers. According to labor unionists, he said at the time, "I can hire one-half of the working class to kill the other half."
All over the US, working people were getting a raw deal. In the industrial East, working conditions were lethal, as Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in New York City on March 25, 1911 so graphically showed.
It was the deadliest industrial disaster in the history of the city of New York and resulted in the fourth highest loss of life from an industrial accident in U.S. history. It was also the second deadliest disaster in New York City – after the burning of the General Slocum on June 15, 1904 – until the destruction of the World Trade Center 90 years later. The fire caused the deaths of 146 garment workers, who died from the fire, smoke inhalation, or falling to their deaths.
Out of these challenges and outrages came the relatively benign polity of consensus that we have today. But the Jay Goulds of this world are eternal, only today, they are way, way more dangerous, with computerized money. Thanks to Occupy Wall Street, and Anonymous and WikiLeaks, the dream of an equitable society has not perished. The challenge, for those who care, is to reach the couch potatoes and get the lumpen proletariat involved. With the obesity epidemic we have, there's a lotta lumpen out there.