Shining the Light on the Rockefellers: Upton Sinclair’s Non-Violent Reform Strategy
by Moti Nissani
There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil to one who is striking at the root.–Henry David Thoreau
In his From Dictatorship to Democracy, Gene Sharp observes:
Most people in democratic opposition groups do not understand the need for strategic planning or are not accustomed or trained to think strategically. This is a difficult task. Constantly harassed by the dictatorship, and overwhelmed by immediate responsibilities, resistance leaders often do not have the safety or time to develop strategic thinking skills.
One example of this is the predisposition of resistance leaders to interact directly with their immediate oppressors—the police, the army, the state legislators perhaps—never realizing that these people are simply the pawns of tycoons. Often, these tycoons live 1000s of miles away from, say, the strike location or colonization target. Both history and logic forcefully suggest that local interactions—despite their intuitive appeal—are counterproductive. Reformers must shine the light on—or aim the guns at—the far-away architects of oppression, not at their nearby inconsequential and replaceable minions.
The violent version of this strategy, which goes at least as far back as the 11th century, had been astoundingly successful. To the best of my knowledge, its peaceful version (for those of us who still believe in non-violence) goes back at least as far back as 1914, to the Ludlow Massacre and to Upton Sinclair’s ingenious attempts to force the corporate newspapers to cover it.
The rest of this posting consists of three long quotes. The first, taken from Wikipedia, gives the semi-official background of the Ludlow Massacre. The second, taken from the best media book ever written in English (and for some strange reason, hardly ever cited by dissident media scholars), Upton Sinclair’s The Brass Check. These masterfully-written fragments explain and illustrate the selective targeting of remote puppeteers. The third part, again taken from Sinclair’s book, shines the light on the Rockefellers’ tactic of discrediting their opponents (besides their better-known tactics of murdering, starving, intimidating, or incarcerating them). These tactics are not merely of historical interest, for the Rockefellers and Rothschilds apply them today on a much larger scale than they did a century ago.
“The Ludlow Massacre was an attack by the Colorado National Guard and Colorado Fuel & Iron Company camp guards on a tent colony of 1,200 striking coal miners and their families at Ludlow, Colorado on April 20, 1914. The massacre resulted in the violent deaths of between 19 and 25 people; sources vary but all sources include two women and eleven children, asphyxiated and burned to death under a single tent. By 7:00 p.m., the camp was in flames, and the militia descended on it and began to search and loot the camp. Louis Tikas had remained in the camp the entire day and was still there when the fire started. Tikas and two other men were captured by the militia. Tikas and Lt. Karl Linderfelt, commander of one of two Guard companies, had confronted each other several times in the previous months. While two militiamen held Tikas, Linderfelt broke a rifle butt over his head. Tikas and the other two captured miners were later found shot dead. Tikas had been shot in the back. Their bodies lay along the Colorado and Southern Railway tracks for three days in full view of passing trains. The militia officers refused to allow them to be moved until a local of a railway union demanded the bodies be taken away for burial.
“At its peak in 1910, the coal mining industry of Colorado employed 15,864 people, accounting for 10 percent of those employed in the state. Colorado’s coal industry was dominated by a handful of operators. The largest, Colorado Fuel and Iron, was the largest coal operator in the west, as well as one of the nation’s most powerful corporations, at one point employing 7,050 individuals and controlling 71,837 acres (290.71 km2) of coal land. CF&I was purchased by John D. Rockefeller in 1902, and nine years later he turned his controlling interest in the company to his son, John D. Rockefeller, Jr., who managed the company from his offices at 26 Broadway in New York.
“Colliers in Colorado were at constant risk for explosion, suffocation, and collapsing mine walls. In 1912, the death rate in Colorado’s mines was 7.055 per 1,000 employees, compared to a national rate of 3.15.Between 1884 and 1912, mining accidents claimed the lives of more than 1,700 Coloradans.
“Historian Philip S. Foner has described company towns as ‘feudal domain[s], with the company acting as lord and master. . . . The ‘law’ consisted of the company rules. Curfews were imposed. Company guards — brutal thugs armed with machine guns and rifles loaded with soft-point bullets — would not admit any ‘suspicious’ stranger into the camp and would not permit any miner to leave.’ Furthermore, miners who raised the ire of the company were liable to find themselves and their families summarily evicted from their homes.”
“I spent two days and part of a third in the Tombs. Every day the reporters came to see me, and I gave interviews and wrote special articles—all the news about Colorado I could get hold of. And every day there was a crowd of ten thousand people in front of Twenty-six Broadway, and young Rockefeller fled to his home in the country, and ‘Standard Oil,’ for the first time in its history, issued public statements in defense of its crimes.
“Some one hired thugs to try to pick quarrels with us and cause a disturbance; I had been to Colorado, and knew intimately the conditions. Now the strike was on, and the miners and their families living in tent-colonies had been raided, beaten, shot up by gun-men. Finally a couple of machine-guns had been turned loose on them, their tent-colony at Ludlow had been burned, and three women and fourteen children had been suffocated to death. I sat in Carnegie Hall, New York City, amid an audience of three thousand people, and listened to an account of these conditions by eye-witnesses; next morning I opened the newspapers, and found an account in the ‘New York Call,’ a Socialist paper, and two inches in the ‘New York World’—and not a line in any other New York paper. I talked over the problem with my wife, and we agreed that something must be done to break this conspiracy of silence. I had trustworthy information to the effect that young Rockefeller [son of John Rockefeller and father of the ubiquitous nonagenarian David Rockefeller] was in charge of what was going on in Colorado, though he was vigorously denying it at this time, and continued to deny it until the Walsh commission published his letters and telegrams to his representatives in Denver. Evidently, therefore, Mr. Rockefeller was the shining mark at which we must aim.
