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For a Mess of Pottage
By HENRY VAN DORN
N May the tenth, sixty people, repre- portunists and traitors to the working class. senting the Farmer-Labor, Socialist and Almost the whole of Europe is ruled today
Workers' parties, met in the Morrison by politicians who once professed to be Hotel in Chicago to outline and make an- fighting in the interests of the working nouncement of the purposes and program class. Now they are the henchmen of capof the labor party convention to be held in italism. Chicago on July third. It was a meeting of Is the same thing to be repeated in the heterogeneous elements — wage workers,
wage workers, United States? If such be not the profarmers, politicians, intellectuals, and mem- fessed purpose of the proposed labor party, bers of the middle class. A collection of the results undoubtedly will be the same, over four hundred dollars was taken up. should it ever attain the same strength
The Morrison Hotel is one of the finest in reached by the European political movethe city of Chicago. A collection of over ment. four hundred dollars for sixty people aver- The agitation for working class political ages seven dollars apiece. We leave it action rests on the fallacy of popular demthe judgment of the reader to make of ocratic government; it is the duty of all these two observations what he will. those who have the interests of the indus
The I. 'W. W. is concerned with the trial worker at heart to do everything in welfare of the man who works in indus- their power to check the spread of these try for wages. The industrial proletariat wrong and injurious ideas. as a class is the strongest numerically of No such thing as democracy exists on the any in the United States, not excepting even earth today, nor is there the least chance the farmers. The thing for us to decide, for it to come into being for a long time therefore, is whether or not this class has to come. The electoral system in all counanything to gain through political action, tries is part and parcel of capitalist dicengaged in by a party such as has been tatorship. By telling the workers that they proposed at this meeting.
can gain anything by taking part in the In the first place, can any ground be electoral system, we are miseducating them found on which such divergent elements and merely blinding them to the facts as as were here represented could work in they actually are. concert for the common good? Is there The powers that be are not afraid of poany precedent either in current or past litical action by the workers, no matter how history that this can be done?
revolutionary this action may be proclaimed We will have to admit that there is not to be. As a matter of fact, they would weland that, therefore, to advise the indus- come it if they realized how serviceable it trial workers to spend time, money, and is to them; and sometimes they do. It is energy in political action is pure and sim- one of the safety valves through which popple opportun ism. Opportunism is a mortal ular discontent fizzles off without doing any enemy of the working class. Witness the damage to the capitalist system. present rulers of capitalist Europe.
Futility of Political Action
If anybody wants to be convinced of the Premiers Mussolini and Branting of Italy futility of political action, let him consider and Sweden respectively, and presidents some of the European countries: Italy, Eng. Millerand of France and Ebert of Germany, land, Germany and France. Is anybody are all of them ex-socialists, political op- rabid enough to say that if the workers
in these countries had not been misled and
The Italian Fascisti miseducated for so many years by their
But the greatest lesson is to be learned political leaders, that they would be in such
from Italy. There the workers were getting a deplorable condition today?
too strong to suit the purposes of the bourEngland has close to a million and a half geoisie. It is safe to say that what hapunemployed. Many millions more are re- pened in Italy will be repeated in other ceiving wages of from $5 to $8 per week.
countries as soon as the workers actually There is a housing shortage of about one
become strong enough on the political field million homes. In short, the British worker to be even remotely a menace to the ruling is in as sorry a plight today as he could
class. At one fell blow the Fascisti dewell be. Yet the Labor Party is one of molished the Italian electoral system and the three strongest parties in Parliament.
substituted in its place the rule of brute The working class is represented by over
force. When the disguise of democracy no one hundred members.
longer serves the needs of the ruling class, In the face of this, the mass of workers it is done away with and other more drastic are helpless and starving, and will no doubt methods are used. continue in that condition for quite some Let the dictatorship of the Fascisti in time to come. Their bodies are enslaved Italy serve as an example to all those who to the master class and their minds are try to fool themselves and others by pointenslaved to the fetish of political action, ing to the great benefits to be obtained for which prevents them from doing anything the working class through parliamentary to rid themselves of the bonds of slavery. action. All political parties in Italy have All they have been able to attain has been been practically abolished. The Chamber a lot of fine sounding phrases, such as the of Deputies might as well be dissolved for resolution introduced in Parliament by Phil- all the good it does to anybody. Thousands lip Snowden to abolish capitalism and sub- of duly elected municipal and other officials stitute in its place socialism; it sounds nice have been put out of office; in hundreds and revolutionary, but that's about all the of cases, they have been literally thrown good it does to the unemployed and stary- out through the windows. Opposition newsing British workingmen.
