By Bryant Simon
During this booklet, Bryant Simon brings to lifestyles the politics of white South Carolina millhands in the course of the first 1/2 the 20th century. His revealing and relocating account explores how this crew of southern workers thought of and took part in politics and public power.
Taking a wide view of politics, Simon appears at workers as they engaged in political task in lots of venues--at the polling station, on entrance porches, and at the store floor--and examines their political involvement on the neighborhood, country, and nationwide degrees. He describes the crusade types and rhetoric of such politicians as Coleman Blease and Olin Johnston (himself a former millhand), who eagerly sought the employees' votes. He attracts an in depth photograph of mill staff casting ballots, wearing placards, marching at the nation capital, writing to lawmakers, and picketing factories. those millhands' politics mirrored their private and non-private innovations approximately whiteness and blackness,
war and the recent Deal, democracy and justice, gender and sexuality, classification kinfolk and intake.
Ultimately, the folks depicted listed below are neither romanticized nor brushed off because the stereotypically racist and uneducated "rednecks" present in many debts of southern politics. Southern employees understood the political and social forces that formed their lives, argues Simon, and so they developed
complex political suggestions to house these forces.
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Additional info for A Fabric of Defeat: The Politics of South Carolina Millhands, 1910-1948
13 Without coming out and saying it, Key maintained that the southern work- Page 7 ing class suffered from a bad case of false consciousness. Infected with the disease of racism, millhandshis argument goesacted as the pawns of their captors, squandering their votes on an endless parade of do-nothing demagogues, who invariably opposed economic policies that could have freed them from their village prisons of poverty. Wage earners mistakenly put their racial identity ahead of their class identity.
They would, as a result, be virtuous, independent citizens. But divorced from the means of production, white men, whether or not they had the right to vote, could easily be reduced to dependencythat is, placed under the control of others and in the same vulnerable position as women, children, and slaves. Reduced to this status, they would be defenseless against an almost certain aristocratic attack on their social and political privileges. 31 Emancipation threw the intellectual universe of white yeomen into chaos.
The same sexual and psychological fears that drew the lynch mob to the jail that spring night in 1912 brought many more men to the polls a few months later to vote for Blease. Middle-class South Caroliniansprofessionals and members of the emerging commercial elitealso connected the lynching in Cherokee County with Blease's political success. 8 The anxieties that fueled Bleasism and triggered the Blacksburg lynching were not confined to South Carolina or, for that matter, to the American Page 15 South.