THE I. W. W.
This is the fifth revised and abridged edition of the booklet formerly known as, "The I. W. W. in Theory and Practice." First published in 1920, to date over 50,000 copies of it have been sold. It has been translated into eight languages. Chapters have appeared in weekly labor papers in many parts of the world. [The first edition was written by Justus Ebert, whose comments in this edition are marked "J. E."—Tr.]
In as simple language as possible, it aims to tell, in contrast to the C. I. O., just what the Industrial Workers of the World, better known as the I. W. W., is.
Briefly stated the I. W. W. believes that the workers should organize according to industry, instead of trade or craft. In this way, they will be better able to secure more wages, less hours and improved conditions wherever employed. Having first organized to these ends in 1905, the I. W. W. anticipated the Committee on Industrial Organization by just thirty years.
Unlike the C. I. O., however, the I. W. W. also urges industrial unionism so that, as the workers run the industries they may also own and operate them, as well. Especially so that they may, through industrial union organization, be prepared to take over and operate the industries for the good of all when capitalism shall either have broken down or been overthrown. This capitalism gives every indication of doing, either under the stress of depression or war, in all of the advanced industrial nations.
In brief, while the C. I. O. would tolerate and perpetuate capitalism for the profit of capitalists, the I. W. W. aims to organize the means by which it can be transformed into a social system for the benefit of all; and that with the least possible violence and disaster to all.
Recent history has proven the soundness of I. W. W. industrial unionism as the economic basis for successful social change. In Russia, the revolution would not have lasted two weeks, in the words of Lenin, were it not for the social reconstruction made possible by the Russian trade unions. They, despite numerical weakness and the backwardness of Russian development, performed many municipal and state functions, while carrying on industry to the best of their ability and the success of the revolution.
More recently, in the rebellion in Spain, in Catalonia particularly, the organized workers, via their unions, took over and operated for the common good, factories, mines, transportation systems, department stores, banks and other basic functions necessary to the smooth performance of community life; all of which had been abandoned by the corporation owners and would have, consequently, been detrimental to loyalist success and the social welfare, had not the unions stepped in and made the resumption of daily activity possible.
Can we in the U. S. A., with our more highly technological industrial development survive a capitalist breakdown, without an industrially organized working class ready to take over all economic functions and exercise them for the benefit of society as a whole? Viewed in the light of recent events, including our own depression, the answer is obviously, no; we can’t. Why wait then? Why not organize industrially, now?
Others in America than the I. W. W. have glimpsed the truth of the I. W. W. theory. For instance, the Plumb plan, with its part management of the railroads by the railroad unions. Then there is Thorstein Veblen’s plan of industry controlled by a council of technicians, co-operating with organized labor; a plan born of this great American thinker’s I. W. W. contact during the world-war period.
Even the enemies of labor recognize the soundness of industrial unionism. Accordingly, they rob it of its social intent and pervert it to anti-social, capitalist ends. We’ve all heard of "the corporative state," a political machine organized allegedly on industrial divisions. In Italy, "the corporative state" is defined as "industrial unionism without its revolutionary implications," that is, without its changes for the good of all. The "corporative state" aims to perpetuate—to "freeze"—the status quo. The N.R.A. was said to be an embryonic "corporative state," with liberal labor features.
This country also has other perversions of I. W. W. theory. They exist in company unions, employee representation and employee participation in stock ownership plans, works councils and labor fronts, not in labor union control. The corporations of America know how to turn a good labor idea to their own advantage. American labor should, therefore, be eternally vigilant lest it be the victim of fake industrial unionism, detrimental to the social good.
Workers, don’t destroy this book. It is your book, the book of the Industrial Workers of the World. It will help all workers to understand, not only the I. W. W., but themselves as well. They occupy the key places, the strategic places, in the present-day set up. They are the Atlas that supports the modern world and will be invincible when organized in real industrial unions.
One big feature of the I. W. W. is the way that it continues to live in spite of all attempts to destroy it. Organized at Chicago, in June 1905, the I. W. W. has since been subjected to every outrage and inhumanity. I W. W. members have been hounded, persecuted, lynched, denied every privilege guaranteed by the Bill of Rights and all the inherent rights proclaimed by the Declaration of Independence—Life, Liberty and Pursuit of Happiness.
Still in spite of all, the I W W. grows in organization and numbers. Where other organizations would have died, it flourishes! Even today it is again coming back, despite repeated announcements of its demise to the contrary. What is even more important, it grows as an idea that affects large numbers of workers outside of its folds. The C. I. O. superficially imitates its form, but not its essence.
How are these striking facts to be explained? Do the principles of the I. W. W. alone make it possible to save civilization from fascism, war and collapse? Do they alone provide the means by which the change from the old to the new social order, now impending, may be made easy?
Let us seek an answer in the growth of present-day capitalism. We may then realize that the I. W. W. is an out-growth of the capitalistic system. That, as such, it can only be destroyed when that system is changed into a system of industrial democracy, such as the I. W. W. organizes to make possible and contemporary events are pushing into the foreground.
When we speak of capitalism we mean the present-day system of industry especially. Professor McVey, in his book, "Modern Industrialism," defines modern industry as the massing of men, machines and capital. What is intended in the McVey definition is to put forth the idea of labor (men, women and children), fixed capital, (land, buildings, machines, etc.) and working capital (cash and credit) as the important elements of modern industry.
Because the capital invested in modern industry is owned by private individuals, called capitalists, and is used by them to exploit labor primarily for their own private profit, modern industry is also known as capitalism. Further, because it gives labor only a part of that which it produces for the capitalists, in the form of wages, and binds the workers through capitalist ownership to the control of the capitalist class, it is also called wage slavery. And thanks to its introduction and extensive use of machinery, driven by power and displacing both labor and skill, modern industry is also called machine production.
In modern industry, raw material is taken from the earth, passed through smelters, mills and factories, where it is changed into articles of sale, and then distributed to domestic and foreign markets by way of selling agencies, railroads and steamships. The whole transaction is made possible and facilitated by means of money and credit—by banks and banking. So that modern industry is a working together of agriculture, mining, lumbering, manufacturing, transportation, communication, commerce and finance. Without the constant co-operation of millions of laborers employed in these various subdivisions there can be no industry in the modern sense.
Previous to modern industry, there was no great massing of labor and capital for the profit of capitalists; nor was there extensive machinery. The individual owner and worker, who took all the products, most largely prevailed, and hand tools and skill were the general rule. Gradually firms, copartnerships, corporations, trusts and holding companies evolved, each absorbing all that labor produced, and consolidating the industrial types that preceded it. All this was due to the invention and introduction of machines that displaced labor and skill, and required more capital than individuals possessed or cared to risk. Hence arose also the need of massing the small capitals of many into large capital. Where at first merchants had supplied the needed capital, now stocks and stock exchanges are required, assisted by banks, trust companies and such fiduciary institutions as the life insurance companies, all dominated by banking groups controlled by a few giant capitalists and financiers.
Some big combinations of capital unite all the subdivisions of modern industry within themselves. They own and control their own lands, mines, ore deposits, oil fields, forests, pipe lines, steamship companies, railroad, selling agencies, banks, etc., each employing for wages and salaries tens of thousands of workers including every degree of ability and skill, from that of executive superintendence and inventive development to the most simple labor.
Where at one time, numerous independent corporations performed various functions in competition with one another, they are now concentrated in and performed by these big consolidations.
The United States Steel Corporation is a notable example of this type of combination. As of January I, 1936, its assets were $1,822,401,741. Net income from April 1, 1901 to December 31, 1935 amounted to $3,915,842,616. It has paid out in dividends a total of $1,030,819,214, or an average of $26,594,934 a year. It and its subsidiary operating companies own 126 works, containing as part of their equipment, the following items: 93 blast furnaces; 25 Bessemer converters; 363 open hearth and electric furnaces; 44 blooming, large billet or slabbing mills; 63 merchant mills; 194 hot blackplate mills for tinning; 103 sheet, jobbing and plate mills; 24 commercial warehouses.
Besides steel plants, the U. S. Steel Corporation and its subsidiary operating companies own 354,243 acres of coal property, including a steam coal vein which consists of 319,835 acres and a coking coal vein of 467,631 acres; 17 coking plants; 97 iron ore mines; 326,549 acres of natural gas and 274 active oil wells; water supply plants; limestone, dolomite and fluorspar property in 17 different states; 24 steam railroads, including 3,914 miles of track, 1,141 steam locomotives, 45,634 freight cars, 1700 works cars and 54 passenger train cars; 28 overseas steamers, 78 Great Lakes steamers, as well as 30 other crafts for use on the Great Lakes. For river use it has 10 steamers, 472 barges, 4 tug boats and 16 service craft; 18 forwarding and receiving docks at lake ports.
In 1929, the U. S. Steel Corporation employed an average of 224,980 workers, with a payroll of $420,072,8,51, or an average of $1,867 per worker. In 1935 it employed an average of 194,820 workers, with a payroll of $2151,576,808, or an average of $1,291 per worker.—Poors "Industrials" 1936.
Another typical giant corporation, the Standard Oil Company of New Jersey, owns operating companies in addition to the plants run under its name and the name of its open affiliates. It also controls such enterprises as Nujol, liquid polish, etc. It shares ownership of Ethyl Gas with General Motors, another corporation with titanic proportions.
The assets of this, the largest Standard Oil unit, were $1,894,914,483 in 1936 and its 193,6 dividends were equal to $50,634,000—Laidler "concentration in American (Industry"; Poors "Industrials"; "Standard Corporation Record."
Then there is the Ford Motor Company.
The New York Times Magazine, Aug. 8, 1937, in the article "The Sun Never Sets on Ford’s Empire," gives interesting facts and figures on Ford’s Company.
The article shows that Ford’s factories dot the world. The empire thrives most in the U. S. Here it has 18 assembly plants, 18 widely distributed services and parts branches; 115 so-called "village industries," its own lake boats, its Blueberry ore mine in the Marquette Range in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, its own lumber also in Northern Michigan, where it owns an entire town, which is the center of Ford’s lumber operations; its coal mines in Southern Kentucky, capable of supplying 3,000,000 tons of coal annually and its steel mill at River Rouge.
Covering 1,096 acres, this steel mill is the center of an industrial population larger than that of Wilkes-Barre, Pa.; Savannah, Ga.; Rockford, Ill.; or Berkeley, Calif. It contains its own fire department, hospital and gas, electric and water system. Indicative of the terrible working conditions in River Rouge, is the fact that the hospital has a staff of 125 physicians and surgeons. River Rouge also manufactures cement, glass and plastic products for auto use. A tire factory is under construction there.
Ford employs 122,000 workers in the United States. At River Rouge some operations require 3 eight-hour shifts, in brief, are continuous. Most operations are mechanical or repetitive, thus, requiring little or no skill.
At Northville, Michigan, valves are made and trucked to River Rouge. The 400 workmen live in Northville or on nearby farms. There are fifteen of these "village industries" in Southern Michigan; 35 more are planned. Ford calls this "decentralized" industry, with himself, the owner and dictator of it all, as supreme "decentralizer," no doubt.
Near the "village industries" is Ford’s farm in Southern Michigan. Here Ford factory mechanization it put to farm use. Soy-beans, wherewith to make soy-bean oil, used in painting Ford cars, is the principal crop.
Ford’s empire is an autocracy. There is a grand advisory council which meets with Ford daily. It is composed of top officials, active in the plants. The empire’s financial value is unknown. But it is estimated at approximately one billion dollars. Ford owns it all.
The giant corporations are, as in the case of the Ford Co., employers of large armies of labor. The Bell Telephone System, chief unit in American Telephone and Telegraph Company’s network, employed an average of 244,599 workers in 1935.
The Standard Oil Company of New Jersey, owns operating companies in the United States employing 120,000 workers.—Poors "Industrials"; Moody’s "Public Utilities."
Where the trusts do not own and operate all the agencies of either supply or distribution, as in the packers’ combination which does not own the farms of the country, or the coal trust, which does not own the middlemen’s yards or the retailers’ basement shops, these agencies are so dependent on the big combinations as to be entirely within their power and unable to exist without them. Yet this situation was unknown in this country sixty years ago; the beginnings of the trust movement having been first observed only in the 80s of the last century.
Capitalist combinations are expanding in all directions. They are going into retailing or distribution as represented by the chain stores.
The largest chain store in America is the Great Atlantic and Pacific, with sales in 1930 of $1,065,807,000. It is reported to have 16,000 stores and 86,000 employees. An example of the rapid growth of chain stores is afforded by the Walgreen Drug Co., which increased from 19 stores in 1920 to 307 in 1929.
A special report of the 1935 retail census, on retail chains, making a comparative summary of the operation of retail chains, in 1935, 1933 and 1929, issued July 1937 is condensed in Tide, July 15, 1937, from the Bureau of the Census. There were, it is reported, 6,079 chains in 1935; they operated one-twelfth of all retail stores, had sales totalling some $8,500,000,000, employed 1,171,671 people, paid them $1,211,066,000.
From 1933 to 1935 the number of chains increased 10 per cent, although the number of stores decreased 8.2 per cent. Sales of independent stores dropped from 77.5 per cent of total sales in 1929 to 73.1 per cent in 1935. Chain sales came up from 20 per cent to 22.8 per cent in the same period. States in which the chains did the greatest percentage of retail business, said the census, were Illinois (29.3%), Massachusetts (28.9%), Rhode Island (26.2%), California (215.7%). (In the District of Washington chains did 26.2% of retail business). States where chains made the poorest showing: Mississippi (11.1%), Wyoming (14.7%), Montana (14.8%), Minnesota (15.1%).
Lewis Corey in the January-March 1937 Marxist Quarterly, "American Class Relations," estimates that 6,000,000 or 12.4% of the working class, are employed at "clerical-sales occupations." The distribution services are requiring increasing numbers of workers, as the chains grow. The small family store is no longer dominant. It is fading out of the picture accordingly. "The giant monopoly has snared most of us on its payroll and the old order of the independent proprietor is fast fading away," said Federal Trade Commissioner Charles H. Marsh, addressing the Boston 1937 Convention of the National Association of Retail Grocers.
To sum up this phase of our discussion, here are figures on the concentration of industry: On January 1, 1930 the 200 largest non-financial corporations controlled 49.2% of the corporate nonfinancial wealth, 38% of all business wealth, and 22 % of the national wealth.
These 200 corporations were controlled by some 2,000 men, a good portion of whom were inactive.
If the same rate with which these corporations grew in the 20 years from 1909 to 1929 continues, by 1950 the 1200 largest corporations will be carrying on 70% of all corporate activity.—Means, Gardiner C. and Berle, Adolph A. Jr., "The Modern Corporation and Private Property" pp. 32 and 40.
The growing international character of "our" colossal combinations of capital next commands attention. Typical of this development is the Standard Oil of New Jersey which owns operating companies producing oil in 10 foreign countries, 5 Latin-American countries and Roumania, Trinidad, Canada, Poland and Italy. In addition, it has acquired the foreign properties of the Pan-American Petroleum Co., in Venezuela, Dutch West Indies, Mexico, Germany, France and Great Britain. In 1933, it merged its far eastern interests with Socony-Vacuum and acquired interests in Japan, China, British India, Australia, New Zealand, Oceania and Southeastern Africa. It has part interest in Mesopotamian Oil and has 40 per cent interest with Royal Dutch-Shell, its chief international competitor, in Dutch New Guinea.
Standard oil of California has considerable holdings in Latin America, the Bahrein Islands in the Persian Gulf, Arabia and a 20 per cent interest in Dutch New Guinea operations. —"Standard Corporations Records," 1937.
Also typical of this international development of "our" giant combinations of capital is the International Telephone and Telegraph Co., as of January 1, 1936. Besides its vast holdings in the United States, the I.. T. & T., owns controlling interests in the following:
1. Telephone companies in Argentine, Brazil, Chile, China, Cuba, Mexico, Peru, Puerto Rico, Roumania and Spain (at least until recent events.)
2. Radio telephone and telegraph companies in Argentine, Brazil, Chile, Columbia, Peru and Spain (see above note.)
3. Companies manufacturing electrical equipment and telephone, radio and telegraph equipment with factories in 16 countries and sales branches in every country of importance.—Moody’s "Public Utilities."
Still another typical case is the Ford Motor Company. As of January 1, 1936, the Ford Co. owned manufacturing plants in the United States, Canada, Germany and England. It had assembly plants in Argentine, Canal Zone, Cuba, Mexico, Uruguay, Brazil, Chile, China, Japan, Egypt, Belgium, France, Spain, Italy, Roumania, Denmark, Ireland, Finland, Turkey, Portugal, Holland, Sweden and Greece, 23 countries in all. It had sales agencies in every country of importance.
In addition a subsidiary of the Ford Motor Co., has concessions for 2,500,000 acres of rubber-producing land in Para, Brazil.—Poors "Industrials" 1936.
These illustrations show that present day capitalism is no longer patriotic. It embraces all countries of the world. It makes conditions uniform all over the world. It is worse, in its monotonous tendencies, than communism is alleged to be. It makes possible, and, points the way to, international fascism.
The world-nature of modern industry was shown at the beginning of the World War. In its September, 1914, letter, the National City Bank of New York, the largest in this country and a Standard Oil institution to boot, describes the havoc then caused in these truly impressive words:
The whole world has tended to become one community similar to that which exists in a single country. A few weeks ago men were buying and selling. lending and borrowing, contracting and planning, with little attention to national boundaries, when suddenly the whole co-operative system was disrupted. Raw materials were cut off from factories accustomed to use them, factories from markets, food supplies from consumers and millions of men were summoned from mutually helpful industries to face each other as mortal foes. An outburst of primitive passion in a corner of Europe wrecked the painfully developed structure of modern civilization.
This still applies, despite attempts at self-sufficiency, or autarchy.
The steps in the growth of modern industry are interesting and many. In the first stage, known as the age of concentration, the trust consolidated many corporations into one, just as in the previous stage these corporations had united many companies. In the second stage, known as the age of integration, many trusts were bound together in single units. In the third stage, known as the period of state control for war purposes, all combinations were more highly solidified, developed and financed under federal patronage and supervision. In the fourth stage we have control capitalism, as Prof. Robert A. Brady calls it, in which state control and inter-association control prevail. This appears in the N. R. A., cartels (price-fixing and production regulation by international associations of giant combinations of capital, according to industry, whether tin, copper, steel, chemical or munitions of war), and the U. S. Chamber of Commerce, affiliated with the International Chamber of Commerce.
But over and above all these bodies, uniting and conserving their interests, both national and international, are the groups of bankers, headed by the Morgans and Rockefellers. Louis Brandeis’ book, "Other People’s Money and How the Banks Use It," shows how finance is concentrated and the total credit of the country is exploited by the allied groups of private bankers headed by Morgan-Rockefeller. President Wilson, when Governor, declared in 1911, "A great industrial nation is controlled by its system of credit."
Brandeis quotes the Pujo Committee report of the Money Trust. This committee found that the Morgan-Rockefeller allied groups of private bankers held
"In all, 341 directorships in 112 corporations, having aggregate resources or capitalizations of $22,245,000,000" or "more than three times the assessed value of property, real and personal, in all New England, nearly three times the assessed value of all the real estate in the city of New York . . . It is more than twice the assessed value of all the property in the thirteen southern states" and "more than the assessed value of all the property in the twenty-two states, North and South, lying west of the Mississippi."
Brandeis believed that this "understates the extent of concentration affected by the inner group of the Money Trust." (pages 33-35.)
These words were written in 1914, before the establishment of the Federal Reserve Bank and the beginning of the World War. But as the Federal Reserve Bank is owned by its stock-holders, composed of member banks, the grasp of the Morgan-Rockefeller groups on the finance of the country remains unbroken. In addition, the war has made the U. S. a creditor instead of a debtor nation and Wall Street a rival of Lombard St. in world finance. It has accordingly made "the Money Trust" more powerful than ever before—a world-ramified institution; as the many visits to this country of the heads of big foreign banks amply testify.
Chasing the money changers out of the temple has consequently become a more futile bit of political demagogy now than ever before. Here follow some figures illustrative of the fact.
In 1930, 250 banks held resources of $33,400,000,000 out of a total of $72,000,000,000 bank resources for the entire nation. In other words, 1% of the banks directly controlled more than 46 % of the total national resources.
24 New York banks, or less than 1 % had combined resources of $10,800,000,000 or 15% of the total banks resources.—Laidler’s "Concentration of American Industry."
In 1929 J. P. Morgan and his 17 partners held directorships in 72 corporations with combined assets of $20,000,000,000, or almost one-third of the total commercial banking resources.
In 1930, according to figures compiled by Lewis Corey in his "Decline of American Capitalism," 69 banks had resources of $25,900,000,000 and an additional 71 banks had resources of $5,100,000,000. In the total of 140 banks, 58% of all banks had 48.9 % of total banking resources. [This sentence seems to contain an error. It does not seem remarkable that just over 50% of banks should hold just under 50% of resources. The figures just given indicate that 49.2% of all banks had 83.5% of total banking resources, which seems to be more in line with the author’s argument.—Tr.]
