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Lectures 13 and 14

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University of Toronto St. George
Ian Radforth

Lecture 13: Radicalism and Repression Dangerous Foreigners 1900s-1930s -minority of immigrant workers in industry, mostly male and single. Became radicals, look up left-wing activity. Attracted to socialismcommunism -gained a lot of attention; published newspapersleaflets; drew attention of business and govt. They tended to be labeled as Dangerous Foreigners (pejorative label, used by critics) seen as dangerous to capitalist system, to traditional system of law and order, foreign speaking, outside British tradition (i.e. parliamentarianism) -govt and businesses worked hard during this period to repress radicals -a group dedicated to challenging authority by building a strong left movement; dedicated to helping workers and ordinary people take charge and own means of production; workers vs. businessgovt Process of Radicalization -Immigrant workers did the dangerous jobs; experienced great job insecurity and felt exploited anger and the desire to relieve themselves of exploitative situation; felt isolated and cast out of Canadian mainstream. Fed up with filthy living and working conditions -Discrimination Canadians often shunned foreign-speaking immigrants, seen as contaminative and lowest of the low in terms of their status, power, jobs -Radicalism also encouraged by response they received to political activity: workers organizing strikes would be threatened with deportation, police would be called feelings that their needs not being met, activities not tolerated; continually met by repressive power of the state -Left activists from Europe (socialists, part of movements, already exposed to radical ideas) took up own political activities upon arrival in Canada; within a new context; reached out to those they were ethnically common. They were usually from European cities to leadeducate peasant immigrants to Canada. Believed that it was important to build international leftist movement (Workers of the World Unite) Political Backgrounds of European Immigrants -Ukrainians, Jewish, Finnish immigrants more attuned to leftist politics a component of each ethnic groups unusually active. They were bringing radical ideas with them in Europe; spread particularly well within their own community -British immigrants also involved, Croatia, Russia, Poland, Hungary, etc. -Finnish immigrants: majority of immigrants from Finland were from rural areas; during WWI, a socialist movement became strong in urban areas and when Russian revolution occurred, Russia lost domination of Finland and FL to take own direction -Red Fin (leftist) vs. White Fin (conservative, religious) civil war white eventually won, and Red Fins fled -Fins experienced in socialist activity and taking up laborious jobs -Hall Socialism: radical activity taking place in ethnic community halls; Finnish Organization of Canada, Labour League (Jewish) places of recreational and cultural activity: thrived during this period, sometimes would be used to educate rural people about leftist ideas -1911 Socialist Democratic Party of Canada most active in that decade. Brought together groups attached to various ethnic halls into one party. Conducted business in many languages (including EN+FR); active in elections (propagandize and educate public) and sometimes elected people to office -Community Party of Canada 1921 inspired by Russian Rev in 1917; considered Bolshevik govt to be brilliant for toppling czars, building workers utopia; wanted to be part of world communist network; affiliate of ComIntern bulk of members were ethnic minorities, mainly from the three main groups; with minorities of EngFr, some in leadership positions. Ran candidates in various elections, very active in trade labour movements; published newspapers The Worker Immigrants: Canadian Unions and the Left -Trade unions had mixed relationship with radical orgs: most were craft unions (highly skilled workers plumbers, carpenters, etc) and recognized that employers needed their skills and that they had a better chance at getting collective agreement bc they were difficult to be replaced. Must more advantageous position than unskilled workers. Overwhelmingly EN+FR speaking in Canada. Wanted to be small and strong; keep out competition. Often very hostile to immigrants (i.e. Anti-Asian movement) -Eastern European Jews formed unions in major cities (Montreal, Winnipeg, Toronto) in garment industry; very active in fighting for agreements and improved conditionswages in that industry. -Also Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) Wabblies founded in Chicago in 1905, most membership in United States but significant minority in Western Canada. Stood for one big union,
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