Minutes of the IWW Founding Convention - Part 9
Industrial Workers of the World
Monday, July 3
Chairman Haywood called the convention to order at 9.30 A. M. The roll call of delegates was on motion dispensed with.
The Secretary read the minutes of the previous session, and there being no corrections, they were approved as read.
The following communications were read by the Secretary and ordered placed on file:
Hoboken, N. J., July 2.
Wm. E. Trautmann, Industrial Union Convention Hall, Clark and Erie streets.
Chairman and Delegates:—Greetings. Our best wishes to succeed in your important work. Smash the labor fakirs and traitors. Twist the ropes to hang Gompers, Mitchell & Co. Three cheers for the new class-conscious movement. Yours for the emancipation of our class.
HOBOKEN ORGANIZED LONGSHOREMEN
(in general meeting)
HENRY F. SCHRECK, Chairman pro tem.
FRED DITTER, Secretary pro tem.
Los Angeles, Cal., July 2.
Chairman Industrial Union Convention, Brand’s Hall, Clark and Erie streets, or 55 Clark.
May a class-conscious union crown your efforts and sound the death knell of wage slavery. Adopted at public meeting of Socialist Labor Party and Socialist Trade & Labor Alliance, Los Angeles, Cal.
H. J. SCHADE.
East St. Louis, Ill., July 7, 1905.
To the Industrial Union Conference, Chicago, Ill.
Greeting:—A number of workingmen in this city has raised a purse for the purpose of securing E. V. Debs to deliver an address in this city. I was approached with the proposition and told them doubtless E. V. was attending the Industrial Union Convention now in session in Chicago and that if they secured him he would doubtless talk industrialism unionism and oppose all other forms of unionism. “That will suit us,” they said, “we want him.” “Well,” I said, “upon these grounds I’ll volunteer to communicate with the convention and learn how soon he can come.” “Good, do it ” they said. So now if E. V. can come under the auspices of the Industrial Union so that the local S. T. & L. A. can take charge, we will get ready for a big meeting under the auspices of the new organization. Hoping the revolutionary spirit will guide the new organization into the proper channel and launch an up to date revolutionary union, and requesting E. V., or those who may have charge to inform me as soon as possible the date that he can speak in East St. Louis, I remain yours for the emancipation of the working class.
W. W. COX
522 North 43rd street, East St. Louis, Ill.
P. S.—They tell me expenses will be met. Let me know what they will be.
Also a communication from a Schenectady union donating five dollars.
DEL. WHITE, of the Credentials Committee, presented a report from that committee recommending the seating of F. Kenke, representing painters, tailors, machinists and a number of mixed trades, with 47 votes; Timothy Mahoney, Street Laborers’ Union, Chicago, with one vote. It was stated that the latter brother represented an organization of 1700 members, who had secured a nine-hour day with $2 a day, after Gompers had given instructions to sign a contract for nine and a half hours with less wages than the members were getting.
On motion, the report was concurred in and the delegates seated.
Special committees were called for, but none had any report to make.
THE CHAIRMAN: Reports of standing committees. The Committee on Constitution.
DEL. T. J. HAGERTY, secretary of the Committee on Constitution: The Committee on Constitution has the following Preamble to report.
DEL. SCHATSKE: A point of information. Before that is done I would like to suggest that the Constitution be read by paragraphs, and that every paragraph should be read twice.
DEL. HAGERTY: I will read it in chunks if you want it.
DEL. SCHATSKE: And after that that the paragraphs be discussed separately. I make that as a motion.
DEL. HAGERTY (reading Preamble): “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 millions of 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 all the toilers come together on the political as well as on the industrial field, and take and hold that which they produce by their labor, through an economic organization of the working class without affiliation with any political party. (Applause). The rapid gathering of wealth and the centralization of the management of industry into fewer and fewer hands make the trades unions of to-day unable to cope with the ever-growing power of the employing class, because the trades unions foster a state of things 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. The trades unions aid the employing class to mislead the workers into the belief that the working class have interests in common with their employers. These sad conditions can be changed and the interests of the working class upheld only by an organization formed in such a way that its members in any one industry or in all industries if necessary, shall cease work whenever a strike or lockout is on in any department thereof, thus making an injury to one the concern of all. Therefore, we the workers unite under the following constitution.” (Applause.)
THE CHAIRMAN: You have heard the reading of the Preamble offered by your Committee on Constitution. What is the pleasure of the convention?
DEL. FRY: That Preamble may be all right. I am not prepared to say it is not. From the reading of THE CHAIRMAN of the Committee it is almost impossible for the delegates to digest the contents of it. I believe it should be printed. I believe that each delegate here should have a copy of it before we take any action on it. Otherwise we may not be able to digest the matter as a whole. I offer that as a suggestion or motion. (Seconded.)
THE CHAIRMAN: It has been regularly moved and seconded that each delegate be furnished with a copy of the Preamble before taking action on the Preamble. Are you ready for the question?
DEL. T. J. HAGERTY: I oppose that motion on the ground that this Preamble is short enough for any one to catch the drift of it, and that the printing of the Preamble and distributing copies of it would delay this convention beyond a reasonable length of time. If there are any objections to any of the principles laid down, the Preamble is very brief, so that objections ought to be stated plainly here and now to this convention, and the Preamble itself ought not to be put off. If it were a lengthy document and complicated and with much involving of sections and phrases it might be reasonable to suggest the printing of that Preamble. But to my thinking this convention is competent enough to take this Preamble up as it stands. The workers here, I think, have sufficient memory to retain the substance of that Preamble for discussion.
DEL. ROSS: I want to offer a different motion, and that is that the Preamble be accepted as the report of that committee and without debate. (Seconded.)
THE CHAIRMAN: Without debate?
DEL. ROSS: Yes.
DELEGATES: No, no.
THE CHAIRMAN: I have not heard a second to the motion.
DEL. SCHATSKE: I second it.
THE CHAIRMAN: The chair will rule that motion out of order.
You are speaking to the proposition of having this Preamble printed.
DEL. RICHTER: I am opposed to the motion, for the reason that if it were printed it would not facilitate the work of this convention. As one of the Committee has stated, it is brief enough to enable the convention to take action upon it. I therefore move as an amendment that the Preamble be taken up paragraph by paragraph and acted upon. (Seconded.)
THE CHAIRMAN: An amendment has been offered that the Preamble be taken up paragraph by paragraph and acted upon. Are you ready for the question? (Question called for). Those in favor of the amendment will signify it by saying aye. Contrary, no.
The motion is carried. Read paragraph one.
Secretary Hagerty read the first paragraph, as follows:
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 millions of working people and the few who make up the employing class have all the good things of life.”
THE CHAIRMAN: You have heard the reading of paragraph one.
What is the pleasure of the convention?
DEL. M. P. HAGGERTY: I move its adoption. (Seconded.)
DEL. MCEACHREN: I would like to have some definite knowledge as to what the good things of life are, and it seems to me that the Preamble is objectionable in not specifying them.
A delegate raised a point of order.
THE CHAIRMAN: It has been moved and seconded that paragraph one be adopted. Are you ready for the question? (Question called for.)
DEL. RICHTER: Mr. Chairman and Fellow Delegates: If the sending of delegates to this convention indicates anything, it shows that there is a desire among the working class to free itself from oppression, and the response to the call for this convention shows that it expects that this convention will express through its declaration of principles the situation as it exists to-day as far as the capitalist class and the working class are concerned, and that it will point out a policy by which it may generate strength enough to free itself from wage slavery. Now, fellow workmen, the Preamble offered by your committee starts out, “The working class and the employing class have nothing in common.” It appears to me that the paragraph as it stands has no sense and is untrue. It does not say anything about such matters as we should expect in the Preamble of this new organization which has set itself the task of freeing the working class. For this reason I move that we strike out that clause and substitute the following: “Labor is necessary to satisfy the needs of society. Therefore every able person should do some useful work for its maintenance. The means of production and distribution have grown to such a size and have become so costly that only a few can own them, as long as private ownership thereof exists; condemning the rest of mankind to obtain an existence by selling their labor power to those few. The private ownership of the land and modern tools of production has turned them into means of oppression and exploitation, forcing the wage earning class to suffer want and misery and insecurity of employment, while the increasing profit of the capitalist class secures to them a life of idleness and luxury.” I move that this be substituted for the first paragraph of the Preamble as submitted by the Committee.
