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One Regulator But suppose John D. did take the notion to raise the price of oil arbitrarily, could he do it? John D. is in business for profit. The amount of his profit depends largely upon the volume of his sales. If he raises the price of his oil or gasoline above its value, sales will fall off. When oil is cheap those who use kerosene will start the fire in the morning or evening with a cup of oil; they are not so particular about burning the lamp an hour or so longer in the evening. But let it go up in price, then they are inclined to husband their supply. When we consider the great numbers who use oil we will see that a very little saving by each of them will, in the aggregate, cause a severe cut in the amount of John D.'s sales. If through a mistaken idea John D. were to raise his price still higher, instead of burning oil many of his customers would turn to other illuminants —candles for instance. John D. knows that he does not gain by lessening the number of his customers but by increasing them. If he raises the price of gasoline, many who now use cars would use them less, and if the price went too high they would lay them away in the garage and use a street car or walk. It is not good business policy to force anything of this kind and good business men, like John D. do not do it.
Then, there is always idle capital seeking investment. When opportunity offers it is ready to go into competition with invested capital, and so serves as a check and enforces the market laws upon those who would disobey them. Not that it is inspired by any motive of compelling obedience to these laws, but is seeking an opportunity to get itself profitably invested.
The Workers' Lesson What we, of the working class, should be particularly interested in about these corporations are the changes they have made in industry, and the need for organization, which these changes emphasize, in order to safeguard our interests as workers.
They have brought about an arrangement in industry whereby things are produced with a minimum expenditure of human energy. The advance made in productive
industry, as a result of their methodical improvement, proves disastrous to us only because we have not organized ourselves so as to take advantage of it. As less energy is required in production the demand for laborers decreases, because without organization we are unable to claim for ourselves any share in advantages that would be impossible without us. The results of tool improvement and time-saving arrangements all go to the employers, and as the measure of their benefits increases so does the volume of our misery also increase. Instead of organizing to reap benefit from machinery we have remained unorganized, until in place of working less hours and being more comfortably conditioned, we work longer hours when we are working, or that part of us which is working, and there is an increasing number of us who are permanently condemned to idleness and want.
Shorter Workday The first and prime need of the workers is to lower the hours in the working day, in an attempt to lift the millions of permanently unemployed out of the slough of idleness and furnish them with an opportunity to provide themselves with the means of life. There should be a national movement by all the workers to secure a universal eight hour day.
If the eight hour day will not suffice to bring security to the workers we must push on for further limitations. We owe no apology to the capitalists, nor to anybody else for insisting that the very first charge against industry is provision for and the security of those who are necessary to and who carry on its operations.
The I. W. W. The capitalist system must be replaced by a system which will recognize in industry a means through which social wants and comforts are provided. To accomplish this is the mission of the working class. This idea dominated a gathering of American workers in Chicago in 1905. These men and women were not only workers in the industries, but also students of labor history as well. They adopted a declaration of principles and founded an organization the purpose of which was to bring into existence a social system in which the workers would administer the affairs of society. The organization they launched conforms to the capitalist arrangement in industry and they breathed into it the spirit of the working class.
That organization is the Industrial Workers of the World. It has bid for the attention of the working class and won the hostility of the capitalists and of every flunkey and lickspittle that wears the livery of capitalism, from Judge Gary to the last small fry official of the craft unions who flaunts the badge of labor only to betray the workers.
Thousands of I. W. W. members have gone to jail and been done to death, legally and otherwise, for preaching the doctrine of labor salvation. That organization is the most feared and worst hated union in the world. That it is, is its highest recommendation to the workers of the United States. When men dare the persecution that has been endured by the I. W. W., they have furnished a reason why the cause they advocate and the philosophy that strengthens them should be investigated by the workers. Here is their declaration of principles:
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 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 baner the revolutionary watchword, "Abolition of the wage system.
It is the 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.
QUESTIONS 1. Can Standard Oil dictate the price of oil? 2. What result has an overstocked market on prices? 3. What did the capitalists learn from panics? 4. What relation has the government consular service
to American industry? 5. Why would the market be destroyed if the will of
the capitalists could determine prices? 6. Do you know any factor that might serve to in
fluence prices? 7. What effect would a refusal to buy or to buy as
much as formerly have on prices? Why? 8. In what way does idle capital influence prices? 9. What particular lesson has trustified property for
wage laborers. 10. When was the I. W. W. formed? 11. What are the principles of the I. W. W.? 12. Why is the I. W. W. hated?
IN CONCLUSION N OUR brief study of the main features of the workers' economic problems we have tried to bring fairly be
fore 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 materialistic 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