Category Archives: Economics

Subversive Historian – 08/28/09

The March on Washington

Back in the day on August 28th, 1963, hundreds of thousands of people participated in the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. Black union leader A Phillip Randolph first proposed the idea for a mass convergence on the nation’s capital. With organizational help from various civil rights groups, the planned demonstration faced disagreements from parties involved as to its stated objective. Some groups wanted to focus on black poverty while others wanted to show public support for the Kennedy administration’s proposed civil rights legislation. When the march finally took place, John Lewis of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee had to tone down the criticisms he levied against President Kennedy. The demonstration would later culminate on the steps of the Lincoln memorial with Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous “I have a dream,” speech.

The following year, the Civil Rights Act would be passed into law due in part to that massive show of support for the civil rights movement during the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.


Subversive Historian – 05/15/09

Standard Oil’s Dissolution

Back in the day on May 15th, 1911, the Supreme Court of the United States ordered the Standard Oil Company of New Jersey to dissolve. In an 8-1 ruling, justices concluded that the petroleum corporation had violated the Sherman Act of 1890 and split it into thirty-four smaller competitive companies. Started in 1870 by John D. Rockefeller and a group of businessmen, the Standard Oil Company soon grew to monopolize the petroleum industry in just twenty years following its inception. By 1890, it had come to control almost 90% of all refined oil flows within the United States. After “muckrakers,” like Ida Tarbell began investigating the illegal tactics of the company, the U.S. Department of Justice sued in 1909 stating that it conspired to restrain trade or commerce. The High Court agreed.

Considering our current crisis, more vigorous applications of anti-trust laws would seem to make for good solvents against the “too large to fail” principle, don’t you think?

Beware of a Movement that Sings!

Tom Morello and KB Solomon, two of the most baritone brothers you’ll ever hear sing, will be taking the stage for an upcoming event in Venice organized by the Industrial Workers of the World. Morello, as the Nightwatchman, has revived classic songs such as Woody Guthrie’s “This Land is My Land,” while putting the power of labor back in musical rabble rousing. Solomon, a classically trained Basso Profundo singer, ressurects the songs of the great Paul Robeson in his “Speak of Me As I Am,” one-man play based on the historical figure. With the I.W.W. in mind, Solomon is sure to perform “Joe Hill.” With such a musical pairing of social justice seekers in a time when the contradictions of capitalism are so painfully acute, who in the world would want to miss this event?

To learn more, check out the press release put out by the Wobblies!

“Historically progressive labor union, the Industrial Workers of the World will be hosting a Community/Labor Educational Forum. The theme is “Organizing the Unorganized” and will feature musical performances by Tom Morello of The Nightwatchman and KB Solomon, “who recently appeared in a one man show about Paul Robeson,” as well as a panel discussion with members from the USW Carwash campaign, the Pilipino Workers’ Centers, and more. The event will be held on Sunday, February 22 at 7:30pm at the Beyond Baroque Literary Arts Center 681 Venice Blvd., Venice CA 90291. Admission is free. Child care available. For more information, call 310-205-2667.”

As the opening words to the Preamble to the IWW Constitution state: “The working class and the employing class have nothing in common.” And always remember: Right was the tyrant king who said: “Beware of a movement that sings!”

Subversive Historian – 12/31/08

British East India Company Chartered

Four-hundred and eight years ago on this day in people’s history, the British East India Company was chartered by Queen Elizabeth I. On December 31st, 1600, under the title of “The Governor and Company of Merchants of London Trading into the East Indies,” the group of newly incorporated merchants was royally granted monopoly rights. With such privileges, the East India Company quickly established trading posts in India and firmly entrenched itself there until the 19th century. In 1689, sovereignty rights were conferrer upon the company. This important turning point allowed for its establishments of “presidencies” in India, effectively giving the British East India ruling administrative powers. Throughout the eighteenth century, the company plundered Bengal increasing its profits until burdensome military expenditures made British East India petition for government intervention to stave off collapse. In the 19th century, the company lost its monopoly and the Sepoy Rebellion of 1857 helped seal its fate in 1874.

Through its existence of the British East India Company was instrumental in helping establish the institutionalization of global economic capitalism. Well, thanks a lot.