DEL. SCHATSKE: Mr. Chairman and Fellow Delegates—
THE CHAIRMAN: Just a moment. There is no second to the substitute offered for paragraph one. The debate occurs on the original motion, which is to adopt paragraph one as reported by the Committee on Constitution.
DEL. SCHATSKE: Mr. Chairman and Fellow Delegates: There has been objection offered against this paragraph which says that the capitalist class and the working class have nothing in common. Have we anything in common? I was once in a mining town and I came to the post office. There were two little children playing out of doors. They enjoyed their play very much. A man came out from the post office and grabbed one child by the hand and said, “You have no business to play with this child.” The child commenced to cry, and said, “Why, I love that child.” “Well,” said the man, “don’t you know that that child’s father is a miner and your father is a business man and also the postmaster?” Now, haven’t those two classes something in common? Isn’t it frightful when the miners and the workingmen down in the gutter live in those hovels and they have got to pay rent for them? Haven’t they got something in common when the little children have to go to work in the cotton mills in the eastern cities and work long hours watching the looms and get $2.80 in two weeks, and the children of the rich spend thousands of dollars in luxuries and for flowers, while the workingmen who produce all wealth that these people enjoy have to live in poverty and degradation? Isn’t that a beautiful communism? How do you like that kind of communism. I ask that this motion shall be adopted.
DEL. GILBERT: I would like to say, Mr. Chairman and Fellow Delegates, that it is quite impossible for us to split hairs and to analyze with fine accuracy the scientific interpretation of this or any other document. But one of the things that pleased me particularly about that Preamble was this, that while possibly it was not stated in absolutely scientific terms, it seems to me it was stated in the terse, ordinary language of the plain people, and that is what we want. We do not want to put out from this convention an academic statement. We want simply to put out a statement that will carry conviction to the mind of the humble toiler, and when you talk about there being nothing in common between them the average common horse sense knows that. Therefore I would move you the adoption of that first clause, without wasting the time of the convention. (Seconded.)
THE CHAIRMAN: The motion is out of order.
DEL. WHITE: I have heard a good many Preambles read, and this is the first time I have seen a Preamble that has not got the ear marks of too many professors. The language sounds good to me. I believe we can go before the working class of this country with it and that they can understand the report without having to get dictionaries and find out what is meant. What we want is to go before the common people with a Preamble so plain that every honest Tom, Dick and Harry, including ourselves, can understand it. I am in favor of the entire Preamble as reported by the Committee.
DEL. WILKE: I move the previous question. (Seconded.)
THE CHAIRMAN: The chair very much dislikes to entertain such a motion. It occurs to me that this is a matter of the most vital importance to this convention, and that if there are any delegates on the floor that are opposed to the Preamble they should have a right to express their opinions in regard to it. However, the motion for the previous question has been made. Those in favor will signify it by saying aye. Contrary by the same sign, no. The motion is lost. The motion before the convention at this time is to adopt paragraph one. Are you ready for the question? (Question called for). Those in favor of adopting paragraph one will say aye. Contrary, no. The ayes have it. The motion is carried and paragraph one adopted. (Applause.)
Secretary Hagerty then read the second clause of the Preamble, as follows: “Between these two classes a struggle must go on until all the toilers come together on the political as well as on the industrial field, and take and hold that which they produce by their labor, through an economic organization of the working class without affiliation with any political party.”
A motion was made and seconded that the paragraph be adopted as read.
THE CHAIRMAN: It has been regularly moved and seconded that paragraph two be adopted.
DEL. SIMONS: It seems to me we are trying to adopt something that is almost ridiculous in statement. If you will analyze that as it stands, it says that we are in favor of political action without any political party. I am absolutely in favor of no endorsement whatever of any political party. At the same time the wording of that is contradictory and confusing, and there ought to be something done to straighten that out. It either ought to be split into two sentences, or else it ought to state more clearly what it does mean. As it stands now it practically says no political action, without a political party. I object to that. I have not a copy here, and so cannot make an intelligent amendment.
A delegate moved as an amendment that the word “political” be stricken out.
DEL. WRIGHT: I want to say that that paragraph does not contradict itself, in my opinion. I will point out the reason. The first part of the paragraph merely places it upon the plane of the existing civilization, the existing conditions under which we live in the United States; that is, wherever it is possible to get at the mass of working people and present a program of the International revolutionary proletariat by methods which give us that chance.
Furthermore, it says, “without affiliation with any political party,” which is correct. We can pursue the method of appearing before the working class with this program without affiliation, and I believe that the sentence or paragraph stands upon its feet, not that it comes out clear, but enough to enable you to study it out, and I think that any person who will follow that closely will see exactly the status of it.
DEL. RICHTER: The paragraph reads, “between these two classes a struggle must go on.” Why must it go on?
DEL. SCHATSKE: Until it is finished.
DEL. RICHTER: “Until the toilers come together on the political as well as economic field and take and hold what they produce.” It says that the moment you bring the workers together on the political and economic field the struggle ceases. As a matter of fact, it just starts then. “That which they produce,” why should they take it? Doesn’t it belong to them? If I have something I don’t need to take it. To take it implies that I take it from something outside of me, but not from myself. This says, “what they produce by their labor, through an economic organization of the working class without affiliation with any political party.” Why should that statement be in the Preamble, “without affiliation with any political party?” The form of the organization will give expression thereto. Although this phrase was in the Manifesto calling this convention, I do not see any need to have it in the Preamble. Mr. Chairman, I move that this paragraph be stricken out and the following substituted: “There can be no peace as long as an increase of wages of the whole working class means a corresponding decrease of profit to the capitalist class, and vice versa. From these conditions a struggle arises which will not cease until the worker is lifted out of his present merchandise or wage slavery position through the collective ownership of the tools of production and distribution. Until such a change is possible the wage workers must unite and organize as a class on the industrial as well as political field, having for their aim an effort to realize their class interests and to support and protect them in their struggle for existence.”
DEL. PARKES: I second the motion to adopt the substitute, to get it before the house.
THE CHAIRMAN: It has been regularly moved and seconded that paragraph two be stricken out and the substitute offered by Delegate Richter be adopted instead. Are you ready for the question?
DEL. DE LEON: The paragraph, if you will let me read it over again, says: “Between these two classes a struggle must go on until all the toilers come together on the political as well as the industrial field and take and hold that which they produce by their labor, through an economic organization of the working class without affiliation with any political party.” That is the language as offered. I wish to speak for the clause as a member of that committee, and against the proposed substitute. The argument has been made by Delegate Simons that that is contradictory; that this clause proposes political action without a political party. Now, let me invite your attention to the Manifesto, to the promise and invitation under which this convention is gathered, and under the terms of which it is convened. You will find on page four of this issue of this form of the Manifesto (holding up a copy), this passage: “Craft divisions foster political ignorance among the workers, thus DIVIDING THAT CLASS AT THE BALLOT BOX as well as in shop, mine and factory”; and on the next page of the Manifesto you find this clause: “It (this organization) should be established as the economic organization of the working class WITHOUT AFFILIATION WITH ANY POLITICAL. PARTY.” If to recognize the necessity of uniting the working people on the political field, and in the same breath to say that the taking and the holding of the things that the people produce can be done without affiliation with any political party—if that is a contradiction; if it can be said that these two clauses in this proposed paragraph are contradictory, then the contradiction was advocated by Delegate Simons himself, who was one of the signers of this Manifesto. (Applause). Here you have his signature (holding up the page of the Manifesto with Simon’s signature). But, delegates, there is no contradiction, none whatever; and I consider that these two passages in the Manifesto, if any one thing was to be picked out more prominent than any other, are indeed significant of the stage of development, genuine capitalistic development in America. This Manifesto enumerates a series of evils that result from the present craft division:—it shatters the ranks of the workers and renders industrial and financial solidarity impossible; union men scab it upon one another; jealousy is created, and prohibitive initiation fees are adopted; “craft divisions foster political ignorance among the working class, thus dividing them at the ballot box.” If this, the division of the working class on the political field, is an evil, then it follows that unity of the working people on the political field is a thing to be desired. And so it is; and this clause in the Preamble correctly so states it. That being so, does this other sentence sound contradictory, the sentence that provides that the new organization shall be without affiliation with any political party? The situation in America, as presented by the thousand and one causes that go to create present conditions, removes the seeming contradiction. That situation establishes the fact that the “taking and the holding” of the things that labor needs to be free can never depend upon a political party. (Applause). If anything is clear in the American situation it is this: That if any individual is elected to office upon a revolutionary ballot, that individual is a suspicious character. (Applause). Whoever is returned elected to office on a program of labor emancipation; whoever is allowed to be filtered through by the political election inspectors of the capitalistic class;—that man is a carefully selected tool, a traitor of the working people, selected by the capitalist class. (Applause.)
