A New "We Remember" June 3, 1989/2019

Caroline Waldron Merithew's picture


A New We Remember.

June 3 1989/2019 June 3

One of the mainstays of H-Labor, for those of you who have been with it for a long time know, was the May 4 “We Remember” post. That was Seth Wigderson’s doing. And, even though he is no longer editing, he reminds me yearly, not to forget it.

The Kent State massacre, was one of the the terrors of the 20th century.

Today is June 3, and I am using the moment to honor those men and women who, like their brothers and sisters in 1970, stood up against another regime of violence and political mindfuck that began rolling over them on this date, 1989.

This new remembrance post is coming from nostalgia, humbleness, hope, duty, belief, and reinvestment in an open source social media platform that many of us built over two decades: H-Labor.

Ok -- there’s guilt too.

That’s part of my bygone catholicism.  

Jim Barrett,  a bow to you.

Is it also part of my anarcho-syndicalist transnational feminist training?

Hey -- Kenyon Zimmer -- do anarchists ever feel guilt!? Do they have anything to feel guilty for?

In those days, when H-Labor started, as one of the first networks of this dazzling organizing platform, it was a new world,and one we could speak to one another on and build solidarity around.

We asked each other questions, and supported each other every day (sometimes, every hour).

We were awed, and intrigued, and cool.

This weekend, at the Labor and Working Class History Association #LAWCHA19, I continued conversations with LAWCHA Board members -- Jacob Remos is carrying a torch, and Toby Higbie, is asking the right questions, per usual -- that  I have been having about an S.O.S. call I began sending out about 3 years ago to today.

I -- and others -- believe we need to reinvigorate this thing, H-Labor, in part to buck Facebook, Twitter, and other social media platforms that plan the future through algorithms they think they understand, that make money from our ideas, that take some of our time away. Yes, and perhaps, every once in awhile, pay us back.

Sometimes it feels right. But, we grumble a lot; at least, I do.

H-Net never gave us the “now” by betting on what we wanted tomorrow through the past in bogus-scape algorithms.  Perhaps, 20 years ago, we didn’t have the savvy and knowhow to do so. Ok maybe Peter Knupfer did.

But, also it was unfathomable to academic freedom and democracy for of us to think of a thing like that.

It is the 30th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre.

We remember 1989.

I commemorate that.

I also use it as a launching point to bring democracy non-capitalist fettered discussion back to labor and working class historians who have, I think, become too dependent on privatized social media (though I love the deep chatter so don’t stop that, please).

I am going to try to pose questions weekly as the one of the surviving H-Labor Editors through the old platform https://networks.h-net.org/networks.   Co-editor, Tom Castillo, I hope you do too!

I’m going to keep talking and bugging the grad students who, like Kyle Pruitt,  was -- if I read him correctly after my LAWCHA pitch to him-- a bit sympathetic, a bit wary, and really bemused when I told him what “flaming” was and why H-Net formulated a policy against it, back in the day.

Kyle, make an argument for pro-flame.  I’m ok with that.

For H-Labor, this summer, would you:

Post something other than a CFP?

Ask your grad students to subscribe?

Think about whether you want book and film reviews again? And, then, consider being a co-editor for that.

Use H-Labor archives for historiography classes

I promise, I will post timely and regularly!

Don’t forget.

I suspect that guilt is essential to any anarchist project! Mutual aid in the absence of hierarchical compulsion often relies upon avoiding feelings of guilt (self-imposed or via public censure) for being a "free rider" or otherwise not upholding the "mutual" part of mutual aid...

As one who was a graduate student during the heyday of H-Labor, I want to attest to the richness of discussion and community there. I have also been one who has encouraged LAWCHA to re-engage with H-Labor, even though I too have not been active here for a long time.

For obvious reasons, a lot of our discussions have moved to Facebook and Twitter in the last decade. But the downsides of these proprietary platforms are now just as obvious as their appeal. H-Labor is not built to reach the same audience, but then many of our discussions are not really of interest to the entire world of social media readers. So, perhaps we can move some of our preliminary, inside-baseball discussions back to H-Labor, try to build some community, and then strategically engage with the social media public sphere?

Toby Higbie - your suggestion makes a lot of sense. It's be nice to have our space in which we can work through matters without having to be concerned about effects upon those less involved in the matter at hand.

In unity,

James Young
LAWCHA member


James Young