Lecture 1: Plebs leaders and labor leaders. Part 1.
-- --. Part 2
Lecture 2. The Warning of the Gracchi. Part 1.
-- --. Part 2
I have a mass of documents upon the subject. It will be impossible to go through all of them. I shall take from this mass mainly the facts furnished by the Labor Leader in political office. In many cases, facts as striking are furnished by the Labor Leader outside of public office - the same as Plebs Leaders out of office rendered material aid to their confreres in office. I shall even omit any that come under the category of the official political conduct of the Labor Leader. Voluminous as are the' documents I have so far gathered, the collection is far from complete. A pamphlet on the record, even only the official political record, of the Labor Leader will be found to be an invaluable contribution to the arsenal of the Labor Movement. The first document I wish to quote from is the answer of Comrade J. A. Leach of Phoenix, Ariz., to my inquiry touching the Labor Leaders in public office in his Territory. He says: "There are no Trades Unionists holding office in Arizona, that I know of, either elective or appointative. They tried to get an eight-hour law passed In last Legislature, making it illegal to work the miners over eight hours per day. But when the bill was under discussion in the House, It was there held up to ridicule, and referred to as likely to have a bad effect on the miners, and cause them to become gouty. The miners of the town of Globe were so dissatisfied with the conduct of the Representative of their county in the Legislature that the first .time he came to town, they seized him, put him on a rail, rode him out of town, and ordered him not to return or they would give him another dose of rail-riding." This gives the key to the situation; it gives an inkling of what the Capitalist Class would have to expect if it endeavored, of and by itself, to rivet the chains of exploitation upon the Working Class; it also points the Capitalist Class quite clearly to the policy to pursue; to wit, avail itself of what strategic position there may be to enable it to mask its moves. Did the Capitalist Class take the hint given it by its early experience?
The profits of the Capitalist Class represent wages withheld from the Working Class. The fleecing of Labor implied in the raking in of profits, is predicated upon the existence of a wage-slave class, a Working Class, in short, a proletariat; and the continuance of the existence of such a class is in turn dependent upon the private ownership of the means of production - of the land on and the machinery, capital, with which to work. Given the private ownership of these combined elements of production, and the Capitalist Class will congest ever more into its own hands the wealth of the land, while the Working Class must sink to ever deeper depths of poverty and dependence, every mechanical improvement only giving fresh impetus to the exaltation of the capitalist and to the degradation of the working man. The issue between the two classes is one of life and death; there are no two sides to it; there is no compromise possible. Obviously, it is in the interest of the Working Class that the issue be made and kept clear before the eyes of the rank and file, and that capitalism be held up to their view in all its revolting hideousness. What does the Labor Leader do? He lends to the monster that preys upon the workers the color of Labor by his sanction of its methods.
As leading instances of Tenderers of this service to the Capitalist Class may be quoted, among many others of less note, Henry Broadhurst, William Abrahams and Richard Bell in the British Parliament, and, in America, Robert Howard, late of the Massachusetts Legislature. Member of Parliament Broadhurst is a member of the Stonemasons' Union. At the same time he is a large holder of shares in the Brunner-Mands Chemical Works in England, where 50 per cent, profit is made under conditions of fearful slavery. Member of Parliament Abrahams is a member of the Miners' Union. At the same time he is a director of the London, Edinburgh and Glasgow Assurance Company and of the Calais Tramway, on the latter of which, especially, the unpaid wages of the employees are "directed" into the pockets of the shareholders, this M. P. among the lot. Member of Parliament Bell is the Secretary of the Amalgamated Society of Railway Servants. During the Taff Vale Railway dispute he was complimented by the Board of Trades representative as "a labor organizer who was capable of seeing that a question had two sides." Howard, who had strenuously upheld the Capitalist System in the Massachusetts Legislature, was of the Fall River, Mass., Spinners' Union. When his mind recently failed him, and his property had to be administered, he was found to be worth $100,000, a large part of it in stocks in the very mills in which were fleeced to the skin the spinners of whose organization he was an officer. Nor should omission be made under this head, especially not at this season when the electric motor is throwing the locomotive engineers on their beam ends, of P. M. Arthur, Grand Chief of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers. While Capitalism was slaughtering his union men on the roads, and was getting ready to reduce them to unskilled labor, he, though not holding political office, pulled the wool over their eyes and filled his pockets with railroad stock from which he derived large dividends, yielded by the members of his Union.