In 1937, one of the major issues in U. S. banking is the chain bank. It wipes out the small town banker and concentrates banking in big city banks. It increases the financial control of the Money Trust. It is being bitterly fought on that account.
In 1926, 8 American banks owned foreign branches in the World’s strategic centers, mainly in Latin America, of which the National City Bank owned 73, including 22 owned by its subsidiary, the International Banking Corporation. (Corey, p. 428.)
These facts show that from a nation without trusts, the United States has become, in fifty years, a nation with trusts, that are dominated by a trust of trusts, the Money Trust, which operates in unison with the money trusts of other nations. All these nations are, in turn, dominated by this stupendous international trust—the financial oligarchy of the world.
Such has been modern industrial development.
The modern industrial revolution from small to large industry and from national isolation to international ramification and financial domination, was accompanied by other revolutions at home and abroad. Ownership changes; farm tenancy and laborers increase. Industrial independence gives way to servility; the individual laborer, as already indicated in the figures on large corporations, to industrial armies. Even opportunities with corporations vanish. Conditions are uncertain; seasonal employment and lack of employment grow. Skill declines. The unskilled worker becomes .increasingly numerous. Wealth concentrates; corporation levies on the wealth of the country pile up. Tens of millions are in poverty. President Roosevelt declares that "one-third of the nation is ill-fed, ill-clad and ill-housed." Prices soar above and beyond wages. Crises become more serious and threatening. Wars occur; civilization is disrupted. Most terrible of all, fascism blights humanity and social cataclysm seems near.
The 1930 Census Abstract shows percentage of population in cities of 100,000 or more in 1900 was 18.8; in 1930, 29.6. In places of 8,000 or more in 1800, 4.0; in 1930, 49.1. Our urban population in 1890 was 35.4; in 1930, 56.2. Our rural population, 1890, 64.6; 1930, 43.8.
Other Census Abstract figures showing the effects of the industrial revolution on farming are quoted in Louis Hacker’s article, "The Farmer Is Doomed," N. Y. 1933, as follows:
In 1930 42% of American farms were mortgaged; in 1910, 33% were mortgaged. Mortgage indebtedness amounted to $9,500,000,000 in 1931, compared to $3,300,000,000 in 1910.
In 1930, 42% of American farmers were tenant farmers; as compared with 37% in 1910 and 28.4% in 1890.
From 1910 to 1920 total population increased 15%, but the number of farmers only increased 1.4%; from 1920 to 1930, the total population increased 16.1 %, but the number of farms decreased 2.5%.
Since 1920 an average of 398,000 more persons have been leaving farms than have been coming to them. This trend was reversed for the first three years of the depression, 1930-32, but has since been resumed.
From 1890 to 1930 the percentage of farms between 20 and 499 acres has decreased. The small farms of under 20 acres have increased in proportion. The very large farm, over 500 acres has increased from 2.5% to 3.8%.
The percentage of farm value represented by machinery has increased from 3 in 1890 to 5.8 in 1930.
Large scale farms are growing more numerous. During July, 1937; Raskob, the General Motors magnate, announced the purchase of a 286,000 acre farm in New Mexico, to be operated by Campbell, big farm operator in Montana and Soviet expert on farm collectivization.
According to a survey of large-scale farming by the Agricultural Service Department of the United States Chamber of Commerce, in 1929 there were 9,000 corporations engaged in farming—mostly cotton, grain, fruit, stock and general farming —having a gross income of $709,000,000, almost 6 % of the total gross income of American agriculture.—Laidler, Harry W., "Concentration in American Industry," N. Y. 1931, pp. 387-388.
Since the above 1929 U. S. Chamber of Commerce figures the depression has come—and not gone—yet. It made great changes. The results have been bad for the farmer. These results have increased the corporation farms. According to Bureau of Agriculture statistics the total value of corporation-owned farms lands in 1930 Was $249,000,000. In 1933, the Worst depression year, it had climbed to $770,000,000. At this rate of increase it must be now (July 1937) over $2,000,000,000.
According to same authority, in 1933 corporations owned 7.2% of farm land; 1935, 10.1%. Now it must approximate 15%. There is no let up in the foreclosures that make this tendency possible, even at this date.
Another great change is the direct appearance of big banks, insurance and loan companies on the farm scene. They are no longer in the background as mortgagees and money lenders, but step forward as farmowners. As such, they were eligible to take part in A. A. A. payments. According to the New York Times of June 20, 1936, there were 107,579 farms so eligible. Of these, 67,302 were owned by 111 life insurance companies, 21,447 by banks and the remaining 118,830 by 3,491 other owners.
A. A. A. payments also went to 55 banks and insurance companies operating 150 or more farms under A. A. A. contracts in 1934. Equitable Life Assurance of the United States was credited with 2,158 corn-hog farms; Metropolitan Life Insurance Company, with 3,112 corn-hog farms, 1,141 cotton farms and 332 tobacco farms. These are often chain farms.
In one of his weekly "Socialist Call" letters, Norman Thomas quotes a comrade to the effect that 35% of the fertile valley lands of California is corporation owned or farmed. Two reasons are given by Thomas, (1) "the terrible epidemic of foreclosures in the depression" (which continues even now amid "recovery"); (2) "the fact that corporations can make better use of machinery and manage the marketing problem better. Thus a corporation which loses on vegetables from Arizona because of a bad market may win later on crops from California or vice-versa."
There’s a thumb-nail sketch of the new farming —the industrialized, chain corporation farm that is replacing the small, family farm.
The importance of corporation, chain and big farming is indicated in figures on farm income by Representative Marlin Hall of Wisconsin in the Progressive of April 25, 1936, as follows:
"One half of the total farm income, or four billions of dollars it is said, went to one-sixth of the farmers, approximately 1,116,000. This number includes the large farm owners, cotton and sugar plantation people, the large dairy and truck farms near the big cities. It also includes farm corporations "
With nearly 50 per cent of farming tenant farming; with the truck gardens of New Jersey, the onion fields of Ohio, the lettuce patches of California and the citrus groves of Florida, the scene of labor wars, there is no doubt that the conflict of class interests has reached the farm and the new farming has indeed arrived.
Already Secretary of Agriculture Wallace estimates one third of the farmers are farming sub-marginal lands and are therefore useless in commercial agriculture.
But the worst is yet to come. The Fords and DuPonts—big capital—have entered farming in behalf of auto and chemical industries (mass production industries require mass farming). Next consider "tank" farming, with its tremendous increase in farm output. Also the mechanical cotton picker, invented by former I. W. W.s, the Rust brothers. Both threaten the further displacement of the small farm owner and the farm laborer.
No "back-to-the-land" for them. They should join the Agricultural Workers Industrial Union instead—to take over the farming industry for the good and welfare of all.
Part-time employment and unemployment increases.
It stands to reason that with part-time employment and unemployment increasing, at the prevalent rate, the opportunities for employment decrease. Anne Page, in her 1936 study on Employment and Unemployment for the NRA Division of Review, states there were in 1935 probably two part-time workers for every three unemployed. From 1922 to 1929 Harry Laidler estimates in his "How America Lives" the average minimum of unemployment ranged from 1,500,000 to 3,500,000. Harry Hopkins, Federal Relief Administrator, is of the belief that even with return to 1929 production, unemployment will still amount to 6 or 7 millions. According to these comparative figures, industrial opportunities are indeed vanishing as the years roll by.
The above figures are reinforced by the increasing productivity of labor per man-hour, due to better methods and machines. Paul H. Douglas, "Real Wages in the United States," indexes this productivity in 1899 at 100 and in 1935 at 177. This increased man-hour productivity of labor contributes to the lack of industrial opportunity for all workers. In addition, it results in more seasonal and part-time work; also in complete unemployment.
The latter varied during the depression. For the first six months of 1933, as per Anne Page, the President’s Committee estimates 14,457,000, the Cleveland Trust Company, 15,429,000 and the American Federation of labor, 14,935,000. The Cleveland Trust Company figure represented at least 44 per cent of all of the total number of workers. About 9 in every 20 workers were totally unemployed.
"The worst is yet to come." Depression accentuates competition, necessitating the reduction of costs. Labor-displacing machinery is a means to this end. Again, we are warned not to shout that we are safe out of the 1929 depression woods, as another depression is looming up; due in 1, 2 or 3 years from now, according to the different viewpoints of the prognosticators, who are numerous.
Under these conditions of wide-spread job insecurity, why talk of industrial opportunities at all? Their disappearance is, apparently, more in order of discussion.
Most employment tends to become unskilled. This is due to machinery and the minute spitting up of tasks which it permits, especially in the mass production industries. Efficiency experts help along the process. Professor Hoxie, in one of his books, tells of a plant expert who offered to teach him a certain part of a process in thirty minutes.
This unskill admits of the employment of farmers, women and children, in the auto plants, machine shops and corporation offices. Because of it, men flit from industry to industry; from city to city. It makes the worker inter-industrial and a "runabout," i. e. migratory worker.
Consider some of the other effects of capitalism on modern social life. A report of the Division of Handicapped Children of the New York Board of Education, made on July 30, 1935 and published in New York World Telegram July 30, 1935 states there were 135,000 pupils in New York City’s elementary schools who were so weak from malnutrition that they could not profit by attendance in regular classes. This number was 18.1 % of all the children enrolled in New York’s public elementary schools.
There is also considerable adult malnutrition extant, due to unemployment, old-age discrimination and other causes. But there are no definite figures available, like those given above.
Child Labor—"Child Labor Facts," in commenting on the extent of child labor declares, "The latest figures giving a complete nationwide count of child laborers are those of the 1930 Census. Revealing the extent of child labor before the NRA, they showed more than two million children between the ages of 10 and 17, inclusive, or one out of every nine gainfully occupied.
"At the same time," "Child Labor Facts" continues, "the Census figure was an understatement of the amount of child labor. It did not include children under 10 years, a considerable number of whom are engaged in street trades and industrial home work. It omitted the many thousands of children, both under and over 10 years, engaged in beet cultivation and other forms of industrialized agriculture whose work does not begin until after April 1, the date on which the Census was taken. In Colorado, for instance, where census figures showed only 2,051 children under 16 years engaged in agricultural work, one of the large beet sugar companies estimated in 1930 that 6,000 children between the ages of 6 and 16 were employes in sugar beets in the section where it operated."
Mental Diseases.—In 1934 there were 400,000 patients in hospitals for mental diseases. These patients are increasing at the rate of 15,000 a year. They compose one half of the total number of patients. One person in 22 will spend a portion of his life in an institution for mental disease. The rate of mental diseases is rising.—Social Work Yearbook, Russell Sage Foundation, 1935.
Suicide Rate in U. S.—There are over 22,000 suicides in the United States every year. 13 out of every 1,000 persons born will commit suicide. In their "To Be or Not To Be" Louis I. Dublin and Bessie Bunzel state that self-inflicted deaths per 100,000 population have been increasing: 1900, 10; 1930, 17; 1931, 18.3.
Paul H. Douglas, "Real Wages In The United States," shows that while man-hour productivity increases from 100 in 1899 to 177 in 1925, wages had only increased from 100 in 18,89 to 132 in 1925. Something approximate happens with the cost of living.
Cost of Living.—There are two principal indexes of the cost of living for wage-earning families; one by Bureau of Labor Statistics, Department of Labor, the other more refined, by the pro-capitalist Industrial Conference Board. The trends shown by each check rather closely against one another. The index of the National Conference Board stood in August, 1936, at 85, as compared with 61.3 in July, 1914. Over this span of 22 years the cost of living has risen 39 per cent. In other words, a dollar in August, 1936, could buy 28 per cent less in goods needed by a working-class family than it could in July, 1914.
Prices since 1936 tend to continue soaring above wages. As one humorist puts it, "Prices threaten to accompany the scientists on their stratospheric flights," while wages, we may add, just reach the top of the Empire State building. This will be especially the case when acute inflation sets in.
The American Federation of Labor declares that price increases cancel wage increases.
Consider the income of the United States.
In 1929 it was 78,632 millions of dollars. In 1933 it had sunk, such is capitalist exploitation culminating in the depression, to 44,940 millions. Thanks to New Deal "priming the pump," i. e., federal subsidizing of corporations mainly, it rose in 1936 to a Commerce Department estimate, made in October, 1937, to a total of $63,800,000,000. This leaves U. S. income with 15,000 millions still to go before reaching the 1929 total. Such is "recovery" under President Franklin D. Roosevelt and capitalism generally.
Where do all these billions of income go?
Labor’s Share in Manufacture.—The Council for Industrial Progress, appointed by President Roosevelt, in its "Analysis of Production, Wages, and Employment in Manufacturing Industries, 1914—1935," estimates, from preliminary returns of the 1935 Census of Manufacturers, that wages formed 36.4 per cent of the total value added by manufactures. Here are the percentages since 1914: 1914, 41.9; 1919, 42.2; 1929, 36.4; 1933, 36.2; 1935, 36.4. As will be seen from these conservative figures, wages in manufacture declined more than five per cent over the 20 year period.
At the same time, it must be remembered, as pointed out by the same authority, that the proportion of wage-earners to profits-recipients has increased over the same period. Thus in manufactures, labor’s share in the national income tends to decrease both relatively and positively.
Consider also in this connection, the following illuminating data:
Inequality of Distribution.—In the year of depression, 1934, when at least 70 per cent of American families were not receiving a large enough income to cover a budget of minimum health and decency; there were 32 persons who had net incomes of $1,000,000 or more. These 32 received 87 per cent of their income from dividends and another 3 per cent from sale of real estate and securities.
In 1933, near the lowest point of depression there were 35 persons who made over $1,000,000 each just from dividends, and 18 persons who made over $1,000,000 each just from the sale of securities and real estate. These 18 speculators made an average of $2,021,778 each.
In order to make $2,021,778 on the average weekly wage the manufacturing wage-earner received in 1933 (something less than $18), a person would have to be employed steadily from 223 B. C. to the present day. Or, to put it in another way, each one of these 18 had an income from market speculations equal to the wages of 2,160 wage-earners in manufacturing.—"Statistics of Income," U. S. Bureau of Internal Revenue, 1934-1935.
Concentration of Income.—Harry W. Laidler, in a WNYC radio address, declares that "one eighth of our population receive one half of the nation’s income." Levin, Moulton and Warburton, in "America’s Capacity to Consume," state that in 1929 13 per cent of American families received 12.69 per cent of the total income of American families. Within this circle, a small group of 4,000 families or .015 per cent of all American families, received 6.6 per cent of the total income, a sum of $5,089,000,000. "The economists of the Brookings Institution," writes Dr. Chas. Stelze, "stated that in a recent year the income of the 36,000 families at the top of the income pyramid, possessing incomes in excess of $75,000 per year, totalled almost as much as the 11,653,000 families with incomes of less than $1,500."
Andre Maurois, French historian and student of American social and economic life, writes in The New York Times Magazine, May 1937, on "What Next In Our Economic Drama?" In considering this question, he finds that income is so distributed in the U. S. that "42 per cent, of the citizens, had the same total income as one-tenth of one per cent made up of the richest." No matter what this one-tenth of one per cent did with their money, "they all took a comparatively small part in the actual consumption of essential products. Thus the one-tenth of one per cent did not nearly fulfill that part in the country’s life which 42 per cent could have fulfilled," if given a more proportionate share of the country’s income. A very revealing comment as to the cause of our economic tragedies.
Next consider wages, dividends and interest during the depression.
The NRA Research and Planning Division, headed by Leon Henderson, in report entitled "Dividends, Interests, and Profits, 1923-35," shows dividends and interest payment bore up during the depression better than did wages. Mr. Henderson estimate, that labor income in 1934 was only 71.3 per cent of what it was in 1925, a fairly-chosen predepression year. But dividends and interest payments combined were in 1934 fully 83.9 per cent of what they had been in 1925.
Dividends; Annual Totals.—Taking the years from 1928 to 1933 as a typical period, including three years of relatively high dividend payments, we find from the same Bureau of Internal Revenue source, page 27, that the average amount paid out annually in the form of corporation dividends totalled $6,133,000,000. Aggregate Dividend Payments (in millions), 1928, $7,074; 1929, $8,356; 1930, $8,202; 1931, $6,151; 1932, $3,886; 1933, 3,127.
Taxable interest income in 1933 amounted to over $993 million.
National income, 1929-1932, a report by the Acting Secretary of Commence, from 1929 to 1932, estimates that total property income declined 30.6 per cent; income of wage-earners declined 60.2 per cent.
As usual under capitalism, the wage-earner always gets the worst of conditions.
Where Wealth Concentrates and Men Decay—In 1918, Basil Manly, an authority on the subject of wealth concentration, wrote:
"In 1910 two per cent of the people of the United States owned 60 per cent of the wealth. Today it is certain this two per cent owns and controls at least 70 per cent of the nation’s wealth and resources."
It is likely that when this depression is over, this two per cent will own and control 90 per cent of the country’s wealth and resources. The tendencies towards wealth concentration are accelerated, not diminished, by the "liquidation" i. e., confiscation, peculiar to depression. The billionaires have arrived, including Rockefeller, Ford and Du Pont. As already shown, where wealth concentrates, men decay.
Average wages on the whole, aren’t anything great to write home about. Especially is this so when a conservative Brookings Institute estimate makes a $2,500 average yearly wage possible. The average earnings per year of workers employed in manufacturing was in 1929, $1,315; 1931, $1,110; 1933, $869.
Real wages in 1933 were 86 per cent of what they were in 1929. This did not include reduction of working class income due to unemployment.
Average weekly wages in specified industries, October 1936, were: All manufacturing, $23.40; automobile, $30.40; blast furnaces and roiling mills, $28.05; saw mills, $20.30; slaughtering and meatpacking, $24.25; cotton goods manufacturing, $14.10; petroleum refining, $29.70. Yearly Earning, "Monthly Review," August, 1935. Weekly Earnings —ibid., December, 1936.
The latest Security Act report gives 32,000,000 workers as registered under the act. This is a measure intended to stave off pauperization, while eventually promoting it. It reflects most accurately the change in U. S. economic conditions. On top of the social scale, the billionaires; on the bottom, tens of millions of insecure wage workers, headed towards a pauper’s lot.
Industrial Disputes.—In 1935 there were 2,014 strikes involving 1,117,213 workers. These workers were idle a total of 15,456,337 man-hours, as per the "Monthly Labor Review," U. S. Department of Labor Statistics, November 1936, p. 1206.
Of course, this takes no account of the 1936-37 strikes in steel, auto, rubber, marine and other basic industries, due primarily to the Wagner Labor Relations Act. These strikes have, apparently, called out more strikers and caused more lost man-hours, than all of the many previous years’ strikes and lost man-hours combined. The Wagner Labor Relations Act, meant to abolish labor wars, has stimulated more of them than any previous cause or act. Despite such laws, the class war rages as never before.
Added to these extremes of wealth concentration and poverty are wars, class and national wars.
In his St. Louis September 6th speech, President Woodrow Wilson, assured his hearers that "The seed of war is industrial and commercial rivalry . . . This war (referring to the World War) is an industrial and commercial war." Nowadays, wars are also waged to secure sources of raw materials.
Stuart Chase, in the "Tragedy of Waste," 1925, page 59, gives these stupendous figures as the costs of the World War:
"9,998,771 known dead; 5,983,600 prisoners and missing, at least half of whom were probably killed, giving 12,990,000 as the probable total of the dead.
"20,000,000 were wounded of whom 6,295,512 were severely wounded, 10,550,000 suffered a permanent reduction in ability and 170,000 were totally disabled for life.
"14,713,000 persons died from such indirect effects of the war as influenza epidemic, the Austrian, Serbian, Roumanian and Russian famines, German blockades, and civilian casualties in naval disasters.
"186,000,000,000 was the cost of war to all countries; and $28,832,000,000 cost of war to the United States.
"These estimates do not include property destroyed, war pensions and other indirect or delayed costs."
These are not all of the World War costs, especially the indirect ones. Of the latter, fascism is the most costly product of the World War. Fascism, as Ethiopia and Spain too well demonstrate, is determined to expand, to secure raw material supplies, and to inaugurate the control of civilization by big monopoly capitalism, this even at the cost of annihilation of entire ethnic groups, if necessary. In Spain, fascism is killing off hundreds of thousands in order to steal the country’s ore lands, in order to supply raw material for the industrialists and financiers backing Hitler and Mussolini. Such is the approved international policy of modern capitalism: not cooperation, but ruthless coercion in the pursuit of raw supplies and to secure export markets for capital and goods, all for the benefit of our economic overlords, or economic royalists, as some prefer to call them.
The U. S. is not exempt, from this imperialist procedure. Its Cuban, Porto Rican and Philippine protectorates and colonial records contain much that is condemnatory. Its South American diplomacy is not free of the charge of supporting oppressive American financial interests and making secure various dictatorships. Its Pacific coast program presages war with Japan for Chinese markets. Its billions of expenditures for army and navy increases belie its pacifist-isolationist pretenses.
