~Art Of The New Deal: How Artists Helped Redefine America During The Depression
Labor Pains 2023
While firing up the BBQ & setting out the disposable plates, most folks probably don’t think about Labor Day as a holiday commemorating the battle for human rights. But this is its origin.
~Thomas Hart Benton
In the volatile time between the Civil War & the Great Depression there was a massive sea-change within society – The industrial revolution was sweeping in – & millions of Americans were forced to leave their farms & move to cities in search of work. They found themselves on the assembly line in dark factories & in the newly-formed rail, steel, textile, & shipping industries.
Soon economic recession became a thing, creating mass poverty – throwing enormous numbers of people out of work. The Rights realm, in relation to the Economic & Cultural realms, was not up to morally dealing with how employers should treat their workers. There was no clear concept of how the wealth they all collectively produced would be distributed. Inequality soared to enormous heights. Growing corporations were making workers their indentured slaves.
Labor Unions were growing as the one avenue by which workers could fight for their interests, & the economy saw waves of regular strikes & work stoppages that would be unheard of today. The minimum wage, the 40-hour work week, laws against child labor, & more were only instituted after pitched political combat.
Sometimes, the battles were literal: Employers & politicians were not shy about busting unions with police as well as hired enforcers. Riots, deaths, & bombings were not uncommon.
The first inklings of America’s Labor Day took shape in 1882, when the Central Labor Union (CLU) met in September in New York City for a labor festival. Peter McGuire, a co-founder of the American Federation of Labor (AFL), who was inspired by a parade in Toronto in 1872 in support of a strike against the 58-hour work week, may have been the 1st to propose the idea of a ‘Labor Day’. Other research points to Matthew Maguire, a machinist & member of the Knights of Labor. But somehow or another, the idea for a parade & yearly holiday to honor American workers was hatched.
The first parade of the new project was held in Manhattan on Sept. 5, 1882. It started out small, but then a band showed up, & workers’ groups from various industries began to flow in. Eventually the parade swelled to 10,000. After that initial success, various state & municipal governments began naming an official day to commemorate labor.
Then a massive recession hit in 1893. The job losses were devastating — & the frustration crystallized in a nationwide strike against the Pullman Company, a railroad car manufacturer & founder of one of the most infamous company towns in America, keeping the workers in appalling living conditions.
Railroad baron George Pullman created his eponymous town in 1880 just outside Chicago. This is part of the history that has affected the ‘Spirit of Place’ in which I live here in Chicago. It was a model of capitalist feudalism, where workers were moved into housing in line with their position in the company. Residents worked for Pullman’s company & their rent was automatically docked from their paychecks. They even had to bank at Pullman’s corrupt bank. But Pullman’s business plummeted when the recession hit. Hundreds were laid off & wages were deeply cut — yet rents in the town did not decline.
In response, 4,000 of Pullman’s workers went on strike on May 11, 1894. On June 26, the American Railroad Union — led by Eugene V. Debs — called for a supporting boycott. One 100,50 railway workers in 27 states joined the strike, refusing to operate Pullman rail cars. The massive halt to the rail industry & the interruption of U.S. mail cars set off a national crisis.
Congress & President Grover Cleveland, looking to save face, rushed through a bill declaring Labor Day a national holiday. Cleveland signed it on June 28, 1894. He was backed by the AFL — the more conservative portion of the labor movement — which threw the first official Labor Day parade that year.
~Pullman Strike, 1894 Drawing by Granger
But it was a brutally ironic gesture. Six days later, under pressure from the furious leaders of the rail industry, & facing the virtual shutdown of U.S. mail trains, President Cleveland invoked the ‘Sherman Antitrust Act’ to declare the work stoppage a federal crime. He sent in 12,000 federal troops to break the strike. Days of fighting & riots ensued, as strikers overturned & burned railcars, & the troops responded with violent crackdowns. Over 30 workers were killed before the strikers were dispersed & the trains restarted.
President Cleveland & others picked the September date for Labor Day as a kind of alternative to May Day, which had by then arisen as the principal day of celebration for workers’ movements around the world. On May 1, 1886, over 250,000 workers struck in Chicago, shutting down 13,000 businesses to demand a shorter work week for equal pay. After several days of peaceful protest, an ‘unknown assailant’ threw a bomb at police in Haymarket Square on May 4. The police responded by firing into the crowd, killing scores of people. Some speculate that this assailant was a paid provocateur.
How ironic that now Labor Day is just an excuse for a commercialized, lazy-apolitical 3-day weekend, which his been totally disconnected from the remembrance of when workers fought & died for the basic human decency of a shorter work week.