have been mercilessly suppressed. The classic illustration of the failure of Hundreds of buildings, newspaper offices, political action is, of course, Germany. party and union headquarters have been There they have the socialist Frederick razed and burned to the ground. Many Ebert as president of the German republic. thousands of men and women have been Yet the whole of Germany is today in the murdered by the Fascist bands—the Ku
— hands of a few industrial magnates who
Klux Klan of Italy—and over sixty thoupractically exercise powers of life and sand have been arrested on various charges, death over the working people. In no other many of them being sentenced to long terms country has trustificaton of industry reach- of imprisonment. The very last vestige ed such an advanced stage and in no other and semblance of popular government has country are the industrial workers so abso- been abolished. lutely at the mercy of their industrial over
The accumulated labors of many years lords; yet to all intents and purposes Ger- of hard work by the workers and peasants many is today a republic run by socialists to gain control over city, provincial, and who are supposed to be the representatives federal governmental institutions have been of the working class. Of course, the truth done away with inside of a few months. in the matter is that these so-called repre- That is what is to be expected whenever sentatives of the workers are nothing but the working class begins seriously to enpuppets in the hands of the big capitalists croach upon the prerogatives of the master who are masters of the situation by virtue class by the use of political action.
The of their control over industry.
labor unions and the co-operative mov JUNE, 19 2 3
ment also suffered in this onslaught, but wild with opportunism. We consider it our not to the same extent. The demoraliza- duty to warn the workers of the false tion in the unions would not be near as prophets who are trying to lead them into great had they not been, not wholly ex- the by-paths of confusion and political cepting even the syndicalists, so closely folly. linked up with the political movement. Five men sitting on the bench of the
The following statement by Premier United States Supreme Court can declare Mussolini is highly illuminating : "Fascismo unconstitutional any law passed by both is not afraid to declare itself liberal or houses of Congress and approved by the anti-liberal. It has already passed, and if President. It can overrule all of the laws necessary will pass again, without the passed by any of the state legislatures and slightest hesitation, over the body, more its executives. This was recently demonor less decomposed, of the Goddess of strated by the Supreme Court declaring Liberty.”
unconstitutional, by a majority of one, the The dangers of reposing faith in a po- Minimum Wage Act of the District of Collitical party have been amply illustrated in umbia. In the face of this where does the Soviet Russia. The main concern of the usefulness of parliamentary action come in? Russian Communist party at present seems to be the enforcement of the new economic
Economic Power policy, which is tantamount to the reintro
The basis of all power is the possession, duction of capitalism with all its evils. The
of economic power. Just so long as their logic of events and the course of evolution
supremacy in industry is not menaced the no doubt demand it, but to imagine that capitalists are sure to remain safe in the on this score the immediate interests of saddle. They are, therefore, not afraid of the industrial workers and of the present anything which looks forward to a change government are identical, is to have
in the personnel of political institutions wrong conception of the Russian situation.
the handmaidens of the big capitalists and
financiers. As long as the industries are An American Labor Party
safely in the control of the powers that be, Bearing these things in mind, we can it makes no difference under what name now return to the United States. No doubt the various political representatives might a labor party will spring into existence in be put in office, the capitalists would rethe future, and it might even attain con- main masters of the situation. While ecosiderable strength in some localities and nomic power is still in the hands of the might become a factor of national import capitalists and the structure of the governance, but this will not prove anything mental machinery is not changed, Congress one way or another. The question is, of would continue to function in the interests what earthly use can it be to the industrial of the capitalists even if every represenworkers either in their struggle with the tative and senator were a socialist, laborite employers for immediate demands or in the or communist. ultimate struggle for the abolition of the The only place where the workers can wage system?
fight the master class effectively is in inWe claim that it can be of no use at all, dustry at the point of production. Only and that for anyone who actually under- there can they obtain their immediate destands the modus operandi of capitalism mands for higher wages, better conditions, to say and preach the contrary is to de- shorter hours; only there can they obtain liberately miseducate the working class. their demands and ambitions of whatever For any body of men which professes to character. have the interests of the industrial worker The master class knows this; that is one at heart to devote its energies toward the reason why it is so afraid of militant indusformation of such a labor party is to run trial action. That is the reason why it per
secutes the Industrial Workers of the they might masquerade; the capitalists are World. It realizes that the I. W. W. offers not afraid of revolutionary phrases. When the only means through which the workers they get stronger, as in Italy, they are can come into possession of the good things crushed. What the master class is afraid of life; in other words, of the whole prod- of is that the workers might get a strong. uct of their labor. Knowing this, the em- hold on industry by organizing themselves ploying class is exceedingly vicious in per- into genuine industrial labor unions. secuting our organization.
