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The IWW

By James P. Cannon - Fourth International, Summer 1955

The following document was written by James P. Cannon, a former IWW and former Communist Part USA member at the time of its writing, as a retrospective on his attempts to convince IWW members (whom he perceived to be key "leaders", in particular, Vincent St. John) to join the Communist Party USA. Cannon expresses regret (and perhaps bitterness) that he was unable to do so.

His analysis of the IWW is debatable and his history leaves much out, including the IWW's winning the eight hour day in the lumber industry in the Pacific Northwest in 1917, its successes with the Agricultural Workers Organization in the 1910s, and its control of the docks in Philadelphia for almost two solid decades.  That this last example is something of an anathema to the Communist Party USA which tried (unsuccessfully) to control Philadelphia's MTW Local 8, and it is probably not coincidental that Cannon leaves this out of his history.

Nevertheless, critical accounts of the IWW are worthy of discussions, and therefore it has been included here for those purposes.

This document has evoked some responses from IWW members: