Sunday, June 30, 2013

Today In Labor History—June 30

June 30, 1839 – Cinque led a successful slave revolt on the ship Amistad.

June 30, 1885 – The Chicago Streetcar Strike began on this day and continued through July 7.

June 30, 1912 – A Modern School, modeled after the ones started by Francisco Ferer in Spain, was created by the Grupo Luz in Mexico City.

June 30 1918Eugene Debs was arrested in Cleveland for interfering with army and navy recruiting.

June 30, 1922 – One million railway shop men struck.
(All from the Daily Bleed)

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Today In Labor History—June 29

Michael Schwab
June 29, 1898 – Michael Schwab, who was convicted for the Haymarket bombing, died from tuberculosis, having been pardoned and released from prison just a few months prior.

June 29, 1919 – Striking meat-workers in Townsville, Queensland, Australia clashed with police. Nine people were wounded in an exchange of gunshots.

June 29, 1936 – Jesus Pallares, founder of the 8,000-member coal miners union, Liga Obrera de Habla Esanola, was deported from the U.S. as an "undesirable alien." One hundred miners were arrested during the 1934 La Liga strike against the Gallup American Company in New Mexico.

June 29, 1941 – Stokely Carmichael (1941-1998), founder of the U.S. civil rights group the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) was born in Port of Spain, Trinidad. Emigrated to the United States.

June 29, 1983 – President Reagan said that one cause of the decline in public education was the effort to comply with court-ordered desegregation.
(All from the Daily Bleed)

Friday, June 28, 2013

Today in Labor History—June 28

Frame-Breaking by Luddites, 1812 (Frame-breaking was outlawed in 1721)
June 28, 1816 –Luddites attacked the Heathcoat and Boden's Mill at Loughborough, smashing 53 frames worth £6,000. Troops were sent in. Six Luddites were executed. The attack was part of a general revival of violence and sabotage of machinery following a bad harvest. At this same time, 'Swing' riots erupted in the countryside as a protest against low wages, unemployment & the Game Laws.
Monument to the Potemkin Mutineers in Odessa
June 28, 1905 -- The mutinous crew of the battleship "Potemkin" entered the port of Odessa, which had been taken by revolutionaries. Workers' Councils formed.

June 28, 1914 – Austria's Archduke Ferdinand was assassinated by the Serbian anarchist Gavrilo Princip, whose attentat was said to have set off World War I, which killed between 5 and 10 million soldiers.

June 28, 1916 – 50,000 workers staged a one day protest strike against the trial of Karl Leibnecht.

June 28, 1956 – 100,000 workers struck in Poznañ, Poland, shouting "Bread & Freedom. The protests were violently suppressed, with at least 67 workers killed. The government sends 10,000 soldiers to the city. The next day, another 70 would be killed, 700 would be arrested, and hundreds more would be wounded.

June 28, 1969 – Gay activists demonstrated in Sheridan Square and in front of the Stonewall Inn, where a riot occurred at 3 am earlier this morning when police raided the bar. Demonstrators were confronted by NYC Tactical Police.
(All from the Daily Bleed)

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Today in Labor History—June 27

Emma Goldman's Magazine, Mother Earth

June 27, 1869 - Anarchist, feminist and labor activist Emma Goldman was born in Lithuania. (From Workday Minnesota and the Daily Bleed)
Helen Keller, 1904
 June 27, 1880 – Helen Keller, the deaf, mute and blind author and socialist, was born (1880-1968), Tuscumbia, Alabama. (From the Daily Bleed)
June 27, 1893 – The U.S. Stock Market crashed, initiating a four-year depression. During this depression, labor and strike activity escalated, as demonstrated in the great Pullman Strike of 1894. (From the Daily Bleed)

June 27, 1905 - The Industrial Workers of the World, also known as the “Wobblies,” the radical syndicalist union, was founded at Brand's Hall, in Chicago, Illinois. The Wobblies, advocate industrial unionism, with all workers in a particular industry organized in the same union, as opposed by the trade unions typical today. (From Workday Minnesota and the Daily Bleed)