Its neutrality, so-called, in the Spanish situation is a fraud and a humbug, decidedly favorable to Franco and his allies, Hitler and Mussolini. Its support of British Tory policy is a further indictment that, as a so-called independent democratic nation, the United States is not what it would like to appear to be. Traditional America still exists, but in tradition only. Even the U. S. cannot escape the economic evils and changes inherent in capitalism, whether in Europe or elsewhere. And those evils, as manifested in fascism and war, grow more cataclysmic, due to science and invention, until now they threaten not only nations, but the very race itself.
The conditions produced by modern industry give rise to various endeavors aiming at their reform and abolition, either in part or altogether. The farmers, crushed by the railroads, combinations and financiers, organize granger, anti-monopoly, antitrust, greenback, free silver, populists’, government ownership and non-partisan movements and leagues. The middle class, crushed in competition with the trusts, and noting their excesses tendencies, espouse the single-tax, anti-trust, anti-war, free silver, government control and ownership causes. While the workers, ever demanding more control over industry and desiring to emancipate themselves from capitalism and its wars by abolition of the system, form labor unions, labor parties, international workmen’s associations and industrial unions, aiming to embrace all the industrial workers of the world to take over the world’s industries for the world’s workers in the impending collapse of capitalist society.
Growth of all kinds must come from within. Modern growth must come from within modern industry—the greatest institution in modern society —from the workers employed therein. International financial oligarchy must be replaced by international labor solidarity, through the international industrial organization, which gives the former its foundation and strength.
This growth as all signs show, is coming the world over. The workers of the world are looking to industry—to themselves—for the redeemers of the world. It is this growth that the I. W. W. anticipated when it organized in 1905. It is this growth that makes the I. W. W. indestructible as an organization, a spirit and idea today.
The Industrial Workers of the World did not spring, like the mythological gods of old, out of nothing. The present capitalist system is its father and the labor movement of the past generations its mother. The I. W. W. has a long line of forebears and is proud of its ancestry, both native and foreign, on the maternal side.
Just about one hundred and twenty years ago—or in 1820—the United States began to experience an industrial revolution. Then the transformation from household industry to the factory system set in. Transportation was revolutionized by the introduction of the steamboat and the development of canals and turnpikes, and manufactures began to surpass the old industries of shipping and foreign commerce. In these days, along with towns and cities, a laboring class began to develop. In New England, the farmer left the land and moved to the textile centers; the daughters worked in the mills. The old conditions began to break down; new ones to take their place. New issues, new class alignments and new movements were thus created.
From 1820 to 1850, the industrial revolution developed. The power loom, the hot air blast in the iron smelting industry, the mower, the reaper, the sewing machine, the friction match, the steam printing press, the use of the screw propeller on steamboats and the steam hammer were introduced. In 1826, the development of the railroad system began. Locomotive construction began about 1830. The first telegraph line was constructed in 1844. The change was a rapid one—a momentous one.
Along with the introduction of these inventions, came larger cities, more factories, stock companies and a greater separation between the capitalist class and the working class. It was during this period that the modern labor movement first appeared in this country. It was then that the workers from the farm and distant lands were brought together in ever increasing numbers in factories and lived together in districts in the cities occupied by themselves exclusively. Under these conditions the workers became conscious of their existence as a separate class in society and began to organize and to exert themselves as such, against their employers and the new system generally. It was then that the first of the I. W. W.’ s ancestors were born in this country.
The I. W. W. believes in three vital things. First, the conflict of interests between capital and labor, that is, the class struggle. Second, the necessity for a labor organization built in conformity with industrial concentration. Third, the abolition of the wages or capitalist system by means of such an organization, under the pressure attending the probable breakdown of capitalism. The I. W. W. calls this "building the new society within the shell of the old."
Not Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, but Alexander Hamilton and James Madison, great American statesmen both of them, first formulated the doctrine of the class struggle on American soil. Sixty years before the great socialists gave "The Communist Manifesto" to the world, Hamilton and Madison were arguing as to the proper basis of government before the Philadelphia convention to establish a constitution for the United States. Said Hamilton, in support of life office in and control of government by the strong and powerful:
"All communities divide themselves into the few and the many. The first are rich and the well-born; the other are the mass of the people."
Madison was even more analytical and specific In his appeal for a factional government, representative of all the different interests, as a medium wherewith to balance the extremes of autocracy and democracy. Said he:
"Those who hold, and those without property have ever formed distinct interests in society. A landed interest, a manufacturing interest, a moneyed interest, with many lesser interests, grow up of necessity in civilized nations, and divide civilized nations of necessity into different classes actuated by different sentiments and views."
The industrial development that followed close on the heels of the Philadelphia Convention, with startling rapidity, divided society into the class of "the few," called the capitalist class, and the class of "the many," called the working class. It has tended, furthermore, to consolidate the landed, manufacturing, mercantile and moneyed classes into a powerful employing capitalist and financial class. At the same time, it has developed "the lesser interests"—meaning thereby the interests of the workers, in the shops and factories—until they are represented by great labor organizations, striving for social control in opposition to the capitalist class.
In the early labor organizations, the class struggle was not so apparent and marked as at the present time. For instance, the Printers’ Society of New York, founded in 1808, admitted both employer and employee to membership. The New York Typographical Society of 1831, however, had a constitutional clause under which membership was forfeited by journeymen becoming employers. Finally, the breach became a wide-open one, when, in an "Address to the Journeymen Printers of the United States," the first national convention of typographical societies in the country, states bluntly: "There exists a perpetual antagonism between labor and capital."
The change from hand power to steam power printing press, and from small individual to large stock company ownership of establishments, was, no doubt, the cause of this transformation of "views and sentiments," to quote the language of Madison.
It was also during these early days that labor developed its organization from short-lived strike movements to more permanent forms of unionism. The first labor organization in this country, so far as can be ascertained from records, was the New York Typographical Society, organized in 1795. It lived two and one-half years.
Prof. John Commons (in his Labor Organizations and Labor Politics, 1827-1837), declares: "Modern trades unionism as an industrial and political force began with the coming together of previously existing societies from the several trades to form a central body on the representative principle."
Logically, the next phase was that of national trade unions and trades associations. This further development was made necessary by the extensive growth of cities, industries and capitalist interests and aggressions. Thus were the early attempts to organize according to the requirements of industrial development inspired by that development itself.
It was stated above, that Hamilton and Madison first formulated the doctrine of the class struggle on American soil sixty years in advance of Karl Marx and Frederick Engels. In this connection, it may be of interest to know that the demand for "the abolition of the wages system" is also originally American.
The facts in support of these assertions are the following: In New York City in 1830, two Englishmen, brothers, George and Frederick Evans, published a paper called "Young America." At its head twelve demands were printed. Demand 10 reads:
"10. Abolition of the chattel slavery, and wage slavery."
Bear in mind, this was in 1830! And in New York City, too!
The abolition of the wage system was also discussed by other writers. One of them was Orestes Brownson, a famous writer and friend of the distinguished men of his time. He, possibly, was the first "back-to-the-land" advocate. In his book, published in 1857, and called "The Convert" he argues:
"Starting from the democratic theory of man and society, I contend that the great mother evil of modern society was the separation of capital and labor; or the fact that one class of the community owns the funds, and another distinct class is compelled to perform the labor of production. The consequence of this system is, that the owners of capital enrich themselves at the expense of the owners of labor. The system of money wages, the modern system, is more profitable to the owner of capital than the slave system is to slavemasters, and hardly less oppressive to the laborer. The wages, as a general rule, are never sufficient to enable the laborer to place himself on an equal footing with the capitalist. Capital will always command the lion’s share of the proceeds. This is seen in the fact that while they who command capital grow rich, the laborer by his simple means at best only obtains a bare subsistence. The whole class of simple laborers are poor, and in general unable to procure by their wages more than the bare necessities of life. The capitalist employs labor that he may grow rich and richer; the laborer sells his labor that he may not die of hunger, he, his wife and little ones, and as the urgency of guarding against hunger is always stronger than that of growing rich or richer, the capitalist holds the laborer at his mercy, and has over him, whether called a slave or a free man, the power of life and death.
Poor men may indeed become rich but not by the simple wages of unskilled labor. They never do become rich except by availing themselves, in some way, of the labor of others."
"To remedy these evils, I propose to abolish the distinction between capitalists and laborers by having every man an owner of the funds as well as to labor on a capital of his own, and to receive according to his works. Undoubtedly, my plan would have broken up the whole modern commercial system, prostrated all the great industries and thrown the mass of the people back on the land to get their living by agriculture and mechanical pursuits."
A different type of writer was Thomas Skidmore. Skidmore was a communist and as such a factor in the New York labor movement of the 20s and 30s. He wrote a book entitled, "The Rights of Man to Property." In this book he argued that men should be compelled to live on their own labor and not on the labor of others. The inequalities of private property are born of the fact that some men live on the labor of others, a fact which these inequalities tend to perpetuate in turn. Applying his doctrine to the property conditions created by the progress of capitalism, Skidmore declared:
"The steam engine is not injurious to the poor, when they can have the benefit of it; and this, on supposition, being always the case, it could be hailed as a blessing. If, then, it is seen that the steam engine, for example, is likely greatly to impoverish, or destroy the poor, what have they to do but to lay hold of it, and make it their own? Let them appropriate also, in the same way, the cotton factories, the woolen factories, the iron foundries, the houses, churches, ships, goods, steamboats, fields of agriculture, etc., etc., in the manner as proposed in this work, and as is their right, and they will never have occasion any more to consider that as an evil which never deserved that character; which, on the contrary, is all that is good among men, and of which we cannot, under these new circumstances, have too much."
Thus would these two extremes meet, in a practical way, the demand for the abolition of the wages system, the one by going backward, the other forward. The labor unions hinted at abolition through their own organizations, generally in the form of co-operation. The "Address to the Journeymen Printers of the United States," already quoted, says, for instance:
"Combination merely to fix and sustain a scale of prices is of minor importance, compared to that combination which looks to the ultimate redemption of labor When labor determines no longer to sell itself to speculators, but to become its own employer; to own and enjoy itself and the fruits thereof, the necessity for scales of prices will have passed away, and labor will forever be rescued from the control of capital."
In all of the foregoing sections, we get a general idea of the beginnings of the class struggle, the early development of unions, and the demand for the abolition of the wages system, both in theory and in fact.
The decades that followed those of 1820-1850 were decades that embraced the civil war, in which workmen ardently fought in behalf of the Union, many of them conscious of the fact that the end of chattel slavery made the abolition of wages slavery easier. Following the civil war, a great corporation and trust development arose. This was the period of great panics, like that of 1873, and the great labor outbreaks, like that of the railroad strikes of 1877. Class-consciousness among the workers grew.
Says George E. McNeil, an authority on the labor movement, "The year 1866 witnessed a great revival of the labor movement. Isolated unions and associations came more and more to see the necessity of amalgamation. An active propaganda was aroused and new organizations were continually multiplying. From thirty to forty national and international trades unions and amalgamated societies were in existence, some of them numbering tens of thousands of men. The people of today (1887) have little conception of the extent of the labor movement of twenty years ago."
This new impetus to labor organization gave rise to a desire for ever closer unity, accelerated by a recognition of the fact that craft unions were not strong enough when standing alone. Industrial congresses were thus held, beginning in 1874. Many craft organizations were represented. Out of such tendencies arose the Federation of Organized Trades and Labor Unions, in 1881. It was inspired by the International Typographical Union, which was among the first of the trade Unions to recognize the need of mutual assistance and closer relations. The Federation of Organized Trades and Labor Unions was also rendered necessary by the continued growth and success of the Knights of Labor. This was an organization that attempted to organize all the trades in one body. It threatened the existence of the separate trade and labor unions, and thus hastened the formation of the trade and labor union federation, now known as "The American Federation of Labor."
The new tendency expressed by the Knights of Labor had been growing for years. The International Labor Union of America, formed in 1877, was an endeavor to combine all callings under one central head. It never had a large membership, but branches were organized in seventeen states. Its declaration of principles contains many I. W. W. germs.
Another organization worthy of note, as contribution to the upbuilding of Knights of Labor tendencies, was the Knights of St. Crispin. This was a body of boot and shoe workers of all trades that recognized that in the age of collective capital there must be a larger co-operation among the wage workers than the craft union is able to give. Their declaration states that, "The objects of this organization are to protect its members from injurious competition, and secure through unity among all workers on boots or shoes in every section of the country." The Knights of St. Crispin were what is known today as "a single industry" industrial union, being confined to one industry and organized on the principles of industrial instead of craft unionism.
The Knights of St. Crispin were a political power. They had a monthly journal, started cooperative stores, fought many successful strikes, became international in scope, and, it is estimated, had four hundred lodges and forty thousand members at one time and were considered one of the foremost organizations in the world. Their downfall is attributed to "too much politics" and to a failure to appreciate evolution outside of their own organization, especially the admission of apprentices and others into the boot and shoe industry. The Knights of St. Crispin existed from 1864 to 1874, and were largely absorbed by the Knights of Labor. This was also the fate of the International Labor Union before it.
The Knights of Labor were organized in Philadelphia, in 1869. Some garment workers, headed by Uriah S. Stephens, were the founders. The Knights of Labor recognized the submission of labor to capital, and attributed it to disunity of labor and the lack of harmonious action which this disunity promoted. It sought to unite every branch of skilled and unskilled labor, by means of local assemblies, district assemblies and general assemblies, all presided over by a master workman. Its underlying principle was centralization; what it lacked was organization according to industry. It was more of a mass organization than an organization along well defined industrial lines.
The Knights of Labor also advocated co-operation "as a means of superceding the wages system," and favored public ownership of telephones, telegraphs and railroads to the same ends. It was the climax of after-civil war period of efforts toward a more highly developed form of organization than any in existence previous to its advent. It is said to have numbered over a million members. Its death may be attributed to abnormal growth, which was greater than could be even chartered, much less assimilated; to politics, to its lack of definite forms of organization, to centralization, and its corrupt misuses and abuses; but, moreover, to the American Federation of Labor, which, in alliance with the capitalists, who feared the socialistic working class tendencies of the Knights of Labor, scabbed the Knights of Labor out of existence. The brewing, cigar-making, railroading, coal-mining and other industries are full of the history of A. F. of L. scabbery against the Knights of Labor. This scabbery, logically, developed in the A. F. of L. until, in alliance with the National Civic Federation, the A. F. of L. was called by the Wall Street Journal, " the greatest bulwark in this country against socialism."
Labor is trying to break through the bounds of capitalism into a free society, just as capitalism, at its earliest inception, tried to break through the bounds of the guild system in its efforts at self- realization. And labor is going to succeed just as capitalism succeeded. The forces behind social development will compel such success. This is evident on all sides. It is mostly evident in the events of the early labor movement and their steady upward development.
Early labor movements demanded the abolition of the wages system. They hinted at the end of this system through their own agencies, mainly through co-operation. In the 80s of the last century we find the labor organizations favoring government ownership and political action to that end. And, more important still, we find them engaging in a campaign that will prepare them to take over the operation and control of the means of production and distribution. This tendency was what distinguished the radical from the conservative unions; this, together with the desire for greater working class unity and organization.
In 1886, the Metal Workers of America, a federated body, in its declaration of. principles argues:
"The entire abolition of the present system of society can alone emancipate the workers, being replaced by a new system based upon co-operative organization of production and in a free society. Our organization should be a school to educate its members, for the new conditions of society when the workers will regulate their own affairs."
We find the same idea of the union as the kindergarten of the new society expressed in the writings of the German State Socialists, notably Dr. Johann Jacoby. In his "Object of the Labor Movement," a speech delivered in 1870, the doctor spoke highly of the labor unions. Said he:
"The true significance of these associations, their value, which cannot be overestimated, lies in this, that wholly apart from the special object at which they aim, they are a school for self-culture for their members; that they confer upon them skill in independent management of their own affairs and in harmonious action with others for common ends; that, by education, promotion of a comprehension of business and fraternal, public spirit, they prepare the worker for a gradual transition from the prevailing Wage System to the co-operative method of production of the future."
Another idea, quite distinct from, the above, also developed. This idea regards the labor unions as the organs by which the new society will be ushered in.
The first exponent of this idea was James Elishma Smith, a Glasgow clergyman, lieutenant of Robert Owen, organizer of the General National consolidated Trades Union in England, 1834. On March 30th of that year, we learn from R. W. Postgate’s "Out of the Past," Smith delivered a lecture "on The Prospects of Society." During it he said:
"The immediate consequence of any attempt to crush the efforts of the popular mind, at this present juncture, will be a resolute determination on the part of the people to legislate for themselves. This will be the result. We shall have a real House of Commons. The only House of Commons is a House of Trades, and that is just beginning to be formed. We shall have a new set of boroughs when the unions are organized. (Bold face mine—J. E.) Every trade shall have a borough, and every trade shall have a council of representatives to conduct its affairs. Our present commoners know nothing of the interest of the people, and care not for them. They are all landholders. How can an employer represent a workman? There are 133,000 shoemakers in the country, yet not one representative have they in the House of Commons. According to the proportion they bear to the population they ought to have twenty-five representatives. The same is with the carpenters and other trades in proportion. Such a House of Commons, however, is growing. The elements are gathering. The character of the Reformed Parliament is now blasted. It will be substituted by the House of Trades."—Quoted in Max Beer’s "History of British Socialism," page 399.
This idea of Smith’s was more fully developed in subsequent years. William E. Trautmann, Editor of the "Brewers’ Journal" writing on "The United Brewery Workers and Industrial Organization" gave Smith’s idea the best modern formulation, in the September, 1903, Labor Day issue of the American Labor Union Journal, when he declared:
"Socialists abroad, as well as here, perceive that the instruments for the management of the Socialist republic, now in process of formation, must be created, and they build the labor organization according to this need. Who can judge how to regulate the required production of utilities in the various lines of industry in conformity with the necessities of the entire society better than those who are directly employed in a given industry?
Industrial organizations are the forerunners of the society founded on Socialist foundations, and within them are the elements preparing for a more scientific management of the implements of production and distribution."
Thus does labor try to break through capitalism, by means of clearer theoretical understanding and improved industrial organization. Thus does it try to "build the new society in the shell of the old."
The Industrial Workers of the World, organized in Chicago, Ill., in 1905, has its forerunners in the development of modern industry and labor organization, combined with the workers’ desire for emancipation from wage slavery. Following the Knights of Labor, there came Debs’ American Railway Union, The Western Federation of Miners, the American Labor Union, and the Brotherhood of Railroad Employees, to contribute to its evolution on the industrial side, while the socialist parties gave much material toward its intellectual phase.
The I. W. W. differs from the Knights of Labor in its more definite industrial forms and principles, and from the American Labor Union, which was merely an extension and buttress of the Western Federation of Miners, in its greater scope and more independent existence. The I. W. W. differs from the American Railway Union, the Western Federation of Miners and the Brotherhood of Railway Employees in that they were "single industry" industrial unions, while the I. W. W. is a single union of all the industries, combining all the industries and their industrial unions in One Big Union.
The fact that the Industrial Workers of the World has had many forerunners should not discourage anyone from joining it, or furthering its cause. What is more important is the constant reappearance of the industrial type of unionism. Most recently it has come in the form of the C. I. O. Like the I. W. W., the C. I. O. also traces its origin back to a miners’ union, the United Mine Workers of America. Like the American Labor Union, the C. I. O. was primarily a buttress for the U. M. W. A. in the steel, oil and other industries that are encroaching on and destroying the coal industry and the coal miners’ union. C. I. O. growth has been greatly aided by New Deal legislation and steel trust collective bargaining.
(More about the C. I. O. elsewhere in this booklet.)
This constant recurrence of the industrial type of unionism, proves it must be necessary. Labor, evidently, cannot get along without it, or else why does labor organize such a union, despite previous failures? Industrial development compels it. Moreover, developments at home and abroad demonstrate that society needs such a constructive type of industrial unionism as that advocated by the I. W. W., as a means to escape reaction and disaster. This was exemplified in the early stages of the Russian revolution and the Spanish rebellion respectively. These events, happening as they did many years after the launching of the I. W. W., proved the I. W. W. prophetic, a prophecy that will grow with the revolutionary changes now arising out of the capitalist decay and decline.
At home, too, the I. W. W. has proven prophetic. Other unions have glimpsed the soundness of its basic idea. The I. W. W. was organized in 1905. In 1919, Glenn Plumb proposed his plan providing for the part management of the railroads by the conservative, organized railroad brotherhoods. Addressing the 1937 Indianapolis Social Workers’ convention, President Charles Harrison, Brotherhood of Railroad Clerks, told the delegates that, "unless at an early date we undertake rational control of industry, with labor playing a prominent part in that control, the disruption of employment opportunities in recent years may assume a momentum that will bring disaster to industry and mass poverty to our population."
This is the Plumb plan allover again. But on a more comprehensive basis, with more pronounced labor control, and the society-saving feature of unionism emphasized by conservative labor leaders as never before.
The I. W. W. theory is surely growing into a practical reality.
