III Industrial Organization
The Foundations of Government.-The world is ruled by power. The foundation of this power is control over a large number of people. The capitalists rule the world today because they have organized the workers in the shops and control them. They own and direct the industries.
A visitor to an insane asylum saw three wardens take three hundred of the inmates out for exercise. The visitor expressed surprise at the perfect control which the three had over the three hundred. He asked for an explanation and was told that the three wardens were organized and that the three hundred insane were unorganized. That is, the three had their minds made tip as to just what they wanted to do and did it. The three hundred did not have their minds made up. They did not care what they did nor what was done with them.
Society develops with the advance of science and the invention of machines. Industrial development produces even higher forms of organization. We shall first discuss the growth and nature of the present or capitalist organization of industry.
At first, when machines are small and few, an industry is controlled by small capitalists. Individuals own the machines, the raw materials and perhaps the land on which and the shop in which the work is carried on. In this first stage the capitalist often works along with his employees. He at least is useful in that he directs industry. He buys the raw material. He superintendsthe shop. He sells the finished product. But even at this stage the portion lie takes as profits is much greater than his part in production. His income is not at all determined by the work lie performs. Let us see what does fix the amount lie takes from the workers as profits and the amount he gives the workers as wages.
Wages and Profits.-When the capitalist employs the worker he of course pays as little in wages as possible. If the worker is skilled he will usually get more wages than if unskilled because it required time and labor to develop his skill. If workers are scarce their price in the market will go tip for a time. If, however, there are many unemployed, wages will decline. Wages is the price paid in the market for the labor power of the Worker. The amount of wages does not depend at all upon the amount of the workers' product. On the average, wages amount to just enough to keep the worker in good shape for his work. If there were no great unemployed army, if machines did not constantly take the place of more and more workers, then the average male worker would have to receive enough to support a wife, and children to take tile place of the parents. But the unemployed army and the new machines are constantly forcing wages in many industries down to a point below what is absolutely necessary to support a wife alone, not to mention children. Also, until about twenty years ago there was another factor in American life that tended to keep wages up. There was plenty of free land in the West. The strongest, boldest workers, especially those who had a little money in the bank, could always go West and take tip free land or get a good job. In the West there was much work to be done and workers were scarce. As some left tile East the wages of others went up or were prevented from going down. So there developed among the working people in America what hasbeen known as "the American standard of living," But during the last twenty years American workers have been constantly getting less and less for their work.
How Wages Have Gone Down.-In dollars and cents the average wages have probably not gone down at all during the past fifteen years. In many cases they have actually risen. But measured by the food, clothing and shelter the worker can buy with his wages, which is the only true way to measure an income, wages have gone down at least fifty per cent in this time. Prices have gone up not because the trusts are able to charge any price they please, but for a wholly different reason. Gold is our standard measure of value and gold is becoming ever cheaper and cheaper. It is now produced by machines and the cyanide process. As much gold can be turned out by two days' labor now as by three days' labor fifteen years ago. Therefore, when goods of any kind are sold in the market, it takes three dollars in gold today to buy as much as two dollars would buy formerly.
But wages, the price of labor power in the market, have not generally gone up. Mr. James J. Hill, one of the greatest railroad magnates in America, has declared that the time has come for the American people to live cheaper, like European peasants. That statement is absolutely true. The wages of the American worker have gone down fifty per cent in fifteen years because he can no. longer get, away from his master. Machines are taking his place and he can no longer go West, take up government land and be free. Had the value of gold remained as it was, wages would have gone down just the same. Higher prices is simply a form which lower wages takes.
Nothing but Socialism can prevent the condition of the American workers from becoming just as bad as that of the working people of Europe, or even worse.