June 27, 1905 –The mutiny on the Russian battleship Potemkin officially began, with the crew killing the worst of the officers. They sailed on to Odessa (June 30) where the workers were on strike, then escaped to Rumania where they obtained political asylum. (From the Daily Bleed)
Potemkin mutiny leader Matuschenko (center), 1899
 June 27, 1935 - Congress passed the Wagner Act, authored by Senator Robert Wagner of New York. Also known as the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), the legislation created the structure for collective bargaining in the United States. (From Workday Minnesota)

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Today in Labor History—June 26

June 26, 1894 - The American Railway Union launched a boycott of all trains carrying Pullman cars, turning the Pullman strike into a national strike which was eventually crushed by federal troops and by lack of support from the more conservative American Federation of Labor. Strike leader Eugene V. Debs was imprisoned and many workers were blacklisted for their involvement. (From Workday Minnesota)
Miners, Supporters and Onlookers being deported from Bisbee
 June 26, 1917 – The Bisbee, Arizona IWW (Industrial Workers of the World) miner strike. On July 12, 1,300 strikers, their supporters, and innocent bystanders were illegally deported from Bisbee by 2,000 vigilantes—over 200 miles in cattle cars, without food or water for 16 hours. (From the Daily Bleed and Wikipedia)

June 26, 1919 – The Winnipeg General Strike, which began on May 15, came to an end as the Winnipeg Labor Council "officially" declared the strike over at 11 o'clock. (From the Daily Bleed)

June 26, 1975 – The FBI provoked a shootout with members of the American Indian Movement (AIM) at Oglala, South Dakota. The deadly firefight left two FBI agents and Lakota activist Joe Stuntz dead. Two AIM leaders were prosecuted for the FBI deaths and found innocent. A third AIM activist, Leonard Peltier, who remains in prison to this day, was later framed when much of the same evidence is disallowed in his trial.
Gay Pride march, Taipei, Taiwan, 2005
 June 26, 1977 – Gay Pride marches occurred throughout the country, with 100,000 marching in San Francisco and tens of thousands in NYC.
Pride in Haifa, Israel, 2009
 June 26, 1994 – In commemoration of the 25th anniversary of the Stonewall Rebellion, over one million people marched in New York City in support of LGBT rights.

June 26, 1997 – “The Gentle Giant," Hawaiian protest singer Israel Kamakawiwo'ole (1959-1997) died. Best known for the song "Somewhere Over the Rainbow/What a Wonderful World," Kamakawiwo’ole was also an activist for Hawaiian indigenous rights and Hawaiian independence.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Today in Labor History—June 25

June 25, 1825 – U.S. troops captured Bob Forbes, leader of the Maroons (blacks resisting slavery) in Virginia. (From the Daily Bleed)
A dramatization (1905) of Sitting Bull stabbing Custer (library of Congress)
 June 25, 1876 – Lakota, Cheyenne and Arapahoe tribes defeated Custer and the U.S. Army at Little Big Horn, Montana. (From the Daily Bleed)
June 25, 1878 – Despite mass protests, Ezra Heywood was sentenced to two years hard labor for advocating free love and sexual emancipation as part of women's rights. Heywood was an anarchist, feminist and abolitionist who was hounded and harassed by the moralist vigilante Anthony Comstock. His wife, Angela Tilton, was considered by many to be even more radical than he was. (From the Daily Bleed)
Haymarket Memorial
June 25, 1893 - The Haymarket Martyrs Monument was dedicated at Forest Home Cemetery, Chicago, to honor the 8 anarchists who were framed and executed for the bombing at Haymarket Square on May 4, 1886. More than 8,000 people attended. At the base of the monument are Haymarket martyr August Spies’ last words: “The day will come when our silence will be more powerful than the voices you are throttling today.” (From Workday Minnesota and the Daily Bleed)
Striking Pullman workers confront National Guard troops in Chicago, 1894
June 25, 1894Eugene Debs and his American Railway Union called for a boycott of all Pullman railway cars during the now-famous Pullman Strike. Within days, 50,000 rail workers were participating, halting all railroad traffic out of Chicago. (From the Daily Bleed)
Robots in rebellion in 1922 performance of R.U.R.
June 25, 1921 -- Czech author Karel Capek's introduces the term robot in his play R.U.R. (Rossum's Universal Robots) in which robots, fed up with lousy work and pay, organize and rebel. The term comes from the Czech word “robota,” which referred to days in which peasants were forced to leave their own fields to work for free on the lands of the nobility. Even after feudalism had ended, the term was used to describe labor that was coerced, boring or uninteresting. (From the Daily Bleed)