How can we conclude this chapter better than by quoting a speech delivered in Philadelphia, during the 80s of the last century, by that good friend of labor the eminent journalist, John Swinton. Swinton, addressing a body, whom he refers to as one of "these great conferences of world-builders in the chief cities of the country," said:
"I close by presenting three plain ideas: Firstly, I warn you that in these times the workers are preparing to take a hand in the government of the world—to take hold of the administration of its resources, its business and its politics. The kings, lords, generalissimos, schemers and financiers, who have seized our earth are incompetent to manage its affairs. They have had their age after age, generation after generation, and the shipwreck of mankind is the result. But now the day of judgment for them is at hand. Man takes the field to harvest his rights. The old dispensation passeth; a new era glimmers along the sky.
Secondly, I warn you of the growth of unity of action among the world’s workers, here and in all countries. From state to state, from land to land, they are signalling to each other; through all forms of government they are learning to co-operate; amid all varieties of speech they find the universal language. This is a new thing and a great thing, from which will grow other great and new things.
Thirdly and lastly, I warn you of the nature of the demands of the world’s workers. They are essentially the same throughout this country, and in all other countries. There is unity of program as well as of action. They must have full scope for their proper power in the community; they must have their allotment of the resources and the heritage of the earth. These terms are natural, reasonable and righteous, and the fact that they are everywhere made and everywhere increasing in strength is assurance that, whatever they may have to encounter, they (’these terms’) will yet be secured."
The history of the I. W. W. began in 1905. The concluding volume still remains to be written.
The I. W. W. is a prophecy—a preparation—partly fulfilled by the Russian revolution and Spanish rebellion and tending further, in the Plumb plan and the ideas of Thorstein Veblen, to be fulfilled in this country. As Arturo Giovannitti well says: "The I. W. W. is the only socialism of all the socialisms that has succeeded. It alone has come out of the war (and subsequent revolutions—J. E.) vindicated and stronger than ever before."
The reason for the impregnable position of the I. W. W. is to be found in the fact that the I. W. W. is born of real capitalism and is its inevitable consequence. It is the only form of labor organization that conforms to the organization of capitalism and that will carry society on to higher planes when capitalism either collapses or is sloughed off in the process of further growth and development.
In the fall of 1904 six working men dissatisfied with the A. F. of L. met and decided that a better form of unionism was necessary and should be organized. They were Isaac Cowen, American representative of the Amalgamated Society of Engineers of Great Britain; Clarence Smith, General Secretary Treasurer, American Labor Union; Thomas J. Haggerty, editor "Voice of Labor," organ of the A. L. U.; George Estes, president United Brotherhood of Railway Employees; W. L. Hall, General Secretary-Treasurer U. B. R. E.; and William Trautman, editor "Brauer Zeitung," United Brewery Workers’ organ.
These six men called a conference that came together in Chicago, Illinois, on January 2, 1905, and drew up the Industrial Union Manifesto calling for a convention to be held in Chicago, on June 27, 1905. It was at this convention that the Industrial Workers of the World, better known by its initial letters, "The I. W. W." was launched.
The conference was composed of forty men, active in the radial and socialist movements of the time. The Western Federation of Miners pushed the circulation of their manifesto and did much to make the convention successful. One hundred and eighty-six delegates attended the convention from thirty-six state, district, national and local organizations with a membership of 90,000. William D. Haywood, General Secretary-Treasurer of the Western Federation of Miners, was its permanent chairman.
The organizations installed as part of the I. W. W. were the Western Federation of Miners, Socialist Trade and Labor Alliance, Punch Press Operators, United Metal Workers, Longshoremen’s Union, American Labor Union and the Brotherhood of Railway Employees. Fifty-one Thousand was the stated membership of these combined organizations, 21,000 of which was almost wholly on paper. Subsequently, one of. its real mainstays, the B. R. E. died, while the Western Federation of Miners deserted it.
On a frail, unsubstantial basis, such as inflated membership and dying, unstable organizations, was the I. W. W. launched. It has since enrolled approximately 800,000 members. These have come into and gone out of it, only to spread and apply the doctrines of the I. W. W. all over the world. Many of the foremost Russian reconstructionists, like Shatoff, Nelson, Tobinson, Dybets etc., are I. W. W.s. I. W. W. members like Lou Walsh, Lewis Rosenberg, Harry Owens, James Yates and Con. Dougan, are fighting and dying with the C. N. T. and F. A. I. in Spain. The I. W. W. job delegates and proselytes are not unknown even in Japan and China. The I. W. W. menaces capitalism wherever capitalism menaces civilization. This is one of the many reasons for its virility.
The I. W. W. has engaged in many campaigns for labor since its founding. It took the initiative in the successful movement to save the lives of Moyer, Haywood and Pettibone from judicial murder. The McNamara, Mooney, Ettor-Giovannitti, Sacco and Vanzetti, Kentucky Miners, Mike Lindway and other workers’ defenses were and are supported by the I. W. W. The Bolsheviki were first recognized in this country by the I. W. W. This is especially true of The Industrial Worker, which printed interviews with the mate of the Shilka, a Russian ship which arrived in Seattle, Wash., following the 1917 revolution.
To relate the 32 years’ history of the I. W. W. would require a much larger volume than the present booklet permits. Vincent St. John, in "The I. W. W.—Its History, Structure and Methods," covers considerable of the ground up to the World War. Professor Brissenden in " The History of the I. W. W. " covers the launching and the first seventeen years of the period. Here, with the splendid aid of F. W. Thompson, we can touch only upon the highlights of struggles that have been carried on in almost every industry and in every part of the country, adding to the strategy and methods of the labor movement as a whole, and giving American labor a much clearer vision of the objects at which it should aim, and of the means by which to attain them.
In its first year’s struggle it gave American labor its first sit-down strike, according to Professor Brissenden, in the Schenectady, N. Y., plant of the General Electric Company. Significant other struggles of its first few years were the strikes for shorter hours and 15 per cent increase (won) against the American Steel Foundry Co. in Granite City, Ill.; a strike that so tied up the Portland, Ore., sawmills, that the daily press heralded it as a "new unionism"; a strike against the American Tube and Stamping Co., in Bridgeport, Conn., also won; abolition of the fining system in the Marston Mills, at Skowhegan, Me.; a dollar a week increase for some 6000 dyers and finishers in the Paterson, N. J. silk industry.
The committees elected from the ranks of the strikers to carry on not only during the strike but to function as shop committees to handle all grievances after the strike was won, marked the advent of the I. W. W. as a new force in the labor movement. The idea of labor organizing to decide for itself what it was going to do probably received its finest expression in the mining camp of Goldfield, Nevada. There, says St. John, "No committees were ever sent to any employers. The unions adopted wage scales and regulated hours. The secretary posted the same on a bulletin board outside the union hall, and it was the LAW. The employers were forced to come and see the union’s committee."
The 1909 strike against the Pressed Steel Car Co., in McKees Rocks, just out of Pittsburgh, Pa., lasted two. months. It won changed shop rules that gave employment to a thousand more men (8,000 were involved in the strike), at wages 15 per cent higher. Its general effect was to raise wages similarly for 350,000 other workers in the steel industry. But its great significance is this: the 8,000 strikers were practically all "unskilled foreigners" that the A. F. of L. did not consider it practical to accept into their union, and yet these workers for the first time in history stopped the cossacks of the steel trust from brutalizing and intimidating strikers. When these cossacks killed a striker, the strikers replied: "For every striker killed, the life of a trooper will be taken." They lived up to their word, and the troopers quit killing workers.
Various strikes in the steel industry followed. The I. W. W. stirred the West with free speech fights bitterly fought to wrest the right to talk unionism to the migratory workers of the lumber, agricultural and construction industries, and with great strikes on railroad construction projects that necessitated thousands of miles of picket lines. In the manufacturing industries of the East, bitter struggles were successfully fought in the Pittsburgh packing houses, in the boot and shoe factories of Brooklyn, and in the clothing industry of Chicago where the tactic of "passive resistance" was introduced to the American labor movement. Faced with an attempt at discrimination against their "ringleader" after their wage demands had been won, they secured recognition of shop committees and re-instatement of the discharged men by expressing their sorrow over the absence of the alleged trouble makers by very, very slow work.
Again in 1912 they set the nation agog with the tremendous strike of the textile workers in the woolen and worsted plants of Lawrence, Mass. There they gave American labor a new and mighty tactic—endless chain picketing. The militia was brought in, workers were killed, frame-ups with dynamite were attempted, leaders were jailed and charged with conspiracy to murder on the ground that the strike had led to parades in which the police and militia had killed a woman—but the strike was won, and the settlement of roughly 21 per cent increase in wages wrested by the joint strike committee consisting entirely of workers in these mills was approved by a mass meeting of the strikers on Lawrence commons. The strike had also shown American labor that no matter what it was up against, if it would only stick together it could win; the system of strike relief, the plan of sending children to other workers outside the strike zone, the widespread publicity for funds to fight the frame-up of the strike organizers—all these things became models of how it can be done. The victory was followed by other great textile strikes throughout the industry, achieving vast improvement in almost all instances.
Lumber workers in Gray’s Harbor, Washington, rubber workers in Akron, Ohio, auto workers in Detroit, American Radiator workers in Buffalo, dock workers in Philadelphia, joined with the harvest "stiffs" of the great plains and with the vast army of jobless workers cast out of industry by the pre-war depression, in testing the strength that I. W. W. unionism gave them, and winning some bit more of the "good things of life" for themselves by doing so.
As American industry became geared to European war needs, the I. W. W. resolved to take the only stand that their ideals of international labor solidarity would permit them to take, and to wrest every gain for labor that industrial direct action could win. Converting the dividends of the war profiteers into higher wages for workers was viewed almost as treason, and the I. W. W. had to fight its battles against armed opposition, backed by the press of the nation, ever ready to resort to jails and lynching, tar and feather beatings, mass deportation and every form of terrorism and intimidation conceivable.*) It put the safety devices on the ore docks of Duluth and Superior that are still there. It put the eight-hour day into the iron mines by another great strike of thousands of workers. It established the eight-hour day in the western lumber industry, and by putting in sanitary camps with shower baths and laundry facilities, changed the "timber beast" of pre-war years into a self-respecting and respected union man. It tied up the copper trust of Montana and Arizona with a general wave of strikes, and for all that Frank Little was lynched in Butte and 1200 miners deported in cattle cars from Bisbee, wages were raised, wet machines put in that have saved the lungs of many a miner since, and the practice of two men in all working places firmly established as another enduring achievement of the I. W. W.
Such activity for labor in a world gone crazy in a war for profits met with reprisals. An effort was made to jail all the more active members on charges of "espionage," not that they were accused of spying, but because they had dared to advocate strikes in the warmongers’ industries. The daily papers accused the I. W. W. of being financed by "German gold." In the trial of over a hundred I. W. W. members in Chicago, the government auditors admitted that the books were in exemplary condition and showed that the funds on which the I. W. W. ran came from the pockets of the working class of America. But still hundreds were sent to jail from this and other trials in Wichita and Sacramento, some sentenced for as long as twenty years. This was done by the federal government. Locally "law and order" didn’t bother with so much formality but wrecked union halls, arrested workers by the thousands as on May Day in Detroit and Cleveland, and by the use of "Criminal Syndicalism" laws attempted to make it an offense to belong to I. W. W. punishable with one to fourteen years’ imprisonment. Hundreds, particularly in California, were sent to penitentiaries, but still the I. W. W. kept on with its struggles in the lumber woods, the metal mines, the great construction jobs, the oil fields, the docks and ships, and, for all that this attempt at suppression endured until the end of 1923, repeatedly showed in great strikes that police clubs and jail bars cannot stop the working class from sticking together—or from winning by doing so.
As this attempt at systematic suppression died out in 1923, largely as the result of its own futility, the I. W. W. faced a much greater obstacle—the "prosperity psychology" that endured from that period until the crash of 1929. But for all that its industrial activities dwindled in this era in which the average worker held high hopes of sharing in the loot of the profit system, it kept on with its educational work, and when the crash that it had forecasted came, large numbers of workers were ready to tell the I. W. W. "You told us so." Nor did the I. W. W. surrender the industrial battle front in the face of a working class gone largely capitalist "from the ears up" —strikes on construction jobs and docks, the great strike of Colorado coal miners (1927-8) that for the first time brought out all coal fields of the state in victorious solidarity, and won a dollar more per day, various protest strikes in an effort to stop the legalized murder of Sacco and Vanzetti, and an attempt to bring American labor into line to back up the British general strike of 1926 by refusing to load coal for Britain—all showed that the I. W. W. was still on the job, unconquerable as ever.
In the early days of the great depression, the I. W. W. established that by the solidarity of those on the job and those thrown out of industry, strikes can be won, even in the face of a glutted labor market. It showed this in the gypsum miners’ strike in Oakfield and Akron, N. Y., in the Ontario pulp wood cutters’ strike, on Boulder Dam, on the Lake Cle Elum irrigation project, in the strike of the hop and fruit pickers in Yakima. The idea that the unemployed could do the most for themselves by aiding their employed fellow workers picket and win their strikes against wage cuts and speed-up, and for shorter hours, was taken over by other unions and used effectively in many of the great fights of the present decade—another instance of the I. W. W. contributing to the ways and means of the labor movement.
In the wave of unionism that we have experienced since 1933, the I. W. W. has gone ahead to new achievements. In the Detroit auto industry it contributed very largely to the successful conduct of the 1933 strike at Briggs Body that marked the reawakening of the auto workers. Members flocked into the I. W. W., and with leaflets, strikes, and daily speaking over the radio, it planted the policy and principles of the I. W. W. indelibly in the minds of the more aggressive workers of Detroit. When the A. F. of L. promised a general auto strike and instead told the workers to solve their problems in Washington, the I. W. W., doctrine of direct job action took a new application, in the resurrection of the sit-down strike that it had substantially started its history with in Schenectady. In Dept. 3760 of Hudson Body, it raised the wages of metal finishers by a series of sit-down strikes. The idea took hold in other phases of the auto industry, spread to allied industries in later years, and this year (1937) has given the bosses of America and the professional labor leaders more cause for worry than any other method ever adopted by workers. In this period the I. W. W. has conducted and won many strikes chiefly in the lumber and metal working industries—but its biggest achievement is the degree of stability that it has reached, especially in the metal industry of Cleveland, holding the shops solidly organized year in and year out, adding to its initial gains as it goes along, showing American labor that the I. W. W. has not only the effective ways to win great gains but the practical methods to hold them and use them as the base for further victory.
The I. W. W. is a great influence in labor unionism. The influence asserts itself in the Pacific coast maritime industries, in mid west construction camps, and in the auto industry in Michigan. The C. I. O. strikes in the latter industry reflect I. W. W. activities in the auto industry prior to the advent of the C. I. O. The metal and machinery industry of Ohio also knows I. W. W. influence, amounting to control in places.
The I. W. W. has compelled the recognition and distortion of its principles by the leading corporations. They have created what is known as the "industrial democracy" shop, originally for the purpose of stemming the tide of I. W. W.’ism. These shops are based on a system of industrial government in which labor allegedly has representation. This system, now known as "company unionism," was unknown before the advent of the I. W. W. Company unions are largely failures, however, because they are neither honestly conceived nor honestly intended. The "industrial democracy" that they practice only strengthens the capitalist autocracy which it is supposed to overthrow. Wherever tried, "the industrial democracy" of corporations has been largely the cause of strikes and an intensification of the class struggle. This speaks well for the intelligence of the workers, who know the real thing when they see it. It also speaks badly for the alleged shrewdness of the capitalists, who hope to save themselves, by such stupidity, from the real industrial democracy advocated by the I. W. W.
The I. W. W. has been able to achieve power for working class good, and to exert this influence on corporation development, sometimes by favorable conditions but more often by the reactionary methods of capitalism. Capitalism is brutal in its labor attitude. It is unprogressive generally. It blocks the path of progress, more especially under fascism, bidding the race stand still. All the liberal, socialist, radical and progressive elements, accordingly, unite in assailing it, either in part or as a whole. These elements often rally to the I. W. W. To them, the I. W. W. is the proletarian forerunner of the new society, the militant protestant against capitalist reaction. Thanks to their frequent assistance, the I. W. W. is often triumphant.
I. W. W. progress is also due to the I. W. W. press. This press includes English weeklies, one English monthly magazine and foreign language papers. Leaflets, handbills, bulletins, pamphlets have also been printed by the millions. As an educational factor alone, the I. W. W. is invaluable. This part of its activities its largely underrated by its members and the working class generally; though recognized by its opponents, who jail its editors, confiscate its literature, raid and nail up its publishing places. Education, Organization, Emancipation, are the guiding stars in the I. W. W. firmament that aid in directing working class activities, and creating I. W. W. power.
The history of the I. W. W. is something more than a record of the achievements of a labor organization. It is the history of capitalist degeneracy—of a social revolution giving rise to a new society, whose structure the I. W. W. endeavors to prepare in accordance with evolution, and in advance of capitalism’s final collapse, which appears not very far off.
It is for these reasons that the I. W. W. is viciously misrepresented and attacked. For instance, direct action, a basic doctrine of the I. W. W. is misinterpreted as violence, dynamiting and lawlessness in general. Nothing is further from the truth, for if direct action is lawlessness, then so also is the democratic theory of American government lawlessness, for they are both essentially the same. Direct action means industrial action directly by, for and of the workers themselves, without the treacherous aid of labor misleaders or scheming politicians. A strike that is initiated, controlled and settled by the workers directly affected, is direct action. Industrial action for political purposes, such as a general strike to enforce labor laws, promote laws favorable to labor, veto unjust laws, secure the release of labor and political prisoners, and the industries for the workers is direct action. The control of industry directly by the workers themselves is direct action. Direct action is combined action, directly on the job, to secure better job conditions. Direct action is industrial democracy.
Direct action is action without recourse to or betrayal by either leaders or politicians. The trades that secured the shorter work week, not by legislative enactment, but by strikes, or the threat of strikes, used direct action. The I. W. W. lumberjacks who walked off the job after working eight hours, until they thus secured the eight-hour day, used direct action.
The control of industry by the workers themselves, and the use of such control to promote the welfare and secure the emancipation of labor, is direct action. Direct action means peaceful action—strikes, passive resistance, slowing down, etc.—directly at the base of capitalist control and exploitation, namely, the industrial, or economic base; by the workers themselves for the benefit of themselves and society as a whole. Direct action is, in its ultimate use, social action, i.e., action for the welfare of society, as against fascism, war and the uncivilization of capitalism.
This applies to all I. W. W. doctrines. They are interpreted, not according to I. W. W. use, but the capitalist misuse, of them. The reason is evident.
The I. W. W. is charged with violence. The violence that the I. W. W. commits is the violence of passive resistance. It is the violence of removing hands from machinery of production and stopping the employer’s profits. It is the violence of the sitdown strike. There can be no greater violence against capitalism than the stopping of profits and dividends by a peaceful stoppage of labor.
As William D. Haywood very eloquently said, when discussing "the violence" of the Lawrence strike, in Cooper Union, New York, May 21, 1912:
"They (the strikers) committed no violence except that of removing their hands: big hands, delicate hands, baby hands, some of them gnarled and torn and crippled. But they removed those hands from the machinery. And when they took those hands from the machinery the machinery was dead.
And that was the "violence" of the Lawrence strike. And there is nothing more violent in the eyes of the capitalist class than to deprive them of the labor power out of which they get all their capital. There is nothing that will make the capitalist class so mad, that will make them froth at the mouth, so quickly as to see a working man with his hands in his pockets, or working woman with her arms folded, or the little children playing with their dolls or their tops or their marbles. If they belong to the working army they want all those hands busy. Not to see them busy means that the golden stream has ceased to run into their coffers; that is what makes the capitalist class crazy. It is this that has driven them mad."
P. I. Dunning, English economist, says of capitalist Profits:
With adequate profits, capital is very bold. A certain ten per cent will insure its employment everywhere; 20 per cent will produce eagerness; 50 per cent positive audacity; 100 per cent will make it ready to trample on all human laws; 300 per cent, and there is no crime at which it will scruple, nor a risk it will not run, even to a chance of its owner being hanged.
The World War, with its immense sacrifice of humanity, and its stupendous increase in profits for capitalists,—now modern fascism, with its territorial robbery and race murders—prove Dunning did not exaggerate. Yet it is capital, "capital that comes into the world," in the language of Marx, "dripping from head to foot, from every pore, with blood and dirt," it is this capital that charges the I. W. W. with violence! Oh, what a satire on truth and the credulity of mankind!
The I. W. W. began as an attempt to fuse the leading socialist, economic and political tendencies of the country. This attempt failed. This failure was due to the same reasons that underlie the failure of the anti-trust movement, namely: the impossible submission of basic economic forces to superficial political regulation and control.
The two socialist parties made the I. W. W. a battleground for their own supremacy. The I. W. W. as a matter of self-preservation, had to get rid, first of one, then of the other. Increased growth and economic results showed the wisdom of replacing theoretical dogma and supremacy with real working class organization.