The Portion of Labor.-Wage., are the price of the food, clothing and shelter needed by the worker who has the job. Profits are all that portion of the laborer's product which is left to the capitalist after the wages, have been taken out. Let us suppose that a capitalist sells a year's product of his shop for $100,000. Suppose that raw materials and shop expenses amount to $25,000. The product of the workers in the shop is therefore $75,000. If there are fifty workers in the shop who receive, on the average, $500 a year, that would amount to $25,000 in wages. There is still left the sum of $50,000. That is profits and is pocketed by the capitalist, who may not have worked a single (lay in the shop or office. Now let us say that next year five machines are put in and that they replace forty workers. These five machines require only five workers. That means that fifteen workers will be left in the shop. Their wages, at $500 each, will be $7,500. So next year the capitalist will pocket $17,500 more in profits, or $67,500. By and by the starving workers who have lost their jobs will come back and offer to work for less. Wages are cut to $400 a year. That means $1,500 more in profits. At the present time this is just what is taking place everywhere in America. The percentage and amount of profits is getting to be greater and greater and greater, and, on the average, wages are getting to be less and less and less.
Profits do not go tip because the capitalists do more. The manager's brains are under the workman's cap. In fact, as industry develops, the capitalist does less and less useful work. Profits go up because the capitalists own and control the industries.
Wages do not go down because the workers produce less. They are producing ever more and more. Wages go down and ever down, because the capitalist can buy the workers at ever cheaper and cheaper prices in themarket. Wages are going down because machines are taking the place of workers; because women and children are leaving the home and working in the factories and offices; because the workers can no longer work for themselves but are chained in their master's service. Finally, wages go down because it takes less food, clothing and shelter to keep a worker alive today than his father required, demanded and received fifty years ago.
The Nature of a Capitalist.-The capitalists and their agents are constantly telling the workers that they got their start by saving their money and wisely investing it. A long time ago this may have been true in some cases. These few cases of capitalists who began honestly have been constantly pointed out until the workers were led to believe that they could save some of their wages and start in business Of course today the trusts are so powerful that very few workers are foolish enough to try to become capitalists. But man of them still believe the foolish tales the thieving capitalists tell about themselves. A capitalist does nothing except for profits. For more profits there is nothing he will not do.
The True History of Some of These Capitalists.-In Gustavus Myers' "History of the Great American Fortunes," we find a true account of the lives of the most noted of the American capitalists. Mr. Myers has most carefully examined the records of courts and legislatures, family histories and newspaper files dealing with the subject.
For instance, the Astor family, which owns more than $400,000,000 worth of real estate in New York City, got its start through the fur trade with the Indians. The Astor agents committed a crime every time they gave the Indians liquor. But they regularly made the Indians drunk and often stole their furs. The founder of the family, John Jacob Astor, built up this great system of criminal trade and made millions. He then stole great quantities of real estate from the city of New York. In the War of 1812 his agent proved a traitor to his country, imparting valuable government secrets to the British in return for protection to the Astor properties in Canada. Since then the Astors have always carefully observed that passage of Scripture which reads: "Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin." Their fortune in valuable New York real estate grows while they sleep. But instead of being fed by the Heavenly Father they are being fed by the sweating working class of New York City.
The most powerful capitalist in America today is J. Pierpont Morgan. He is said to control ten billions of dollars. He himself possesses an estate worth $250,000,000.
How did he get it? Mr. Myers has told us.
In 1861 the government of the United States was everywhere hurriedly purchasing arms to put in the hands of its soldiers. Also it sold much worn-out material to make place for new. Among the junk offered for sale was a supply of 5,000 rifles in an arsenal in New York City. They were more dangerous to the men back of them than to those in front of them, as they would burst on the first fire. But this fact did not worry J. Pierpont Morgan. Instead of going to the front as a soldier he staid at home and made money. Through an agent he purchased these rifles from the United States government at $3.50 apiece. He then resold them to the United States government at $25.00 apiece. The government paid him $17.50 for each rifle but refused, upon learning of Mr. Morgan's swindling game, to pay more. In 1864 the whole Nation was worn out by the awful Civil War. Most of the able bodied men, except a crowd of thieving, grafting capitalists who staid at home andgot rich, were in the army. Yet at that time, in the very crisis of the war, the unspeakable Morgan won his suit against the government and collected the extra blood money.
