Cain, Frank: The Wobblies at War: A History of the IWW and the Great War in Australia

Frank Cain

The Wobblies at War: A History of the IWW and the Great War in Australia, Australian Scholarly Publishing, Melbourne, 2017; first published 1993

Driven by Marxist ideology, the Industrial Workers of the World sought to draw the Australian unions into One Big Union, but of more lasting significance was their leadership in opposing the Great War … The federal and New South Wales Labor governments tolerated this ….dissent, but the Army’s Intelligence Corps and the police launched prosecutions …

The Labor government split in 1916 over Prime Minister Hughes’ conduct of the war and his plan for enlisting another 50 000 men by conscription. The IWW led in defeating the conscription referendum. Hughes legislated to have its non-Australian leaders deported and twelve Wobblies were falsely jailed for incendiarism in Sydney. Hughes extended his ban in 1917 to make membership of the IWW illegal and penalised by six months’ jail, terminating the IWW entirely. Some members joined the Communist Party on its establishment in 1921. (blurb)

Rowan Day reviews this republication for Honest History. Shane Ostenfeld reviewed the original publication in 1993. For other Honest History references to the IWW, use our Search engine or browse our series ‘Divided sunburnt country, Australia 1916-18‘.

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