“We were received by a polite secretary, to whom we delivered a carefully phrased letter, asking Mr. Rockefeller to meet Mrs. Cannon, and hear at first hand what she had personally witnessed of the strike. We were invited to come back an hour later for our reply, and we came, and were informed that Mr. Rockefeller would not see us. So we presented a second letter, prepared in advance, to the effect that if he persisted in his refusal to see us, we should consider ourselves obligated to indict him for murder before the bar of public opinion. To this letter the polite secretary informed us, not quite so politely, there was “no answer.”
“According to government figures, there were twelve times as many miners killed and injured by accidents in the southern Colorado fields as elsewhere.”
“There is one other incident which must be told before I finish with the subject of Denver, its criminal government and prostitute newspapers. I had been in Denver before, also I had read Ben Lindsey’s ‘The Beast;’ so I knew, before I arrived, what I might expect to encounter. Standing in the Pennsylvania station, bidding my wife farewell, I said : ‘Let me give you this warning; whatever you read about me, don’t worry. If there is any scandal, pay no attention to it, for that is the way they fight in Denver.’
“And when I reached my destination, I had cause to be glad of my forethought. John Reed, who had just come up from the coal-country, told me of the vile slanders which had been invented and circulated concerning the women of the coalfields who had been active in defense of their cause. The scandal-mongers had not even spared a poor, half-crazed Italian woman, whose three babies had been burned to death in the holocaust at Ludlow! Louis Tikas, a young Greek idealist, a graduate of the University of Athens, who had been trying to uplift his people and had been foully murdered by corporation thugs, they blackguarded as a ‘brothel hanger-on’ before his corpse was under ground. John Reed himself they had got involved with a charming young widow in Denver; he had met her twice at dinner-parties! (In passing, to show you how far Colorado had progressed toward civil war, I might mention that this lady, upon learning what had been done to the strikers, sent to the East and purchased two machine-guns and hid them in her cellar, ready to be shipped to the strike-field for use by the strikers in case the militia attempted to return.)
“Every Socialist and magazine-writer, even every writer for conservative publications, was taken in hand upon his arrival in Denver, and fitted out with a scandal. So far as I know, the only one who escaped was Harvey O’Higgins—and this because he took the precaution to bring his wife along. I had not brought my wife; also I was a ‘divorced man,’ and an easy victim. There was a young Jewish girl, a probation officer in Judge Lindsey’s court, whom I was so indiscreet as to treat to a sandwich in a dairy lunch-room; that was sufficient for the scandal-bureau, which had to hustle in these crowded days. I recollect a funny scene in the home of James Randolph Walker, where several of these ‘affinities’ learned for the first time to whom they had been assigned. We had a merry time over it; but meanwhile, at the meetings of the Law and Order League, and other places where the ladies of ‘good society’ in Denver gathered to abuse the strikers, all these scandals were solemnly taken for granted, and quoted as evidence of the depravity of ‘foreign agitators’ and the radicals who abetted them
“For myself, let me explain that during my three weeks in Denver I kept two stenographers busy all day; I wrote a score of articles, I sent hundreds of telegrams and letters—working under terrific pressure, hardly taking time to eat. My wife was back in New York, risking her frail health in the midst of public uproar, and with reason to fear that she might be assaulted by thugs at any moment. Every thought I had to spare was for her, all my loyalty was for her; yet ‘good society’ in Denver was imagining me involved in a dirty intrigue!
A century has passed and the oligarchs’ attack on everything that is decent, everything that is worth living for, continues unabated. The oligarchs have learned from the past, and apply every conceivable new gizmo, every imaginable new advance in mind control and clandestine assassinations technology, in their war against the biosphere, freedom, justice, and peace.
But we, the humanitarians, seem to have learned nothing from our predecessors, running around aimlessly, like a ewe whose lamb has been taken away to slaughter, never planning a counter-attack that might possibly work.
One might still ask: would the strategy of shining the light on the architects of destruction work nowadays? Could an early 20th century strategy be effective in the early 21st century? Some theoreticians, at least, believe that it could–and ought to–be. Here is Christof lehmann, writing in late 2012:
“Unless we the people bring our opposition directly to the comfort of the palaces, homes and offices of those who abuse people like you and me as both the victims and the perpetrators; unless those who rape and murder you and me in the tens of thousands are confronted with the realistic possibility of having to face you and me and our justice, face to face, and until we the people of the world, men, women, elderly, civilians, soldiers, law enforcement officers stand up and unite in such a manner that raping or murdering any one of us will bring our wrath into the comfort of their homes and lives, unless we succeed at just that, we will continue being both the rapist and the raped, the murderer and the murdered.”
In a series of academic articles, Moti Nissani provided highly counter-intuitive experimental evidence that most people cannot let go of their convictions–even when faced with overwhelming evidence against these convictions. He is assembling now a Revolutionary’s Toolkit.
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