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107, Wildcat Badge

107, Wildcat Badge

The black cat, also called the "wild cat" or "sabot-cat", usually with an arched back and with claws and teeth bared, is closely associated with anarchism, especially with anarcho-syndicalism.

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The black cat, also called the "wild cat" or "sabot-cat", usually with an arched back and with claws and teeth bared, is closely associated with anarchism, especially with anarcho-syndicalism. It was designed by Ralph Chaplin, who was a prominent figure in the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW). As its stance suggests, the cat is meant to suggest wildcat strikes and radical unionism. The IWW (or the Wobblies) was an important industrial union, and was the first American labor union to recruit and organize women and people of color, and played a critical role in the fight for the eight-hour work day and in Free Speech fights all over the country in the early 20th century. Their most famous and influential years were from 1905 until they were largely suppressed by the Palmer Raids.

The origin of the black cat symbol is unclear, but according to one story it came from a IWW strike that was going badly. Several members had been beaten up and were put in a hospital. At that time a skinny, black cat walked into the striker's camp. The cat was fed by the striking workers and as the cat regained its health the strike took a turn for the better. Eventually the striking workers got some of their demands and they adopted the cat as their mascot.

The name Black Cat has been used for numerous anarchist-affiliated collectives and cooperatives, including a well-known music venue in Austin, Texas (which was closed following a July 6, 2002 fire) and a now-defunct "collective kitchen" in the University District of Seattle, Washington.