FRIDAY, SEPT. 17, 1920.
The Political Prisoners in Dannemora, N. Y.
Reports of discrimination against Larkin,
Gitlow, Winitsky and Alonen, the political prison
ers confined at Dannemora were of such a nature
that the National Defense Committee sent its
attorney to investigate. The attorney' statement
corroborates in every detail what was charged
against the prison authorities, who according to
their own word, are acting on instructions from
Larkin is a man of tremendous vital energy. His
cell is in the old vermin-infestedvpart of the pris
on. He works in the cotton shop the worst in the
whole prison, where he winds spools of thread. He
must breathe the air laden with cottondust. Men
are sent to that shop as a punishment. It take:1,
only two years for a man to contract tuberculosis.
The officials are endeavoring to get Larkin to.
say or do something for which they may punish
him. He has been expressly told that if he does
not work to the satisfaction of certain officials,
hevill NOT LEAVE THE PRISON ALIVE! He
merely replied, "I am not in prison for pleasure's
Larkin Looks Years Older
Gitlow is taking his term in prison very phil
osophically, never relaxing in his ideals. Larkin's
sense of social injustice is so intense that the
treatment of prison life causes him more suffer
ing than all the insults or bad physical conditions.
He continually finds things to provoke outbursts
of indignation, as for instance, the dinner-table,
which is nicely painted on the side that visitor.?
to the prison see, but actually stinks on the side
on which the prisoners eat. The milder treatment,
of degenerate professional criminals in compari
son with that accorded men of respectable cha
racter; the graft, pull and politics are such as to
outrage his sense of justice. Larkin's hair has
turned white, and he looks several years older
than when he went to prison, less than three and
a half months ago....
It is the obvious intention of the government
to crush these men. Now, what did the do?
They fought and worked for a new social
ideal They investigated. They questioned. They
found wealth and the control of all the means of
producting wealth, such as factories, mines, rail
ways, etc., in the hands of a few people. Tliey
found the great mass of the workers unable to
provide for their families, so that their wives and
children had to assist in earning a living. They saw
a body of idlers on the one hand, who never earn
ed and never would earn a penny, yet had money
in plenty to spend They saw children of 4 to 13
years forced to labor; women, even married wo
men forced to prostitute themselves to provide
enough to live on. They saw that the great labor
class received a job only if the boss gave it to
them and he gave it to them, only if he could
make a profit out of them.
Why They Became Agitators
They lived through the great war and saw
fortunes piled up on the coipses of millions of
men, forced to prostitute themselves to provide
go up faster, so that the workers, in spite of the
so-called "prosperity", were worse off than be
fore They saw that workers were forced to strike,
for laws could not and would not be passed to im
prove the position of the working class. They saw
that strikes do not help the workers, since the
cost of living advances above what they gain.
This was because the bosses, the capitalists, con
1 trol the means of production.
They saw that the municipal, State and Fed
eral governments interfered in strikes, by legisla
tion, injunctions, by the use of the press, school
and the pulpit and finally by the use of troops.
So these four men decided that THE WHOLE
THING WAS WRONG AND HAD TO BE
They agitated for a change, to put-the con
trol of the workers' lives and livlihood, their ccr.v
fort and well-being, in the hands of the workers,
They argued that a worker, manual and meiftal ".-
entitled to a living. They demanded that every
human being render a social service, and that no
one live on the work of others.
They challenged the present order of things,
They challenged the whole capitalist system.
They challenged the government which, as the
workers have learned only too well, i in the hands
of the capitalists.
xml | txt