Art and cartoons from The One Big Union Monthly

Art and cartoons from The One Big Union Monthly, a publication of the Industrial Workers of the World during the 1910s-1930s.

Comments

Juan Conatz
Sep 1 2014 17:50

On the libcom Facebook it was brought up that the picture of the capitalist octopus resembles Nazi propaganda. Thought I would copy and past what I said about that.

Quote:
Hey all, this is Juan, I originally posted all the images. When I saw this one it did bring to mind the similar Nazi propaganda of that period, but figured it was a joke. The IWW of that time was very sarcastic and often reappropriated images, songs, and slurs for their own purposes. Also, this particular image is from a 1938 issue, during this time The One Big Union Monthly dedicated a lot of pages to the antifascist movements in Europe, which they supported and some Wobblies even volunteered with. That said, they weren't perfect and if you see the pictures, you'll notice the complete absence of women or people of color, which was not reflective of the American working class or even their own organization! It's possible it was meant to be antisemitic, but I doubt it. There's nothing I've seen in their old stuff that would lead me to believe this, unlike maybe some other trends in European syndicalism that had elements that did drift to the right.

I'm not sure the 'menacing octopus' thing is 'structurally antisemitic' without context. It was a popular thing to include in propaganda and was used, at least during and between the two World Wars to represent American, Soviet, German and Japanese imperialism, Communism, capitalism, and yes, the Jews. In 2014 it would not be wise to produce these sort of images, though, and I would have rather had another image from the collection I put in the library be used, but I'm not going to delete this, as some of you make important points that we should think about.

teh
Sep 21 2014 02:27
Juan Conatz wrote:
On the libcom Facebook it was brought up that the picture of the capitalist octopus resembles Nazi propaganda. Thought I would copy and past what I said about that.
Quote:
Hey all, this is Juan, I originally posted all the images. When I saw this one it did bring to mind the similar Nazi propaganda of that period, but figured it was a joke. The IWW of that time was very sarcastic and often reappropriated images, songs, and slurs for their own purposes. Also, this particular image is from a 1938 issue, during this time The One Big Union Monthly dedicated a lot of pages to the antifascist movements in Europe, which they supported and some Wobblies even volunteered with. That said, they weren't perfect and if you see the pictures, you'll notice the complete absence of women or people of color, which was not reflective of the American working class or even their own organization! It's possible it was meant to be antisemitic, but I doubt it. There's nothing I've seen in their old stuff that would lead me to believe this, unlike maybe some other trends in European syndicalism that had elements that did drift to the right.

I'm not sure the 'menacing octopus' thing is 'structurally antisemitic' without context. It was a popular thing to include in propaganda and was used, at least during and between the two World Wars to represent American, Soviet, German and Japanese imperialism, Communism, capitalism, and yes, the Jews. In 2014 it would not be wise to produce these sort of images, though, and I would have rather had another image from the collection I put in the library be used, but I'm not going to delete this, as some of you make important points that we should think about.

I remember people here were saying the antisemitism thing about a stupid Latuff cartoon with an octopus a few years back. Octopuses have been used in political cartoons since at least the 1880's, most commonly referring to monopoly capital but also nations and races and a whole bunch of other things. I'm assuming that one Nazi cartoon is used in schools cause I can't think of any other reason for this popular association with antisemitism to be made. Sprawling octopuses are used in mainstream modern political cartoons all the time (this isn't a trade known for its originality), referring to everything you can think of- Obamacare,the economy, so on. Here just some examples from the past couple of years:

http://media.cagle.com/21/2013/10/31/139576_600.jpg
http://worldmeets.us/images/largetentaclesnarcos_excelsior.gif
http://ginacobb.typepad.com/.a/6a00d8341c2c6053ef014e8c118f6e970d-800wi
http://www.artizans.com/images/previews/FEL1654.pvw.jpg
http://media.cagle.com/78/2013/02/08/126825_600.jpg
http://www.cartoonistgroup.com/properties/Wuerker/art_images/cg5306e3d2c2972.jpg