Tom Barker jailed for IWW anti-war poster in Australia - 1915

On Sept 3rd 1915 Tom Barker was arrested for having the anti-war poster seen on the left. Tom was a member (as James Connolly & Jim Larkin were) of the revolutionary syndicalist IWW union.

 For all the talk of commemorating the First World War there is little attention paid to those who actively resisted the slaughter. Millions of workers fully understood that the war was simply an imperialist slaughter and played an active part in resisting it all over the globe. For this they were imprisoned (which was Tom's fate), beaten, lynched, deported, conscripted, sent to the front, and indeed executed.

Barker was jailed for 12 months in 1916 after he said "Let those who own Australia do the fighting. Put the wealthiest in the front ranks, the middle class next, and follow them with the politicians, lawyers, and ministers. Answer the declaration of war with call for a general strike."

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For anyone puzzled by the wording of the poster it may help to understand that directly advocating refusal of service was a serious offence.  The clever wording may have been intended to make prosecution harder. The poster is saying the workers should follow the practise of the 'stay at home patriots' and so 'follow' them home rather than going off to war.

WORDS Andrew Flood (Follow Andrew on Twitter )

 

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