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Unemployment and the Machine

By the IWW (1934)

Unemployment has been talked about, written about, investigated. It has been the subject of lengthy reports and innumerable resolutions. A whole alphabet system of government, as well as several hundred leagues and associations have been born to end it. For four years there has been a dizzy ballyhoo of promises to abolish unemployment. But really nothing has been done about it.

The proof that nothing has been done about it surrounds us everywhere, in the dying C. W. A., in the masses of men looking for jobs, in the fear of joblessness that weighs down on those at work. That unemployment is just as much a problem as it ever was, is a, clear fact that anyone with eyes with which to see can see.

It is because it is time to do something about it that the I. W. W. issues this careful analysis of the relation between machinery and unemployment, establishing clearly that the cause of unemployment is exploitation, and that the machine has added to unemployment only as it added to exploitation. It is because of this that the New Deal machine wrecking is no more effective than the more primitive Luddite machine wrecking of a century ago, or the misguided craft efforts of the past generation. It is because of this that no sort of labor movement that consents itself with affording a system of "labor brokerage" can combat unemployment. It is because of this that the only program to deal with unemployment is the vigorous and revolutionary program of the I. W. W.; those who would do something about unemployment must do something about exploitation; those who would end unemployment must end exploitation.

Unemployment is not a problem of brick-layers, of garment cutters or of door-knob polishers; it is a problem of the working class. It will take an organization of the working class to solve it. There is only one such organization—the Industrial Workers of the World, with a place in one or another of its component industrial unions for every member of the working class.

If you are weary of waiting for something to be done about unemployment, and have decided to do something abate it, then:—

  • a) if you have not joined the I. W. W., do so at once;
  • b) if you are working, organize your fellow workers on the job, and don't work too hard, or too long, or for too little;
  • c) if you are not working, get busy on the only job you ever had, the job you have been neglecting while doing the other class's job—the job of organizing your class to run the world in its own interest.

Issued June, 1934, by the

General Executive Board of the I. W. W.


Transcribed by J. D. Crutchfield. Some punctuation modernized. Obvious misprints corrected.
Last updated 21 December 2003