Chapter 4 - Industrial Organization the Vital Force
The Compelling Force
As a changing mode of production operates to change all the institutions depending upon it, it is as well to recognize that production is the substantial foundation upon which any society rests. So that in any society that element only is necessary whose functions are essential to the prevailing productive system. In present day society, this element is comprised of every population which labors for a wage. Without the wage laborers our system of production could not endure.
A little consideration will satisfy even the most prejudiced that if the wage workers did not make and operate the tools of production, this system of production would go to pieces and our present civilization disappear.
The clothes we wear, the food we eat, the houses that afford shelter, the means of transportation on land, sea and air would all be out of reach, were not the hands of the wage laboring class busy in productive social service. Society does not depend upon the capitalist or the politician. It depends upon the workers. From the most primitive forms up to the present, human society has always depended upon the working class element. The workers have always constituted the social guarantee, and their efforts as producers is the price that humankind has paid for its existence, from the time when man lived precariously until the present day, when the question of sufficient to enable the race to survive has been answered by superabundant production.
The productive facilities and capacity must exist before an organized society is possible, which is to say that production is prior to and more important than politics. Politics is the handmaiden of industry. As the system of production changes, so do we observe corresponding social and political changes.
But by whom is the mode of production changed? Obviously by those who alone are competent to change it—the human productive factors, at the present time, the wage workers. For if this contention did not hold true, our philosophy would be at fault. If it could be proven that the capitalists, as such, have contributed to the change in the productive system, then they would have justified their existence in a social sense. But they have not done so. Every change effected, which has won social advantage industrially, has been due, to those actively engaged in productive work. The capitalist, as such, seized and fattened upon every invention, mechanical and administrative improvement. He has never contributed anything to human advancement. He is a parasite, and like all other parasites, he has no independent existence, but lives upon the constructive wealth-producing organism which the enthralled labor of the ages has built up.
I. W. W. Would Dispel Labor Ignorance
The power of the capitalist class is a delegated power, which labor ignorance has invested in it. It has no power in itself. Labor is power, and, when conscious of its own interest and its social responsibility, it is the only power. Therefore, the I. W. W. depends upon education, not upon terror. Facts are its weapons, not bombs. It is busy teaching instead of intimidating. Its arsenal is lined with bookshelves, and not with gunracks. Truth is its artillery, and justice its objective.
The I. W. W. is dangerous only to the greedy and the socially conscienceless. It brings hope to the dispossessed and downtrodden, and promises the earth and the fullness thereof to those who make use of the one to bring forth the other. Those only shall share who produce, those only shall eat who labor. One for all and all for one. Such is the I. W. W. This is what makes it dangerous to those whose colossal fortunes and position of mastery are founded on the misery and wretchedness of the hosts of toil.
When the producers, who work for wages, organize as they are arranged in the industries, they will have taken a long step in the direction of industrial freedom.
We find the workers are so arranged that the labors of the classifications necessary for the completion of the finished products from the raw material dovetail into one another. The function of each labor classification is related to and coordinated with that of every other classification. The modern working force represents a harmoniously balanced industrial organization. Once the workers learn to combine into unions, as they are situated in the industries, they will develop a power which can be used to advance their interest; a power so great that nothing could successfully resist it.
Oil Industry an Example
Take the oil industry, as an example. The working force includes every necessary worker from the time the ground is surveyed for the derrick until the product is loaded on the cars. Take the oil industry as a whole—it is senseless to do less—and when the surveying crews, drillers, tooldressers, roustabouts, truckers, cooks, waiters, pipeliners, refinery men, repairmen of all kinds, tank builders, etc., are all organized into an oil workers union, you have a power which would bring one of the greatest of all employers—Standard Oil—to its knees. The same applies to the coal industry, agriculture, to lumbering, to the foodstuffs and textile, in fact to all industry.