When, a few years ago, the "muck-rakers" were exposing the crimes of the great capitalists, those who tried to defend them pointed to Russell Sage as a man of spotless honor, an ideal for American youth.' Mr. Myers shows that Russell Sage, as a young man, started out in life by stealing a railroad. He then took the money made out of it and bribed the governor and legislature of Wisconsin into giving him valuable lands. So it is with all of them, the Vanderbilts, the Goulds and the Rockefellers. They get their great wealth not only by taking their profits from the workers directly. They degrade city, state and national governments by bribing the officials and using them in their business. They steal from one another. They rob the ignorant and the weak. But of course the greatest and most lasting injury done the workers consists in paying them wages as low as possible and taking as much profit as possible in the shops and mines and on the railroads where the workers toil.
No one ever produced $100,000,000 nor $1,000,000. If a man has any such amount of wealth he got it by grabbing and keeping profits out of the product of the workers. He may have gotten it directly from the workers, or indirectly by robbing other capitalists or gambling in the stock market.
The Social and Moral Difference Between Capitalist and Worker.-No worker should wish to become a capitalist. The small capitalist cannot thrive as a capitalist without lying and cheating; without paying low wages and sweating his workers through long hours; without lying awake nights planning how to help himself by injuring others.
The worker cannot rise as a worker without joining in unity with other workers and helping all. This mutual dependence of worker upon worker, taught them by their everyday experiences in the shop, is the best and finest thing in modern life. It leads to brotherhood. It develops the mind of the worker. It raises him out of a state of individual selfishness and meanness and points to the goal of civilization-Socialism.
The individual capitalist soon found that he was powerless to control the growing government of the shop, the mine and the store. The size and great number of the machines invented and the growing market due to railroads and other means of transportation led to this. These forces became too great for him to control through his own personal wealth. So there came the next higher form in the organization of industrythe corporation. A business corporation is an association of capitalists, which, because of the rights granted to it by the government through its charter, can do business very much as does an individual. There were very great corporations which engaged in commerce long before modern machines were invented. The first English settlements in North America were made by such corporations as the Virginia Company and the Plymouth Company. So the corporation is a very old form of organization. But at first it was confined almost whollyto trade upon the high seas. Before the invention of machines there were but few corporations in the productive industries. In England, as we have already pointed out, machines began to be used in the making of cloth in 1764. They were not set tip in America until about 1800. After that time corporations developed very rapidly. Soon, with the coming of machines, corporations were engaged in the production of iron, of lumber and of many other commodities. With the invention of the steamboat in 1807 and the railway in 1829, the size of the market which could be reached by a corporation grew to include the whole Nation. So the corporations developed rapidly in both numbers and in size. As long ago as when Andrew Jackson became President, in 1829, they became so powerful as to dictate the policies of the government at Washington. Andrew Jackson saw the danger. He saw how the old political government of the people was used by the new industrial government, the corporations. Although he smashed the most. powerful of these, the great United States Bank, he could not stay the progress of industry. The corporations were bound to grow because the Nation's industries needed a government of their own. The working people were not prepared at that time to take over and own the machines of production. So they were owned and controlled by the rich. Of course many individual capitalists still owned factories, but no individual ever owned any railway line of any consequence. By 1861, when the Civil War broke out, the capitalist class, composed of individuals and corporations, was quite as strong as the great farming class. When the Civil War ended, in 1865, it had grown so rich through cheating the government, through high tariffs, high prices and low wages, that it was by far the most powerful class in the country.
The Coming of the Trusts
When the modern Socialist Movement was first started, the Socialists aimed to do two things. First, they wished to abolish competition and establish cooperation. Second, they wished to have the working class so organized that they could control the machines of production and take the whole product. The first of these purposes was considered to be as important as the second. Competition was known to be a very great evil. It immensely increased the whole amount of work to be done. For instance, instead of having one fine large department store in a city of 25,000 people, the Socialists saw a hundred small stores. The Socialists saw the competing business men cheat one another and the public. They saw ten doing work which one could do. Surely this, said the Socialists, is a most foolish and wasteful way of doing business. Socialism would make an end of it. Socialism would bring about co-operation instead of competition. It would end competition not only in the store, but also in the shop.