The fallacies of the socialist-communist political movement, as exposed in practice, have also contributed to so-called I. W. W. anti-politics. Prior to the World War, socialist participation in capitalist cabinets, a la Millerand and Briand, disgusted the I. W. W. because of its disastrous results to the working class. Social democratic betrayal of the Swedish general strike and American Socialist support of the pro-capitalist A. F. of L. as against the I. W. W., also had the same results. (Reference is here had to Victor Berger’s anti-sabotage amendment to the Socialist party constitution. This was aimed specifically at the I. W. W. It cost the Socialist party a big loss of membership.)
Since the World War, matters have grown worse. Both the socialist and the communist internationals have become working class appendages to the imperialist-Great-Britain-dominated League of Nations. They have no distinctive international working class organization or policy. Accordingly, they have resisted every working class attempt at freedom from imperialist domination. This is especially the case in the fascist invasion of Spain. There the communist international has lined up with British and French imperialists against a basic working class revolution.
Since the World War have also come the Weimar Republic, the Russian personal dictatorship and the New Deal, all giving more reason for I. W. W. policy regarding politics.
The German Social Democrats secured control of the powers of state. They were no longer troubled by theoretical discussions of "the road to power." They had already arrived there. They dominated the Weimar Republic—thrust into their lap by the breakdown of reaction. But, unfortunately, they had no ownership or control of the land, mills, mines, or factories, the basic foundations of the state and the concrete highway to real power. Nor had they organized German labor unions to the end of securing economic control, or backing by an international working class similarly organized. They used the unions only to get votes for their futile parliamentary policies.
Thus, all that the German Social Democrats could do was to become, in the eloquent language of Mark Starr, "the caretakers, instead of the undertakers of capitalism." To this end the infamous Noske killed off Karl Liebknecht, Rosa Luxemburg and the Spartacans. After that the coming of Hitler was easy. Sublime theories had given way to sordid practices, because of unsound premises. Political power without economic power is a futility, where it isn’t destructive collapse and fascism.
Then there’s Russia, the glorious Russia of October 1917 revolution. How we workers of the world thrilled to the magnificent promise. There, too, the communist politicians had seized the powers of the state. And there, too, the results have been tragic. This is especially so with the revolution’s original ideals of working class democracy, as opposed to Czaristic despotism.
Russia’s great tragedy is due to the fact that the Bolshevik State had to build a collectivist economic foundation under itself. It had to modernize a medieval system of production and distribution; thereby creating an up-to-date industrialism and an industrial proletariat. The various five-year plans were devised with this objective in view. The process necessitated pouring the Russian population into a concrete mould, as it were. Naturally, it didn’t fit into this mould, because of its backward development. Here was the beginning of endless trouble. Especially was this the case after the abandonment of the Revolution’s original trade union agencies in favor of the so-called proletarian dictatorship. Sabotage, famine, civil war, ruthless oppression, a personal dictatorship with counter-revolutionary tendencies, are the painful present-day end results.
In the U. S., the socialists of the "Old Guard" persuasion and the communists of the Browder tribe, made a holy show of themselves supporting Roosevelt’s preservation of capitalism, the New Deal, in the name of Karl Marx and Joseph Stalin. This, too, to save the workers of the country from relief cuts and fascism, in the event of Landon’s election. Roosevelt now (July, 1937) balances the budget by slashing relief and WPA funds and supports fascism by his application of the so-called neutrality law against localist Spain.
And the Waldman-Browder politicians pose as "the intellectual vanguard of the working class."
These historic anti-working class socialist-communist politics have not only caused the I. W. W. but the workers in general, to look askance at them. The horrible outcome of the Russian revolution in particular has made the workers the easy victims of anti-red scares. The workers of the U. S. A., however, need not undergo such results as the Russian ones when organized industrially. The U. S., because of its more highly technical and social development, can avoid the Russian tragedy. With such development the Russian industrial procedure is not required. An industrially organized working class, conscious of a socially constructive mission, can take over and direct this development to a higher plane for the greatest good and glory of all, with the least possible friction.
Even now, capitalism is creating a new kind of politics, in its co-ordinated and controlled capitalism (as against its anarchical and laissez-faire capitalism) that is basically economic in intent. Technology will make even a greater necessity of control-capitalism until the industrially organized working class is present to make it otherwise. A planned economy can only be social economy when carried out by an industrially organized working class alive to its own historic mission and the vast social undertakings to be made possible by its conscious cooperation. Otherwise regimentation in the interest of monopoly capital—by big industry and finance—will be ours, as it is Italy’s and Germany’s.
Already are these facts percolating into socialist thought. No longer are politicians believed to be competent to direct the economic foundations of state. Paul Blanshard, speaking for the new socialist trend in his "Technology and Socialism" (page 11) declares, "We want a functional democracy . . . in which each group will participate in control . . . (1) manual workers, (2) the technicians, (3) the consumers."
Other socialists fear parliamentary politics are not enough. Socialists may be expelled, as from the New York State Assembly. Majorities are not respected, as in Spain. How put over the will of the people, then? The value of labor organization to these ends, is recognized. By means of them socialists organize general strikes against "putsches" and adverse political tendencies generally. Thus they seek to capture the labor union movement for their political ends. What they need to do is to recognize that labor unions are not subordinate parts of political movements, but cells of a new society, to be developed as the class-conscious demands of the latter require.
What they also need is to observe both the teachings and the mistakes of their foremost leaders. Marx, commenting on seizure of political power in the Paris Commune, wisely observed that "the working class cannot simply lay hold of the ready-made state machinery for its own purposes." Nor can it give all power to workers’ and soldiers’ council, as Lenin advocated, without a corresponding economic power development. The Paris Communards failed; the Russian communists blessed themselves with a personal dictatorship, because of their shortcomings and mistakes.
Obviously, U. S. workers must strive to avoid the tragic outcome of Russian efforts. They cannot do it, nor do they need to do it, by following the Russian pattern. U. S. development is a superior one, admitting of superior policies. The American workers need only to make their traditional political democracy a reality, by causing it to evolve into an industrial democracy by way of industrial unionism. Government of the people, by the people, for the people, is only possible in industry of the people, by the people, for the people; of whom the working class and their dependents, constitute the great majority.
American workers, in their efforts to succeed, must recognize the overshadowing importance of industrialism in the American scene. American industrialism has defeated every middle class attempt at regulation and control, from Altgeld and Bryan in 1896 to La Follette and Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1937. It has only to fear the labor movement to which it has made concessions, and which it has made its willing bulwark by favoring its capitalist-minded leaders. With the aid of both, it has caused the political movements of labor to be the handmaids of reform of no lasting value, considering the precarious condition of capitalism generally.
Industrial unionism of the I. W. W. type, then, is the greatest, most profound means to the attainment of industrial democracy; the great American need of present times. In industry the workers control the strategic basis of society. The power house man who shuts off the electric current, or the locomotive engineer who closes his throttle, can, in critical times, perform an act of greater social significance than when either casts a ballot for parliamentary office. Behind the trenches of modern warfare, and back of bomb-dropping aviators, is the industrial set-up, reinforcing them and making their victories possible. Industry is the basis of the modern state. Without it, the latter doesn’t exist. And it is the workers in industry that give both their vitality and usefulness, whether destructive or otherwise.
The fascists realize this when they; regiment industry and destroy labor unionism. So do U. S. militarists when they push industrial mobilization. They know the key to the modern situation.
In this connection, it should be said that industrial unionism is not anarcho-syndicalism. The latter is allegedly unionism of anarchist origin and objectives. It believes in promoting working class interests and the social revolution. It is opposed to politics, the state and formal organization.
Industrial Unionism is of American industrial origin and an adaptation of the principles of James Elishman Smith, lieutenant of Robert Owen, as quoted in chapter two of this booklet. These principles aim at replacing the capitalist state based on territory and property by a workers’ administration based on occupation, or industrial union lines, according to the American adaptation.
The spontaneous, loosely federated group conception of unionism entertained by many anarcho-syndicalists is not possible in modern U. S. industry. This calls for a greater interlocking management and control by a highly interorganized working class than the anarcho-syndicalist conception allows.
However, the Spanish fascist war has shown that even anarcho-syndicalism is a great, constructive force, capable of great development because of its fundamental economic principles. How much more then may be expected of industrial unionism?
The I. W. W. is not anti-political. Nor is it non-political. It is ultra-political.*) Its industrial activities have affected the political institutions of the country in a manner favorable to labor. George West, the well-known journalist and publicist, is authority for the statement that the I. W. W. Lawrence strike of 1912 precipitated the formulation of the labor measures of the Progressive party. (Teddy Roosevelt adjunct Republican party.) Following the Wheatland strike, the housing commission of California used its authority to clean up labor conditions on all the ranches in the state. In the early war period, thanks to the I. W. W. lumber workers’ strike, the governor of Washington, and Carlton Parker of the Federal Board recommended the eight-hour day for the lumber industry. In the 1912 Lawrence strike the I. W. W. destroyed the Democratic presidential aspirations of Governor Foss, by pillorying his misuse of the militia. The political results of the I. W. W. are undoubtedly many, and to its credit.
Labor was never as much alive to its own importance as it is today. Labor is in a state of discontent and unrest. It is struggling to realize a better society as it never straggled before. Like another Prometheus, it is trying to free itself from the rock of reaction to which it is bound.
The World War brought home to labor its significance in life. President Wilson, in addressing the Buffalo A. F. of L. convention, made plain that, without labor, wars cannot be won and governments survive. In brief, the World War demonstrated that Labor is all important. It is the foundation rock of modern society. When that rock moves, as move the rocks of the earth in a quake, then there is an upheaval. Systems fall; the old society is destroyed; the face of modern life is transformed.
Fascism recognizes the fundamental nature of labor in modern society. It regards the growing importance of the working class as a challenge to capitalism. Accordingly, it seeks to control and dominate labor. To this end it fain would reduce labor to slavery. To this end it destroys unions and regiments labor in all places of employment. It militarizes and degrades labor particularly, as it militarizes and degrades all society generally.
But all to no avail. Labor will not be crushed. It hits back. In Germany, it slows down and sabotages production, sits down and strikes, despite the despot with the Charlie Chaplin mustache. In Italy, as the recent assassination of the Rosseli brothers in Paris shows, all is not well. News of peasant and workers’ revolts seep out of Mussolini’s domain, despite rigorous censorship. In Spain, the great labor unions, the C. N. T., F. A. I. and U. G. T., said of the fascists, "They shall not pass at Madrid." In Spain, these unions also took over and socialized industries and farms deserted by their capitalist-landlord owners and efficiently operated them for the good of all. This, too, despite the fascist war at the front.
Elsewhere, throughout the industrial nations, the workers rally to fight fascism. Conscious of its menace to their safety and welfare they combat it at home, while sending money and men to Spain. Labor secure there, is labor secure everywhere. Fascism, be it said again, is a ruthless attempt to control labor in the interests of big industry and finance. Many contend fascism cannot happen here. But its possibilities are too numerous to dispute. Fascism, is capitalism by, for and of the big industrialists and financiers. Fascism changes nothing in capitalism, except the status of labor, whose upward climb and ascendancy it opposes and whom it, accordingly, would ruthlessly topple over and suppress.
In thus oppressing labor, fascism makes an indirect acknowledgment of the increasing importance of labor on the economic, political and social fields of modern times. This fact should encourage labor to greater progress still. This fact should also encourage labor to more militant struggle against fascism. Especially since events in Spain have demonstrated that fascism is not inevitable anywhere, when fought; and that the answer to fascism, as the Spanish unions have in great measure constructively shown, is an industrialism for all instead of a plutocratic, oppressive few. As the onslaughts, the defensive tactics of fascism indirectly testify, Labor, giant Labor, awakened Labor, is becoming the governing power. It has only to organize so as to make that power effective., This is the object of the I. W. W.—to give Labor a form of organization that will make it invincible. Real industrial unionism is that form.
Comparisons may be odious, but they are also instructive. By comparing the A. F. of L. and C. I. O. forms and principles or organization with those of the I. W. W., we will be better able to understand the latter.
The A. F. of L. is primarily organized by trades or crafts. But under the requirements of the Wagner Labor Relations Act and C. I. O. pressure, the A. F. of L. is growing increasingly industrial unionistic. Note the structural iron workers’ attempts to organize the plants fabricating structural steel, on an industrial basis.
The C. I. O. on the other hand, is primarily industrial unionistic. However, under the Wagner Act and A. F. of L. pressure, the C. I. O. is growing increasingly craft unionistic. It organizes bookkeepers, stenographers and accountants’ departments in the big stores and turns the clerks over to the retail clerks’ union. Or it permits the technicians to cut across the auto industry into the jurisdiction of the auto workers’ union. These examples can be multiplied.
Both A. F. of L. and the C. I. O. separate labor on a more intense and larger chaotic scale now than ever before. The I. W. W., on the contrary, organizes labor more industrially now than ever before.
Both the A. F. of L. and the C. I. O. declare that "the interests of capital and labor are identical." When they fall out it is simply a family misunderstanding, as John Mitchell put it; not an irreconcilable difficulty due to conflicting class interests. This, too, despite the persistency of the misunderstanding and the superior insight of Hamilton and Madison into class divisions in society, as quoted in chapter 2.
Of course, the I. W. W. as already indicated, lines up with Hamilton and Madison, as against the A. F. of L. and the C. I. O.. It stoutly affirms that "the working class and the employing class have nothing in common"; except perhaps, their mutual antagonism.
Parenthetically, it must be pointed out, the identity of interests theory, makes possible such questionable agreements as that entered into between Myron Taylor, steel trust head, and John Lewis, without the knowledge and consent of the C. I. O. steel workers’ union. This agreement, apparently, caused the "big steel" vs. the "little steel" conflict. It created a division in the steel industry and made it appear as if John L. Lewis were acting with the steel trust against its more modern, better equipped rival corporations.
In all of its thirty-two years history, no such stigma was ever cast on the I. W. W. Expulsion would follow such an agreement.
To continue the contrast: The A. F. of L. and the C. I. O. are both undemocratic, with power to call and settle strikes lodged in the executives. The C. I. O. is even more highly centralized than the A. F. of L. in this respect. Where the A. F. of L. international union heads only dominate their own individual unions, the C. I. O. heads dominate all of the C. I. O. unions. They have the most highly centralized control in all American labor unionism.
Paul Brissenden, in The American Scholar, Spring, ‘37, writes, "The C. I. O. evidently, will operate as a highly centralized agency with large powers over its constituent units and with much to say about policy and strategy in particular organizing campaigns."
It so operates now, August 1937. One result is friction in the auto situation in Michigan. There national organizers removed by international headquarters are elected to responsible local positions, because of resentment and protest.
In contrast, the I. W. W. is democratic. Its general officers neither call nor settle strikes; nor do they determine strategy and policy.
The A. F. of L. and the C. I. O. are both essentially the same, in still other particulars. They both believe that the capitalist system is a final one. They have no social outlook beyond capitalism. They are bulwarks against socialism, or any other upward workers’ movement. Accordingly, they resist the new society. They join the capitalist class in the persecution of those who advocate one; and expel them from their membership.
The I. W. W., on the other hand, believes that capitalism is but a phase of social evolution that is breaking down. The I. W. W., accordingly, organizes industrially to prepare to carry on society when capitalism shall have collapsed, as it gives every indication of doing. It welcomes all workers at work in industry; or unemployed because of industrial maladjustment.
The A. F. of L. organizes crafts and the C. I. O. industries to bargain for less hours and more wages; the I. W. W. by industry to take over industry.
The A. F. of L. and the C. I. O. are bulwarks of capitalism. The I. W. W. is the framework of the new society in the shell of the old.
Elucidation will help comparison in getting the best understanding of I. W. W. aims possible, as follows:
The A. F. of L. primarily regards industry as a series of autonomous trades that may be federated together for mutual protection. The C. I. O. regards industry as subject to division according to districts, as in the coal industry; not as a whole. The A. F. of L. and the C. I. O. may be likened to the man who sorts out and separates the various strands of steel cable and then ties them together with a string in the belief that he is keeping their original strength intact. The I. W. W. indulges in no such delusions. It regards the trades and industrial divisions as the interwoven and interdependent strands of the steel cable of industry and organizes them as such. And then it weaves all the steel cables of the separate industries, into a steel cable of all industries, thus making them able to support the weight of any attack of capitalism on the working class, in just about the same manner that the huge multiple steel cables of a suspension bridge sustains the tremendous tonnage of the structure.
Let us illustrate.
In the printing and publishing industries, for instance, the A. F. of L. has split the workers into twenty-two separate trade unions. These organizations do not and can not work together. Believing in local trade autonomy, and the mutual interests of capital and labor, they organize separately in each city. They are thus compelled to preserve and advance their own trade interests in each locality as against those of their fellow workers in the same locality or elsewhere. The C. I. O. permits this division to remain.
In fact, the coming of the C. I. O. has made no essential difference in the situation, except to intensify its many bad aspects. Instead of an intercraft struggle, we now witness also an interindustrial one. Because of C. I. O. activities, the struggle for control of teamsters in the brewing and other industries, for instance, is more bitter and acute. As is also the struggle between the United Garment Workers and the Amalgamated Clothing Workers. Other instances may be cited.
The August 15, 1937, Guild Reporter contains an article to the point. It is headed, "A. F. of L. organizes With Bosses’ Help. See The Employers First, Wharton Orders Subordinate Locals." The story that follows is a sorry one of warfare between the A. F. of L. and the C. I. O. for control of the knitgoods, metal and machinery, cement and fur industries.
Employer co-operation, A. F. of L. claiming company unions as affiliates, organizing "scabs to fight their way through picket lines of women and girls —with police aid—to break a strike of Cleveland knitgoods workers," are among the articles of A. F. of L. indictment.
The A. F. of L. is claimed to have entered into an understanding with the Cement Institute of Chicago and, under pressure exerted by the latter on employees, issued charters to them as locals of the United Cement Workers.
But the gem of the Guild Reporter article is the Wharton letter. The president of the International Machinist Association sent letters to his locals, "using anti-Semitism and red-baiting to attack the C. I. O. and urging collaboration with employers." Wharton writes, according to the article, "These employers have expressed a preference to deal with A. F. of L. organizations rather than Lewis, Hillman, Dubinsky, Howard and their gang of sluggers, communists, radicals, soap-box artists, professional bums, expelled members of labor unions, outright scabs and the Jewish organizations with their affiliates."
This is not the usual "Dear Sir and Brother" style of language. It is the language of ruthless warfare. In the latter, the C. I. O. is neither a guiltless nor an inoffensive participant. It is a case of give and take, as the violent struggle for supremacy in the maritime industry will serve to illustrate.
Once more must it be said, that the advent of the C. I. O. has only served to bring out in sharper relief, on a larger field, all of the defects inherent in the American labor movement. Born in the A. F. of L. belief in craft supremacy as against K. of L. mass organization, the A. F. of L. has saturated the American labor movement with the spirit of destructive competitive opposition, rather than that of class solidarity. The. C. I. O., offspring of a parentage so born, carries on in a like Spirit, to the detriment of all concerned.
To believe that a formal peace between the A. F. of L. and the C. I. O. will end this warfare is to close one’s eyes to the history of the modern American labor movement.
Europe has its divergent labor movements; France and Spain, for instance. They are devoid of the internecine warfare that is the unhappy lot of American organized labor. Possessing a socialist and not a capitalist ideology, they are tolerant and cooperative, rather than dogmatic and destructive. The I. W. W. is like them. It has persistently refused to engage in jurisdictional conflicts. In the 1910 Bethlehem Steel Strike it withdrew, rather than combat the jurisdictional claims of the machinists and other unions. The strike was lost. In the 1912 Lawrence strike, the I. W. W. set up a strike committee on which all of the other unions interested were represented. The strike was won.
This policy has continued throughout I. W. W. history. "No Scabbery; Solidarity," is its slogan. Members of other unions can also be I. W. W. members and vice versa. In brief, I. W. W. unionism is real unionism, admitting all workers, barring none. As a final word, under this head, it is worth noting that the most popular labor song today is Ralph Chaplin’s I. W. W. song "Solidarity Forever."
The real industrial union no more plays one section of the country, or one trade or one district in an industry, against another, to the detriment of labor, than the employers’ association plays them against one another to the detriment of capital. In the lumber workers’ I. W. W. strike of 1917, the lumber industry in the five northwestern states was tied up tighter than a drum over three months. There was no local or trade autonomy there. There was industrial action with industrial results, beneficial to labor in the end.
The cell of industrial union organization is the shop, or plant, or establishment, in which the workers are employed. This shop, or plant, or establishment, is in turn organized in a local branch of the industrial union, or union of the industry in which the plant operates. The branch may be connected with the branches of other industrial unions in a district council. Or it may be connected with the district council of other branches of the industrial union itself. The industrial unions are, in turn, bound together in one big union, in the Industrial Workers of the World, which spreads abroad when and wherever possible as industry spreads abroad. World-corporations and world-industry are facts; so also must labor organization be.
The early ideas of the I. W. W. have not changed. But conditions have, and with them, the I. W. W., too. With the growth of the I. W. W. as a real organization, founded on unskilled, migratory labor, and with the ascendency of industry as a political and unionistic factor, the I. W. W. began to see that the worker is all-powerful on the job, and that that is the place for him to function. The job—the shop—is, in I. W. W. belief, the worker’s state, the medium by and through which he will introduce reforms and the new society. Hence, the greater I.W. W. devotion to job organization in preference to all other activities.