It is out of the question that here in America—I am speaking of America and not Europe—that here in America a political party can accomplish that which this clause demands, the “taking and the holding.” I know not a single exception of any party candidate, ever elected upon a political platform of the emancipation of the working class, who did not sell them out as fast as elected. (Applause). Now, it may be asked, “that being so, why not abolish altogether the political movement? Why, at all, unite the workers on the political field?” The aspiration to unite the workers upon the political field is an aspiration in line and in step with civilization. Civilized man, when he argues with an adversary, does not start with clenching his fist and telling him, “smell this bunch of bones.” He does not start by telling him, “feel my biceps.” He begins with arguing; physical force by arms is the last resort. That is the method of the civilized man, and the method of civilized man is the method of civilized organization. The barbarian begins with physical force; the civilized man ends with that, when physical force is necessary. (Applause). Civilized man will always here in America give a chance to peace; he will, accordingly, proceed along the lines that make peace possible. But civilized man, unless he is a visionary, will know that unless there is Might behind your Right, your Right is something to laugh at. And the thing to do, consequently, is to gather behind that ballot, behind that united political movement, the Might which is alone able, when necessary, to “take and hold.” Without the working people are united on the political field; without the delusion has been removed from their minds that any of the issues of the capitalist class can do for them anything permanently, or even temporarily; without the working people have been removed altogether from the mental thraldom of the capitalist class, from its insidious influence, there is no possibility of your having those conditions under which they can really organize themselves economically in such a way as to “take and hold.” And after those mental conditions are generally established, there needs something more than the statement to “take and hold”; something more than a political declaration, something more than the permission of the capitalist political inspectors to allow this or that candidate to filter through. You then need the industrial organization of the working class, so that, if the capitalist should be foolish enough in America to defeat, to thwart the will of the workers expressed by the ballot—I do not say “the will of the workers, as returned by the capitalist election inspectors,” but the will of the people as expressed at the ballot box—then there will be a condition of things by which the working class can absolutely cease production, and thereby starve out the capitalist class, and render their present economic means and all their preparations for war absolutely useless. (Applause). Then, the clause “between these two classes a struggle must go on until all the toilers come together on the political as well as industrial field, and TAKE AND HOLD that which they produce by their labor”—through what? THROUGH AN ECONOMIC ORGANIZATION OF THE WORKING CLASS, “without affiliation with any political party,” stands out in all the clearness of its solid foundation and challenging soundness. That clause is a condensation, I should say, of hundreds of volumes now in the libraries of the country, and of many more volumes that have not yet been written, but the facts upon which they are based are coming forward. One of the facts, a fact of great importance is that curious apparition—the visionary politician, the man who imagines that by going to the ballot box, and taking a piece of paper, and looking about to see if anybody is watching, and throwing it in and then rubbing his hands and jollying himself with the expectation that through that process, through some mystic alchemy, the ballot will terminate capitalism, and the Socialist Commonwealth will arise like a fairy out of the ballot box. That is not only visionary; it is the product of that cowardice which we find very generally in the politics of some men who claim to represent the working class (applause), on account of which we find that such politics in nine cases out of ten degenerate into what is called “possibilism.” It brings about a repetition of the methods of the Christian church, which raises a fine, magnificent ideal in the remote future, to be arrived at some time, sooner or later—rather later than sooner—eventually if not later—and in the meantime practices all “possible,” “practical” wrong. (Applause). I maintain that this clause, consequently, is not contradictory, but states the four-squared fact. (Applause.)
THE CHAIRMAN: Your time is up.
DEL. DE LEON: I am done.
DEL. MURTAUGH: I desire to speak in favor of the clause as read, not exactly for the reasons pointed out by the previous speaker, but simply because it is in the field of possibilism and practicability. (Applause). I cannot agree with the sentiments just expressed, but with the clause just written. In looking over the past and considering the great number of men, the men of many ideas politically and otherwise, that have contemplated coming into this organization, I think that this clause is just exactly the thing, and it is born of exactly the same need that the old line trade unions mean when they say “no politics in the union.” It is born exactly of that same need. It is useless for us here to attempt to disguise the fact that we have every shade of political opinion. We have the Socialists—I happen to be one of them—who believe that action in the political line is absolutely necessary. We have the Socialist, on the other hand, who is so near the anarchist that he is beginning to think as the anarchist does, that action along the political line is absolutely harmful instead of being useless. We have on the other hand, members of different religious faiths, recognizing the fact of the absolute necessity of the solidarity of the working class, but who still cannot get away from their early teachings, their early superstition, if you please, and cannot get into any political party. Now, if we are going to be practical, if we are going to work for possibilism, as it has been expressed, we had better start out along the lines expressed in that section of the Preamble, because only along such lines is it possible to amalgamate the forces that we wish to amalgamate. (Applause.)
DEL. MCEACHREN: Mr. Chairman and Fellow Delegates: I would like to speak in favor of the clause as presented to this convention. I would like to speak for the clause, not for the language it is couched in, but for the ideas it represents. The idea involved in this clause of this Preamble is this: That an economic organization, founded upon class lines, will sooner or later as an economic organization express itself politically. To say at this time that you must endorse a political party which does not exist, would be to anticipate something in the future. I believe that this clause is thoroughly correct. I believe it is correct for this reason also; you must recognize that the strength of the working class is its economic organization; that that economic organization is founded upon a common need. This common need is expressed in the economic organization that represents that common opinion. And I believe that the only opposition that we will get will be from such gentlemen as have spoken at the last, and who believe that the working class need leaders other than workingmen to pilot them out from capitalism. (Applause). I believe that is altogether incorrect. Therefore, you must recognize that there must be an economic organization founded on the class struggle. The scheming politician who comes to you and says that he represents the workingman and that he will turn tip the cudgels for you is and must of necessity be an imposter and a prevaricator.
DEL. CLARENCE SMITH: I confess frankly that I am unable to say whether I agree with the ideas of the Committee on Constitution or not, simply because the Preamble does not express clearly to me any idea or any principle. It seems to me that this paragraph of the Preamble particularly is intended, not to represent the principles and purposes of industrialism, but represents a toadyism to three different factions in this convention (applause), and I am opposed to this organization toadying to any man or any faction of men. Let this convention state the principles of industrialism, and if the factions see fit to fall in line and support then, well and good. It seems to me that this paragraph could not have been more involved or more confusing if it had been written by the platform committee of the Republican or Democratic party. It seems to me as if the paragraph is intended to be toadying to the man who does not believe in politics at all, the pure and simple trade unionist as we have come to call him; that it means a toadying to the Socialist, and also to the anarchist, if you please. It seems to me that this paragraph is intended to be such that the supporter of this movement can point to it when talking to a pure and simple unionist and say, “that is just what you want, and expresses what you believe in.” I believe it is intended to be such that a Socialist can be pointed to this platform with the statement that “this is Socialism.” I believe it is intended to be such that an anarchist can be confronted with this platform and told that “this means anarchy as it is written right in this paragraph.” I believe that is what this paragraph is intended to be, and I am opposed to that sort of fad myself. I may be wrong, Mr. Chairman. This paragraph may be entirely clear to every other person in this convention, but I confess it is not clear to me. I expect to do some talking for this movement after this convention. I am going to talk to individuals wherever I find them for this movement, and I cannot afford to have Brother De Leon along with me every time I meet a man, to explain what this paragraph means. (Applause). I move you that this paragraph and the balance of this Preamble be referred back to the Committee on Constitution for a clearer paragraph and a Preamble that represents more clearly the principles and purposes of industrialism. (Seconded.)
DEL. SIMONS: I rise to second that motion.
THE CHAIRMAN: The delegates who have spoken seem to think that they are talking on paragraph two of your Constitutional Committee’s Preamble. That is not the fact. The delegate here offered a substitute that is now before the convention.
