Nonfiction > Upton Sinclair, ed. > The Cry for Justice

Upton Sinclair, ed. (1878–1968).
The Cry for Justice: An Anthology of the Literature of Social Protest.  1915.
The Suppressions of History
(From “The Ancient Lowly”)

By C. Osborne Ward

(American historian, who was forced to publish at his own expense the results of his life-time researches into the early history of the working class)
THE GREAT strikes and uprisings of the working people of the ancient world are almost unknown to the living age. It matters little how accounts of five immense strike-wars, involving destruction of property and mutual slaughter of millions of people, have been suppressed, or have otherwise failed to reach us; the fact remains that people are absolutely ignorant of these great events. A meagre sketch of Spartacus may be seen in the encyclopedias, but it is always ruined and its interest pinched and blighted by being classed with crime, its heroes with criminals, its theme with desecration. Yet Spartacus was one of the great generals of history; fully equal to Hannibal and Napoleon, while his cause was much more just and infinitely nobler, his life a model of the beautiful and virtuous, his death an episode of surpassing grandeur.  1
  Still more strange is it, that the great ten-years’ war of Eunus should be unknown. He marshalled at one time an army of two hundred thousand soldiers. He manœuvered them and fought for ten full years for liberty, defeating army after army of Rome. Why is the world ignorant of this fierce, epochal rebellion? Almost the whole matter is passed over in silence by our histories of Rome. In these pages it will be read as news, yet should a similar war rage in our day, against a similar condition of slavery, its cause would not only be considered just, but the combatants would have the sympathy and support of the civilized world.  2
  The great system of labor organization explained in these pages must likewise be regarded as a chapter of news. The portentous fact has lain in abeyance century after century, with the human family in profound ignorance of an organization of trades and other labor unions so powerful that for hundreds of years they undertook and successfully conducted the business of manufacture, of distribution, of purveying provisions to armies, of feeding the inhabitants of the largest cities in the world, of inventing, supplying and working the huge engines of war, and of collecting customs and taxes—tasks confided to their care by the state.  3
  Our civilization has a blushingly poor excuse for its profound ignorance of these facts; for the evidences have existed from much before the beginning of our era.… They are growing fewer and dimmer as their value rises higher in the estimation of a thinking, appreciative, gradually awakening world.  4

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