Working Class Interdependence
But, as the workers in each of these industries are dependent upon the functioning of the workers in all other industries, it is necessary that all of them be bound together for mutual assistance and support. The transportation industry is the connecting link which binds them all together. Without modern transportation, modern industry would be impossible.
But, without food and clothing and houses for the transportation workers, and fuel and oil for the engines, and rolling stock, modern transportation itself would not be possible. So that, while transportation appears to be of supreme importance, it is, in the true social sense, no more important than any of the other industries. There is this about transportation that, unlike other industries, it cannot be stored up. You can store oil, clothes and food, but you cannot store transportation.
Controlling Labor Through Craft System
If transportation is suspended the social effect is immediately noticeable, while in other industries the noticeable effect of a suspension is delayed. Transportation therefore is, from its strategic position in the industrial scheme, the key industry. For this reason, the capitalist class watch jealously over their control of transportation labor, which they retain possession of through what we know as the Big Four Railroad Brotherhoods.
It is worthy of notice that these four unions, up until quite recently, were not only kept rigidly apart from other unions, but from each other. Only when the rank and file of these unions gave evidence of their determination to force united action did the railroad-controlled Grand Lodges decide to make a united demand.
Time and again these Grand Lodges have refused to be bound by the expressed wishes of the rank and file, and have flagrantly disregarded the strike mandates of the membership. This emphasizes the difference between direct action and indirect action. The rank and file of these railroad unions are accustomed to do as their officers advise, instead of doing what their own judgement dictates, and their interest requires. Indirect action means control of organized laborers. Direct action means control by the organized workers.
So also the capitalist class control the labor forces outside of the railroad industry, by keeping the organized workers divided according the tools they use. Only when workers so organized have threatened to break away from the control of the capitalist-minded if not capitalist-employed labor leaders, have they been successful in securing any substantial portion of their demands.
The craft unions are based upon a condition long ago superseded and discarded, where a workman employing many tools worked from the first operation upon the raw material until the finished product had been realized. Now, the system of production in the modern industrial plant has eliminated the craftsmen, and hundreds of operatives function in many capacities with power-driven machines to make the product which the craftsman used to produce.
Product Determines Labor Classification
Always the craftsman was identified by his product and today the working force which has replaced him also is identified by its product. The tailor was never the man who used a needle, shears and goods, but one, who by using these produced clothes. Similarly, the shoemaker was not a man who used an awl, waxed thread and lasts, but a man who, by using these produced shoes. It was always the product that determined the craftsman.
While the craft survived there was room and a function for the craft union, but in our present stage of industrial development, there is neither place nor function for the craft union. It serves the capitalist interests by keeping the working forces divided. It is as much out of place in modern industry as a Ku Klux Klansman in a Knight of Columbus meeting.
The cry of being an anti-religious organization has also been raised against the I. W. W. when, as a matter of fact, the I. W. W. does not concern itself about religion in any way, shape or manner. It does not inquire about the religious views of the worker, it only takes cognizance of his industrial calling. Whether he (or she) be of the Catholic or Jewish religion, Greek Orthodox, or any of the varieties of Protestantism, makes no difference to the I. W. W. The belief of the Buddhist and the Mussulman are, equally with all other religions, or no religion, a matter of complete indifference to it as a labor organization. It is the champion of none of them as against the others.
The I. W. W. is free of religious strings, nor will it permit itself to be made the vehicle of anti-religious propaganda. It takes those whom it finds in industrial occupations, regardless of their religious affiliations, and strives to weld them into One Big Union of the Working Class.
Now, those whom the I. W. W. encounters in industry the employers have placed there. Divers religions are encountered, many languages are spoken, and it is the mission of the I. W. W. to unite these into one common organization for industrial purposes. As the employers have recruited Jew and Christian, Buddhist and Mussulman, in the polyglot working forces that man the industries, the I. W. W. as a militant labor union has no option but to organize these workers as workers, paying no attention whatever to their religious beliefs. It is concerned about them only as economic factors.