Especially have the stupendous lessons of the World War impressed the I. W. W. perhaps more than all other social elements. The World War has sobered the I. W. W. into a realization of the tremendous work before labor, if it would save society from a reversion to savagery, in behalf of progress forward to a new society. Now fascism simply makes that realization more emphatic. The World War caused the I. W. W. rejection of doctrines which it may have preached but never practiced.
The World War disclosed the combination of capital as the real saboteurs of modern society. It has shown these combinations failing in and delaying war work in order to secure their own plunder and profits first, as in spruce producing scandals of the Northwest. It has shown these combinations cornering the nation’s food supplies, and otherwise sabotaging its resources to their own enrichment and entrenchment. Nowadays, capitalism sabotages abundance in favor of scarcity, in order to maintain profits while millions are unemployed and starving. All of which shows the necessity for saving society from more capitalist sabotage by way of the I. W. W. plan of socialized ownership, viz., ownership by its industrially organized many instead of the few capitalist combinations. Hence, the I. W. W. rejection of sabotage, even as a doctrine to be preached, though never practiced.
So with violence and lawlessness—if the I. W. W. ever preached these doctrines before, which it did not, it need never do so again. It has plenty of reconstructive work cut out for it, in saving the peoples of the earth—the working classes of all the nations—from the violence and lawlessness of capitalism and fascism. The World War also brought home that lesson to the I. W. W. It has exposed capitalism, through no less a mouth than that of President Wilson in his St. Louis League of Nations speech, as the cause of war and the absence of law and humanity attending it. To capitalism and fascism it is wrong for the I. W. W. to preach violence, while they slaughter millions, injure many millions more and destroy billions in wealth and property. To capitalism, and fascism it is wrong for the I. W. W. to preach lawlessness, while they destroy every constitutional right, and make the struggle for a world democracy in reality a triumph of world plutocracy. So let it be. The I. W. W. will no longer be charged with even preaching these doctrines; but will spend its time instead organizing the workers so as to render the capitalist practice of them impossible. Construction, not destruction, is the program that the World War and fascism and their lessons force on the I. W. W. more than ever before. Not the critical, but "the affirmative side of the I. W. W.," as a friendly historian calls it, is now brought into evidence, as another lesson of the World War, fascism and the capitalist sabotage, violence and lawlessness that accompanied them.
Other changes may also be noted in the I. W. W.—changes away from both the centralistic and decentralistic factional quarrels of old, to a more democratic, co-operative medium between both extremes. Co-operation is the cure for both decentralization and centralization. Co-operation, not for the sake of theory, but for the sake of actual results. Co-operation from the bottom up, instead of coercion from the top down; co-operation on a big industrial scale, instead of on a petty group scale. Co-operation between job delegates, shop, branches, industrial unions, the one big union administration and the workers’ organizations the world over. This is the I. W. W. reaction, in practice, from its own internal development, and the world developments about it—especially the development of industrial democracy in opposition to capitalist autocracy.
The World War was the supreme test of the I. W. W. Behind the cloak of patriotism, the I. W. W. was assailed all over the country, largely on the initiative of big lumber, mining and agricultural interests against whom strikes had been waged. The attack was nation-wide, savage and unrelenting. Lynching, murder, tar and feathers, deportation and terrorization of I. W. W. members generally, were its outstanding features. I. W. W. members were also conscripted and sent abroad, further draining its membership and vitality. Vincent St. John, in his excellent pamphlet, "The I. W. W., Its History, Structure and Methods," sums up this period very well when he says: "But in spite of all, the I. W. W. still lives and is slowly but surely building up the organization that will strike the shackles of wage slavery from the limbs of the world’s workers and make the earth a fit place for free men and women to inhabit." (p. 34).
The idea underlying the I. W. W. form of organization is Solidarity! Industrial Solidarity!! Working Class Solidarity!!! Joseph J. Ettor, addressing the Lawrence Textile strikers at the Franco-Belgian Hall, on January 25, 1912, most eloquently voiced the I. W. W. idea when he said:
The days that have just passed have demonstrated the power of the workers. The power of the workers consists of something more than the power of the capitalists. The power of the capitalists is based on property. Property makes them all powerful, socially and politically. Because of it they control the institutions of attack and defense; they have the laws, the army, everything! They can employ agents to go around to plant dynamite and to provoke disorder among the workers, in order to defeat them.
In spite of all that, the workers have something still more powerful. The workers’ power, the one thing more powerful than all the property, all the machine guns, all the gallows, and everything on the other side, is the common bond of solidarity, of purpose, of ideals. Our love for solidarity, our purpose and our affection for one another as workers, binds us more solidly and tighter than do all the bombs and dynamite the capitalists have at their disposal. If the workers of the world want to win, all that they have to do is to recognize their own solidarity. They have nothing to do but fold their arms and the world will stop. The workers are more powerful with their hands in their pockets than all the property of the capitalists. As long as the workers keep their hands in their pockets the capitalists cannot put theirs there. With passive resistance, with the workers absolutely refusing to move, lying absolutely silent, they are more powerful than all the weapons and instruments that the other side have for protection and attack.
These words have proven prophetic on more than one occasion since the Lawrence strike of 1912. Note the recent sit-down strikes in the auto industry.
The work of organizing under present I. W. W. methods, is generally begun by the job delegate. He is a member who works on the job, that is, is regularly employed in a shop or plant, etc. He is empowered by his industrial union to organize that job. He accepts and initiates as new members all the wage workers employed on the job. He instructs them in their rights and duties; supplies them with due books, stamps, constitutions, referendums, and other organization matters. When the job is sufficiently organized, he calls a shop meeting and turns its affairs over to the shop organization. He always carries I. W. W. credentials. Otherwise he is unauthorized to organize.
As a development of the job delegate idea, the job delegate has been made a universal delegate. He is not limited to any one job or industry. He aids all job delegates. He is empowered to initiate members of all industrial unions, in accordance with the conditions prevailing in the locality where he is employed, or active.
The job delegate system is the I. W. W. attempt at a real rank and file movement. It is an attempt to build the organization from the bottom up, and to get away from dependence on paid organizers and officials who acquire prominence and use their prestige to the detriment of labor. This anti-bureaucratic tendency favors real wage workers as the officials of labor unions; limits the term of office, and otherwise endeavors to keep the organization from officialdom and dry rot.
The job delegate system has proven to be the mainstay of the organization. By means of it the I. W. W. was held together during the terrible oppression attending the World War hysteria, when even meetings were impossible. The I. W. W. slogan now is "be an I. W. W. booster! Be a job delegate!"
The basis of the I. W. W. organization, as already pointed out, is the shop or plant, or establishment, which in I. W. W. language means the same thing. The shop organization is democratic. Its principle is rule from the bottom up, for all and by all those working in the shop. Shop meetings are held at which all matters affecting the shop, the industrial union and the I. W. W. are formulated and decided, through the initiative, referendum and recall. Every member is privileged and encouraged to bring forward grievances, solutions and ideas favorable to the uplift of the working class and society. It is recognized that the I. W. W. shop organization is the cell of the new society, based on workers’ ownership, control and management.
In addition to doing all of the foregoing, the shop organization elects a shop committee which acts under its guidance and instruction. The shop committee presents all wage and other demands to the employer, but has no power to conclude any settlement without the approval of the shop organization through the industrial unions and the I. W. W.
The I. W. W. shop committees were first introduced in the Brooklyn N. Y. shoe strike of 1911. The shop committee of Frank & Harris was selected from all the branches, then it presented a scale of prices and regulations acceptable to all concerned. The I. W. W. shop committees thus antedate the English shop steward movement by about seven years. They differ from the English institution in that they represent industrially organized trades, instead of the separate trade unions, in the shop. Under the shop organizing system of the I. W. W. the "organized scabbery" of either the A. F. of L. or C. I. O. unions is impossible. All the trades in the industry, acting as a unit, on the basis of the conflicting interests of capital and labor, strike together and settle together. Any shop or branch including more than one shop, that violates the industrial, class union principles of the I. W. W. is expelled, as is also any member of the I. W. W. so doing. An I. W. W. organization at Great Falls, Montana, was expelled en masse for signing a contract with employers.
The I. W. W. shop organization develops technical knowledge in the working class and prepares it to take over technical management in behalf of society when capitalism shall have collapsed, as it at present seems likely to do. This is made possible by the general tendencies of industry, which are reducing technicians to the ranks of wage earners and compelling them to organize as such. These tendencies are also causing a greater appreciation and study of technological change in an ever-increasing number of wage earners.
The A. F. of L. and the C. I. O. are organized, not only to prevent industrial unionism within an industry, but also the industrial unity of industries. The A. F. of L. is a federation of trades and labor unions, not an organization based primarily on industry and embracing all the industries in one big union, like the Industrial Workers of the World. Its primary object is to bargain with the capitalists as crafts, not to organize the workers as a class to run industry for themselves and society. The C. I. O. resembles the A. F. of L. despite the apparent differences. It divides industries according to districts, as in the United Mine Workers, and opposes general strikes.
The following incident will assist in making the I. W. W. viewpoint clear.
During the Lawrence Textile strike of 1912, Joseph J. Ettor, general organizer of the I. W. W., addressed a meeting of the Wool Sorters’ Union. After his address he was asked, "What is a scab?" To which Ettor replied, "A scab is a worker who by any act aids or abets the employers in times of conflict." Thereupon another worker wanted to know: "Do not the principles that apply to the definition of a scab also apply to an industry?" "Yes," replied Ettor; "the Industrial Workers of the World means the organization of all workers in one big union according to industries. When an industry goes on strike, if it needs the help of the industry immediately related to it, it will call oil that industry to make common cause with it. If it requires the help of still other industries, the I. W. W. will act on the same principle." Such is the I. W. W. It recognizes that industry is general; so must strikes be.
The moral of the above story can be applied by any worker. The A. F. of L. and the C. I. O. unions are trying to apply it in many ways that evade real industrial union forms and principles. For instance, take the steel strikes of 1919 and 1937. Therein the strikers were led to believe that the railroad workers and the coal miners would act in sympathy with them. This was impossible owing to contracts with employers. These contracts compelled the railroaders and the miners to act as separate organizations, and on the principle of the mutual. interests of capital and labor. No real industrial union is so organized as to act independently of other industries. General industry makes for general strikes. Nor does a real industrial union sign contracts with employers that bind its members to help break the strikes of their fellow workers. But the new day is dawning. On all sides are the rank and file asserting themselves against official betrayal and wrong organization. In addition, the I. W. W. is growing once more.
The proof of the soundness of the I. W. W. forms and principles of organization is to be found in the bitter attacks which are made upon them by the corporations and capitalist institutions generally. The capitalist class instinctively realizes the dangers to its interests involved in the thorough organization of labor, intent on improvement and emancipation.
The I. W. W. like world corporations and world industry is world-wide. It was represented at the Amsterdam International Conference, and also at the Budapest meeting of the International Labor Secretariat in 1910. The European movement, in turn, was active in the successful agitation for the release of Ettor and Giovannitti in 1912. Subsequently some of the I. W. W’s most representative men visited Europe and spoke in England and Ireland, aiding the industrial union movement there. The I. W. W. has administrations in Canada, Sweden, Australia and Chile and general headquarters in Chicago. It also conducts correspondence and has connections with the labor movement of France, Spain, Russia, Scandinavia, Mexico, Argentina and other countries, all of whom work in friendly cooperation with, are interested in its progress and look to it for guidance as the industrial labor organization of the most advanced industrial country of the world.
The I. W. W. is called on by many students to state is attitude on various questions, relationship and problems. This is as it should be. If the I. W. W. itself is not an answer to social problems, if it cannot define its own attitude, it had better call in its charters and lock the doors of its various headquarters and leave the field to an organization that meets these requirements.
Generally speaking, the I. W. W. believes that most social problems are caused by the capitalist exploitation of labor. To this exploitation can be traced the need for foreign markets, fields of investments abroad, and world wars. To this exploitation is also traceable gross materialism, savage aggression, lack of ideal aspirations, the curbing of ambitions of a social nature, the stifling of the intellect for any other than personal or class ends, race wars, class wars, in brief, all the ugly, ghastly horrors of modern life.
The I. W. W. accordingly, believes that the solution of modern problems and the establishment of better social relations and ideals, requires the abolition of capitalist exploitation. Otherwise, the evils will not only continue, but will grow worse, in addition. However, too often, this statement is not acceptable; specific knowledge is desired, as follows:
Though this is a very venerable old question, lots of smart young men ask it. The answer—No; the I. W. W. wants to stop dividing up. Today the worker, in order to secure employment and live, must divide up his product with the capitalist employer. As the capitalist employs many laborers, his share of the division is large. It makes him both wealthy and powerful. By securing all that it produces, the I. W. W. will stop capitalist dividing up, and make labor wealthy. and powerful instead of poverty-stricken and weak, as it is now.
This question is a survival of an old, exploded theory. According to this theory, capital is due to the savings of the individual capitalist. Hence, if the individual capitalist cannot take from labor and save, where is capital to come from? Capital is no longer a result of individual savings, but of corporate, social saving. For instance, corporations, composed of changing stockholders, nowadays provide for depreciation, new construction and expansion, new capital, etc., out of the products they take from labor. That is, they reserve a certain portion of profits for these purposes. The I. W. W., when in control of industry, will do essentially the same thing. It will reserve a portion of labor’s products for industrial progress and social welfare, with the consent of the laborers and for labor’s benefit.
Yes; it is necessary to direct industry into the national wars and the class wars, into fascism and the world-hell generally, in which society now finds itself. Otherwise, we can get along without it. Strictly speaking, there is no such thing as capitalist ability and direction. There is such a thing as the ability and direction of large numbers of salaried men and government scientists—co-operative and social ability—hired by and exploited by the capitalist class for its own damnable profit-making, civilization-destroying system. The I. W. W. will do away with this misuse of real ability. It will utilize real ability for social instead of private capitalist ends.
The questions raised regarding the relation of the middle class to the labor movement have been pushed into greater prominence than ever before by the victories of fascism in foreign lands. It is pointed out by Alfred M. Bingham, U. S. middle class protagonist, that these victories, especially in Germany, were due in large part to middle class neglect by the labor movement. He warns against such neglect, if fascism is to be defeated here.
Bingham criticizes the I. W. W. particularly. He believes that it is only concerned with the organization of the manual worker—the pick-and-shovel stiff, the unskilled worker and the migratory worker. The technicians, executives, et al.—the brain workers, the new middle class, according to Bingham,—receive no organizational consideration from the I. W. W. at all.
Of course, this is a misconception of industrial unionism of the I. W. W. type, which is inclusive of all employees. It is due, in large part, to an attempt to give the "new" middle class a separate economic status, unlike that of other workers; when the fact is that these so-called new middle classers are only a part of the capitalist machine, to be hired and fired and thrown on the bread-line as are all other workers; that is, according to the laws of supply and demand and the exigencies of profit-making policies.
The fundamental reason for the hiring and firing and breadlining, if not streamlining, of the "new" middle class, as well as all other workers, is to be found in the peculiar financial ownership of industry. Lucian Sanial, the well known economist, once said of this ownership (Socialist Almanac, p. 126) :
We may further observe that this is in essence a financial movement. The very nature of it requires that it should be led and shaped by financiers, who make no distinction between industries, and view all commodities in the light of their exchange value, expressed in money, and leave to technical men in their employ all technical operations of the manufacturing and commercial order as to their respective use values.
Translated into simpler language, this means that the financiers hire others at salaries and wages to create profits for them. These hired men have executive and organizing ability, inventive, chemical, clerical and mechanical skill, persuasive selling powers, legal and business training, not to mention muscular and physical strength, of every degree of development and variety of capacity and endurance. On their expert reports and suggestions as executive committeemen, department heads, efficiency managers, analysts, chemists, accountants, advisers, supervisors, foremen, mechanics" laborers, helpers, etc., depends the evolution and operation of modern capitalist industrial enterprise. This enterprise is run by hired subordinates of all kinds, who have no property rights, nor deciding voice in it, and who are all subject to the financial absolutism on top, that governs it.
The I. W. W. organizes these men just as they work for the financiers, without regard to their technical classification. It has many middle class intellectual proletarians, such as journalists, artists, civil engineers, managers, etc., etc., in its ranks. There is no problem of the middle class worker in the I. W. W. The I. W. W. recognizes his value, as it does the value of the humblest workers. The I. W. W. organizes them all. One for all, all for one, is its slogan.
In Cleveland, Metal and Machinery Workers Industrial Union No. 440, for instance, is organizing plants in that city in a way that practically refutes Bingham’s erroneous beliefs regarding the I. W. W. Every employee in these plants, from the technician in the laboratory, to the bookkeeper, stenographer and accountant in the office, and the expert tool and die maker, the lathe hand and the unskilled helper in the shop, are enrolled as members and do their part in promoting its aims and objects. Under the Wagner Labor Relations Act, 440 is the employee bargaining unit in these plants.
The researcher in I W W. history will find that the I. W. W. has, at various times in its career, attempted organization of the most diverse lower middle class elements, like bakers, barbers, shoe repairers, and similar callings.
It has also, at various times, as in the Lawrence strike of 1912, and the Paterson strike of later date, aroused and received the invaluable support of such artists as Art Young and John Sloan, and such writers as Andre Tridon and John Reed, famous author of "The Ten Days That Shook The World."
The farmer and the I. W. W. is another middle class relationship that the I. W. W. is called on to define and to determine. But really industrial evolution is determining it instead. Farmers are being forced into the working class.
Industrial evolution has taken from the farm many of its early functions. Canning, packing, preserving, refrigerating, storing, milling, manufacturing and transporting farm products was once done by farmers. Now mechanized industrial plants perform all these functions. They, accordingly, monopolize farm production and determine its man-sized activities, in combination with the financial interests.
The unprofitableness of farming has also caused the entrance of the corporation into farming, in order to insure supplies. In New York State, for instance, the Borden Milk Company has long since gone into dairying in order to get sufficient products for its own business. This was rendered necessary by the decrease in milch cows in the state, due to low prices to the farmer.
The same thing is noticeable in canning and preserving. Corporations like the Lipton Co., Heinz, Libby, Del Monte, Dole and others are insuring their own supplies by conducting their own truck farms. In addition, as already shown elsewhere in this booklet, the big farm corporation, as a farm corporation pure and simple, has arrived and is increasing in numbers. The banks and insurance companies promote these tendencies.
These giant corporations are reducing farming to an industrial basis. They are creating an agricultural proletariat, and the farm conducted on industrial principles of profit-making. They are preparing the communal agriculture of the future.
All these tendencies contribute to a revolution in farming. They have given rise to farm laborers and tenancy to an astonishing degree. Of the 10,482,323 farm population engaged in farming as of 1930, 5,000,000 are today farm wage laborers, share croppers and tenant farmers. They have little or no property, are the lowest wage recipients and work and live among the worst of conditions in the U. S. A.
The revolutionary tendencies of farming are likely to increase, instead of decrease. Frank Tracy Carlton, an authority, believes that the development toward larger farms, the efficient utilization of machinery thereon, the present high prices of farm products, the increase in land values, and the decrease in opportunities for extensive investments in railway and manufacturing enterprises, will tend to cause a rush of capital into agriculture in the near future. He adds:
The application of capital on a large scale, the appeal to scientific agriculture, and the introduction of scientific management and cost accounting may be expected to work marvelous changes. Many omens of changes to come may be discerned.
Since prof. Carlton wrote those words, Armour & co., Dupont and Ford have entered agriculture in California and elsewhere. The chemicurgical farm to make products for mass production, is now also on the way, fostered and backed by big capital. The scientific imagination has again proven prophetic
Now, the I. W. W. reacts in response to these tendencies in two ways. One is theoretical; the other practical. Theoretically, there are some who believe that the small farmer must be saved and that the I. W. W. should combine with him against capitalism in so doing. Others believe that since agriculture is becoming industrialized, and is largely determined by the evolutionary factors, it should be regarded by the I. W. W. as an industrial proposition, to be organized industrially and operated industrially.
Recent events in Spain demonstrate the practical value of I. W. W. ideas as applied to agriculture. In an article to the Federated Press from Madrid, Ralph Bates, well-known novelist, tells of their application in Villaneau de Corboda, Spain. 40 estates, averaging 1,500 acres each, owned by former absentee landlord, Antonio Erriso, were taken over during the fascist rebellion, and operated collectively by the agricultural workers’ union, under the leadership of Julian Caballero. Live stock is also co-operatively held.
The union includes all of the workers, and studies their day by day problems, according to Bates. There is no compulsion to join. Small proprietors cultivate their holdings individually, but the union predominates.
"Despite the proximity of the town to the front, all the olive crops were gathered, and at this moment the collective extraction of olive oil is taking place, as well as the dressing and pruning of trees. The work has been so carefully done that the condition of the estates is actually improved.
"Due to natural difficulties, Villanueva lacked wheat and had an excess of meant and olive oil. These difficulties were overcome by collective exchange with other towns. Special difficulties arose with the influx of refugees from fascist terror. The town’s former population is apt to double itself in a single day. Thus stocks of wheat are exhausted, but nevertheless the difficulty is overcome by working with committees from neighboring villages.
" A few workers not in the agricultural union include sheepshearers, and so on. This seasonal labor is performed by shoemakers, carpenters and other craftsmen organized into their respective unions. A majority of these workers have not asked for land.
"It must be emphasized that there have been no extremist experiments or coercion. For example, within the agricultural union there is a group advocating decollectivization and parceling of the land, and they are allowed full and free discussion. Small farmers, moreover, are not interfered with. One comes away greatly impressed with the popularity of Mayor Caballero."
Here we have a concrete illustration of I. W. W. industrialism applied to agriculture. Is it possible to conceive of a time coming when the agricultural revolution, or perhaps the breakdown of capitalism, will compel the farmers of the U. S. to organize agriculture from the bottom up, as the farmers did in Spain in the midst of a destructive rebellion?
The I. W. W. theory is the most constructive theory yet tried out amid fascist capitalist chaos. The small middle class farmer needs to come alive to the fact for his own good.
In the first place, this question is wrong in implying that the A. F. of L. or the C. I. O. is a labor organization. The fact that the A. F. of L. or the C. I. O. is an organization composed of laborers does not make either of them a labor organization. A labor organization must be judged, not by its personnel, but its objectives. The German army under Hitler is an army of Germans, not for the Germans, but for the big industrialists and financiers of Germany who took over Hitler and made him all powerful. So, too, the A. F. of L., or the C. I. O. is an army of laborers, not for labor, but for capital. In the last analysis, the A. F. of L. or the C. I. O. is committed to the perpetuation of capitalism. It is so organized as to make that perpetuation possible.
On the other hand, the I. W. W. is opposed to capitalism and strives to inaugurate an industrial democracy, not merely collective bargaining to supplant the rule of the capitalist financial oligarchy. Composed of laborers, for laborers, by laborers, as it is, standing firmly on the class struggle and making no binding contracts or alliances with employers, as it does, the I. W. W. is the only labor organization in this country today.
In the second place, the I. W. W. is needed because of the incomplete organization of the workers by the A. F. of L. or the C. I. O. The A. F. of L., owing to high initiation fees, job monopolies, race prejudices, color lines, etc., cannot and will not organize all workers. The result is a great masses of unorganized.
In the article entitled, "Our Organizing Problem," appearing in the July, 1937, American Federationist, the whole number of workers organizable in unions, is given as 38,000,000. 32,859,000 are listed according to the 1930 census. They "include 7,409,000 salaried workers (office workers and sales persons), 6,043.000 skilled wage earners, (craftsmen) and 19,407,000 wage earners (production workers, semi-skilled and unskilled workers). Besides these there are 1,383,000 professional workers: (1,063,000 teachers, 80,000 draftsmen, 165,000 musicians, 78,000 actors). All these were listed in the Census of 1930; but since 1930, 3,700,000 have been added to the working population. This makes a total of nearly 38,000,000. No management employees are included."
Edward Levinson, labor editor New York Post, gives the A. F. of L., on the basis of its own July 20, 1937, report, a membership of 3,106,439. He also gives the C. I. O. a membership of 3,094,000, or a combine total of 6,200,000 for both divisions of organized labor. If we add a generous 800,000 for independent unions, some of whom have either gone A. F. of L., or C. I. O., and most of whom are railroad unions, we have, in round numbers, a total organized membership of 7,000,000 workers. This is surely a large number, of great power and greater potentiality. But, stacked up alongside of 38,000,000 it is less than one-fifth of that number; leaving 31,000,000 still outside of union organization. Surely, "our organizing problem" is still a truly stupendous one.
Another labor organization is needed to organize labor more soundly and more completely on the lines required by modern demands against fascism, war and depression. The I. W. W. is the only body which meets these demands.
It won’t do any longer to bring the old familiar arguments against the I. W. W. At this writing (August, 1937), the "official" labor movement manifests, in all of their many details, the various objections made against "unofficial" unionism in the past. There is "dual unionism," "jurisdictional disputes," "fratricidal warfare," "the destruction of unity," etc., galore. The "official" labor movement (which is it, A. F. of L., C. I. O., or both?) resembles a rough and tumble fight to the finish. A choice selection of epithets is being exchanged. If labor weren’t the victim, it would be to laugh.
We can hear the heavenly choir singing, "Lead On Kindly Light," when "Bill" Green talks of John L. Lewis. "Violator of agreements, seizer of public property, fomenter of violence, riots, and uprisings that can have no place in the social, economic and industrial life of America," are a few things "Bill" says of dear John, in an article on "Steel Strikes Lost By Minority Rule and Violent Policies," printed in the American Federation Weekly News Service, July 10,1937.
The same weekly news service contains the reprint of an interview with Green that originally appeared in as fine a lot of capitalist newspapers as ever honored an A. F. of L. president with space. It is a loving characterization of Lewis. Here are a few choice quotes: "He has defied democratic process . . . he by persuasion and compulsion has made others violate their trusts . . . Having gathered a following, he attempted to rule unions, not serve them. He replaced union democracy with union dictatorship. No matter what the means before him he never turned and never stayed."
After that one wonders, having been his associate for years, why "Bill" took so long to proclaim all of John’s manly qualities. But one ceases wondering, when Lewis refers to Green, in retort, as a "drooling traitor." Only Lewis fails to specify traitor to whom and what: Lewis, capitalism, or the working class? Nor did Green specify as to what Lewis is dictator for: big monopoly or capitalism?
Let us pause again to ask, what means this labor conflict, this struggle for power over organized labor? Is it a struggle, as suggested elsewhere in this booklet, merely between rival divisions of labor, conducted in the hostile competitive spirit of the A. F. of L. ? Or is it one of many symptoms of the breakdown of capitalism, which strives, as a consequence, for greater regulation or control, via governmental and associational organization? And, in this striving, includes a greater regulation of labor via a greater organization of labor? In other words, is the Lewis form of unionism, unwittingly so, perhaps, a preliminary to fascism, as is also the new form of control capital a preliminary to fascism?
No matter what the answer to this question may be, there are many acknowledged facts that admit of no doubt. Among them is the fact that Lewis’ industrial unionism is in great part, a New Deal product. As such, it is the work of men—like Lewis, Hillman, et al—closely allied with the Roosevelt administration and the New Deal. The latter, as is well known, was an attempt to organize and control labor to the same ends.
Further, there is no doubt that many A. F. of L. craft union leaders fought the promotion of vertical unionism in accordance with the New Deal plan. Some, in addition, sensed an approach to fascism in the plan. They, accordingly, feared not only the invasion of industrial unionism, but the prospect of their own elimination in the final outcome of the labor projects of the New Deal.
Still more, there is no doubt that the use of the Lewis form of unionism as a build up to a new political party, dominated by Lewis and with Lewis as its presidential candidate, is suggestive of dictatorial possibilities against which labor should be ever vigilant and alert. There are no limits of the dangers to labor which such a combined economic and political dictatorship may embody. Nor is there any reassurance in the close relationship existing between the Myron Taylors and John L. Lewis that such a dictatorship will be in the interest of labor, either primarily or otherwise.
Evidently, there is more than appears on the surface of this present-day organized labor conflict than appeared in any organized labor conflict of the past. And it makes real industrial unionism a greater necessity now than at any previous time in American labor history.
Through democratically selected representatives from industrial instead of territorial groupings; all subject to initiative and recall. Corporations like the Pennsylvania Railroad, for instance, are administered that way. They administer affairs requiring thousands of employees in many cities, regardless of geographical or political lines. In some instances, like Altoona, Pa., they dominate the very cities in which these workers live. In other instances, like Gary, Ind., the citadel of the Steel Trust, they even plan the city and create new systems of education, in addition. Every institution in society—press, pulpit, school—is being modified either in co-operation with or under the influence of corporations. The University of Cincinnati, as an example, gives vocational training of all kinds in conjunction with actual employment on the railroads and in other industries. The Union College of Schenectady, N. Y., has been transformed practically from a theological seminary into a technical annex of the General Electric plant there. The center of I. W. W. administration will be industrial, instead of political, in keeping with the tendencies of the age.
Decidedly not! In the eyes of the I. W. W. there is no real league of nations, as yet. There is a league of capitalistic-imperialistic exterminations, secretly formulated in Paris and dominated by the Tories of Great Britain. Its first objective is to exterminate or pervert the world organization of labor that is opposed to imperialism and war. Its further and greatest objective is to exterminate every attempt at a new social order, as in its indirect aid to fascism in Spain. As Senator Johnson well said, "The League of Nations is an attempt to put progress in a straight-jacket."
The I. W. W. favors a league of the world’s workers against the world’s ravishers. It favors the organization of labor on the lines of world industry, to strike on such lines against war and the outrages against humanity arising from capitalism. In Italy, sailors have refused to man ships intended to help in the overthrow of the Soviet Republic. In Seattle longshoremen refused to load ships with ammunition consigned to Kolchak, the Cossack military representative of a Cossack capitalism, seeking to destroy free Russia. In Philadelphia, I. W. W. seamen held up a ship carrying explosives which they suspected was being shipped to General Francisco Franco, Spanish fascist general. These, and other events, indicate how the real league of nations is forming and acting.
With corporations in existence having worldwide branches, with inventions like the steamship, wireless, aeroplane, eliminating distance, time and national barriers, the industrial organization of labor on a world basis is not only possible but necessary. Especially is it necessary, in view of the attempted control of world interests by world financiers. Labor alone, acting on a world-scale industrially can save the world from stupendous disasters into which the anti-social monstrosity of capitalism and fascism may at any time hurl it.
The ideals of the I. W. W. are ethical in character. They are ideals of justice and brotherhood the world over. They spring from the injustices of capitalism, which require the surrender of labor’s product to capitalist profits, interest and rent; and, further, compel the subversion of all of labor’s genius and aspirations to the support of that system which viciously despoils and destroys them, as occasion demands. Against the injustices of capitalism with its exactions of labor’s product and labor’s life, working class organizations have always warred, until now they realize, as never before, that it is only by the abolition of capitalism itself that labor can escape from it.
The I. W. W. attempts to give this realization practical form. The I. W. W. ideal is that of a working class so organized industrially as to be in a position to take over industry and thereby abolish the fascism of the capitalist class the world over when the necessity for such a course arises, as it appears to be doing more pronouncedly every day.
The ideal of the I. W. W. is industry by, for and of the workers—in a word, industrial democracy. Through a democratic, industrial system, the I. W. W. aims, not to destroy industry, but to eliminate its capitalist exploitation, thereby making it a more actual social institution in every respect than it is at present. Such a system throws the responsibility for its maintenance directly on the bulk of society engaged therein, viz., the workers themselves. Thus, the industrial democracy of the I. W. W. means working class liberation from capitalist thraldom. It means untold benefits to society.
Every class liberation has caused a vast social awakening and rebirth. When the embryonic capitalist class shook off the trammels of the guild system and the divine rights of kings, social development took a mighty leap forward, the greatest in history, up to that eventful finale. When the working class shakes off the incubus of capitalism and the self-imposed so-called rights of the capitalist class, it, too, will give an unprecedented impetus to social progress. For then will be released the flood of latent possibilities now dammed up by the limitations and proscriptions of capitalism—sweeping many so-called problems before it.
Already is the organized working class regarded as the forerunner of the new industrial democracy, a democracy in which the extremes of privileged wealth and power for the few and poverty-stricken slavery and denial of opportunity for the many will be transformed into the greatest development of all on the basis of economic and social equality.
Already is the working class showing great executive and organizing ability, great grasp and understanding of weighty problems, in its co-operative, political and labor movements. These involve billions of capital and human happiness untold.
Already is the working class demonstrating the possession of great statesmanship in its conferences and conflicts with governments and the owners of industries, on strike issues and questions of national and international importance. The increase in ability in this respect is only matched by the increase in determination to prevail.
Already is the working class developing great personalities who in other times might have been the engineers, generals, orators, poets, etc., of those times, men whose names glow with pride in the imagination and hearts of the working men who appreciate both the greatness and the weakness of mankind.
Already is the working class creating a press, a forum, a drama, a literature, an art of its own—a network of institutions and activities, a many-sided culture, a dawning epoch, whose penetrating influences bring ever more talent to its expansion, to the great discomfiture of capitalist couture and the eventual destruction of the capitalist epoch itself.
It will not do for capitalism to cry out that labor is not competent to undertake the great task of social transformation, for it is on the competence of hired labor of all degrees and kinds that capitalism now depends; only, capitalist policy destroys the competence of labor, just as it destroys the products of the soil, in order to keep up profits.
Nor will it do for capitalism to say that labor is without either ability or genius, for capitalism, in order to secure labor’s support, by bribes of place and position, parades the names of railroad presidents and inventors who originally sprang from the ranks of the working class. The working class is now, as always, a mine of ability and genius—a pay streak that always pans out well for the capitalists, and which will pan out well for future society under the aegis of the working class.
Nor will it avail capitalism any to claim that the working class is lacking in either morality, responsibility or thrift. Without these virtues in the working class, capitalism itself could not endure a moment. It is working class honesty and fidelity to duty that keeps capitalist billions intact and enables the railroads and all the other enterprises to run on schedule time and in due order. As for thrift, whose are the savings in banks, in spite of meager incomes? Who pays the industrial life insurance premiums, at high rates? Who joins the building and loan associations, the co-operative societies and the credit unions? The capitalist press answer is, the wage earners!
All that we can say is, "God help capitalist property, if ever the working class gets the capitalist idea of morality, ethics, responsibility and thrift, for then society will be an even worse chaos and slaughter-house than capitalist virtue has already made it."
The ideal of the I. W. W. is one of more rounded development for all. To this end, it aims to secure more leisure and diversified employment; and to use the leisure now thrust upon the workers by unemployment. Just as many able men find recreation and expansion in the pursuit of many vocations, so it is the ideal of the I. W. W. to create conditions admitting of a many-sided growth in the average worker. By these means, the average worker will become a better judge of questions affecting industry and life in general. combined with his own varied abilities, will be other and like abilities, to the advantage of all concerned.
This rounded development has already taken root in the working class. In working class life, many workers may be found who are not only proficient in their own particular industrial specialty, but who are also in addition, organizers, speakers, parliamentarians, editors, writers, poets, musicians, etc. etc. The varied requirements of industry with its seasonal and uncertain employment, give rise to another variety of many-sided workers. So also does the ambition to escape wage slavery give rise to the student and inventor and philosopher—among the working class.
In brief, it may be said that the more highly developed worker of the future has already arrived. The ideal of the I. W. W. is to continue and enhance the tendencies thus begun, especially so as to transform the workers now employed in brain-benumbing and health-destroying occupations into better material for the new society.
Education is not the only I. W. W. function. Preparation is another one.
Capitalism itself helps along the revolutionary process, though unwillingly and unconsciously. Its profits must ever be replenished, its property abnormally increased. To these ends, it educates even the lowest strata of the workers. And higher up on the mountain tops, it makes scientists and technicians of those who toil, in order that it alone may accumulate and become all powerful.
The process of educating the worker under capitalism is revolutionary. It not only transforms the brain of the workers but also their outlooks and aspirations. They soon perceive that upon them depends capitalist civilization and that without them it could not exist. Consequently, the modern working class tends steadily to wish to possess the entire contents of capitalism, power and all. Not for themselves alone, to the subjugation and degradation of others, but for the emancipation and elevation of all workers; for the brotherhood of all mankind.
Where, in ancient Rome and Greece, the philosophers and geniuses, like Aesop, became slaves, under capitalism the slaves—their name is legion—become philosophers and geniuses. They labor for a new social rebirth, that in the very nature of social evolution, cannot be denied to them, except at the peril of a reversion to savagery for the entire human race. Humanity rises and falls with the working class.
The liberation of the working class from the thraldom of capitalism is rich in beneficial possibilities. Consider the harm done to productive labor by capitalism. Capitalism coerces labor. And though it can no longer deny labor the right to organize or to bargain collectively, the ancient struggle between capital and labor still persists, demoralizing industry and causing incredible losses to society. Remove capitalism, give to labor its own products and the incentive thus created will result in greater industrial output and social security. It will save society from the chaos now threatening, because of the increasing intensity of the struggle between the capitalist class and the working class.
Society must, perforce, recognize that coerced, dissatisfied labor is never efficient labor. Nor is the labor that intuitively, perhaps unconsciously, feels the degradation of capitalist paternalism. Nor, further yet, is monotonous, machine-driven labor. Labor that is without incentive, self-respect or prospects of development is wasteful labor. It is discontented labor, perhaps not turbulently nor violently, but instinctively. Capitalism is sabotaging itself in the creation of modern, discontented labor. And though it lashes labor with whips of scorpions—nay, because it so lashes labor—will its own sabotaging tendencies increase. Capitalism is itself automatically destructive of labor’s productivity and labor’s loyalty.
Release labor from thankless capitalism! Release labor from paternalistic capitalism! Release labor from degrading, enslaving capitalism and you release forces for social good that only the workingman who knows, in his own person, the repression of capitalism, can dream of!
Give labor its own mastery! Throw labor on its own responsibility! Give labor a sense of manhood and womanhood of infinite possibilities—do all this, and you give to society an impetus to productivity that is unprecedented. History—the history of the abolition of chattel slavery and of feudalism—approves of such action in advance for such history is the history of great social impetus, thanks to class liberation.
The ideals of the I. W. W. are not the ideals of dictatorship, whether a fascist or so-called proletarian dictatorship. Dictatorship calls for submission to a leader, a superman who is the personification of backward rather than forward growth. Dictators today attempt to "freeze" the status quo. They aim, under Hitler and Mussolini, to keep capitalism from evolving to higher economic planes, in which the great mass of the people, the workers and their dependents, will own and control in a democratic way. Under the Stalins dictators pervert socialist working class objectives to the creation of new privileged interests and the tyrannical frustration of working class liberation and construction, both at home and abroad. They are counter-revolutionary traitors to socialist ideals, turned allies of imperialist capitalism in all parts of the world.
The ideals of the I. W. W. are not the ideals of state socialism. State socialism is based on political representation. It is bureaucratic. Its function is not to administer but to govern. Its aim is to raise the levies needed for army and navy expenditures. It tends to replace the oppression of the private capitalist with that of the authority of the state. It makes the state the employer and capitalist. It makes the politician the ruler. It insures the income of the capitalist bondholders who finance it. It is pro-capitalist and anti-proletarian.
The ideals of the I. W. W. are the ideals of industrial administration. The industrial republic of the I. W. W. is based on occupational or industrial representation. Its function is to bring together all the factors of industry, in order to meet industrial needs and fulfill social requirements. Its concern is not to repress, but to develop; not to govern but to adjust—to administer according to the wisdom of the workers most basically and directly concerned. It makes the workers their own employers, their own capitalists, their own beneficiaries.
The ideals of the I. W. W. are not the ideals of mob government. To scientists and technicians will go the problems of chemical research and management, to be worked out in co-operation with all the labor elements involved. Artists, sculptors, architects, will concern themselves with art, sculpture and architecture; teachers with education; railroad men with transportation; the factory workers with the factory. All will be organized according to their industry and entitled to representation in the industrial whole—the industrial republic, on the basis of their employment.
The ideals of the I. W. W. are such as to encourage and require a study of industry in all its phases. It has given a new interest to technology, as a result, that can not fail to be of far-reaching value to the new society coming. As a beginning, several of the I. W. W. industrial unions have organized a Bureau of Industrial Research to prepare handbooks on each of the great industries of the world simply written and sold at cost price.
The work has already taken practical shape in the woolen industry. The I. W. W. members employed therein have classified all the woolen factories in the country, together with their location, nearness to sources of supplies and markets, annual output, etc. They have classified this data with a view to its practical use, believing that it will be necessary to successful management by the workers when occasion requires.
The slogan, "Get wise to your industry," is one repeatedly sounded in the I. W. W. press and discussion.
The ideals of the I. W. W. are not the ideals of theory, but of tendencies. In this country, to cite an example, the teachers’ union demands "democracy in education and education in democracy." Education, in other words, should be more by, of and for educators, in the interests of students and all society, than by, and of politicians, business men and intellectual slaves, for the perpetuation of capitalism. After the World War, the Plumb plan appeared, with provision for the part management of the railroads by classified railroad workers.