It is the duty of every class-conscious, While the so-called working class po- militant industrial worker to disillusion his litical parties are weak, the capitalists are fellow men about the mirage of political not afraid of them, under whatever name action.
Passing the Winter Away at Palm Beach, Florida—A Fashionable Retreat for the Over-Worked
Class, Including the Tired Politician. Golf, Politics and Bridge Are the Favorite Sports.
By RAGNAR REDBEARD
WHEN what's the use of dreaming dreams
that "each shall get his own"
who blindly sweat and moan?
their very bones decay:
is the Logic of To-day.
The Marine Transport Industry
By A MARINE WORKER
HE World War withdrew workers by the mill-bers got disgusted and deserted the unions by the ions from productive industrial occupations in- thousands, until today there remains only the cor
to the industries producing ammunition and rupt officialdom, reigning supreme, supported by other war supplies for the support of huge armies. finks and a few dupes who are offering their services It recruited millions of men from the army of peace- to the shipowners, and are "stooling" on members time production to carry on war, thereby causing a and delegates of the Marine Transport Workers' rapid increase in the prices of food, clothing and Industrial Union No. 510, of the I. W. W. shelter. It decreased the number of unemployed to The I. S. U. of A. has in this strike degenerated such an extent that the workers finally found them
into a scab-herding outfit and the few members it selves in such demand that they could ask for and
still possesses were during this strike scabbing on the get more wages and better working conditions than
seamen under police protection. Every self-respectformerly. The employers had to give in. The ship
ing seaman of today abhors it. Thus ends the last owners were no exception; they had to grant some
chapter in the history of the once prominent Interof the demands of their employes; they had to be national Seamen's Union of America. “good” to their workers in order to obtain young men and boys for the fast-growing fleet of ships of
Industrial Union No. 510 the American Merchant Marine.
In contrast to the above, another and greater The International Seamen's Union
organization sprang into existence, strengthened and The unions affiliated with the International Sea- purified in spirit by the many battles it has waged men's Union of America were speedily built up, against the master class, and recognizing no craft especially on the Atlantic Coast, mostly through divisions, creed, nationality, or color; an organizathe aid of the U. S. Shipping Board and the ship- tino having great aims and ideals, without highping commissioners. The functions of these unions salaried officials, industrial in form and using up-towere mainly to aid in insuring the necessary dis- date tactics in the fight against the employers; an cipline and to supply the demand for seamen at the organization which declares that the workers are the prescribed rate of wages and conditions given by producers of all wealth and that therefore all wealth the owners and agreed upon by the union through must go to labor. This organization, international contracts. They thus served as a convenient medium in scope, and having for its motto "An injury to by which the shipowners kept the marine workers one is an injury to all," is the Marine Transport down to the terms of the contracts during a time Workers' Industrial Union No. 510, of the Industrial when the seamen, had they been differently reg- Workers of the World. ulated, or organized, would have been able to get This union held in its ranks a few seamen ilmuch greater remuneration for their labor power. luminated by its ideals, who realized the greatness
During the latter part of 1920, shipping decreased of its work and the importance of its mission. They to an alarming rate. The agreements of the ship- were aware of the obstacles in the way of building owners with the unions of the I. S. U. of A. very up a powerful marine transport workers' organizawisely had been set to expire on the first of May, tion, yet they were filled with hope and enthusiasm, 1921, when shipping had decreased to the desired energy and determination.
They acted as missionpoint for the shipowners to reduce the standard of aries of a new faith, always busy, always eager to living of the crews to the lowest possible limit. The learn from past mistakes in order that in the future many autonomous parts of the I. S. U. had been they might be victorious. They got many converts very carefully kept apart from one another and were who again in their turn got many more. but loosely federated through a per capita to the And so it came about that these seamen who had general office, with Andrew Furuseth as its presi- lost faith in their old leaders who had been proved dent. Internecine strife and hatred between the to be blind leaders—began instead to place all concrafts were openly maintained; the longshoremen fidence in themselves and to build up their own orand their international, which also was and is still ganization, in conformity with the principle of alaffiliated with the American Federation of Labor, ways keeping power in their own hands instead of came in for a large share of this foolish hatred. delegating it to someone else.
Owing to this state of affairs, and chafing under This organization is steadily growing into still the iron-fisted rule of their well-fed, highly paid and greater power and prominence. Since its inception conserv tive officials, who could not be removed it has been an inspiration and a fighting weapon to from their positions, the members at last woke up to stop the encroachments of the masters and to gain their own helplessness, the weakness of their sep- improvements for the workers both ashore and arate craft unions and the corruption of their official- afloat. Shorter hours, higher wages and better dom. In the fight that followed whatever good work working conditions had been obtained on many ships had been done in the past was destroyed. The mem- even prior to the calling of the big strike.