June 25, 1938 - The Wages and Hours (later Fair Labor Standards) act was passed, which banned child labor, set the 40-hour work week and set a national minimum wage. (From Workday Minnesota and Shmoop Labor History)

June 25, 1941 - A. Philip Randolph (president Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters) called off the Negro march on Washington that had been planned for July 1 when President Roosevelt agreed to issue Executive Order 8802 banning racial discrimination in defense industries and government employment (creating the Fair Employment Practices Committee). (From Workday Minnesota and the Daily Bleed)

June 25, 1943—Congress passed the Smith-Connally Act allowing the government to take over critical industries affected by strikes, overriding President Roosevelt's veto. It also prevented unions from contributing to political campaigns. (From Shmoop Labor History)

June 25, 1968 – The 50,000 strong Poor People's Campaign March from Georgia to Washington D.C., concluded.

June 25, 1975 – Mozambique achieved independence from Portugal.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Today in Labor History—June 24

June 24, 1904 –Troops arrested 22 workers in Telluride, Colorado, accused them of being strike leaders and deported them out of the Telluride district. This was a repeat of events in March, in which 60 union miners were deported. (From the Daily Bleed)
Palmer disciplining labor?
June 24, 1917 – The IWW Domestic Workers Union supplied sandwiches to dozens of draft resistors in the Duluth, Minnesota jail. (From the Daily Bleed)

June 24, 1917 – The Russian Black Sea fleet mutinied at Sevastopol. (From the Daily Bleed)

June 24, 1919 – After the house of Attorney General Palmer was attacked on June 2, 1919, the Italian anarchist Luigi Galleani and his colleagues on the newspaper "Cronaca Sovversiva" were expelled from the country. Palmer oversaw the mass deportation of dozens of labor leaders, anarchists and communists, in addition to mass arrests.

June 24, 1943 – Otto Rühle (1874-1943), German Left communist of the Spartacist League (along with Liebknecht, Luxemburg, Mehring), died in Mexico. (From the Daily Bleed)

June 24, 1969 – Blacks rioted in Omaha, Nebraska, after police killed African American teenager Vivian Strong. Rioting lasted for four days. Omaha had seen race riots in 1968, 1966 and numerous labor dispute riots throughout the 19th and early 20th centuries. (From the Daily Bleed and Wikipedia)

June 24, 1971 – Seventeen workers were killed in a water tunnel in Sylmar, California, as the second explosion in two days rocked the worksite. (From the Daily Bleed)

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Today in Labor History—June 23

Lamartine in front of the Town Hall of Paris rejects the red flag on 25 February 1848
June 23, 1848 – Workers rose up in Paris. The rebellion lasted until the 26th. (From the Daily Bleed)

June 23, 1947 - The anti-worker Taft-Hartley Act was passed, overriding President Harry Truman’s veto. The act rolled back many of the labor protections created by the 1935 Wagner Act. Taft-Hartley weakened unions in numerous ways, including the banning of the general striking. It also allowed states to exempt themselves from union requirements. Twenty states immediately enacted anti-union open shop laws. (From Workday Minnesota and Shmoop Labor History)

June 23, 1966 – Race riots began in Cleveland, Ohio and continued for a month. (From the Daily Bleed)

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Today in Labor History—June 22

Ruins of the Ludlow Miners Tent Colony
June 22, 1914After calls for revenge against Standard Oil for the Ludlow Massacre, an anarchist bomb intended for the Rockefeller Mansion unintentionally detonated in the Ferrer Center on this date, killing three anarchists and putting a temporary end to the Modern School, which was housed there. (From the Daily Bleed)

June 22, 1920 – Following an immense open air meeting in Milan supporting the local striking rail workers, people returning home were fired upon and assaulted by gendarmes, aided by nationalists. Five young workers were shot dead and many wounded. (From the Daily Bleed)

