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Efficient Unionism

The principles underlying these policies are those of solidarity and democracy within the union. Another aspect of the same two principles is effectiveness and efficiency. Our effectiveness is achieved by our united strength; it is measured solely by what we can do. Our efficiency is measured by the relation of our gains to the cost of those gains, whether in time, money, trouble, or the other sacrifices that labor must often make. To smash a fly with a sledge hammer is no doubt effective, but it is hardly efficient. We want maximum gains at minimum cost.

That the I.W.W. is efficient is well attested to by the fact that despite its relatively small numbers it has made disproportionate gains for labor. Its efficiency is achieved by its democracy, its rank-and-file control. There is a myth that democracy makes for inefficiency. Union experience disproves that myth.

In the first place, to get the results we want, we have to aim at those results. To let the direction of the union be in other hands than those of the members would be like trying to chop wood with someone else holding the axe handle.

In the second place, the more members have to say about union matters, and the more directly we attend to union business ourselves, the greater is the union's source of strength. We do not win our fights just by paying dues into a union treasury. Money can only pay for the facilities of the union. What makes the union go is the effort and enthusiasm of its members--something that cannot be bought.

It is this direct participation in the union business, and the system of managing that business by elected union delegates on the job and job committees rather than by full-time officials or business agents, that develops the abilities of the members. It makes the I.W.W. a force with which we can organize our own future. And thirdly, it is the organized self-reliance or autonomy of the component parts of the I.W.W. that goes with this control, that enables us to handle problems in the most convenient and least costly way. This union is built like the hand, each joint of which can move separately, but all parts of which can be brought instantly into an effective clenched fist.

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