Competition.-At this the small business men laughed and jeered. "Competition," said they, "is the life of trade. Everybody knows that. The Socialists are mostly lunatics and at best a lot of dreamers. Without competition there would be no business done and consequently nothing produced. Every one would go naked and starve." So said the 'small shop keepers and factory owners forty years ago.
Then the natural growth of industry brought the trust. The trust is neither "bad" nor "good." It is simply natural, like a tree or a river. It comes when conditions force it to come. Those who organize a trust must do so in order to protect and advance their interests,
As the machine process develops, competition becomes instead of "the life of trade," much more the death of trade. Each competitor tries to outdo the others. He goes beyond his means. The markets are gluted with goods which the workers have produced but are too poor to buy from the capitalists. One competitor after another goes bankrupt. The shops become idle and the stores find no purchasers. This is called a "crisis" or a " panic." Meanwhile the workers are idle and the small business men are ruined. Whole armies of people starve. It sometimes takes years to outgrow a panic.
With the growth of competitive industry panics become worse and worse. The worst one we had in this country was that of 1893-8. The growth of railroads, the telegraphs and mail service had increased the range of the market to include the whole Nation. A small factory was brought into competition with all other factories turning out the same kind of goods. Among the railroads the words "competition" and "ruin" meant the same thing. Two or more competing lines would force one another to the verge of bankruptcy. Running expenses were cut. The railroad workers were shamelessly underpaid and overworked. The lives of the trainmen and of passengers were sacrificed as in war. When the owners of the railroads tried to abolish this foolish and dangerous competition, the ignorant people demanded laws forcing it to be continued.
There was only one thing to do. Trusts must be formed to control the markets. The first great group of trusts were organized in 1899.
What Is a Trust?-Trusts are formed in the following way. A number of the largest producers in any industry, both individuals and corporations, bring their holdings together. Suppose that one hundred separate pieces of property are to be taken in. A board of trustees is chosen. The owners agree upon a value, in eachcase, with this board of trustee-. Then they place their properties in "trust " and receive stocks, bonds or money from the central organization. The trust is simply a later and better organization than the corporation. It is just as foolish to try to smash trusts as it would be to smash corporations and partnerships. The bigger the machines and the larger the market, the greater must be the organization of industry. The partnership may be compared to the formation of a family. Two people unite for their mutual welfare. A corporation is like a village or small town. Then comes a combine of corporations and individuals which resembles a county. Finally a trust is organized. A trust controls some branch or great department of industry. It may be compared to a state like New York, Missouri or California. Instead of controlling a definite section of the Nation's territory, it controls a branch of the Nation's industry.
How the Trust Becomes a Monopoly.-A trust in any industry starts with the largest and best factories and controls the widest markets. Perhaps it possesses also large supplies of raw materials, a part of which its small competitors must purchase. At first it is not likely to be a monopoly. It may not even control a majority of the trade. Suppose that it controls 30% and its smaller rivals, together, 70%. But the trust soon begins to swallow its competitors. It may undersell them in their markets. It hires their most able workingmen and selling agents. It secures valuable railroad rebates, an advantage in which the small producer cannot share. It spies upon the small producer until it knows just what be is doing and plans to do. Very soon most of the small producers are willing to give up the fight and sell out to the trust. If not, they are forced into bankruptcy. Thus the trust becomes a monopoly. Then comes its period of prosperity. As a monopoly a trust may often raise its pricesconsiderably without endangering its hold on the market, for small competitors do not dare to start up again. They know that the trust will quickly lower prices in their district and again bring them to ruin.
The Trust and the Workers.-The trusts not only crush their business competitors. They are able to smash the old-fashioned unions which grew up in the days of small machines and small shops. These unions were composed of skilled workers. The progress of machine industry, making their skill unnecessary, destroyed their effectiveness, even as it did that of the small corporation. Only there is this difference. In place of the small corporation has come the trust. In place of the old-fashioned union the trust has, so far, permitted few new unions to grow. The most striking example of this is in the iron and steel industry. This gigantic trust possesses great mines, ships, railroads, steel plants and in some cases the towns in which the plants are located. It has $1,400,000,000 of capital. It employs, when working to its full capacity, 200,000 workers. In the old days of small production the workers were protected by the Amalgamated Association of Iron and Steel Workers. This union secured the eight-hour day for many of its members. Today most of the slaves of the Steel Trust toil twelve hours a day, seven days a week. On the Great Lakes the Steel Trust has killed the Seamen's Union and made serfs of the sailors. In the Lake Superior mines the workers are not permited to organize. They are not even permitted to hold public meetings for the discussion of their condition.
The Trusts Are Governments of Industry.-We have seen that the trusts grow naturally-that it cannot be otherwise. They can never be destroyed. There would in fact be only one possible way of making an end to them. That would be to smash the large machines ofproduction and the great railway systems. The trouble is not that we have trusts. The workers' condition comes from the fact that the trusts are owned and governed by a few people. Very often they are dominated by one man. Thus Morgan governs the Steel Trust. Morgan can make a law increasing the hours or decreasing the wages. He can prevent the workers from protecting themselves in the factories and thus kill and injure thousands of them. In fact 560 steel workers were killed in the mills of Pittsburg in a single year.
Industrial Tyranny.-The workers thus live under an awful tyranny. They are ruled without their consent. The government which oppresses them is the government of the shops, the mines and the railroads. This government declares when they shall work and when they shall be idle. All of the profits taken by the capitalist class are in. reality taxes paid by the workers. These taxes are not voted by the workers. They are seized by the employers. The idea that we have freedom in America is ridiculous. What the capitalists call "freedom," is nothing but freedom to enslave the working class. This they can now do without let or hindrance.
The Industrial Empire of America
We have compared the trust to an industrial state. Many states make up the Nation. In the same way many trusts compose our present great nation of industry. The trusts are rapidly organizing into one great system. So the Nation is coming to be governed as an empire. J. Pierpont Morgan is now the chief ruler of this empire. He is the emperor of the trusts. Under him there are kings and dukes who rule separate trusts and corporations. This great government of industry is said, upon very good authority, to have brought on the panic of 1907 in order to seize several great corporations whichwere fighting it. During this panic it grabbed hundreds of small businesses.
No capitalist, even though lie might possess ten millions or twenty millions of money, can today start any new business of his own unless he goes to Wall Street, appears at court, and gets the consent of the Emperor of America. Whatever small separate industries exist, still remain alive because the industrial empire does not wish to crush them out too fast. To do this would be to raise a cry of revolt among the middle class. Until now the workers have been so enslaved, so helpless, so deadened, that the Wall Street magnates have not even thought of their opposition seriously. But it would not do to go too far and too fast. So some small business men are still permitted to enjoy a hand-to-mouth existence.
The Industrial Empire and the Government at Washington.-Morgan and his associates on Wall Street use the government at Washington as a tool to serve their ends. They rightly despise the President, the members of the Supreme Court and Congress, for these politicians are far beneath them in power and importance. What laws Wall Street wants are passed. In case of a strike, the governor of a state is used to control the militia and crush the strike. The federal and state judges issue injunctions, that is' , they make such new laws as the trusts want. The powers of the separate states are usually quite strong enough to deal with the divided and blinded working class. But if these do not suffice, then the powers of the National Government are used. Grover Cleveland, a Democratic President, broke the great A. R. U. strike in 1894. Theodore Roosevelt, a Republican President, broke the Goldfield Miners' strike in 1907. The Republican state of Pennsylvania has established a standing army of its own in order to have it ready to shoot working people. The Democratic legislature of Florida, in the spring of 1911, refused to pass a law forbidding the employment of children under eight years of age. All the Democratic and Republican officials, from dogcatcher to President, are but the hired agents of the empire of industry.