DEL. SIMONS: Is this motion out of order then?
DEL. SMITH: Is a motion to refer out of order?
THE CHAIRMAN: No, a motion to refer is in order, but you were talking entirely to this paragraph, and the delegate now rises to a question of privilege.
DEL. SIMONS: No, I simply second this motion, and if that motion comes before the house I would like to speak on it.
THE CHAIRMAN: The motion is to refer this Preamble back to the Committee on Constitution. Are you ready for the question?
DEL. SIMONS: I just want to suggest two or three other things that I am satisfied ought to be in there, if I understand it. In the first place I see in this section what Brother Smith has just said, that it seems that it is intended to catch everybody, and that it does not catch anybody, and I want to say that it seems to me there are certain things that ought to be embodied in that Preamble. There are certain things that distinguish this organization clearly and plainly from other organizations. There is the one test in there, the principle of the class struggle. The principle of the independent political action, I am not insisting on. I would like to have it; that is my side of the proposition. I am in favor of it, and I want to see it in there. I also believe that this should be broad enough, and I think Comrade Smith will also agree with me that it should be broad enough to admit the anarchist and the Socialist and the men who do not believe in political action at all in any way, providing they stand by the other principle. The fact is that we all admit the two principles which stand out clearly on the economic field; first, that this organization is opposed to all bargaining across the line between the capitalist and the laborer; and in the second place, that the form of organization should be industrial and not craft. Now, it seems to me that those points are not brought out clearly in that Preamble, and those are the things that ought to be clear above everything else. It may be my fault that I cannot understand, but I do not see it.
DEL. DE LEON: I am talking here to the motion of Delegate Smith. Delegate Smith’s statement was that this paragraph is a toadying to three distinct ideas; the pure and simple idea, the Socialist political action idea, and the anarchist idea. Do I understand you correctly?
DEL. CLARENCE SMITH: Yes,?
DEL. DE LEON: That was the substance. Now, he certainly is mistaken when he says that there is any toadying here to the pure and simple idea, because the pure and simpler states that politics are exactly like religion, and that a man can go his own way upon it. I do not know a single instance of a pure and simpler who will say that the working people must be united on the political field; so that so far as toadying to the pure and simpler is concerned, I fail to see it. There remains what is loosely called the Socialist political and the anarchist idea, understanding by the latter the recognition of the mission of physical force. Are they toadied to? If it is believed that there is any toadying done towards either, it must proceed from the opinion that any one of them has, exclusive of the other, the whole truth; it must proceed from the idea that one or the other is absolutely wrong. The truth is that they are both but a fraction of the truth. I do not believe that when you state that two bones belong to a body you are toadying to either bone. If you scratch a political Socialist you will find a man who says that the trade union is going to die out and there is no use bothering about it. They don’t want any economic organization; they don’t want any industrial organization; hence they are mooncalves, ballot maniacs. On the other hand, if you look at the anarchist, he, disgusted at the political mooncalves, flies to the other extreme, and says: “political action is wholly useless,” and you think of physical force instantly and alone. The position of the Committee was accordingly one, not of toadying towards either of the two, but of recognizing the truth in both camps: the truth in the Socialist political camp, that political action and the means of civilization must be given an opportunity; and recognizing at the same time the fact that in this country, for one, it is out of the question to imagine that a political party can “take and hold.” Consequently there are two distinct ideas that run into each other, and the opinion of Delegate Smith upon the subject proceeds from the notion that the two camps, anarchist, so-called, and Socialist, are divided by an unbridgeable chasm; otherwise there cannot be any toadying. For if there is something that you hold is right, and something that I hold is right, and we join the two and eliminate what is wrong in both, that surely cannot be called “toadying.” This clause consequently is a constructive clause with the feature of toadying absolutely excluded. As far as the pure and simpler is concerned, he is knocked on the head—do you call that toadying? I guess he does not—because his attitude is that politics are simply like religion and should be excluded absolutely.
DEL. GILBERT: I wish to speak to the motion to refer. I am opposed to the motion to refer for the simple reason that there is no constitutional question involved. If we will look at that it is quite likely we will discover this. First, we are here to effect an economic organization. There are two elements in this convention. One element proposes to do away with political action entirely. Another element is inclined toward political action. All that this paragraph is in essence is this: It first of all states very clearly and plainly that this is primarily an economic organization based upon the conflict of classes. Secondly, it says in essence this: That as individuals you are perfectly free to take such political action as you may see fit. As an organization you cannot. That is correct. (Applause). Thirdly, in essence it says this: You shall not as an economic organization stand committed to any political party at present in existence. You may say, “Why, then, shall we say that there is any use in the ballot?” This is why: Because, as Comrade De Leon mentioned earlier in the discussion, the ballot is one of the things generally agreed upon by civilized men to fight their battles with. Consequently, if the economic organization is to be the basis of any action—and it must—and if political action must simply reflect the interest of an economic class, the component parts of this industrial organization, the individuals composing it, whenever they see fit to vote they will only vote for that political party that reflects their economic interest. (Applause). I do not care what name that political party has. You cannot conjure with a name. If the Socialist party wants to represent the economic interest of the working class it can only do so by coming before us with such a program that it appeals to our economic interest. (Applause). If it fails to do that, and if the Socialist Labor Party does it, then the Socialist Labor Party will have claims on the individual’s fealty. And if that fails to do it some political party will arise, because we should remember this, Mr. Chairman and Comrades, that any political party, I care not what it may be, it can only exist as the manifestation of an economic interest, that is all. Consequently this does not involve a constitutional question. We are simply stating that primarily we are an economic organization based upon the conflict of classes. Secondly, that as individuals we may use every means, both political and economic; thirdly, that we do not stand committed to any political organization in existence. Therefore, I think it should stand as written. (Applause.)
DEL. KLEMENSIC: Mr. Chairman and Fellow Delegates: We must not overlook the fact that we are here as workingmen, and as such we do not recognize the Socialist, the anarchist or any other kind of ist. We are here as workingmen and as rebels. (Applause). The reason why we are here is that we want to devise ways and means whereby we all can agree, and as the previous speaker stated already, the economic condition of the workingman is the foundation, is the fundamental condition of his being and his welfare and his development. Now, then, this being the case, it lays the foundation that economically we all are united and we all have the desire to unite, for the simple fact that in the past history of every one of us our division came from the work of the capitalist and exploiting class. Now, then, we come here to agree, and we all agree on the economics as the fundamental question. We readily recognize the fact that there are men who believe in political action, and they are entitled to; there are others that believe straight-out in education and omitting to take this political action. Both of those parties are right and correct according to their standpoint. But the most important fact is this, that all of us want exactly the same thing, and there is no reason why these different factions should be on the outs in any way. As I stated to start with, our economic foundation is the one on which we are all agreed, and these two ways, political action and non-political action, are only a question of method, a question of judgment, of practicability or whatever it is. But, as Comrade De Leon stated it very well, there are many chances in every political party to give weight and force and strength to the fakir. Now, what we want to do is to eliminate the fakir, and, as I understand the statement of Comrade De Leon, the Socialist party and the Socialist Labor Party are looking after it to eliminate the fakir as much as possible. Therefore, I appeal to all of you not to forget the point on which we are united, the fundamental economic action. I think the Manifesto in its clause is short and brief, but is broad enough to embody all these different factions, and I am heartily in favor of this clause as it stands.
