The New Unionism
|Australia has a long history of socialist thought including the publication of newspapers and magazines produced by the Left.
Those interested in this subject are advised to refer to Warren Fahey’s two books on the subject: ‘The Balls of Bob Menzies’ and its later revised edition ‘Ratbags & Rabblerousers’
THE NEW UNIONISM
The following item is typical of the blatant racism of the 1890s and this one also uses ‘mate’s slang’ to drive its message.
The New Unionism*
(* The unionists were led by a nigger named Andy.—Daily paper.)
Feller-toilers, wot’s the matter? Is the worker goin’ back,
That we’ve got to find a leader in a pure-bred Yankee black ?
For strike me bleedin’, answer, wot’s the country goin’ ter be,
If a big buck nigger has ter lead white men like you an’ me?
Oh ! were’s them noble leaders, wot our union keeps on hand,
Ter use their mighty interlects, ter save our native land ?
They write us manifesters, an’ they draw so much a year,
But wen “moral suasion’s” on the job, they’re somehow in the rear.
Why it’s only just a while ago, our union made a fuss
‘Bout lettin’ niggers go to work with noble men like us ;
They thought it might degrade us, ter work with cullerd breeds,
But now, wen it means fightin’, wy a bloomin’ nigger leads.
Of course the sterlin’ workers’ fretis will say we’re real grit,
Ter howl behind a nigger, wen the union wishes it ;
An’ they’ll say the aim is noble (that everyone who delves
May not be victimised at all, by any but themselves).
It warn’t the same in ’91, wen strikes were somethin’ bigger,
We didn’t have to battle round, behind a bleedin’ nigger ;
We’d patriots by the bushel then, all real true-born white,
An’ didn’t want no niggers, for to drag us on ter fight.
Then we could beat non-union men, if we met them three ter one,
An’ afterwards we’d swagger round, an’ blow of wot we’d done;
But now ter block some thirty men, from fillin’ up a shed,
Three hundred heroes have ter howl, with a nigger at their head.
‘But there is worse than this ahead, to make a patriot shudder,
Black Andy now will do the sheds, an’ call himself a “brudder;”
We’ll find at next election time, somewhere round Cobar way,
A colored candidit who’ll stand, as a labour M.L.A.
Who’ll tell a pritty story, of how he led the fight,
An’ how his union face is black, but his union heart is white;
An1 how he said it once before, an’ will say it once agen,
He allus did his best to raise de pore white workin’ man.
Written by Jimmy The Ringer.
The Australasian Pastoralists’ Review September 13. 1894.