Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Wobbly Social Pyramids

The Wobblies, or Industrial Workers of the World, are one of those movements whose cultural presence mightily outweighs any direct political success they have ever achieved. Wobbly propaganda, especially in song, is often downright brilliant. Here is a classic graphical example, from their newspaper the Industrial Worker in 1911, illustrating the 'Pyramid of the Capitalist System':

The Pyramid of the Capitalist System - from The Industrial Worker, 1911 - public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Or, as I might just as well call it, the Pyramid of the State System. (As pretty much anarcho-syndicalists, I doubt the IWW would grudge me that point, however radically we might differ on other matters.) To clarify, here are two conventional visions of the Good Society, with the boundaries of the State marked in red and of private life in blue.

The Right Good Society - a well-ordered civil society, free under the guard of a virtuous small government:

The Pyramid of the Capitalist System, Rightist Improvement - by me, derived from original in Industrial Worker, 1911 - released into public domain.

The Left Good Society - an egalitarian civil society, equitable under the guidance of an inclusive and well-ordered government:

The Pyramid of the Capitalist System, Leftist Improvement - by me, derived from original in Industrial Worker, 1911 - released into public domain

It is easy to see which is freer and which more equal!

And in a spirit of positive political engagement, here is something more like my own social vision:

The sardanes danced at Barcelona - by bernatff at Wikimedia Commons, 2006 - released under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

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