DEL. T. J. HAGERTY: Mr. Chairman, as a member of the Committee on Constitution, I am opposed to referring this clause back to this Committee, not only for the reasons so very plainly and convincingly outlined by Delegates Gilbert, De Leon, Klemensic, and others, but also for the reason that this Preamble is not drawn up by the Press and Literature Committee, but by the Constitution Committee. It is not designed as an exhaustive treatise on these questions. Its function, as we understand it, is simply a statement of bare facts and not the proof of those facts, which is impossible in a Preamble. We are agreed on the bread and butter question, all of us. We are agreed that we need food, shelter and raiment. The economic, as Comrade Klemensic just said, is the foundation in the last analysis, and it is not the part of the Constitution Committee to engage in a long-winded rhetorical flight in the Preamble to the Constitution. There are plenty of opportunities, with this Preamble as a basis, for all manner of orators and all kinds of politicians to burn up the oxygen out of the atmosphere with long phrases and fine technical hair-splitting. The fundamental fact is here stated and ought to stand as it is stated, and ought not to be elaborated in this Preamble. This is a part of the educational propaganda of the proposed economic organization. To load down this Preamble with all the suggestions that are turned in here, especially the suggestions from one of the delegates, would mean the turning of this Constitution into a folio of a hundred pages or more by the time you got through. The Constitution should be a brief, pithy, concise document, written in the language of workingmen, not written in the language of Proudhon, not written in the language of Bakunin or Marx or Engels, but written in the plain, everyday language of the man in overalls. We want to appeal to the man in overalls. (Applause). We want to organize the plain common workingman, the workingman who could not, to save his immortal soul, tell you the difference between variable capital and constant capital, who could not distinguish the most technical proposition in an academic statement. We want to talk to that man in his own language. Therefore, I am opposed to referring this thing back again. I also want personally to resent the insinuation of Delegate Smith that this is toadying to anybody, no matter who he is or what he is, or to any existing institution, no matter what it may be. We are working here for the working class. We do not care about any factions. We are agreed only on the substance, upon the fact that we want to take and hold all the things that belong to the working class, and we want the goods, and we want to put the boots to the other fellow. (Applause.)
DEL. LILIAN FORBERG: I want to oppose the amendment that was offered by Comrade Smith, because it seems to me it is a waste of time. It seems to me that this paragraph in the Preamble is just as clear and plain on what we are going to do as language can be made to express it. It says distinctly that this struggle, meaning the struggle between capital and labor, must go on until the forces are united on the political field. That means the forces of capital on the one side united in a solid political party, and the forces of the working people on the other side. It distinctly says that this struggle must go on. It states in the next paragraph that we come here to organize an economic organization of the working class, based on the class struggle, without any affiliation with any political party whatsoever. What has been the trouble with the working class movement in all the time that has gone before? Because there has been no economic organization based on the class struggle. The old American Federation of Labor is based on the idea of harmony, that the interests of capital and labor are identical, and the old political parties have been the expression of that idea, and have been just as muddled as the expression of the American Federation of Labor. If you organize here an economic organization based on the class struggle, the workingmen that came into that organization will understand that it is battling on the workingman’s side, and they will come to understand that no political party can be put up by the capitalists to represent the working class, and the time will come when no political party which is the expression of the interests of the capitalists can get the vote of a workingman belonging to an economic organization of the working class based on the class struggle. (Applause.)
DEL. DINGER: I shall not take up much of your time. What I have to say I can say in very few words. It seems to me that we workingmen who come here from all over this country, come here for business. and not for any other purpose. We come here to express in the constitution that we may adopt the sentiments that caused this gathering to come together. It seems to me that the proposition of Delegate Simons is strangely contradictory. He stated that he agreed with the other delegate that this Committee was trying to toady to some of the elements in this convention, and then he goes on record as saying that he wishes this referred back to the Committee to make it broad enough. Now, if I understand the meaning of broadness correctly, in this case it means just the very same thing that he condemns. This is broad enough for me. I want to tell you as a member of the S. T. & L. A. and the Socialist Labor Party that I am not here to force my ideas upon any one. Unless I can convince a man that I am right I don’t want him to affiliate with the Socialist Labor Party. I believe that the Socialist Labor Party is right. I believe the Socialist Labor Party is the only political organization in existence that can emancipate the working class. But that has nothing to do with the case. I am a member of the Socialist Labor Party only in so far as I believe and am firm in the conviction that it represents the interests of my class. Otherwise, I do not care one whit for the Socialist Labor Party. (Applause). I am opposed to political tight-rope walking. We are not performing. We are wage slaves from the mills, mines and factories. Now, let us adopt a common sense proposition upon which we can proceed. I am anxious to be one of those who will go out and try to get more of our fellow workingmen to affiliate with this organization, but if you want me to do that I want a proper basis on which to proceed. I want to have some kind of a principle upon which to stand so that I need not be ashamed of my affiliation with the Socialist Labor Party. I believe, Mr. Chairman and Delegates, that this is sufficiently clear, and I believe that there is no man in this movement who cannot go forth satisfied that he is representing the interests of the working class by adopting the original as it is. I am opposed to referring it to the Committee.
DEL. LA MONTE: I would like to ask, as a matter of information, to have Comrade De Leon’s amendment read. I would like to know just where we are at before I go on.
THE CHAIRMAN: I don’t understand you.
DEL. LA MONTE: What is the status of the business?
THE CHAIRMAN: The motion before the convention at this time is to refer this Preamble back to the Committee on Constitution, this paragraph two. Paragraph one has been adopted.
DEL. LA MONTE: This thing has been put into as plain English as it is possible to get it. They have made a statement of the class struggle, and upon that point it would only be a waste of time to refer it back to the Committee and make the Committee do the work over again that they have honestly spent their time upon for two days. Why should this thing be repeated? I have been here for days, and this convention has been wasting its time in windjamming. You have got a statement here brought forth in as plain and simple language as any man can produce, which simply states the class struggle upon which we have got to stand. Why should we waste time by referring this back to the Committee?
Question called for from various parts of the hall.
DEL. GLASGOW: It has been said that there has never been an economic organization based on the class struggle. I want to say that the Knights of Labor was an economic organization based on the class struggle?
A DELEGATE: A point of order. The gentleman is not talking to the question before the house.
DEL. GLASGOW: I am going to get to it.
THE CHAIRMAN: It is the motion to refer.
DEL. GLASGOW: The motion is to refer. Others have been permitted to go into the merits of the main question. Why should I be cut off at this time? Why should I be cut off now when I want to show that the statement is not true?
THE CHAIRMAN: Speak to the question before the convention.
DEL. GLASGOW: To refer?
THE CHAIRMAN: To refer.
DEL. GLASGOW: That, of, course, then prevents me from going into the merits of the question as I understand it.
THE CHAIRMAN: It prevents you from speaking on any other question except the question to refer.
DEL. MCDONALD: A point of order. A motion to refer a proposition opens up the main question to discussion, and is entitled to the same treatment as if the motion to refer were not made at all.
THE CHAIRMAN: I believe you are correct, brother. I think you have stated the proposition correctly. The delegate may proceed.
DEL. GLASGOW: Now, I must return to the question of the Knights of Labor, and why the Knights of Labor were destroyed. I will make it brief. The Knights of Labor principles were set forth in its Preamble; and let me tell you that the Preamble is the most essential thing. I care not what your constitution provides, it is the Preamble that must determine all our future actions, and upon that hinges the various other things. The Preamble of the Knights of Labor was, “organization, education, co-operation, political action.” That in my opinion is what this Preamble sets forth until it comes to the one point in which it says “no affiliation with any political organization,” the very thing that destroys the essence of that Preamble. Prior to that it recognizes the class struggle, it recognizes the necessity of political action, but at the end it says, “no political affiliation, no political action.” That is how it will be construed in our various labor organizations, and the present Preamble will be no advantage over the present declaration of the American Federation of Labor. The question will be constantly raised in our organizations, “no political action, no political talk;” so there will be no political discussions on the economic side, and no political economics would be permitted in our labor organizations. We would simply be tying the movement up, as it were. Now we should go on, and I believe that if a few words were stricken out that we could agree to leave the question open for the organizations to do as they saw fit. Why were the Knights of Labor destroyed? They were permitted to go on and grow like a snowball that was turning over and over, until it came to a point where they wanted to take political action, and the moment they did that there were those who prevented the success of the movement. You who were living at that time in Chicago understand that that was the position. That was why the Knights of Labor was destroyed. We nominated a man in the United Labor Party, Bob Nelson, a moulder. The district counsel appropriated a certain sum of money for the purpose of carrying on that campaign. Immediately there came Powderly. You all know who Powderly was, I believe.
A DELEGATE: A traitor.
DEL. GLASGOW: Powderly came with instruction that that money should be put back into the treasury and no political action would be permitted. It was a movement on the part of the capitalists, and they used Powderly for the purpose of destroying the Knights of Labor. They were destroyed because the assemblies that were prevented from taking political action yielded up their charters. And you know Powderly was taken care of just as Gompers will be taken care of when he is out of the labor field. That was the position in which we were. The capitalists do not believe in forming a political organization. Why? They have got behind them the President. They have got behind them the courts. They have got behind them the guns that back up these things. Until we get possession of the political field we will not be able to control any of these avenues by which the government is used by the capitalists that keep us in the condition of wage slaves. Is my time up?