The Real Government of the United States.-America is governed from Wall Street, New York. This is the real seat of public power. Under its tyrannical laws all of us are forced to live. When labor raises its head it is quickly clubbed into submission. The industrial oligarchs are now attempting to destroy freedom of speech and of the press. Professors in the universities and colleges and teachers in the public schools do not attempt to tell the truth about government. Such as do quickly lose their positions. Clergymen and priests do not dare preach the truth about the working class in their sermons, for the industrial empire is gaining control of the churches. All of the newspapers in the larger cities, except the Socialist papers, are owned out and out by the capitalists. They are used to keep the workers in ignorance and to entertain them with pictures, cheap sporting news and sensational reports of scandals.
Thus the trusts control the army, the navy, the police, the political government, the schools, the press, the church, and even the theaters. The industrial empire is a power with its forces encamped in every city and state of the land, armed not only with the weapons which slay the body, but also with those mightier weapons which destroy the free mind of the working class.
Is all hope lost?
Let us see.
The Organization of Labor
Capitalists cannot live without wage-workers. Where one class exists there the other will be found. Furthermore, there is sure to be trouble between the two. The master is always scheming to get more profits out of the worker. The worker fights for more wages from his boss. The less one gets the more there is for the other. Hence we have, between the capitalist and his worker, what is known as the Class Struggle.
At first this struggle does not seem to be important. The small capitalist and his workers associate together and may for a time be good personal friends. This small capitalist is not very rich nor is the worker very poor. The personal relationship between the two prevents violent outbreaks. At this stage of production, especially in America, the more greedy and calculating workers were constantly "rising" and becoming small capitalists.
But with every step in the growth of industry, peace between the capitalist and worker becomes less likely. Soon the capitalist lives an altogether different life from the worker. He associates only with his own kind. He builds himself a palace and travels about the world. Meanwhile the worker continues to work and sweat in the shop. Neither he nor any of the members of his family meet the capitalist or his family. The capitalist's children go to college. The worker's children go to work.
The Growth of the Class Struggle.-And thus the two classes come to be wholly separated as regards every aspect of life. The capitalist who never works comes to despise work and the workers. The worker naturally hates the capitalist who is taking such huge profits and paying such low wages. But at first the worker's opinions are not clear in his own mind. In fact, few workers even now understand the real problem which confronts them.
The Problem of Labor.-However, it was very early discovered that the only way for the workers to make head against the capitalists was to organize. The purpose of labor unions has been to control or partly control, the conditions of labor and the division of labor's product. That is, the workers seek, through their unions, to help govern the industries, instead of letting the capitalist do just as lie pleases. Every demand made by organized labor upon the capitalists is in the nature of a proposed law for the shop. When the capitalist surrenders and gives in to the demands of the workers the law, is passed.
The Two Kinds of Labor Unions.-From the beginning of the labor union movement in America, about 1825, there have always been two views as regards the methods and purposes of unions. Some unionists always wished to organize only the skilled workers in small groups and thus advance the price of their labor. Such unions are craft unions or trade unions. These do not care much for the interests of the working class as a whole. They merely wish to help themselves to better conditions. If only the capitalists give in to their demands, they may continue to oppress members of other crafts or unorganized workers as much as they please. Of course so long as the members of a craft may better their condition in this way there is no argument against craft unionism. Craft unions will exist as long as they are successful.
Early Class Unionism.-But another kind of unionism in some form or other has always, from the beginning, been advocated. This is class unionism. A class union is one which attempts to unite all the workers against all the capitalists. It recognizes the fact that all the workers are suffering from the same cause. It sees the capitalists, whenever driven to it by their interests, unite solidly against the workers. And usually the advocates of class unionism have been wise enough to foresee that if the workers wish permanent relief from wage-slaverthey must secure complete control of the industries. But when this doctrine was first advocated in America, eighty years ago, the time was not ripe for it. The machines were too small, the markets were too limited, and therefore capitalism was not highly enough organized. It was at that time a beautiful and inspiring vision of what the future was to bring, rather than a practical policy for the working class.
