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All varieties of industrial unions stand out more
sharply, like separate trees silhouetted black against the
sunset afterglow, when they are seen before the luminous
background of Daniel De Leon's philosophy of industrial unionism, which is embodied in the Workers' International Industrial Union (W. I. I. U.) But whatever their differences in regard to goal, or mode of organization and tactics employed to attain their goal, on one thing they agree entirely with De Leon, namely, his analysis of the situation with which they are confronted.
1. Analysis of the Industrial Situation
Looming up ominously before them is the fact that "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." On one side stands a small propertied class that owns the factories, the means of communication, machines, and raw materials, all the means of life. On the other side stand the workers in their millions, without the means of life. Of all the wealth created by their toil they receive only just as much as enables them to eke out a miserable existence. And this
1. Preamble to w. I. I. U. Constitution.
in an age of machine production! With modern machinery the
working class has produced, and is producing, an ever-increasing abundance of wealth. There is no ghost of an excuse for poverty, want, child labor, unemployment, and wage-slavery.
Yet the working people become all the time more and more impoverished; they are able to buy less and less of the products they have produced. Their condition is going from bad to worse. Although labor alone, as they believe, produces all wealth, less and less of this wealth comes to the working class, and more and more of it is plundered by the capitalist class. Their relative share of the wealth which
of you woned in it. I buti k they produce keeps shrinking
owe la s two other than 2 mando At the same time, they observe the concentration of wealth and the centering of the management of industry into fewer and fewer hands. "The present system," they exclaim, "is robbery, daily, hourly robbery." *"This wealth, under the present system,....is STOLEN by the capitalist class of parasites.....DOWN with Capitalism!" There can be no pouce in industry so long as the present system of distribution of the products of Labor exists."
Why is it possible for a small non-producing class
to amass millions while the large producing class eke out a bare existence? Why are the capitalists able to appropriate to themselves what the working class produce? For
this simple reason
that the working class has been
* "The American Socialist Labor Party."
stripped of the tool, or machine, without which it cannot earn a living. The development of modern machine production has divorced the operation of industry from its ownership and management. The power of the capitalists is rooted in their economic control of the socially necessary means of production. Moreover, the machine or tool, says De Leon, "has reuched such a state of development that it can no longer be operated by the individual, but needs the collective efforts of many."
The same facts are thus expressed by Debs: "At the beginning of industrial society men worked with hand tools; a boy could learn a trade, make himself the master of the simple tools with which he worked, and employ himself and enjoy what he produced; but that simple tool of a century ago has become a mammoth social instrument; in a word, that tool has been socialized. Not only this, but production has been socialized. As small a commodity as a pin or a pen or a match involves for its production all of the social labor of the land."
In the evolution of capitalism, society has thus been
divided mainly into two economic classes: a relatively small class of capitalists who own machines they do not use, and a great body of many millions of workers who use the machines and whose very lives depend upon them, yet who do not own them.
The workmen who operate the industries furnish only their la
bor-power, in consideration of which they receive just enough
1. De Leon, Daniel, "What means This Strike?"