THE CHAIRMAN: You have three minutes yet.
DEL. GLASGOW: Now that is the position I take. Then we should be careful that we take no action that will prevent in our organizations the privilege of discussing at least economic questions, and political questions in harmony with them. But I do not believe that we should take the position of declaring for a political party at the outstart, but this if adopted don’t say that or anything of that kind, and I believe it would be disastrous and place us back just where we are to-day under the present trade union regime.
DEL. RICHTER: Mr. Chairman, have I a right to the floor?
THE CHAIRMAN: You have the floor.
DEL. RICHTER: I have not spoken to the amendment, and I don’t want to cut off the gentleman in his argument.
DEL. SAUNDERS: I would like to ask, before I discuss this question, the reading of that clause to be referred.
THE CHAIRMAN: Will you read that clause?
DEL. T. J. HAGERTY: “Between these two classes—”
DEL. MCDONALD: The motion before the house is to refer the entire Preamble back to the Committee on Constitution, is it not?
THE CHAIRMAN: No, the motion before the house is to refer this clause, as I understand it, clause one having already been adopted by the convention.
DEL. MCDONALD: I do not think that is the sense of the motion to refer. It would be absolutely silly and folly on the part of the mover of the motion to refer a certain clause back without referring the entire Preamble back.
DEL. CLARENCE SMITH: The motion was to refer this paragraph and the balance of the Preamble?
THE CHAIRMAN: Not the paragraph that has been already adopted.
DEL. SMITH: We cannot do that.
DEL. HAGERTY (reading): `Between these two classes a struggle must go on until all the toilers come together on the political as well as on the economic field and take and hold that which they produce by their labor, through an economic organization of the working class without affiliation with any political party.”
Question called for from many parts of the hall.
DEL. RICHTER: Mr. Chairman and Fellow Delegates—
DEL. SAUNDERS: I believe I was recognized before this delegate.
THE CHAIRMAN: This delegate (referring to Delegate Richter) has the floor. You just rose to have the paragraph read.
DEL. SAUNDERS: I asked to have it read prior to discussing the question.
THE CHAIRMAN: This delegate has the floor, and he asked for it before you came into the hall.
DEL. RICHTER: Mr. Chairman and Fellow Delegates: It is not that I rise to show what I know or do not know, but I may state that I did not come into the labor movement yesterday; that during the last ten years I have seen the ups and downs of the labor movement, economic as well as political, and if anything was responsible for the defeat that it suffered it was the lack of recognition of their interests as a class. I defy any delegate here to show me in the paragraph presented by the Committee, anything that refers to the class struggle in any other manner than by stating the words “class struggle” and that it must go on. Now, what does this say? Does that give us a conception of the class struggle? It does not. If this declaration or Preamble shall be of any use, it must be the means whereby the speaker in the meetings or wherever it be shall have a chance to go back to its declaration of principles, so as to shut out any element injurious to the movement, and to incite an effort to gain an understanding of it. With the wording of this paragraph as it is, as it has been pointed out by some of the speakers, you leave the door open to any one. Just listen: “Through an economic organization of the working class.” Now, a store keeper along the avenue here is a worker; a small farmer is a worker; and so you go along the line. On what ground can you prevent them from joining this organization? If the class struggle has any sense at all it means the struggle built upon the class interests of the wage working class; and therefore it springs from the fact that an increase in the wages of the whole working class means a corresponding decrease of the profits of the capitalist class. From this condition springs the class struggle, not from an organization of the working class. But I am opposed to referring it back to the Committee, as the Committee has, through two of its representatives, expressed itself and shown that it has no desire to change or alter the Preamble in such a manner as to give a different expression to those essentials, those factors which constitute or are active in this struggle. When we say “class struggle,” you hear the word and you may think anything of it if you are not informed and are so blind that you desire such plain language, yet the result of this blindness means more confusion to us and more strength to the enemies of the working class. I am a delegate from one of the Locals of the S. T. & L. A., and I was certainly forcibly reminded of the words of Delegate Debs on last Thursday, that “the theory of the S. T, & L. A. is correct, but there is something wrong with its method.” And certainly the speakers that have stood upon the floor here have shown by their very position that the charge was well founded. Now, fellow workers, if this organization shall amount to anything, you must bring to every man as far as possible a recognition of their class interests. If you cannot do this you may amalgamate all the workers, but you will not be in a position to generate the strength to bring forth the energy essential to overcome the capitalist class. Delegate De Leon said that we must have the workers’ economic power; that Right is a shadow without Might. But I ask you, what Might can an economic organization generate? It can only pit its empty stomachs against the full cupboard of the capitalist class, but it can make those empty stomachs strong when they are accompanied by an intelligence and by a knowledge of the factors of the class struggle which will mean their destruction. It makes those empty stomachs strong when they are accompanied by a knowledge of the factors in this class struggle which work toward the uplifting of the working class. And that is the only part which the wage working class has through its organization to accomplish its mission. Now, Mr. Chairman and Fellow Delegates, after listening to the expression of the sentiments of this convention I do not expect that it will adopt the substitute. I therefore do not hold that the wage working class will not progress. What this convention may leave undone some other convention will do. But I feel it my duty not to be guided by a reverence for some high and grand mind, whether it belongs to this organization or any other organization, or to decline to act because to express a certain condition certain words must be employed which are unfamiliar to many men, but which you must employ if you want to bring home to man a knowledge of what is for the interest of his class; and for this reason I have spoken.
DEL. BERNINE: Mr. Chairman and Delegates to the Convention: It was necessary that there should be a long course of academics and debate in the preliminary and earlier work leading up to the labor movement. It was necessary at one time that we should distinctly state that, when we spoke of the working class, that we should refer to it as the wage earning class in order that people might know what we meant. But at this time we are all in accord as to what is meant by the working class, and I think that there can be no splitting of hairs here. It was a long time before we could impress upon that working class a recognition of the fact that there was a class struggle, but the coming together of this convention shows us that that class struggle has been recognized. It shows us that the necessity for academic discussion has gone by, and that we can confidently approach the working class at this time with a plain statement of terms, without any scientific trimmings. I think we are all sufficiently aware by this time that the working class must be united politically. I think we are sufficiently aware that they must be united upon their material class interests, and as I said we can come in this simple language to the working class and ask them to organize upon the proposition that there is a struggle in society between the classes, which will not end until the working class is united economically and politically to take and hold that which they have produced. (Applause). The time for certain action has come. And what is that action? Simply to cut that string which binds the working class to the capitalist class. That is the action that we have to take here at this time. It is to set the working class free from the capitalist class by striking off the fetters that weight them down to the capitalist class, and by uniting them, first economically, on the class struggle. And as I say, the academic discussion has gone forward to that point where we know definitely that all class struggle is a political struggle, or in other words, a struggle for the public powers, in order that we might through these public powers, by the might of our economic unity, take and hold that which we produce. Therefore, I think this is sufficiently clear. I recognize the fact that we are here for action and not for economic discussion, and I am not in favor of that motion to refer.
DEL. BARTLETT: I am in favor of referring back to the Committee for this reason: I think the working class has been sufficiently hypnotized in regard to what true working class politics are. The prevailing opinion exists among the workingmen that going up to a capitalist ballot box and dropping a piece of paper in it means working class politics. I want to tell you that that is the most contemptible lie that was ever told you, for this reason: To imagine that you could go into a capitalist hall of Congress and by a vote take possession of their property. Isn’t that a piece of rank nonsense? You might just as well go over to the Board of Directors’ room of the North Western Railway Company and cast a vote to take possession of their property. Do you think they would hand it over to you? No. They will never do anything like that. So get that microbe out of your head. What we are up against you all know pretty well. There are certain reasons why we can’t tell the truth right here.
A DELEGATE: No, sir, none.
DEL. BARTLETT: But the fact that stares us in the face is that we have a struggle ahead of us, and this struggle is going to be a bitter one, and the clearer we can get, the nearer to the earth we can get, the better it will be for your carcasses. Now, what are true working class politics? Is it that you are voting at a capitalist ballot box? No. True working class politics means this: That in so far as the working class is organized to take possession and enforce their demands on the economic field, working class politics grows co-extensively with this economic power, and all the voting that you fellows have to do is among yourselves as to what plan of action you will take against this capitalist class, and time will reveal to you fellows the rank nonsense of voting at a capitalist ballot box. You can vote better probably with machine guns and hand grenades in the course of time.
