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The Wobblies (1979)

THE WOBBLIES boldly investigates a nation torn by naked corporate greed and the red-hot rift between the industrial masters and the rabble-rousing workers in the field and factory.
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THE WOBBLIES boldly investigates a nation torn by naked corporate greed and the red-hot rift between the industrial masters and the rabble-rousing workers in the field and factory.

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11 October 1979 (USA)  »

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interesting...and a mostly forgotten topic
14 April 2011 | by (Bradenton, Florida) – See all my reviews

The "Wobblies" was a nickname for a radical labor union that was founded in 1905. Unlike other unions of the day, the IWW was open to all people--regardless of gender or ethnicity as they were a very democratic organization. This and their anti-war stances were admirable--especially in WWI when the US went to war for no particular reason. They were also hard-core theoretical Marxists who believed in the ownership of industries by the workers. At the time, I guess I couldn't blame them--as working conditions at the time were often dangerous and some employers didn't seem to care about their welfare or decent wages. However, the Wobblies belief that all private ownership was evil and their looking towards eventual worldwide revolution scared the powers that be--particularly following the successful revolution in Russia.

The film is a well-constructed film--with lots of interviews with surviving union members from the early days and vintage footage. However, the film really does not seem like it was very objective, as it tended to present the story just from the Wobblies' point of view. In other words, the context for the labor problems and government persecution of the movement wasn't really explored--making them look virtuous and the government and bosses 100% evil. The members were definitely political prisoners--harassed by the government. also rather "pie in the sky" and selfish as well. Because there is no balance to this film, it might seem more like propaganda and loses a few points from me because of this. Here the story is simple--they are victims and all their post-WWI activities are ignored.

FYI--Though very, very small today, the IWW still exists today.


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