The Growth of the Craft Unions.-The great error of the craft unionists has been in thinking that they can permanently better the condition of all the members of their craft. The skilled worker can generally sell himself in the open market for only a little more than the unskilled worker, at most from ten to twenty per cent more. Let us take, for example, a machinist. A man of average intelligence can learn the machinist trade in three years. If the machinists receive very much more than the average of the unskilled workers, large numbers of the unskilled will set themselves to becoming machinists. By and by the number of machinists will outrun the number of jobs to be had. Then the wages of the machinists will fall until it is but little more than that of unskilled labor.
To meet this difficulty the craft unionists do not attempt to keep up wages chiefly by fighting the employers. They seek to make of their union a job trust. This is done, first, by restricting the number of apprentices. Some unions permit only the sons and brothers of the members to learn their trade. But this method cannot be entirely successful. The employers will always find ways of securing more skilled workers. Some come from other countries. But most of the newcomers in the trade are those who have been helpers. Thus blacksmiths' helpers soon become blacksmiths and machinists' helpers become machinists. Time and again have these trades gone onstrike only to find that their helpers have taken their places and done their work. There remains but one thing for the union to do. It may keep out new members by high initiation fees and closed books. This is very commonly done and the union scale of wages for a time maintained. But it cannot be permanent. Sooner or later, in every trade, comes the machine. The machine is the great leveler. It has broken 'the ranks of union after union by making an end of the trade. In the few remaining crafts where high wages are paid and the eight-hour day is maintained, as in the building trades, there are so many workers that unemployment brings down the average yearly wage to far below the union scale. Also, while the cost of living goes up fifty per cent, the craft union may raise wages twenty per cent. There appears to have been a rise when in fact there has been a fall in wages. In the face of all these facts craft unions cannot maintain the standard of living of their members.
But the greatest weakness of craft unions flows from the very nature of their organization and purpose. The American Federation of Labor, which includes nearly all of the craft unions of the Nation, has never at any time claimed to have had more than seven per cent of the American working class within its ranks. It does not exist for the purpose of organizing the working class. It is a loose association of craft unions, each of which merely desires to keep up the standard of wages and hours in its own trade. The American Federation of Labor has no message for the working class. It does not seek to make an end of unemployment, of child labor, and of all the other frightful conditions of labor. To accomplish this it would have to make an end of the wages system. It would have to fight the capitalists as a matter of principle. But instead of fighting the capitalists, craft unionism whenever possible, makes peace with them and supports the wages system. Out of this attitude grows one of the greatest errors of craft unionism, the signing of agreements with the employers. These agreements tie the hands of the workers and prevent them from striking for better conditions. But they do not prevent the capitalist from shutting up his shop and turning the workers into the street whenever he pleases. There should be no agreements between capitalists and wage workers which bind the workers to their work. Like the blind, the craft unions hobble along a step at a time, seeing not where they go. Every new invention of machinery makes the journeyman of today the apprentice of tomorrow. While industrial progress is destroying union after union, those that remain hug the delusion that they are going to last forever. It was of these unions that Karl Marx said forty-six years ago, that they generally failed "from limiting themselves to a guerilla war against the effects of the existing system instead of trying to change it, instead of using their organized forces for the abolition of the wages system."
The Growth of the Class Unions.-In all of the particulars above enumerated, class unionism is the opposite of craft unionism. The early form of the class union movement in the United States was the Knights of Labor. It was organized in 1869. It rose to its period of greatest strength from 1880 to 1890 and practically went out of-existence in 1895. Its position was fundamentally correct. It sought to bring together all workers in one big union. It kept steadily before it a great general principle-the universal eight-hour day. But the Knights of Labor, as regards two matters, was in error. First, while it provided for one big union for all the workers, it permitted no industrial departments, nor craft locals within the union. It gathered into one local the butcher, the baker and the candlestick maker. There are often separate problems of industrial departments, and sometimes of craft locals, which the whole union cannot solve so well as the members of the particular industry or craft affected. In failing to provide for industrial shop organizations, the Knights of Labor paved the way for its own destruction. Secondly, the Knights of Labor admitted to its ranks small capitalists, members of the professions and other non wage-workers. This was a very great error. A union should contain only members of the working class. I
Instead of making peace with the capitalist whenever it can, class unionism fights the capitalist whenever it can. Instead of being satisfied with the present enslaved condition of the working class, class unionism has always for a goal a permanently better condition for all the workers. Today industrial unionism, which is the form class unionism has taken, must agitate ceaselessly for the emancipation of the working class.