June 22, 1922 - A several hundred striking miners seized a group of strikebreakers scabbing for the Southern Illinois Coal Company, killing 19, in what would become known as the “Herrin Massacre.” Several strikers were held in the Williamson County jail, which is now a historical museum focusing on the conflict. Those who were tried for the murders were all acquitted. (From Workday Minnesota)

Friday, June 21, 2013

Today in Labor History—June 21

June 21, 1852—Friedrich Froebel died. Froebel was a German pedagogue who coined the term “kindergarten” and produced the first educational toys, known as Froebel Gifts. Froebel was one of the first to recognize of the importance of activity and play in early childhood (Freiarbeit, or free work), as well as the notion that one learns by doing. Thus, kindergarten was not simply a poetic “garden” of children, but a literal garden for them to observe and interact with the natural world. Froebel’s kindergartens were suppressed by the Prussian government for its supposed denigration of religion and politics. He rejected the notion of original sin and promoted and practiced the coeducation of boys and girls. He also felt children should be able to grow and develop without the influence of arbitrary political and social priorities—ideas that would endear him to anarchists like Francisco Ferrer and others in the Modern School movement.

James McParland, Pinkerton private cop who claimed to have infiltrated the Molly Maguires
June 21, 1877 - Ten miners, allegedly members of the Molly Maguires, were hanged in Pennsylvania. Many historians argue that the Molly Maguires, a secret miners’ organization allegedly responsible for violence and social conflict in the coal regions, never really existed. The investigation into the miners’ involvement with the Molly Maguires was conducted by private detective agency. A private police force arrested them and coal company attornies prosecuted them. (From Workday Minnesota and the Daily Bleed)

June 21, 1937 -- The Ohio Steel Strike of 1937 continued. (From the Daily Bleed)
June 21, 1943 – The Detroit race riots continued. (From the Daily Bleed)

June 21, 1964 - Civil rights workers Andrew Goodman, James Chaney and Michael Schwerner were disappeared near Philadelphia, Mississippi by the Ku Klux Klan, who beat them to death with clubs and chaings. Their mangled bodies were later found by federal agents. (From Workday Minnesota)
June 21, 1994 – The UAW began a strike at Caterpillar plants in Peoria, Decatur, & Pontiac.
(From the Daily Bleed)

June 21, 1997 – 100,000 marched in solidarity with striking newspaper labor workers in Detroit. (From the Daily Bleed)

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Today in Labor History—June 20

Caricature of the 3rd estate carrying the 2nd (clergy) and 1st (nobility) estates on its back
June 20, 1791 – A French mob invaded the Tuileries and King Louis XVI tried (unsuccessfully) to flee the French Revolution. (From the Daily Bleed)
Albert Parsons
 June 20, 1848 – Albert Parson, Anarchist labor leader and Haymarket martyr, was born in Montgomery, Alabama. (From the Daily Bleed)

June 20, 1893Eugene Debs formed the American Railway Union (ARU), one of the earliest unions to organize by industry and regardless of race or ethnicity (see Knights of Labor and IWW) . Within a few months the union was leading an 18-day strike against the Great Northern Railroad, successfully forcing management to reverse three wage cuts, despite the fact that the nation was in the midst of a terrible depression. The victory set the union on a remarkable course in which it averaged 2,000 new members a day.. (From Workday Minnesota and the Daily Bleed)

June 20, 1909 – Méxican rebel forces led by the anarchist Flores Magón brothers attacked Casas Grandes, Chih. (From the Daily Bleed)
Voltairine de Cleyre, 1891
 June 20, 1912Voltairine de Cleyre, one of the earliest feminist anarchists, died at the age 45, following a long illness. Two thousand supporters attended her funeral at Waldheim cemetery, where she was buried next to the Haymarket Martyrs. (From the Daily Bleed)

June 20, 1920 – Police shot 14 Wobblies (members of the Industrial Workers of the World) during a labor clash in Butte, Montana. In April, company guards at the Anaconda mine fired on striking Wobblies, killing one. Vigilantes or company goons lynched IWW organizer Frank Little in Butte in 1917. (From the Daily Bleed)