And we can also look at Labor Day as a remembrance of a time when the labor movement was a force to be reckoned with. Since the heyday of the New Deal, American membership in labor unions has collapsed. And of course like everything that turns corporate, the Labor Unions became corrupt. Today Millions of workers in modern service industries face capricious employment, low pay, & dismal conditions. Inequality has returned to its pre-Great-Depression levels, & the shared prosperity of the era immediately after the New Deal is a distant memory. Even the 40-hour work week is falling by the wayside.
Dear freinds – Labor Day is ripe for renewal. Isn’t it time to take up The 3-Fold Social Organism as inspired by Rudolf Steiner’s Spiritual Science?
There isn’t, nor should there be, a ready-made ‘social program’ or ‘regulation’ to solve all of our problems. We each have to take-up social ideals that serve the highest good of the all – & work together to transform the communities we belong to. We must each work with the ‘Spirit of Place’ in which our karma has placed us, to co-create a movement for Freedom based on Love, in our Cultural Sphere; Equity in our Rights Realm; & in the sphere of Economics, we must foster an association of Sister/brotherhood – Then our Labor pains will give birth to a practical 3-fold Social Movement that brings harmony to humanity.
~Chart via John Jardine Goss/ EarthSky.
4 September 2023 – “Speaking with the Stars”: The trio will rise after 10 pm – visible thru dawn.
RUDOLF STEINER’S CALENDAR OF THE SOUL
translated (with added titles) by Roy Sadler
AUTUMN PRELUDE II
The Ripening Of Self
The cosmic light
lives on with inner power,
becomes the light of soul
and shines in depths of spirit
to free the fruits of Cosmic Self
that from them in the course of time
the Human Self will ripen.
This is the second verse of the Light Quartet:
its mirror verse in November is the third one.
ALL HALLOWTIDE II
The Ripening Of Creative Powers
The light from spirit depths
strives outwards like the sun,
becomes life’s strength of will
and shines in senses’ dullness
to free the forces
that ripen creative powers
in human work the soul initiates.
ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY (inspired by Rudolf Steiner’s Original Calendar of the Soul: “What is presented here can be useful to those who wish to follow the path of humankind’s spiritual development“)
“And when Moses came down from the mount Sinai, he held the two tablets of the covenant law in his hands,: and he knew not that his head was horned with light from the conversation of the YHWH. And Aaron and the children of Israel seeing the head of Moses horned with light were afraid to come near… he gave them in commandment all that he had heard of the YHWH in mount Sinai…And having done speaking, he put a veil upon over his head…~ Exodus 34:29-35
Birth & Death-day of MOSES (from Rudolf Steiner’s Calendar of the Soul):
According to Egyptian astrologers, the liberator of the children of Israel was to be born on this day – So all the male children were to be thrown into the water by order of King Pharaoh.
Jochebed, Amram‘s wife, mother of Miriam, & Aaron, gave birth to her third child, a boy that morning at sunrise. Right from that moment the house was filled with a radiant light, so they knew he was an extraordinary child. After three months, Jochebed saw that she would not be able to conceal her child any longer. So she made a small, water-proof basket & set him down among the papyrus reeds growing on the brink of the Nile. Miriam remained nearby to watch the baby.
The day was hot, & King Pharaoh’s daughter, Bithya, came out to the river, accompanied by her maids, to take a bath in the cool waters of the Nile. Suddenly, she heard the wailing of a small child, & she found the basket. Intrigued by the child’s beauty, Bithya tried to figure out a way to enable her to keep him for herself & save him from death, for she understood that this boy was from a Jewish family.
The child refused to be nursed by any of the Egyptian maids-in-waiting, & continued to weep. At this moment, Miriam came over to the princess & offered to find a Jewish nurse. Bithya was glad of this solution, so Miriam rushed home & brought her mother Jochebed, to be his ‘nurse’. For two years the baby was left in his mother’s care.
Meanwhile Bithya told Pharaoh about the boy she had adopted. Her father did not object as he felt sure that the danger had already been averted years ago. So Moses was taken to the royal court, where he grew up as the princely adopted son of the Pharaoh’s daughter.
Once it happened that Moses was playing on King Pharaoh’s lap. He saw the shining crown, studded with jewels, reached for it & took it off. Pharaoh, asked his astrologers for the meaning of this action. They interpreted it to mean that Moses was a threat to Pharaoh’s crown & suggested that the child be put to death before it could do any harm. But one of the king’s counselors suggested that they should first test the boy to see whether his action was prompted by an evil intelligence, or if he was merely grasping for sparkling things as any other child would.
Pharaoh agreed to this, & two bowls were set down before young Moses. One contained gold & jewels, & the other held glowing fire-coals. Moses reached out for the gold, but an angel re-directed his hand to the coals. Moses snatched a glowing coal & put it to his lips. He burned his hand & tongue, but his life was saved.
