Anarchism in the Early American Labor Movement

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Anarchism in the Early American Labor Movement Anarchism, not in the sense of lawlessness, but in the sense of noninterventionist governmental policy and activity, has a colorful history in the United States. It has enjoyed periods of welcoming and periods of scorn by every class of people and for widely varied reasons. It is embraced by free market economists and by the socially liberal, favored in part by both major parties and wholly endorsed by the Libertarian Party in the U.S. today. In the past, its place has been substantially different, for at different periods of time, different policies and mindsets on the parts of the citizens and the government have been at the forefront of progressive thought. Whether it is considered novel, conservative, beneficial, or detrimental is all dependent on a large array of contemporary social and economic considerations. Around the turn of the 20th century, anarchism was at the forefront of progressive thought for the American workforce. This is not surprising considering the state of governmental activity at the time. Federal and state governments were routinely interfering with the desires of American workers to organize into unions, to strike for better working conditions and to be recognized as valid opposition to an increasingly oppressive capitalist system with regard to its rank and file workers, It is clear as to why such a stance would be taken by the government. Carnegie, Rockefeller, and Morgan, among many others, were driving American economic activity in a way that, while ugly for many, was beneficial at the national and international level. At this time, the United States was not by any means a superpower, it was a coming-of-age nation fresh out of civil war, seeking to make itself into a powerful world player amidst the imperialistic tendencies of its allies and enemies. As justification for the anti-labor sentiment that was carried with these interests, it was not difficult to reason that, as the

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