Peace Rally Speech — August 25, 2007 —
by Peter Kellman, President Southern Maine Labor Council, AFL-CIO
Sisters and Brothers,
We are a people historically
governed by a wealthy elite. Governed
by the people who had these fine houses built in
Today we are told that if we
want to be secure in our homes we must fight in
Members of the Industrial Workers of the World (the I.W.W. or “Wobblies”) expressed opposition to World War 1. They were harassed and jailed, and as a result, their union was decimated.
One of the jailed Wobblies was Ralph Chaplin, who wrote the lyrics to Labor’s anthem “Solidarity Forever.” While in jail, Chaplin wrote a book of poems called “Bars and Shadows.” In the introduction, economist Scott Nearing explained why the Wobblies were singled out for persecution:
Long before the war, the I.W.W. had made itself known and feared for its conduct of strikes; its free speech fights, and its ability to put the sore spots of American industrial life on the front pages of the daily press . It was in the domain of industry that the I.W.W. was functioning, and it was among the business interests that the determination had been reached to rid the country of the organization at all costs.1
The best-known of the many
jailed for violating the Espionage Act was labor leader Eugene V. Debs, who
helped organize the American Railway Union, the Socialist Party and the I.W.W.
He had been jailed earlier by the U.S. Government for leading the
Debs was sentenced to ten years
in federal prison under the Espionage Act for making anti-war speeches. Debs a Socialist, knew that there was a direct connection between
the American capitalist system and the wars waged by the
Sisters and Brothers if we are to end this senseless, never ending series of wars — pursued by the ruling class, we must end the economic system that denies us fundamental rights. A system that promotes competition and greed at the expense of cooperation and love.
A labor leader once described war as a situation where workers are on opposite sides — of the same gun.
It is time for the Workers of the World to stop building guns and start building bridges, bridges of steel and bridges of cooperation.
My opposition to the Viet Nam
War started in 1964. I remember some of the activists of that day saying we
would not be able to stop the war in
The activist of that day played
an important role in stopping the Viet Nam War — it took 11 years — and maybe
we stopped the elite from pursuing a certain kind of war for awhile, but the
seventh war after
By my reckoning this is at least the 10th.
Sister and brothers we need to END this War.
We need to Impeach Bush and Cheney.
And we need to make our voices heard across the land that the American system based on competition and greed needs to be replaced with a system based on cooperation and love, otherwise when this war ends there will be another, and another and another.
Sisters and Brothers, the System needs to be impeached and the ruling elite sent packing by the common people.
The swords must be melted down into photovoltaic cells.
Cooperation must replace competition.
Love must replace greed.