After that fateful test, Moses suffered from a slight speech defect. He could not become an orator, but G‑d’s words that were spoken to him & with the help of his brother Aaron & sister Miriam, he was able to fulfill his mission.
At age 20, Moses fled Egypt after killing an Egyptian he saw beating a Jew &made his way to Midian, where he married Zipporah, the daughter of Jethro, & fathered two sons, Gershom & Eliezer.
When he was 80 years old, Moses was shepherding his father-in-law’s sheep when G‑d revealed himself to him in a burning bush at Mount Horeb (Sinai) & instructed him to liberate the Children of Israel. Moses took the Israelites out of Egypt, performed numerous miracles for them (the ten plagues in Egypt, the splitting of the sea, extracting water from a rock, bringing down the manna, etc), received the Torah from G‑d & taught it to the people, built the Mishkan (Divine dwelling) in the desert, & led the Children of Israel for 40 years as they journeyed through the wilderness; but G‑d did not allow him to bring them into the Holy Land. Moses passed away on his 120th birthday on Mount Nebo, within sight of the land he yearned to enter.
According to Konrad Burdach, Rudolf Steiner connects Moses in a later incarnation as Goethe, in a special lecture in the GA 138 series
1150 – Feast day of St. Rosalia – born of a Norman noble family that claimed descent from Charlemagne. Devoutly religious, she retired to live as a hermit in a cave on Mount Pellegrino, where she died alone in 1166. Tradition says that she was led to the cave by two angels. On the cave wall she wrote “I, Rosalia, daughter of Sinibald, Lord of Roses, and Quisquina, have taken the resolution to live in this cave for the love of my Lord, Jesus Christ.”
In 1624, a plague beset Palermo. During this hardship Saint Rosalia appeared first to a sick woman, then to a hunter, to whom she indicated where her remains were to be found. She ordered him to bring her bones to Palermo and have them carried in procession through the city.
The hunter climbed the mountain & found her bones in the cave as described. He did what she had asked in the apparition. After her remains were carried around the city three times, the plague ceased. After this Saint Rosalia was venerated as the patron saint of Palermo, & a sanctuary was built in the cave where her remains were discovered.
On September 4 there is a tradition of walking barefoot from Palermo up to Mount Pellegrino. In Italian American communities in the United States, the September feast brings large numbers of visitors annually to the Bensonhurst section of Brooklyn in New York City.
1882 – The Pearl Street Station in New York City becomes the first power plant to supply electricity to paying customers.
1886 – After almost 30 years of fighting, Apache leader Geronimo, with his remaining warriors, surrenders to General Nelson Miles in Arizona.
1888 – George Eastman registers the trademark Kodak& receives a patent for his camera that uses roll film.
1949 – The Peekskill riots erupt after a Paul Robeson concert in Peekskill, New York.
1951 – The first live transcontinental television broadcast takes place in San Francisco, from the Japanese Peace Treaty Conference.
1957 – Little Rock Crisis: Orval Faubus, governor of Arkansas, calls out the National Guard to prevent African American students from enrolling in Central High School.
1957 – The Ford Motor Company introduces the Edsel.
1965 – Death-Day of Albert Schweitzer, French-Gabonese physician, theologian, missionary, & Nobel Prize laureate.
From the memoirs of Albert Schweitzer (1875 – 1965):
“My first encounter with Rudolf Steiner took place on the occasion of a Theosophical conference in Strasbourg. If I’m not mistaken, it was in 1902 or 1903. Annie Besant, with whom I was acquainted through Strasbourg friends, introduced us. At that time Rudolf Steiner acted in connection with the Theosophical Society, not so much because he shared its convictions, but because he found in its members the possibility to find understanding and interest for the spiritual truths which he had to make known.
The language mostly used at that Theosophical conference was French. So they counted on me, because I spoke German, to take care of the Austrian guest, which I gladly did. I arranged it so we were neighbors at meals during the conference. From the beginning, he was the talker and I the listener and questioner during our conversations.
Before we had consumed the soup, a discussion spontaneously arose about his studies of Goethe in Weimar and about Goethe’s Weltanschauung (or world view). I immediately became aware that my companion had extensive knowledge of natural science. It was a great surprise to me that he spoke of the need to recognize the importance of Goethe’s knowledge of nature. He had been able to penetrate from a superficial knowledge of the sense world to a more profound knowledge of spiritual being. I knew something about Goethe’s natural scientific writing and the places where he sought a perceptual knowledge. My table partner realized that he had an attentive listener beside him. He gave a lecture. We forgot that we were supposed to be eating. In the afternoon we stood around together, not paying much attention to what was happening at the Theosophical conference.