Industrial Unionism.-The motto of industrial unionism is-One union of all workers in an industry; all industries in one union. The question is, not what tool do you use, but what kind of product do you help turn out? Industrial unionism has been developed to meet the conditions confronting the workers since the coming of the latest machines and the organization of the trusts.
The revolutionary industrial union is ever active, always fighting. The prosperity of a modern labor organization is measured by its activity. Activity for improved conditions or against tile lowering of existing standards of living means that the membership is in arms against the exploiters.
Action against exploitation requires agitation, publicity, strikes, boycotts, political force-all the elements and expressions of discontent. Discontent is life. Itimpels to action. Contentment means stagnation and death.
The Western Federation of Miners.-As an example of what industrial unionism can do we shall briefly trace the history of the most successful of all American labor unions, the Western Federation of Miners. It was organ ized in 1892 for the purpose of bringing together all the workers in the industry of metal mining in the United States. It united the man who used the pick and shovel and the man who used the machine. It included the engineers, the mill and smelter men and all other workers in and about the metal mines.
This union of course developed strength absolutely impossible among craft unions. When a strike is declared all the workers strike at once. Agreements with the bosses are never signed. The Western Federation of Miners never furnishes the ridiculous spectacle of one part of its members being on strike against the employer and another part at work breaking the strike. This form of organization helped to develop the fighting spirit for which the Western Federation of Miners has been noted. Where the interest of each is the concern of all, a spirit of genuine solidarity prevails. No strike can be long and bitter enough to dishearten the miners.
By fighting a series of the greatest battles in the history of American labor, the Western Federation of Miners has won the eight-hour day, not for a few craft unionists, but for all the workers in and about the mines, skilled and unskilled alike. It has obtained almost everywhere the minimum wage of $3.00 a day, and in many mining towns the minimum wage is $3.50. Where wages go up it is found that it is much easier to raise those of the skilled laborer higher than where the unskilled are unorganized and unprotected. For instance, where the unskilled worker received $3.50, the machine runner $4.00and the engineer $5.00, tile pick and shovel men are not all struggling to become machine runners and engineers.
The General Strike.-There are three phases of a general strike. They are:
- general strike in an industry.
- general strike in a community, or
- general national strike.
The right conditions for any of the three on a large scale have never existed. So no one can logically take the position that a general strike would not be effective and not be good tactics for the working class. We know that the capitalist uses the general strike to good advantage. Here is the position that we find the working class and the capitalists in: The capitalists have wealth. They have money. They invest the money in machinery and in the resources of the earth. They operate a mine, a factory, or a railroad. They keep that factory running just as long as there are profits coming in. When anything happens to disturb the profits, what do the capitalists do? They go on strike. They withdraw their financial support from that particular mill. They close it down because there are no profits to be made there. They care not what becomes of the working class. But the working class, on the other hand, has always been taught to take care of the capitalist's interest in the property. It cares too little for its own interests. A general strike would ignore the capitalist's interests and concern itself with the workers' interests only.
Power in the Industries.-The industrial organization is capable not only of the general strike. It prevents the capitalists from disfranchising the workers in the shops. It gives the vote to women. It re-enfranchises the black men and places the ballot in the hands of every boy and girl employed in a shop, making them eligible to take part in the general strike. It makes them eligible to legislate for themselves where they are most interested in changing conditions, namly, in the place where they work.
Industrial Unionism Grows.-At the present time practically the whole American working class accepts the principles of industrial unionism. All agree that the workers should have one big union. All are coming to agree that this union must more and more control industry, until finally it rules and administers the industries of the Nation. Everywhere the idea arouses intense enthusiasm. The growth and progress of industrial organization itself must soon follow. Once united, industrially and politically, and resolved to make an end of wage slavery, nothing can prevent the final victory of the workers.
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