The urge toward the idealism of the I. W. W. is to be found in the increasing self-understanding of the workers. To this may be added an increasing recognition of the inefficiency, corruption and inhumanity of capitalism. In Italy, in 1910, the Union of Italian Railroaders, inspired by socialist ideals and the bad conditions of the railroad system, proclaimed themselves ready to operate the railroads. Their contentions sound almost like those of the United States railroad men of the present day. Through Odon Por, they alleged that the state had proved its utter incapacity for managing the railroads, because, primarily, of graft. Our railroaders say, because, primarily, of looting by private financial groups. The Italians further stated that the technical incompetency and deficiency of the bureaucratic administration called to run the enterprise had demoralized the whole passenger and freight traffic and caused a growing deficit in the treasury of the state. Our railroaders alleged in 1919 the very same condition which, they say, was created for the purpose of causing a sentiment favorable to the return of the railroads to private control. The Italian railroaders of 1910 go on to declare that while the state has created thousands of new sinecures and highly paid offices, it has utterly neglected the technical part of the system. The American 1919 repetition was almost identically the same regarding the railroads financiers. The Italian railroaders clinch the matter by contending that, on the other hand, the industrially organized railroad men have learned, through continuous discussion of the details of the system, the principles of organizing, managing and combining its factors. Their constructive and analytic criticism disclosed all the flaws of the railroad administration, proved that the state is an uneconomical institution, and demonstrated all the detail necessary to a successful reorganization of the railroads. They indicated that they must get back, above all, their whole liberty, and that in order to secure from the railroads greater benefits for the public, they must become personally interested in the enterprise. This is practically the American railroaders’ approach to, and solution of, the railroad problem, also. It is the way labor approaches all modern problems, through its own direct participation and solution on the job—its own direct action, growing out of its own contact with conditions and the recognition of the need for its own organized initiative.
In this country, labor is not organized to take over and run industry, in order to overcome capitalist inefficiency. American labor, outside of the I. W. W., is organized only to bargain with the capitalist, according to crafts and industrial divisions. It is not organized industrially to take over industry. However, it will be forced, nay it is being forced, to abandon that misconception of labor organization. Its own defeats are causing it to recognize the closely knit character of the modern industrial system and to organize, accordingly, within it, for its control and management in the interests of society by the industrially organized workers. In this work, labor everywhere will be aided by the growing paralysis of modern life, through capitalist incompetence and lack of principles. The latter, in the face of increasing technical knowledge, tends to increase social dangers by stimulating high prices, inflation, strikes, overproduction, unemployment, crises and, last, but most important and sinister of all, fascism and war.
The prospects of the future, judged by the horrors of the past, are that society will either have to overturn capitalism or be overturned by it. With the same capitalist tendencies at work in world struggles as formerly, with Japan taking the place of Germany as the imperialist-capitalist goat, because of its persistent invasion of China without a declared war, there is need for a constructive, evolutionary plan by which society may be saved and civilization restored once more. American labor, as represented by the A. F. of L. or the C. I. O., has no plan. So far as the A. F. of L. or the C. I. O. is concerned, society can go to hell, while the C. I. O. becomes only a "build-up" for another capitalist alias farmer-labor party. It is the I. W. W. alone who foresees and prepares against just such a disaster.
The I. W. W. plan is evolutionary, peaceful; capitalism alone will make it revolutionary and violent. All signs point that way. The age-old struggle between the new and the old is repeated once again on an unprecedented scale. The brand of Cain will be on capitalism’s head in the future as in the past.
The idealism of the I. W. W. is immense in its magnitude. It strides the world like the Colossus of Rhodes. Its heralds are the seafarers on the waters of the earth, the cables beneath and the aeroplane in the heavens above. No transatlantic engineer throws a throttle but what he puts steam not only into his engine but also into the boiler of the I. W. W. No Leviathan plows the ocean except to carry argosies of the I. W. W. to a world constantly growing smaller and more neighborly in its popular inclinations. The world was Tom Paine’s country; to do good his religion. The I. W. W. has the same fatherland as Tom Paine, the same ethical aspirations.
To subjugate the world was the dream of Alexander, Caesar, Kaiser Wilhelm, and now Hitler and Mussolini. To free the world from subjugation, slavery and poverty is the fondest dream of the I. W. W. To carry on, not in world-slaughter, but in world emancipation, is the I. W. W. aim and object. To create, not only a world republic of letters, but one of labor, such is the I. W. W. mission, with true culture, aided by world development, following in its path.
The ideals of the I. W. W. let it be said again and again are constructive not destructive. The I. W. W. strives to build up not to tear down. It erects the new society on material provided by the old. It carries progress to higher material and ethical planes. It retains giant, co-operative industry, with its profuse wealth production, for all human beings, because it is only made possible by the co-operation of the world’s workers and not by the few who exploit and grow powerful and tyrannical because of their exploitation.
The ideals of the I. W. W. are co-operative not competitive. They are social, not individualistic. The I. W. W. views man as at war with nature and compelled to unite to wrest from nature the secret of its forces and the means for man’s own subsistence. Only as a man ceases to war with man will nature yield up her secrets and man triumph over necessity. To the degree that man does this does man pass from the stage of beastly materialism to a far-flung brotherhood, unsurpassed and unsung in all history.
The ideals of the I. W. W. seek to develop well being in all its phases. The I. W. W. seeks to abolish poverty. To poverty, the I. W. W. opposes the increasing fecundity of nature under scientific control and the increasing productivity of the mechanical genius of man. The I. W. W. seeks to abolish class hatred. To class hatred it opposes a society made one by common, fraternal interests. The I. W. W. seeks to abolish war. To war the I. W. W. opposes the cementing influence of world industry, aided by the growing world consciousness of the world’s workers.
The ideals of the I. W. W. are real, not utopian. They have their origin, their embryo, in capitalist development. They aim to advance this development further for the good of all instead of the profit of a few. The capitalists are now the only dramaticists, the only utopians. They believe the impossible and imagine the impossible. Though they know their system evolved out of previous systems, they hug the fond delusion that evolution will stop with it. And they are called "hard-headed men." That’s what they are indeed. Their "ivory domes" are so hard that the absurdity of their ideas will never penetrate their alleged brains, or so-called vision.
Idealism is irrepressible. It never dies. The idealism of the I. W. W. cannot be repressed, because it is the idealism of a new epoch already challenging and overthrowing that of the old. The I. W. W. has suffered martyrdom and still thrives. Its attempt to revitalize the initiative and the energy of tens of millions the world over. It is an attempt to which it gives foremost expression, but not birth. It is the working class themselves the world over, reacting from the futilities and horrors of capitalism, that have given birth to the movement for industrial democracy. On them and on the forces behind them depends this great movement. You may kill the I. W. W. but you can’t kill them.
History should cause the oppressors of the I. W. W. to pause. The scaffold never yet killed an ideal, or throttled a movement inherent in the nature of events or in the hearts and heads of mankind.
Lovejoy’s press was thrown into the river and he himself was afterward murdered. William Lloyd Garrison was dragged through Boston streets with a rope around his neck. John Brown was hanged. Yet his spirit marches on, not only to the abolition of chattel slavery, but to the abolition of wage slavery, as well. John Brown still lives, reincarnated in the abolitionists of modern times.
For over 700 years has Ireland been oppressed and devastated. Yet Irish idealism lives unconquered. The Emmets of yesterday are replaced by the Connollys of today. During the year 1918 British imperialism claimed forty million victims in India. Instead of destroying Indian idealism, this staggering murder but increases it, giving it a heroism and grandeur unparalleled. Tens of millions more have died in the World War, on the battlefields and as a result of various economic blockades. Fascism has since emerged to inaugurate an international rape and robbery, with millions more victims, present and prospective. Nevertheless, despite this appalling blight, humanity everywhere raises its crushed spirits and aspires to end these monstrosities once more. Even in Germany and Italy, the underground socialist-communist movement persists and grows. Everywhere in the leading industrial nations, not even excluding Japan, are the idealist "termites" at work helping fascist-imperialist-capitalism to weaken and destroy its own foundations. To the industrialism of capital the world over, with its rapine and slaughter for profit and property, idealism proposes the industrialism of labor, with its brotherhood of all and its peace for all.
Idealism is historic. Though it never teaches oppression, it always inspires the oppressed. And it is the idealism of the ages that inspires the I. W. W. backed by modern imperialist-capitalist tendencies. So long as these have but a huge slaughter house to offer humanity, for the profit of a few, so long will humanity endeavor to end them, in the interest of all.
Notwithstanding all the slanders cast upon it, by oppressors who misuse and coerce it, human nature is not so vile as to tolerate the foulness of capitalist "civilization" indefinitely. Capitalism has been weighed and found wanting. The handwriting is on the wall. The new era already casts its shadows before.
So the I. W. W. looks forward, not backward, buoyed alike by the sacrifices of the past, the prospects of the present and the possibilities of the future. It believes that, no matter what happens, evolution will continue to evolve and revolution to revolute. All things live, run their appointed course and die. Life under capitalism is a struggle for a better existence for all living creatures in the future society—the industrial commonwealth of labor, so says the I. W. W. Brief has been the span of capitalism’s existence, barely 150 years since its first pronounced appearance. And today sees it nearly undone, struggling desperately to survive, and taking on the look of galvanized life rather than new vitality. And the new society looms up large ahead. History may write its grandest records on its pages.
The present cannot long endure. Its antecedents are against it. All precedents as the lawyers say, are against it. Co-operative in character, and depending on all for existence, capitalist exploitation must be eliminated from co-operative industry, in the interests of all.
Under all the foregoing circumstances, to lynch, tar and feather, outlaw and otherwise maltreat the I. W. W. will avail capitalism nothing. Persecution warms the hearts of men toward the I. W. W. Persecution causes men to lend ear to the I. W. W. Persecution makes proselytes for the I. W. W. more numerously than it makes martyrs. It is this overproduction of proselytes that makes the business of ideal extermination humanly impossible. And it is this overproduction that will finally submerge capitalist exploitation everywhere.
The I. W. W. is a call to the wise, the kind, the generous of all mankind, especially to the working class. It is not a bravado’s defiance to social development, but the cumulative reasoning of many great minds, perhaps crudely applied, but at least possessed of all their elemental strength. It is germinal, rather than full-grown. It is a beginning, rather than a completed article. It is raw, rather than refined; real, rather than sophisticated; apparently intricate yet simple; reckless, yet with reason. It is a wonderful manifestation, a multi-compound of psychology, economics, sociology, government, art, poetry, ethics and philosophy.
Dreamers! Yes! So were the builders of the capitalist structure, now cracked at the foundation and on the verge of collapse. For, what is it to dream, if not to achieve?
And, considering all signs, the I. W. W. is destined to achieve.
"The man in the street" will tell you, " Ah, yuh can’t do anything against the trusts and big corporations. They’ve got all the money and the pull." This fact is recognized by some of the best writers in the country.
Henry D. Lloyd, in his book, written three or more decades ago, "The Lords of Industry," wrote, "The time has come to face the fact that the forces of capital and industry have outgrown the forces of government."
Frank L. McVey, in his "Modern Industrialism," says the same thing in a more positive manner, viz., "The result (of American industrial development) is what might have been expected: an overwhelming organization of industry standing side by side with a state that is puny when compared with it."
Another author, Wm. Kay Wallace, in his "The Trend of History," declares, "we are standing on the threshold of an apolitical age. Politics has fallen from its high estate. The preeminence of the state politically conceived has been called into question Other forms of corporate organization are pressing for recognition. We may in turn see arising before our very eyes anew, great organization in its essence unpolitical. Industrialism, which may serve to designate this new institution, is a social and economic system, only indirectly political. Such would appear to be the trend of history."
Amos Pinchot, in a 1923, "The Nation" article entitled, "Railroads and the Mechanics of Social Power," reviewed recent history in this realistic fashion:
"In the last thirty years we have watched the balance of power shift from the hands of the public into those of an industro-financial hierarchy composed of a few hundred persons, representing our trusts, railroads, banks and insurance companies. And while these persons are neither better nor worse, nor more intelligent or stupid than the rest of us, they are, for the most part, narrow men, mainly specialists in money making, and actuated by a rather unreflecting instinct of acquisition. For this reason we cannot accept their control of the country as either inevitable or beneficial. To change this control, to re-allocate power, is the problem of the people of the United States."
The powerlessness of the New Deal, in its inability to do nothing more than re-entrench the "economic royalists" whom it set out to reform, as well as rescue, should leave no doubt as to who controls the country, whether it is the industro-financial or the political state. But where is it leading us to? Listen to Prof. Robt. A. Brady, in his recent book, "The Spirit and Structure of German Fascism." Discussing "Looming Shadow of Fascism Over The World," in the final chapter, he gives consideration to the situation in the U. S. A. In so doing he asks and answers the following question: "In the face of growing labor militancy and its stated or implied thrust at the heart of the capitalist system, what sort of a politic-economic system can the business men be expected to promote? The answer is inescapable by all the logic of the past quarter: Fascism."
"Fascism," he declares, "requires the full mobilization—militarization—of all national resources. It attempts to expand over all layers of the population the autocratic controls of the business establishment and the barracks. It both figuratively and literally puts the nation in arms." (Bold face type ours.)
Reminds one of the corporation private armies and hired thugs exposed by the La Follette Senate Committee.
Prof. Brady concludes:
"The hope of the people of the United States is to be found, not in giving free rein to monopoly-oriented and fascist-inclined capitalism, but in turning back its fields, factories, and workshops to those who fought its war of freedom against a tyrannical power and who built, with their muscle and brain, all the real wealth and all there is in America which deserves the name of real culture. But it will not come to them as a gift; they must learn that the only solution to recovery of their heritage lies within themselves."
Righto! And there’s no place like industry in which to assert this self-reliance. And no time like the present.
Industrial Unionism of the I. W. W. type—building the framework of the new society in the shell of the old—is the best means to this end; the best answer to fascism.
Issued by Conference of industrial Unionists at Chicago, January 2, 3 and 4, 1905.
Social relations and groupings only reflect mechanical and industrial conditions. The great facts of present industry are the displacement of human skill by machines and the increase of capitalist power through concentration in the possession of the tools with which wealth is produced and distributed.
Because of these facts trade divisions among laborers and competition among capitalists are alike disappearing. Class divisions grow ever more fixed and class antagonisms more sharp. Trade lines have been swallowed up in a common servitude of all workers to the machines which they tend. New machines, ever replacing less productive ones, wipe out whole trades and plunge new bodies of workers into the ever-growing army of tradeless, hopeless unemployed. As human beings and human skill are displaced by mechanical progress, the capitalists need use the workers only during that brief period when muscles and nerve respond most intensely. The moment the laborer no longer yields the maximum of profits he is thrown upon the scrap pile, to starve alongside the discarded machine. A dead line has been drawn, and an age limit established, to cross which, in this world of monopolized opportunities, means condemnation to industrial death.
The worker, wholly separated from the land and the tools, with his skill of craftsmanship rendered useless, is sunk in the uniform mass of wage slaves. He sees his power of resistance broken by class divisions, perpetuated from outgrown industrial stages. His wages constantly grow less as his hours grow longer and monopolized prices grow higher. Shifted hither and thither by the demands of profit-takers, the laborer’s home no longer exists. In this helpless condition he is forced to accept whatever humiliating conditions his master may impose. He is submitted to a physical and intellectual examination more searching than was the chattel slave when sold from the auction block. Laborers are no longer classified by difference in trade skill, but the employer assigns them according to the machines to which they are attached. These divisions, far from representing differences in skill or interests among the laborers, are imposed by the employer that workers may be pitted against one another and spurred to greater exertion in the shop, and that all resistance to capitalist tyranny may be weakened by artificial distinctions.
While encouraging these outgrown divisions among the workers the capitalists carefully adjust themselves to the new conditions. They wipe out all differences among themselves and present a united front in their war upon labor. Through employers’ associations, they seek to crush, with brutal force, by the injunctions of the judiciary and the use of military power, all efforts at resistance. Or when the other policy seems more profitable, they conceal their daggers beneath the Civic Federation and hoodwink and betray those whom they would rule and exploit. Both methods depend for success upon the blindness and internal dissensions of the working class. The employers’ line of battle and methods of warfare correspond to the solidarity of the mechanical and industrial concentration, while laborers still form their fighting organizations on lines of long-gone trade divisions. The battles of the past emphasize this lesson. The textile workers of Lowell, Philadelphia and Fall River; the butchers of Chicago, weakened by the disintegrating effects of trade divisions; the machinists on the Santa Fe, unsupported by their fellow-workers subject to the same masters; the long-struggling miners of Colorado, hampered by lack of unity and solidarity upon the industrial battlefield, all bear witness to the helplessness and impotency of labor as at present organized.
This worn-out and corrupt system offers no promise of improvement and adaptation. There is no silver lining to the clouds of darkness and despair settling down upon the world of labor.
This system offers only a perpetual struggle for slight relief from wage slavery. It is blind to the possibility of establishing an industrial democracy, wherein there shall be no wage slavery, but where the workers will own the tools which they operate, and the product of which they alone should enjoy.
It shatters the ranks of the workers into fragments, rendering them helpless and impotent on the industrial battlefield.
Separation of craft from craft renders industrial and financial solidarity impossible.
Union men scab upon union men! Hatred of worker for worker is engendered, and the workers are delivered helpless and disintegrated into the hands of the capitalists.
Craft jealousy leads to the attempt to create trade monopolies.
Prohibitive initiation fees are established that force men to become scabs against their will. Men whom manliness or circumstances have driven from one trade are thereby fined when they seek to transfer membership to the union of a new craft.
Craft divisions foster political ignorance among the workers, thus dividing their class at the ballot box, as well as in the shop, mine and factory.
Craft unions may be and have been used to assist employers in the establishment of monopolies and the raising of prices. One set of workers are thus used to make harder the conditions of life of another body of laborers.
Craft divisions hinder the growth of class consciousness of the workers, foster the idea of harmony of interests between employing exploiter and employed slave. They permit the association of the misleaders of the workers with the capitalists in the Civic Federation, where plans are made for the perpetuation of capitalism, and the permanent enslavement of the workers through the wage system.
Previous efforts for the betterment of the working class have proven abortive because limited in scope and disconnected in action.
Universal economic evils afflicting the working class can be eradicated only by a universal working class movement. Such a movement of the working class is impossible while separate craft and wage agreements are made favoring the employer against other crafts in the same industry, and while energies are wasted in fruitless jurisdiction struggles which serve only to further the personal aggrandizement of union officials.
A movement to fulfill these conditions must consist of one great industrial union embracing all industries—providing for craft autonomy locally, industrial autonomy internationally, and working class unity generally.
It must be founded on the class struggle, and its general administration must be conducted in harmony with the recognition of the irrepressible conflict between the capitalist class and the working class.
It should be established as the economic organization of the working class, without affiliation with any political party.
All power should rest in a collective membership.
Local, national and general administration, including union labels, buttons, badges, transfer cards, initiation fees and per capita tax should be uniform throughout.
All members must hold membership in the local, national or international union covering the industry in which they are employed, but transfers of membership between unions, local, national or international, should be universal.
Workingmen bringing union cards from industrial unions in foreign countries should be freely admitted into the organization.
The general administration should issue a publication representing the entire union and its principles which should reach all members in every industry at regular intervals.
A central defense fund, to which all members contribute equally, should be established and maintained.
All workers, therefore, who agree with the principles herein set forth, will meet in convention at Chicago the 27th day of June, 1905, for the purpose of forming an economic organization of the working class along the lines marked out in this manifesto.
The working class and the employing class have nothing in common. There can be no peace so long as hunger and want are found among the millions of the working people and the few, who make up the employing class, have all the good things of life.
Between these two classes a struggle must go on until the workers of the world organize as a class, take possession of the earth and the machinery of production, and abolish the wage system.
We find that the centering of the management of industries into fewer and fewer hands makes the trade unions unable to cope with the ever growing power of the employing class. The trade unions foster a state of affairs which allows one set of workers to be pitted against another set of workers in the same industry, thereby helping to defeat one another in wage wars. Moreover, the trade unions aid the employing class to mislead the workers into the belief that the working class have interests in common with their employers.
These conditions can be changed and the interests of the working class upheld only by an organization formed in such a way that all its members in anyone industry, or in all industries, if necessary, cease work whenever a strike or lockout is on in any department thereof, thus making an injury to one an injury to all.
Instead of the conservative motto, "A fair day’s wage for a fair day’s pay," we must inscribe on our banner the revolutionary watchword, "Abolition of the wage system." It is the historic mission of the working class to do away with capitalism. The army of production must be organized, not only for the every-day struggle with the capitalists, but also to carry on production when capitalism shall have been overthrown. By organizing industrially we are forming the structure of the new society within the shell of the old.
Knowing, therefore, that such an organization is absolutely necessary for our emancipation, we unite under the following constitution.
(Constitution of the I. W. W. printed separately)
Official Organ of the Industrial Workers of the World Printed Weekly at Chicago, Ill. $1.50 per year; $1.00 for six months.
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Transcribed by J. D. Crutchfield. Numerous typographical errors and misspellings silently corrected; many errors left unchanged where apparently intended by the authors. Layout & format slightly modified for easier reading on the web. Please report errors and dead links to classify @ iww.org.
Hyperlinks on this page are chosen without much thought, and the transcriber isn’t responsible for the content of the sites they take you to. The intent is to expand the reader’s frame of reference, not to endorse anything on any other web site.
Last updated 6 July 2004.
Last updated 5 November 2004 by David Walters for the MIA’s I.W.W. Collection. We extend our heartfelt thanks to J. D. Crutchfied for granting us permission to use his collection of online pamphlets.