When the discussion turned to Plato, I could participate more. Steiner surprised me here as well, in that he revealed hidden aspects of Plato’s knowledge that I had not yet appreciated.
When Steiner asked me what concerned me especially in theology, I answered that it was research into the historical Jesus. Well, I felt the moment to have come in which I could take the conversation in hand and began to lecture him about research into the life of Jesus and about which Gospel contained the oldest tradition. To my astonishment, he did not discuss this subject. He let me lecture on without saying a word. I had the impression that he was mentally yawning. I got off my theological social-scientific high horse and put it in the stable, and waited for what would come.
Then something remarkable happened. One of us, I don’t remember which, began to speak of the spiritual decline of culture as the fundamental, unnoticed problem of our time. Thus we realized that we were both preoccupied with it. We had not expected that of each other. A lively discussion resulted. We learned from each other that we had both taken on a lifetime mission of working for the emergence of a true culture enlivened by the ideal of encouraging people to become truly thinking beings. We parted with this consciousness of belonging together without arranging for another meeting. But the consciousness of togetherness remained. We each followed the activities of the other.
I never took part in Rudolf Steiner’s flights of thought in the spiritual sciences. But I know that he elevated many people through those flights and made new human beings of them. His disciples have made excellent contributions in many fields. I have followed Rudolf Steiner’s life and activities with heartfelt participation. Notable were his successes until World War I, the problems and hardships that accompanied them, his courageous efforts in the postwar confusion to create order through teaching about the Threefold Social Organism, his founding of the Goetheanum in Dornach, where his thought-world found a home, the pain caused by its destruction by fire on New Year’s Eve 1922-3, the courage with which he went about its reconstruction, and finally the spiritual greatness of his tireless teaching and activity during the suffering of the last months of his life on earth.
Neither did he lose sight of me. He took note of the 1923 publication of my Verfall und Wiederaufbau der Kultur and Kultur und Ethik. In a lecture, he appreciated the analysis of the cultural problems those books offered but made no secret of his regret that I tried to solve the problems with ethical thinking alone, without the help of spiritual science. During my meeting with him, his face with his wonderful eyes made an unforgettable impression on me.”
Albert Schweitzer also reported on this meeting to the composer-conductor Bruno Walter:
“I continually occupied myself with Steiner and was always conscious of his importance. What we had in common was that we both wanted culture to stand in place of its lack. This bond arose in Strasburg. He expected culture from ethical thinking and the knowledge of spiritual science. According to my nature, I had to stay with letting it arise through concentration on the essence of the ethical. In this way I came to the ethics of Reverence for Life and hoped for the emergence of culture from it. I know that Rudolf Steiner regretted my remaining in the old way of thinking. But we had both experienced the same responsibility to lead men to true culture again.”
Albert Schweitzer reported to Camille Schneider in Strasburg in 1951:
“Our goals are the same. Our paths are apparently different. Whereas Rudolf Steiner as spiritual researcher advances towards the experience of Christ by means of exercises, thinking, and mysticism, I have attempted to encounter Christ Jesus through thoughtful knowledge of the eschatological content of his teachings. And I encounter him daily in my work with the blacks of Africa. From this twofold experience, I derive the foundation of my life’s ethic. That is what matters to me.”
In 1922, after the First World War, Albert Schweitzer visited Rudolf Steiner in Dornach. Camille Schneider reports:
“Albert Schweitzer informed me that he once visited Rudolf Steiner in Dornach. He couldn’t say exactly in what year. He spoke with him about the necessity, after World War I, for a new penetration of cultural life with religious impulses and said that he recognized him to be a great man, who with comprehensive knowledge and astounding wisdom transforms all the information and opinions we hear or read daily without always understanding their deeper meanings. ‘An initiate in the sense of Edouard Schuré’, Dr. Schweitzer added, because shortly before we had spoken about Schuré and his book The Great Initiates.”
Emil Bock dates this meeting in autumn, 1922:
“Many years ago – it was 1922 – we were in preparation for the founding of the Christian Community in Dornach, and I went to Dr. Steiner in order to ask him something. He received me with glowing eyes: ‘Just think! Albert Schweitzer was with me today. He is really an important personality.'”
1998 – Google is founded by Larry Page & Sergey Brin, two students at Stanford University.
Saturday 23 September 2023
Community Prep-Stir / Potluck / Bon-fire
6 – 8 pm at the Lucchesi-Archer-Ginsberg domicile
Please Bring Food & Drink to share, & a jar for the prep
30 September 2023 – Our Annual Michaelmas Festival & Zinniker Farm Day