Chapter XI. In Conclusion
In our brief study of the main features of the worker' economic problems we have tried to bring fairly before you the proof that the struggle between the capitalist class and the working class takes place in production and nowhere else; that it is over surplus value and over nothing else; that the interest of the capitalist is to retain and to increase the amount of surplus value, and the interest of the worker lies in diminishing surplus value until finally no surplus value remains. In other words, the struggle on the side of the capitalist is to continue labor power as a commodity, and on the side of the worker to destroy the commodity character of labor power. The capitalist wants to continue the wage system, and the worker must abolish it.
Ben Franklin is alleged to have once said that, "history could be more correctly written in terms of tools than in any other terms." Whether Franklin said so or not, it is true. Only if Ben Franklin did, he was years ahead of Marx in discovering the maternalistic conception of history. Were it not for the invention of tools the human race would have been unable to survive. The survival and progress of the human race have depended upon the employment of tools—in the final analysis upon the tool users—the workers.
Capital an Acquired Character
Now the modern means of production (tools) are referred to as capital, which means that their ownership confers upon the owner the means of exploiting labor. They are primarily, essentially and always instruments of production. This is their inherent character. Their character of capital is an acquired character. Take an industrial establishment and when its capitalization is stated the meaning is that it provides a means to exploit labor to the amount of profit, according to the average rate, upon the sum for which it is capitalized. If there were no wage-workers, a billion dollar capitalization would not be worth ten cents and, if purchased at that price, the buyer would be a dime out. However, today the workers in capitalist industry and commerce, so long as they are reconciled to produce surplus value, make it an objective for the capitalist class to keep them in a condition where they must produce it.
The beneficiaries in every social system have sought to have that system regarded as the finality of human progress. They have always chosen to be regarded as the most necessary element.
A favorite argument on behalf of capitalism is that "labor needs capital and capital needs labor." This is not at all so, for capital in that connection is meant to disguise the capitalists. Labor does not need capital as capital. What labor needs, and will eventually have, is the instruments of production, without their character of capital. This character, which is a character imposed upon the means of production, the workers will destroy without injuring these tools, without so much as even scratching the paint on them. Only the instruments, without their capitalist ownership, are necessary to labor.
This has been the objective of the labor movement from its beginning under capitalism. The very first union was an attempt by the workers who formed it to contest the arbitrary will of the employer which had previously prevailed in industry. While it was not consciously so, it was, nevertheless, the first step in a revolutionary direction. For challenging the control of the boss and denying it altogether is one and the same principle, and the difference is only a matter of degree.
The trade unions sought to obtain for the workers a greater return from the proceeds of their labor and a more comfortable existence within the limits of the capitalist system. Their demands and the intensity of the fervor with which they fought for them betoken a spirit born of something beyond the scope of their immediate grievances. The suffering endured, the sacrifices made, the cheerfulness with which men have gone to prison, the unshrinking manner in which men and women faced death by bullet. bayonet, scaffold and a chair speak out eloquently of greater inspiration than the mere cents . per hour they demanded, or the minutes they asked from the working day. Their wage losses were greater than the thing they sought and fought for, if the financial measure of their demands were the inspiration for their heroic sacrifices. But it was not. They fought and died for a conception of right which, in the denial of their modest demands, they felt was violated. The earnestness of their protests resulted from their social impulses and were never merely personal. Their magnificent spirit was temporarily unable to carry them through to victory, for they often fought with economic weapons that were outworn and almost valueless. The development of capitalist industry rendered their unions obsolete and the tally of their defeats vastly outnumber the score of their victories. But, nevertheless, in the consciousness of victory, or the appearance of defeat, the cause of the workers presses steadily forward.
Working Class Unionism
It is our duty to ourselves and to the future to profit by the experiences of our predecessors and by our own. We must build up an organization as inclusive as the working class, arranged to correspond to the arrangement of industry, flexible enough to meet and comply with the various and varied needs of every and all working groups in industry, and whose aim is as narrow and as single as the working class interest. The power of the workers in production is the power of the life and death over society. This power can only be used to serve society by organization of all the workers in all the working places. The capitalists are using their control over industry to destroy society with wars, unemployment and inadequate living standards. Industry must be for human service, not for the profit of the few. To bring this about is the mission of the working class, and the I. W. W. is the weapon of the workers to accomplish it.
From day to day, and here and there along the battle line of labor, skirmishes are taking place between the forces of labor and the capitalist supporters. The results depend upon the ability of the workers involved to successfully embarrass the particular employers with whom they are in conflict, to a point where these capitalists are compelled to forego some of their surplus value. But as a gain in some industries by the workers at the expense of some capitalists threatens the surplus value of other capitalists, by encouraging the workers in other industries and other places to make similar attempts, and thus weakens the capitalist regime in industry, these other capitalists are always ready to lend assistance to their hard-pressed fellows. The workers, also, are learning that they too must place themselves in a position so as to assist their fellow workers in industrial conflicts. To do this more and more of the workers are becoming awake to the necessity of removing every barrier and impediment to class unity. The craft union idea is recognized as being fundamentally unsound and in practice is a sundering instead of a unifying force.
The Industry Organizing Unit
The workers must be made to see that their economic organizations must correspond with and to the arrangement in industry—that the industry must be the unit of organization to offer any prospect of success in the every-day battles of the working class. But, in increasing numbers, the workers are recognizing the class character of the struggle and realizing that the workers in the industries must be lined up along class lines. There must be one union of the workers, functioning in a purely economic sense.
Such an organization is the. Industrial Workers of the World. Those who have read this little booklet through are urged to acquaint themselves with the principles, structure, methods and aim of the I. W. W.