(Manifestations of disapproval in various parts of the hail.)
DEL. BARTLETT: I am in favor of referring that resolution back to the Committee in order that they can strike out all of that confusing language about political action at the capitalist ballot box and all that stuff, and bring back in place of that clause a plain statement of what the working class is going to do on the economic field. I thank you.
DEL. PARKES: We do not know a thing unless we know the reason for the thing. The discussion that has gone forth as a result of these motions has cleared up this question in my mind, and I think it has cleared it up in the minds of a number of others. The function of a constitution is not to teach the class struggle. The constitution constitutes the frame-work of the organization, and in the making of that constitution we are guided by the principles of working class economics and the class struggle; and it seems to me that the Committee have done well in their statement of the proposition, although I was the one who seconded the motion to adopt the substitute because I did not know the reasoning upon which they based their deductions which they made. To give you an analogy, it is not necessary for an architect to teach mathematics in order to erect a structure. In order to apply the principles of the class struggle and build up an economic organization upon the lines of the class struggle, it is not necessary that the principles of the class struggle shall be taught by every clause of the constitution or by any of the clauses. It may be built in accordance with those lines. Nevertheless now it has been stated upon this floor that this is not the only organization that has been built on the lines of the class struggle. I am not speaking of the S. T. & L. A. I only wish to speak of the things which I know. It has been said that the Knights of Labor was built upon the lines of the class struggle. I will read from the declaration of principles of the Knights of Labor adopted in 1874, and you may judge for yourselves: “It is not a political party. It is more, for it is a crystallization of sentiments and measures for the benefit of the whole people.” The benefit of the whole people is the declaration of the Knights of Labor, and not the benefit of the working class as is stated in here by the report of the committee on the Preamble to the constitution. And it goes on to say: “But it should be apparent, when exercising the right of suffrage, that most of the objects herein set forth can only be obtained through legislation, and that it is the duty of members, regardless of party, to assist in nominating and supporting by their votes such candidates as will support these measures. No one, however, shall be compelled to vote with the majority.” Those are quotations from the declaration of principles of the Knights of Labor adopted in 1874. So I think that a great deal of this discussion that has been brought forward here is founded upon wrong premises. Nevertheless, I think it has resulted in clearing up a great deal of doubt in the minds of many. Having read the substitute over a number of times, I have come to the conclusion that it is not necessary to refer this paragraph back to the Committee, but that it ought to be adopted as reported by the Committee on Constitution. (Applause.)
DEL. ROSS: Mr. Chairman and Delegates to this Convention:
You all know that if I could have done it I would have saved two thirds of the discussion on the Preamble when it was read to this convention. Now, as a delegate to this convention and as a union man and a Railroad Brotherhood man for forty years, I want to say something at this time. That second declaration in the Preamble follows the first, and the first is that there is no harmony between the two classes. The majority of the Constitution Committee who prepared the Preamble is made up of men like myself. You have heard and I have heard men who have represented so-called labor organizations, stand before audiences and say to those audiences of workingmen, “Your interests and the capitalists’ interests are identical.” I am here to say that the first clause in that Preamble contains a statement that they stand diametrically opposite, and the man who, proposing to represent labor, would stand before an audience and make the declaration that their interests are identical, is either a knave or a fool. It is this condition of things and a knowledge of this condition amongst men who have, for years and years, contended as best we could for our rights, that has brought this convention together. I am going to speak for the adoption now of that second resolution to prevent this Preamble being referred, if I possibly can, back to the Committee. Why? Because when I first heard it read by the Secretary I recognized the fact that it covered the ground wherein the others had failed, and that it gives to every man who will read it the very thing that you want him to have, and that is that he can readily see that this economic organization is based upon the fact of the class struggle, and that his interests and the interests of his masters are not the same. It says that this struggle must go on and on. Until what? Until labor has been organized to see its solidarity, until the working class can claim its own. Some of you people have talked about politics. One actually talked about shooting. Let me tell you something. It requires a great deal more courage on the part of some men to vote than it does to shoot. You fellows who talk that way, put that in your hat. I have been there. I was a rebel in 1864-5, whether it was any credit to me or not. I have been familiar with events from the Baltimore riots in 1877 until the thrashing of the street railway employes in New Orleans two years ago, and I am pretty well acquainted with every contest that has taken place. In 1881 I was upon the “Q” system when the engineers had their long contest, when it cost some of us a six or eight dollar a day job. If every man who labors and produces wealth had been joined in a labor organization so that every man could have had every other man’s assistance, there is not a time or place in history if they would stand together in solid phalanx but what they could get what they want without either shooting or fighting. You ought to recognize that fact. Supposing the men of this country stand together who produce the wealth. I want it understood that I am not arguing for the other side; I am arguing only for the man who works in a useful occupation and produces something necessary for the use of society. I have no use for the parasites of society at all. This second declaration in this Preamble says that this struggle must go on and on because the encroachments of the parasites upon the producer of wealth rob him of what he produces and prevent him and those who are dependent upon him from having not only the good things of life, but even the necessaries of life in many instances. A comrade asked what we meant by the good things of life. I hate to make this reference, but I hope there is no man in this audience who is a delegate that is non compos mentis, not sound in mind. The good things of life referred to there—and I am satisfied that the Committee will bear me out in it—mean that the toilers of the land may have good houses, good clothes and good food, and that their children shall have the chance of a good education. I want to say that I don’t want to see a vote cast by a delegate to refer that back, but I hope it will be adopted unanimously.
DEL. HOPKINS: Mr. Chairman, I don’t want to take up the time of this convention in any useless discussion on this question. We have already spent two hours of our time here and have accomplished nothing. We have come from all over the country, from all over this broad land with one purpose in view, and that was to organize the working people of this land into one solid compact body. But it seems from the two hours’ discussion here that this convention has been called for two purposes; one, with the understanding that it is to organize the laboring class, I believe, and the other that it is to organize a political party. We are taking up too much of our time discussing this word “politics.” We should leave that out altogether, leave that to one side. We don’t care to discuss politics or to refer in the convention to political organizations. We come here for the purpose of organizing ourselves into a compact body so that we can go out and meet the foe. We recognize, the fact that there are but two classes in this land, one the capitalist class and the other the laboring class, and that the capitalist class is already bound and organized into solid bodies on the battlefield while we are scattered in the trade unions. The working class have discovered this fact, and they have sent us to represent them and not the political bodies. We are here representing the laborers of this great land. We were sent here for only one purpose, and that was to organize this industrial laborers’ organization. Let us do that; let us accomplish that. We have had a committee out for the last two days working. They have been working day and night. They have presented to us a set of resolutions or a Preamble for the basis of our organization which is perfect in every way, and I believe that we are taking up unnecessary time in discussing that here by injecting too much politics in it. To refer this back to the Committee would take two more days of time. They would then present it to this convention, and we would consume three or four more days with the Preamble, and do nothing except increase expense to ourselves and to those whom we represent and who sent us here. Therefore, I move you the previous question. (Applause.)
DEL. JACKSON: When the delegate behind me spoke in favor of referring this paragraph back to the Committee he stated that certain facts made it impossible to tell the truth in this convention. Now, I disagree with him. I claim that the truth has been told in this paragraph in such a brief form that if any article were left out it would be a half truth, and that would be no truth at all. Now the first phrase is, “The toilers must come together on the political field as well as the industrial field.” That is a truth, a solid fact. The eleventh commandment of Gompers, who states that “Thou shalt have no politics in the union,” is proven to be a lie, because just as soon as a union man gets up to discuss working class economics and not political action, then he is shut off. That proves that the discussion of economics from the working class standpoint in trades unions must inevitably bring out a discussion of the political action of the working class. (Applause). Now, it has been said and argued that that last clause providing for nonaffiliation with any political parties conflicts with that position. It does not. The first clause simply shows the workingman intending to affiliate with this industrial union that he must be prepared to discuss working class economics in that union, and inevitably must follow political discussion. But that does not entail the official affiliation or endorsement of any political party. I am satisfied that if this industrial union throws open its doors to the discussion of the economics of the working class, then it must entail the discussion of the political action of the working class, and therefore the endorsement of any specific political party is absolutely unnecessary.
