Human Exploitation in the United States

By Norman Thomas | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XII
THE NEGRO

One of the strongest reasons for the growth of the textile industry in the South was the supply of cheap and docile labor. During the boom years chambers of commerce openly advertised this particular attraction in order to persuade manufacturers to come South. Nevertheless, from 1929 on down to the present day, that same South has been the scene of some of the most dramatic labor conflicts in textile history. In commenting on the situation in the Summer of 1929, I wrote that in the South were to be observed all the characteristics of the labor struggle which uniformly attended the earlier days of the coming of industrialism, "complicated by the plantation psychology." This phrase, in turn, was made the subject of editorial comment in at least one important Southern newspaper. The editor admitted the general truth of what I said and then went on to criticize the tariff policy which the North, following the Civil War, had forced upon the South, as being responsible for the creation of a depressed agriculture which in turn meant an inexhaustible supply of cheap labor for the mill owner. In this situation, the editor maintained, it was precisely the plantation psychology which had done something for the white mill worker. Not only had there been some carry-over of a benevolent paternalism into the mills, but also the plantation psychology had meant a racial solidarity of whites which had protected white workers from Negro competition.

What the editor said makes a good text for discussion of the economic plight of the Negro both in agri

-258-

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Human Exploitation in the United States
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Human Exploitation in the United States *
  • To My Wife *
  • Preface vii
  • Contents *
  • Introduction xiii
  • Chapter I- Land and Those Who Live on It i
  • Chapter II- Real Estate vs. Homes 13
  • Chapter III- Farming for Exercise 4
  • Chapter IV- Men and Trees 72
  • Chapter V- Mines and Miners 92
  • Chapter VI- New Sources of Physical Energy 119
  • Chapter VII- Working for Wages 137
  • Chapter VIII- Working Conditions 164
  • Chapter IX- Unemployment 183
  • Chapter X- Women in Industry 215
  • Chapter XI- Exploiting Our Children 231
  • Chapter XII- The Negro 258
  • Chapter XIII- The Labor Struggle 284
  • Chapter XIV- The Consumer Pays 304
  • Chapter XV- Little Owner, What Now? 327
  • Chapter XVI- The Government as Exploiter 357
  • Chapter XVII- In Conclusion 374
  • Bibliography 391
  • Index 399
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