Tag Archives: American Politics

“Talk don’t turn no wheel.” (calicult)

Some facts about the Great Depression in California

300,000 agricultural workers migrated to California during the Great Depression.

By 1934 there were 142 agricultural workers for every 100 jobs.

In 1928 Mexican-American workers earned 75 cents an hour for picking cantaloupes. By 1933 wages had dropped to 15 cents an hour.

Cannery and Agricultural Workers Industrial Union (CAWIU) led many strikes in the Imperial Valley and elsewhere. Membership included Mexican, Filipino, Japanese, Chinese, Slav and Sikh workers.

The Cotton Strike of 1933 brought out 10,000 strikers across 500 miles of farmland. 

Over the course of the decade the paranoid style of American politics asserted itself, leading to the use of Red Scare tactics by local authorities, the prosecution of activists under the Criminal Syndicalism Act of California, the deputization of landowners (a clear conflict of interest) and the rise of violent vigilanteism on the part of groups such as the American Legion.

California Criminal Syndicalism Act


An act defining criminal syndicalism and sabotage, proscribing certain acts and methods in connection therewith and in pursuance thereof and providing penalties and punishments therefor.

[Approved, April 30, I9l9.]

The people of the State of California do enact as follows:

SECTION 1. The term “criminal syndicalism” as used in this act is hereby defined as any doctrine or precept advocating, teaching or aiding and abetting the commission of crime, sabotage (which word is hereby defined as meaning willful and malicious physical damage or injury to physical property), or unlawful acts of force and violence or unlawful methods of terrorism as a means of accomplishing a change in industrial ownership or control, or effecting any political change.

SECTION 2. Any person who:

1. By spoken or written words or personal conduct advocates, teaches or aids and abets criminal syndicalism or the duty, necessity or propriety of committing crime, sabotage, … violence or any unlawful method of terrorism as a means of accomplishing a change in industrial ownership or control, or effecting any political change; or

2. Willfully and deliberately by spoken or written words justifies or attempts to justify criminal syndicalism or the commission or attempt to commit crime, sabotage, violence or unlawful methods of terrorism with intent to approve, advocate or further the doctrine of criminal syndicalism; or

3. Prints, publishes, edits, issues or circulates or publicly displays any book, paper, pamphlet, document, poster or written or printed matter in any other form, containing or carrying written or printed advocacy, teaching, or aid and abetment of, or advising, criminal syndicalism; or

4. Organizes or assists in organizing, or is or knowingly becomes a member of, any organization, society, group or assemblage of persons organized or assembled to advocate, teach or aid and abet criminal syndicalism; or

5. Willfully by personal act or conduct, practices or commits any act advised, advocated, taught or aided and abetted by the doctrine or precept of criminal syndicalism, with intent to accomplish a change in industrial ownership or control, or effecting any political change; is guilty of a felony and punishable by imprisonment in the state prison not less than one nor more than fourteen years…