Question called for.
THE CHAIRMAN: The motion is that paragraph two of the Preamble be referred back to the Committee. Those in favor of the motion will signify it by saying aye. Contrary no. Motion lost. The motion now occurs on the substitute introduced by Delegate Richter. Are. you ready for the substitute? (Question called for). Those in favor of adopting the substitute will say aye. Contrary, no. The substitute is lost. The original motion is to adopt paragraph two. Are you ready, for the question? (Question called for). Those in favor will signify it by saying aye. Contrary, no. The motion is carried. The paragraph is adopted, and the Secretary will read. (Applause.)
DEL. T. J. HAGERTY, of the Committee, reading: “Third paragraph. The rapid gathering of wealth and the centering of the management of industries into fewer and fewer hands make the trade unions of to-day unable to cope with the ever-growing power of the employing class, because the trades unions foster a state of things 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. The trades unions aid the employing class to mislead the workers into the belief that the working class have interests in common with their employers.”
DEL, O’NEIL: I move the adoption of that paragraph.
THE CHAIRMAN: It has, been regularly moved and seconded that paragraph three be adopted as read. Are you ready for the question? (Question called for). Those in favor will signify it by saying aye. Contrary, no. The motion is carried and the paragraph is adopted. (Applause). The Secretary will read.
DEL. T. J. HAGERTY: Fourth paragraph: “These sad 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 is any one 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 the concern of all.” (Applause.)
The paragraph was read a second time owing to the fact, to which Delegate De Leon called the attention of the Secretary of the Committee, that the word “only” after “upheld” had been inadvertently omitted on the first reading.
DEL. SCHATSKE: I move the adoption of this paragraph.
THE CHAIRMAN: It has been regularly moved and seconded that paragraph four be adopted as read. Are you ready for the question?
DEL. COATES: I just want to ask the committee to allow an amendment. I want the last part of the paragraph to read: “an injury to one is an injury to all,” not “the concern of all.” I want to make it the injury of all. I ask the Committee to accept that as an amendment; if not I will put it to the house to amend it in that way.
DEL. SCHATSKE: I suggest the same thing.
DEL. DE LEON: I ask that the delegate put that as an amendment, because we of the Committee have no power to change it.
DEL. COATES: Just read the last few words.
DEL. T. J. HAGERTY: “Thus making an injury to one the concern of all.”
DEL. COATES: I move to amend by making it read, “thus making an injury to one the injury of all.” (Seconded.)
THE CHAIRMAN: Has the Committee any objection to making the change?
DEL. HAGERTY: I have, as a member of the Committee, an objection to making that change.
DEL. DE LEON: It can only be done by the house as a whole.
THE CHAIRMAN: Do you offer that as an amendment?
DEL. COATES: Yes.
THE CHAIRMAN: It has been moved and seconded that the clause be amended by making it read, “the injury of all” instead of “the concern of all.”
DEL. HAGERTY: I object to that, because an injury to one is not exactly an injury to all, but is the concern of all. An injury to a man in California is not a direct injury to a man in Chicago. It is the concern of the man in Chicago. It is the concern of his class, but it is not a direct injury. It is the concern of all workingmen, the business of the entire working class to resent that direct injury, but in actual fact an injury done to one workingman is not felt by the entire working class at all. A wage worker here in Chicago may be discharged for his activity in unionism. The injury is confined to that one wage worker, but his injury is the concern of all wage workers, the concern of every other member of the working class, but it is not a direct injury to every worker. Moreover, this particular phrase “an injury to one is the concern of all,” is familiar to all workingmen, and it seems to me in view of these facts that it ought to stand the way it is.
DEL. COATES: I thought we had been talking about the class struggle continually in this convention. I want to say that we really have made up our minds on the class struggle. Seeing that we have done that, it appears peculiarly clear to me that the injury of one of that class is the injury of every one of that class. (Applause). We can twist it as we please as long as we are in this class struggle the injury of one is the injury of every one of that class.
DEL. DE LEON: I would like to ask Delegate Hagerty, Delegate Hagerty as a physician, if an injury to any part of the body is not an injury to the whole body, as a medical question?
DEL. T. J. HAGERTY: Not necessarily, not as a medical question, is an injury to one part an injury to the entire body. It depends on whether it is functional or organic. If there is an organic injury, of the heart, for instance, the entire body is injured. But you can have a nerve injured without injuring the entire body. You can have a nerve injured without interfering at all with your digestion. Your digestion will go on just as well afterward, and all the different processes will go on just as well as before.
DEL. SAMUELS: Comrade Chairman and DELEGATES: We want to make this question so as to be understood not only by the progressive delegate and progressive workingman, but by all workingmen. All I want to tell you is this: There are very few people who understand that an injury to one is an injury to all, and therefore we have got to make it plain so that every workingman will understand it.
DEL. JACKSON: Delegate Hagerty says that an injury to an individual is not a direct injury to any but the one. I think not. If a man is injured, if a member of the working class is injured, we know that every individual in that class is liable to that injury, and I believe that if we take the standpoint of the concern of all we will take that standpoint as a sympathetic strike, and it cannot be put in that position. Every industry or every craft must strike from the standpoint of its material interests as a craft. I am in favor of changing that word to “injury.”
DEL. MORRISON: I do not agree with Delegate Hagerty, and I will give you my reasons for it. I heartily agree with the proposition to amend. An injury to an individual unit of this great body of workingmen in San Francisco would be the concern of all of the individuals because though the concern of an individual must be addressed directly to the individual, yet if it is an injury which affects the whole class directly or remotely it causes an injury to each individual unit of the organization. Therefore I stand for the amendment to change the wording of that from the concern of all to the injury of all.
DEL. BOSKY: I disagree with Comrade Hagerty. I believe that whatever hurts any individual laboring man hurts at the same time the whole class of laboring men. That is an economic law. Economic laws are such that any benefit that the capitalist class derive immediately out of an individual is an injury that concerns all of us. The science of economics must be taught; the equality of labor, the value of labor and of commodities, must be taught before you can make any success of a movement of this kind. It is no use talking about parliamentary rules in an organization of this kind. Economic laws are involved in an economic movement, and they must be the foundation of the Constitution and everything else.
DEL. SAUNDERS: I move the previous question. (Seconded.)
THE CHAIRMAN: The question occurs on the amendment, which is to insert the word “injury” in place of “concern.” Those in favor of the amendment will signify it by saying aye. Contrary, no. The amendment is carried. The question now occurs on the original motion to adopt paragraph four as amended. Are you ready for the question? (Question called for). Those in favor of the motion will signify it by saying aye. Contrary, no. The paragraph is adopted as amended. A motion would be in order to adopt the Preamble in its entirety.
DEL. DE LEON: I move that it be adopted as a whole. (Seconded.)
THE CHAIRMAN: It has been regularly moved and seconded that the Preamble be adopted in its entirety.
A DELEGATE: As amended?
THE CHAIRMAN: Yes, the whole Preamble. Those in favor of adopting this Preamble as amended will signify it by saying aye. Contrary, no. The Preamble is adopted as amended. (Great applause.)
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 millions of 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 all the toilers come together on the political, as well as on the industrial field, and take and hold that which they produce by their labor, through an economic organization of the working class without affiliation with any political party.
The rapid gathering of wealth and the centering of the management of industries into fewer and fewer hands make the trades union unable to cope with the ever-growing power of the employing class, because the trades unions foster a state of things which allows one set of workers to be pitted against another set of workers in the same industry, thereby helping defeat one another in wage wars. The trades unions aid the employing class to mislead the workers into the belief that the working class have interests in common with their employers.
These sad 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 any one 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. Therefore, we, the working class, unite under the following constitution.
A number of announcements were made as to meetings of various committees.
RESOLUTION No. 17
Del. Coates, of the Resolution Committee, reported back Resolution No. 17, offered by Delegate Chas. Kiehn, of Hoboken, in regard to the struggle of the people in Russia with a recommendation on the part of the Committee on Resolutions that the resolution be passed.
It was moved and seconded to concur in the report of the committee. The motion was carried and the resolution adopted.
No further committees were ready to report, and at twelve o’clock the convention adjourned until one o’clock.