Big Bill Haywood and the Radical Union Movement

By Joseph R. Conlin | Go to book overview

8

Communist

When the news of the Bolshevik Revolution reached the Wobbly cell block of the "Cook County Can" in November, 1917, the response was raucous singing and cheering that continued late into the night. Few of the men knew exactly what they were cheering about. Russia had been of interest to them only as little more than an example of the lengths to which oppression could go. The March Revolution had seemed to change nothing but the names of the oppressors, although the IWW, through its Russian members, aided some exiles in returning to Russia. The victory of authentic revolutionaries was entirely unexpected, and the bright contrast to the IWW's own plight at the moment launched the giddiness. From then on, the news from Russia was a topic of conversation second only to IWW affairs. When Haywood was released on bail during the spring of 1918 he hosted John Reed in Chicago and heard Reed's famous account of the "ten days that shook the world." Haywood later read Reed's book in Leavenworth. 1

The October Revolution shook the entire American Left. Radicals who had devoted their lives to a revolution that never came and contented themselves with minor successes quite within the social structure could not help but be fascinated by the phenomenal victories of a group which had seemed, a few years before, as insignificant as themselves. They inevitably deferred at least briefly to their successful comrades, and some looked forward to a unified and omnipotent revolutionary movement. But the emergence of Communism in the

-191-

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Big Bill Haywood and the Radical Union Movement
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Big Bill Haywood and the Radical Union Movement *
  • Big Bill Haywood and the Radical Union Movement *
  • Preface vii
  • Contents *
  • 1 - Worker 1
  • 2 - Unionist 20
  • 3 - Undesirable Citizen 52
  • 4 - The Eminent Man 77
  • 5 - Wobbly 118
  • 6 - Socialist 148
  • 7 - Bête Noire 170
  • 8 - Communist 191
  • 9 - Frustration of a Radical 210
  • Bibliographical Note 215
  • Notes to Chapters 219
  • Index 241
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