June 20, 1927 – A newspaper strike halted publication of "The Butte Miner," "Anaconda Standard," & "Butte Daily Post" (until July 4). (From the Daily Bleed)

June 20, 1941 – The first United Auto Workers (UAW) contract ever was signed with Henry Ford, who recognizes the UAW. (From the Daily Bleed)

June 20, 1943 – Striking African American auto workers were attacked by the National Workers League, KKK and armed white workers at Detroit's Bell Isle amusement park. 34 people killed and 1,300 arrested in these race riots. (From the Daily Bleed)

June 20, 1982 – 2,500 protesters were arrested in two days of anti-nuclear demonstrations and  blockades of Lawrence Livermore labs, California. (From the Daily Bleed)

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Are Humans Getting Dumber (or is it Just Journalists and Sociobiologists?)

Human intelligence is on the decline, according to the Huffington Post, writing about a recent study suggesting that westerners have lost 14 I.Q. points since the Victorian Era. Study co-author, Dr. Jan te Nijenhuis, professor of work and organizational psychology at the University of Amsterdam, says that because women of higher intelligence tend to have fewer children than do women of lower intelligence, intelligence is being selected out of the affluent populations of the west.
The Kallikak family, promoted by eugenicist Henry Godard as proof of heritability of idiocy
There are probably many on the Left who would like to jump on these findings as an explanation for everything from the high numbers of Americans who believe in creationism or who deny climate change to the continuing popularity of the Republican Party among people devastated by their economic policies.

The problem is that this study and all others pointing to a causal relationship between birthrates and IQ are seriously flawed. Indeed, even the claim that IQs are declining is suspect.

Alfred Binet
Let’s start with the fact that the IQ test, developed by Alfred Binet, in France, wasn’t even created until 1903, two years after Victoria’s death, making it exceedingly difficult, if not impossible, to make a valid comparison of Victorian and modern Westerners’ IQs. Furthermore, the original test emphasized memorization, vocabulary and questions about appropriate behavior, none of which has much to do with intelligence. Even modern versions of the test contain some of these types of questions. IQ tests also tend to have a class bias, as well as cultural and linguistic biases (e.g., questions about appropriate behavior depend on one’s cultural background).

To address this problem, te Nijenhuis used proxies for intelligence (comparing a variety of different tests for which data does exist going back to 1884). However, he chose a very weak proxy, reaction time, which he presumed was an accurate proxy for intelligence since reaction time reflects a person's mental processing speed. However, it is not necessarily true that a person who has a quick visual reaction rate also has a quick mental processing rate for math, puzzles or other types of problem solving.

Another problem with the research is that it lacked valid controls, drawing into question the validity of the comparisons. Supposedly the Victorian and modern experiments used a similar test for reaction times, but they used different instruments for measuring the results. Thus, the average late 19th century reaction time of 194 milliseconds might have actually been much closer to or even slower than the average 2004 reaction time of 275 milliseconds had researchers used the same equipment and methods.
1920s pseudoscientific image trying to connect brain types to criminality
Bad Science in Service to Race and Class Prejudice
The researchers also used data collected by Francis Galton (Darwin’s cousin), who coined the term eugenics, which included the idea that poor people were poor due to their inferior intelligence, which they presumed was due to their “bad” genes, and that the affluent were wealthy due to their good genes. This pseudoscience was used to justify government interventions promoting or limiting birthrates among different races and social classes, forced sterilizations in many countries, including the U.S., infanticide, and genocide, as practiced by the Nazis. Thus, Galton had a significant bias going into his research, specifically an Experimenter’s Bias (i.e., observing what you expect, rather than what actually occurs). In Galton’s case, he would be expecting white and affluent people (who also had smaller families) to be smarter, and could have inadvertently designed tests that would have given him these results.
Image from Wikipedia, based on Galton's Ideas
Te Nijenhuis’s research suffers from some of these same problems, particularly the presumption that intelligence is essentially a heritable trait (i.e., passed through the DNA), a presumption still shared by a large number of scientists as well as the lay public, despite a lack of credible data to support this idea (more on this below). However, his race and class prejudices also come out in his belief that “high-IQ people are more productive and more creative,” and his nostalgia for the flourishing of creativity and brilliance of the Victorian era. He uses the term dysgenics in his work, a term that is often associated with the eugenics movement thanks to the work of Richard Lynn, who argued in his book Dysgenics: Genetic Deterioration in Modern Populations, 1996, that human genetic health was declining because criminals have higher birthrates than the rest of the population (there is no evidence they have higher birthrates and it is unlikely that criminality is heritable), leading many, including Lynn, himself, to renew calls for eugenic policies.
Many states had similar sterilization laws, resulting in 10,000s of forced and voluntary sterilizations in the 20th century
Genetics is Not Destiny
While large numbers of scientists and the lay public believe that intelligence is highly heritable, there is no conclusive evidence for this. Indeed, estimates of the heritability of IQ range from as low as 40% to as high 90%, suggesting that intelligence is at least partly, and possibly quite significantly, influenced by factors other than DNA. Part of the reason why there is so much controversy over the degree to which intelligence is heritable is that no genes for intelligence have been positively identified, (though recent research has located positions on certain chromosomes where some genes related to intelligence might be located).