The Jew and Gentile expend their labor power in exactly the same manner; they labor together under the same conditions; and are exploited to the same degree. The I. W. W., being concerned only about the wage relationship, appeals to them upon the grounds of common activities upon the job, and pays no attention whatever to church, temple or synagogue. It is not to be held responsible for the fact that industry is not religious, and it takes industry and the personnel of industry, as it finds them. It seeks to fashion out of both a social order in keeping with the development of modern times. So much for the misconceptions that have been scattered broadcast about the I. W. W.
I. W. W. A Problem for Capitalists
When the I. W. W. came into existence, it set a new problem for American capitalism to deal with. Here was an organization based upon the bedrock of economic truth, whose message was vibrant with the appeal for class solidarity. It constitutes the greatest menace that ever threatened the capitalist regime. The capitalists are aware of its potentiality, and have tried to strangle it from its birth.
At the second convention a battle was staged which was to determine whether the new organization was to be controlled in the interest of capitalist property, or in the interest of wage labor. The workers' representatives dominated the convention.
The aftermath of this convention is a tale of labor treachery and baseness, in a Western setting, that did much to stay the progress of the I. W. W. Such was its purposes, and the outcome was what the capitalists desired.
Behind the clash of personalities, leading up to, and following the events which established the general eight hour day in Goldfield, Nevada, was hidden a conflict of ideas and interests. The first skirmish by the Western capitalists and their agents in the Western Federation of Miners and A. F. of L., against the I. W. W, was successful locally and temporarily. Some of the principal figures in that contest have passed away, but the effect of their treason lived after them. The W. F. M. has been eliminated as a labor factor, and has degenerated into an organization more or less openly controlled by the mine operators.
Cutting Out Politics
The next contest in the I. W. W., and really the most significant in its history, was staged at the Fourth Annual Convention (1908) where the question of political action was at issue. The decision of the convention was that the organization could not be a labor union and a political party at the same time. The I. W. W. divested itself of the disease-breeding political illusion which had murdered every previous labor movement, and settled itself upon a proletarian basis and a single function—in the every day struggle to regulate the job relationship by economic means alone, and eventually to abolish that relationship altogether.
This decision antagonized the labor politicians, who then enlisted with the enemies of the I. W. W. and did yeoman service in misrepresenting it. For a time these politicians did the dirty work of the capitalist class, and as they gave their imagination full play, they did it more effectively than the less qualified stool pigeons which the capitalists keep on their payrolls. These politicians, and the parties they belonged to, have gone the way of all illusions, and the I. W. W. is still here, adding to its strength and influence. Of course, the old-time labor political parties have been succeeded by other political forms which, true to their capitalist conceptions, also believe that attacking the I. W. W. will recommend them to reaction and will provide a passport to the flesh-pots. However, the I. W. W. pursues the even tenor of its way, undisturbed by the yawping of political mongrels, who are neither avowedly capitalist, nor outspokenly labor.
The principles of the I. W. W. are concisely set forth in its Preamble, which is the most important document ever issued in the name of labor for the guidance of labor.
PREAMBLE of the INDUSTRIAL WORKERS of the WORLD
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 the 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 the workers of the world organize as a class, take possession of the earth and the machinery of production, and abolish the wage system.
We find that the centering of the management of industries into fewer and fewer hands makes the trade unions unable to cope with the ever growing power of the employing class. The trade unions foster a state of affairs 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. Moreover, the trade unions aid the employing class to mislead the workers into the belief that the working class have interests in common with their employers.
These conditions can be changed and the interest 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.
Instead of the conservative motto, "A fair day's wage for a fair day's work," we must inscribe on our banner the revolutionary watchword,,"Abolition of the wage system."
It is historic mission of the working class to do away with capitalism. The army of production must be organized, not only for the every-day struggle with capitalists, but also to carry on production when capitalism shall have been overthrown. By organizing industrially we are forming the structure of the new society within the shell of the old.
Next page: Chapter 5 - The Only Real International