Mary E. Marcy

The Milwaukee Victory

(May 1910)

The International Socialist Review, Vol. 10 No. 11, May 1910, pp. 991–992.
Transcribed by Matthew Siegfried.
Marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.

IT IS very evident to the most casual observer that the recent spring election has put Milwaukee very prominently upon the newspaper map of the whole country. The twelfth largest city in the United States has elected a socialist mayor, a socialist city council, in fact, has placed the entire city administration in the hands of members of the Socialist Party.

Comrade Emil Seidel, the mayor-elect, is a product of the Pennsylvania German schools, the Milwaukee public schools and the workshops of Prussia. As a young man he spent several years in Europe learning his trade. There, in a Berlin shop, he saw fellow workmen imprisoned for saying things that seemed to him harmless; saw boys, in his own words, “hounded by Bismarck’s Prussian soldiers” for distributing booklets on economic questions. It was at this time that he became interested in socialism.

Mr. Seidel lives in a frame cottage on one of Milwaukee’s unfashionable streets. The comrades claim he is as good a Marxian as he is a pattern-maker. And the people of Milwaukee believe he will be an even better mayor.

Perhaps the most talked-of subject in the United States for the past week has been the Milwaukee election. Socialists and anti-socialists discussed the phases of the results – and are still discussing them.

Revolutionists care not for the manner of their emancipation from wage-slavery. They want results. They are ever ready and eager to seize every opportunity to entrench themselves in any position that will further the great cause of this emancipation.

It is true that one city alone cannot abolish capitalism. But a strong and controlling political organization can back up the economic organizations in their efforts to secure a greater portion of the products of their labor, better working conditions and shorter hours of labor. Also, a political organization possesses unequalled opportunities for propaganda.

The first great need of any organization is organization. Now is the time for the revolutionary unionists to get busy in Milwaukee. Now is the time for them to organize the women and girls who are employed in the famous Milwaukee breweries.

It is true that the socialists are in control of the city administration; it is also true that the capitalist class is still in control of the factories, the mills and the breweries. But the workers stand a much better chance of improving their conditions today under a socialist political regime than they ever did under a Republican or Democratic administration. For the police are under the control of the new administration and, we believe, the days when the policeman’s club shall be used to beat striking workingmen into submission, in Milwaukee, are a thing of the past.

Intelligent men prefer to work for better living conditions for themselves and their wives and families today rather than for a paradise on earth for future generations. And this is as it should be. Martyrs have never lived very long to carry out their plans and execute their aims. The days when a workingman shall rest content in promises for the future, be it an economic, industrial or heavenly future, are dead and gone. If it be in the realms of human possibility to attain, he wants higher wages, shorter hours and better living conditions right now.

The revolutionary industrial union can do much to help him gain these things, but the revolutionary union, without the help and backing of a political organization will find itself checked, beaten and denied on every side.

The capitalist government is but a committee to transact the affairs of the whole bourgeoisie. But a socialist city administration can refuse to execute a part of these affairs.

The aim of all revolutionists is identical. Socialists differ only in their beliefs in the various methods used to attain the common goal. Most of us differ only in a point of emphasis, whether the industrial union or the political organization be more important. Fortunately, both wings of the revolutionary movement are at work without ceasing. Every struggle teaches them how best to unite their forces in a steadfast march toward the abolition of wage-slavery.

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Last updated on 31 May 2022