Intelligence and IQ, like most phenotypes (traits), are influenced not only by DNA, but by environmental influences and sometimes even by random events that occur during development. ABO blood type, for example, is 100% heritable, meaning that it is determined entirely by the DNA inherited from the parents and no environmental factors influence it. Human height is around 94% heritable. However, even a relatively high heritability of 94% is not sufficient to presume a cause and effect relationship between DNA and a particular phenotype. A person with tall parents could easily wind up being short if he does not have access to a diet rich in protein and calcium. Indeed, when one considers stereotypically short ethnic groups, most come from regions of the world with high levels of malnutrition in which protein and calcium are relatively scarce. Similarly, average human heights in Western Europe and the U.S. have increased 4” over the past 150 years, according to Scientific American, most likely because of improvements in childhood nutrition that occurred during that period.

There are many environmental factors that influence learning, memory, and even reaction time. Memory and reaction time, for example, can be improved with certain exercises and practice. Exposure to high levels of stress can impair memory and learning due to overexposure to the stress hormone cortisol (see here, here and here). How parents communicate with infants and children can influence the size and depth of their vocabularies (see here and here), which can influence how they comprehend phenomena and their ability to solve problems. Malnutrition and hunger can lead to cognitive impairment (see here, here and here).

Another problem with te Nijenhuis’ findings is that low IQ parents, while they may have larger families, do not necessarily produce low IQ children (“Resolving the debate over birth order, family size, and intelligence,” Rodgers, Joseph Lee; Cleveland, H. Harrington; van den Oord, Edwin; Rowe, David C. American Psychologist, Vol 55(6), Jun 2000, 599-612).

Confusing Correlation With Causation
Despite the fact that te Nijenhuis is a scientist, he apparently has difficulty distinguish between correlation and causation. There is considerable evidence that populations with higher IQs have lower birthrates. Thus, I.Q. and birthrates have a negative correlation (i.e., as one goes up, the other declines). However, this does is not evidence that one is caused by the other. Rather, they could both be products of one or more other causes or the correlation could simply be a coincidence.

Social class also correlates with both birthrate and intelligence. Wealthier women tend to have fewer babies. There are several logical explanations for this such as delaying motherhood to pursue college and career, for affluent women, versus having children earlier and more often among poor women because children can help with the farm work and care for you in your old age.

Wealthier people, in general, also tend to have higher IQs. However, this may have far more to do with environmental and social factors (e.g., access to better nutrition and healthcare, better quality schools, being read to more often as babies and toddlers, less stress, greater access to enriching extracurricular activities, like travel abroad, summer school and camps) than genetics. Indeed, two studies done in Texas and Minnesota seem to support this. According to the studies, the correlation in intelligence between mothers and biological children were not only quite low (0.20 to 0.34, respectively), but not much different than the correlations between mothers and adopted children (0.22 to 0.29, respectively), suggesting that social and environmental factors likely had a greater influence on children’s intelligence than the genetics of their mothers (Richard Lewontin, Not In Our Genes). In other words, intelligent people may very well be intelligent more as a consequence of their social class privileges than their parents’ genes.