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Stars of Courage: Big Bill Haywood

Hello, Jordan Denato and I worked on art for my book project Evoke together, which is still in the process of self-publication. Our art collaborations have taken on a life all their own and,if all pans out, I hope to put all of them together and pitch them to graphic novel publishers. This series will cover well known figures in history, taking a spin off of the series "Courage Boys," created by conservative radio host Glenn Beck. 

As always - writing is not free. Please donate:  

One very striking thing about socialist figures in the United States in the period leading up to the first world war is how lavish and unapologetic their personalities were. The Cold War did enormous damage to even moderate socialist politics in the United States and effectively killed an entire movement of people, from Upton Sinclair to Jack London to Big Bill Haywood, who I will talk about here.

 Haywood's life came to a close in 1928, at the age of 59, in the newly formed Soviet Union, then only enjoying a decade of its post-war existence. He was pushed out of the United States largely after his acquittal from a murder trial, that of Frank Steunenberg, which was widely publicized in the United States. Haywood's sketchy life events besides, one of his primary achievements was that of consolidating socialist movements within the United States. Haywood was an advocate of industrial unionization as opposed to unionizing by craft, something he justified with the way modern day capitalism worked - in which productivity was measured much more by industrial incentives than by the demand of any particular talent. This same thought process spilled over in to unionizing by race or ethnicity. There still was very little taboo at all in American society, fifty years past the Civil War, for discrimination on the basis of race.

Haywood indeed was a progressive leader in that realm. Haywood had early involvement in the Socialist Party of America, in addition to a critical role in the formation of the Industrial Workers of the World. In addition to murder, Haywood also came under indictment for espionage, all factors that led to him fleeing for the infant Soviet Union. Those scandals led to him being disassociated from many of the socialist organizations he helped to establish and looking to the Soviet Union for sanctuary.

He served a role as labor advisor in Vladimir Lenin's government and despite reports of loneliness, depression and a longing to return to the United States, he died there in 1928, only four years after the death of Lenin. The power struggle that came to be after the death of Lenin led to the rise of Josef Stalin, a far more punitive leader than Lenin. It's anyone's guess what role Haywood, who was only 59 when he passed away, would have played in Stalin's Russia, if any.


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About Radical Second Things

Michael Orion is a blogger, writer, artist and photographer based in the Bay Area. Besides his maintenance and promotion of Radical Second Things, he contributes to the San Francisco newspaper SF Western Edition, where he writes about local non-profit organizations.

Mark Cappetta is a practicing Catholic and active LGBT activist. He has been instrumental in keeping Radical Second Things and updates the Facebook account almost daily.

Eva Gnostiquette is an artist, programmer, "future scientist," bi-trans girl and graphic designer. She voluntarily helped to create the first print issue Radical Second Things and designed our beautiful banners. Thanks so much, Eva!

Jordan Denato is a professional artist based out of Iowa. He took the initiative to illustrate both Jennifer Reimer's story and Michael Orion's Oscar Romero work. He has his own art studio, Tar and Feather Studios, and is a critical part of Radical Second Things.

Radical Second Things is a liberation theology themed blog that has clear cut goals - we see the structural decline of the United States and much of the west and hope to present alternatives that will offer "a preferential option for the poor" as more become vulnerable.

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