Radical media, politics and culture.

Michael Löwy Reviews Franklin Rosemont's <I>Joe Hill</i>

While the U.S. "Big Media" rarely notice books that challenge the dominant ideology, this is not always so in other lands. Franklin Rosemont’s Joe Hill: The IWW and the Making of a Revolutionary Workingclass Counterculture (Charles H. Kerr, 2003) -- see Peter Linebaugh’s review here -- has not been mentioned in the New York Times or Newsweek, but here is an informative notice from the current (January 2004) issue of Le Monde Diplomatique, a paper with over 400,000 readers, published in Paris in nine languages. Reviewer Michael Lowy’s books in English include Redemption and Utopia: Jewish Libertarian Thought in Central Europe and Romanticism Against the Tide of Modernity.

Franklin Rosemont's Joe Hill

Michael Löwy

This is a splendid biography of Joe Hill (1877-1915), the legendary figure of American radicalism -- poet, composer, songwriter, cartoonist, and union militant, executed by the authorities of the State of Utah in 1915 after a notorious frame-up trial.

But this book is also a history of the counterculture created by the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), the great revolutionary union movement in North America. The author analyzes the internationalist, anti-racist, anti-sexist, and profoundly subversive spirit of this movement, emphasizing the humor, poetry, creativity, and romanticism of its culture, which in many respects seems to anticipate surrealism.

Abundantly illustrated with images, drawings, comics, and paintings produced by Joe Hill and his IWW friends and fellow workers, this 639-page book restores a too-little-known chapter in the history of the North American workers’ movement.