Tuesday, July 20, 2010

July 20, 1934 – Socialist Uprising begins in Minneapolis

Minneapolis Teamsters were in their second strike of the summer. The Great Depression had hid the Midwest hard, and laborers were among the most struggling of Americans to make ends meet. In an effort to better their position, the teamsters organized themselves into a union. A constitution had been written, and drivers were organized into different locals, each representing a type of worker: milk, freight, ice-wagon, etc. The leadership of Daniel Tobbs created an efficient headquarters staffed by a women's auxiliary, and they had even allied themselves with the Communist Party to achieve political clout. The past winter, a strike of coal drivers had made great progress, and now seemed time to achieve workers' rights.

In May, the strike began. The teamsters shut down the city, allowing only farmers to transport their produce directly to grocers. Fighting almost immediately broke out with the unions and the Minneapolis police trading blows with clubs and pipes. After a week of carnage, negotiations began, and Governor Floyd Olson was ready with the mobilized (but not deployed) National Guard. The unions and their employers came to agreement, and workers returned to business by the end of the month.

However, it became apparent that they had missed a key point. Warehouse workers (who had allied themselves with the drivers) were meant to receive benefits as understood by the unions, but the employers refused to give them. The strike resumed on July 17.

The union leadership decided that, if battle were to escalate, they would be ready. Guns were stockpiled, but only clubs were allowed until otherwise provoked. On July 20, the provocation would come as fifty police officers escorted a single truck into the picketed market. Club-bearing teamsters made to block the truck's path, and then police opened fire with shotguns loaded with buckshot. Union workers charged forward to aid the injured, and the police continued to fire. Within minutes, teamsters from the rear of the picket came forward with their own weapons. The brawl turned to battle.

Minneapolis descended into a war zone. Olson deployed the National Guard, but the soldiers expected riot control rather than urban combat. After two days, the Guard fell back to take up siege of the city. All across the nation, in Hoovervilles and breadlines, people seemed to come alive to the sounds of gunfire. Longshoremen all along the West Coast rose up, shutting down ports. A strike of auto workers in Toledo that had been thought to have been settled ignited again and began a wildfire that would consume Ohio.

President Roosevelt watched as his country became engulfed it what appeared to be civil war. He pleaded for ceasefires over his weekly addresses, but the words fell on deaf ears. Finally he would call forth the Army and Marines to join faltering National Guard deployments (many of whom were beginning to side with the union workers). The action would cause a reaffirmation of faith in the Federal government among some and calls for a total separation among others. With the Convention of Minneapolis, the anarchy would become a revolution.

Violence would tear across the Midwest. Allied with them, but unable to hold such independence, were the Workers of the West, a mass in California and the Pacific Northwest that locked down the western part of the country. Riots shredded New York City during the Thirty Days' Fire, but neither the Federalists nor the Socialists could gain ground.

The war changed when Stalin offered aid to the rebel workers. Many happily took up Soviet arms, but many others became suspicious of foreign entanglement. Following ruptures in the Socialist leadership, desertion became rampant, and order was gradually restored. FDR began his extensive projects in the New Reconstruction, which would solve unemployment issues as many major cities in the Union needed to be rebuilt.

Europe fell into the Second World War, the United States was in no position to aid their allies. Without the hope of American arms, Britain fell before the month-long onslaught of the Blitz, and Germany turned against Russia in a bloodthirsty war that tore apart both countries. In 1944, Japan would conclude its India Campaign and launch new attacks on the south to secure oil, assaulting the American bases at Manila. The US, perhaps stronger than ever and sporting a ready government-based manufacturing system, was the sleeping giant awoken. Aid poured into the French, Norwegian, and British Resistances, and the Americans mobilized over a million troops. Stalin kept Hitler occupied by scorched earth, costing the lives of untold millions of Russians. Even as Hitler took Moscow in 1943, Stalin fought on with his loyal comrades against insurmountable assaults.

With the successful testing of the atomic bomb at Trinity Site in New Mexico, the United States would bring the war to an end in 1947 with a series of eighteen bombings in Germany and Japan. Stalin seemed hopeful to emulate the technology, but his nation was too destroyed to seek to match the capitalist West. Holding the bomb as the highest prize, President Truman kept the United States as the only superpower, rushing aid to allies to rebuild, but keeping military dominance to the US. Russia would struggle, but the death of Stalin in 1956 would lead to a new revolution (rumored to be backed by American funds).

The earth became nearly uniform in its American capitalism, and the latter half of the twentieth century would see untold growth. A feeling of paternalism would come over Americans, and investment would be the new colonialism. With the United Nations as something of a front, the US would assume control of every government by means of controled federated spending. Many would call the Pax Americana the greatest age of the earth, but others would disagree as the disenfranchised suffered low wages in sweatshops.

September 11, 2001, a great rebellion would emerge throughout the Muslim world. Capitalism would fall to its knees in a third world war that would bring an end to American control and a rebirth of leftist and conservative radicals that would parcel up the devastated nations.

In reality, the leadership of the teamsters at the beginning of the July strike called for a new strategy of using no weapons. Unarmed, the union would face police, who would indeed attack them, calling up much sympathy from all over the nation. Communism was given something of a respectable face, but red scares and fear of foreigners would bring about the eventual suppression of socialist ideals for America.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Site Meter