The Capitalist Class knows no country and no race, and any "God" suits it so that "God" approve of the exploitation of the worker. Despite all seeming wranglings, sometimes even wars, among them, the Capitalist Class is international, and presents a united front against the Working Class. But for that very reason the Capitalist Class is interested in keeping the working men divided among themselves. Hence it foments race and religious animosities that come down from the past. Again, the earnings of the Working Class decline. This is due to the ever larger supply of labor relative to the demand. The Capitalist Class knows that what brings on the increased supply is not immigration so much, but the improved and ever improving machinery, held as private property. For every immigrant by whom the labor market is overstocked, it is overstocked by ten working men in the country whom privately owned machinery displaces. The Capitalist Class is full well aware that if this fact be known the conclusion would leap to sight; to wit, that the solution of the Labor Problem is simply the public ownership of the machine. If fifty men, working ten hours a day, can, with improved machinery, produce as much as one hundred did before without such improved machinery, the publicly owned machine would not, as the privately owned machine does throw out fifty men; it would throw out five of the former ten hours of work. It is clear as day to the Capitalist Class that it must raise dust over this fact so as to conceal it; and no better means to this end is offered than the fomenting of the plausible delusion that the evil lies in immigration.
Anti-immigration laws are the fruit of these two purposes. Such laws kill two flies with one slap; they draw attention away from the nerve that aches, and simultaneously they help to set the workers of the land in racial and creed hostility against the newcomers, who, of course, the Capitalist Class itself sees to shall not be lacking. Obviously, it is in the interest of the Working Class that this brace of fatal delusions be dispelled from their minds. What does the Labor Leader do? He helps nurse both delusions. It is no accident that the Edward F. McSweeneys of the Shoemakers' Union, the McKims of the Carpenters', the T. V. Powderlys of Knights of Labor antecedents, and now a Frank P. Sargeant, Grand Master of the Locomotive Firemen, are the ones picked out by the Capitalist Presidents, and are found ready to fill the places in the Department of the Commissioner of Immigration.
Capitalism demands ever larger profits. Upon the volume of its profits depends the power of the Capitalist Class to dominate the Working Class. It follows that capitalism requires an ever intenser exploitation of the adult worker; that it hungers after the marrow of the children of the Working Class as one of the most efficient means for the lowering of wages and earnings; that it seeks to keep these in the ignorance and illiteracy "befitting the station that God has assigned them to in life f that it aims at preparing the field in such way as to leave the Working Class at the greatest possible disadvantage whenever it rises in the revolt implied in the strike; and that, while thus seeking to augment its profits, it strains to reduce its taxes, those slices taken from its profits. Obviously, it is in the interest of the Working Class that a spoke be put into each of these wheels. What does the Labor Leader do? He lends the color of labor to these capitalist maneuvers. As instances of this particular service to the Capitalist Class may be quoted, among a great many others, the conduct of John Wilson, Fenwick and Thomas Burt in the British Parliament; of Henry Blackmore and Clarence Connolly, Labor Commissioner and Factory Inspector, respectively, in Missouri; of Stephen Charters in the mayoralty office of Ansonia, Conn.; of Sam Boss in the Massachusetts Legislature; of J. J. Kinney, E. J. Bracken and James L. Cannon in the Ohio Legislature, and of Samuel Prince and William Maher in the New York Legislature. In Northumberland and Durham, England, the miners only work six hours per day, but their children, who act as drawers of coal, and are paid by the men, work ten hours, one set of children serving two sets of men. Fenwick and Wilson, both of the Miners' Union, are Members of Parliament from those two counties; and both of them, together with Thomas Burt, Member for Marpeth, and also of the Miners' Union, oppose tooth and nail all propositions for the legal eight-hour day. On the last occasion, when the bill was up, March 5 of this year, Wilson, in voting against it, said "he regretted that Mr. Burt, who took the same line as he did in the matter, was not present; when he found himself on the same side with Mr. Burt, he felt he was on the side of the angels." Accidents to children in the factories of Missouri have become shockingly frequent. The law provides for fire-escapes and forbids the employment of children under 14 years. These laws are coolly ignored and no prosecutions are instituted. Blackmore of the St. Louis Carpenters and of the Building Trades Council is the Labor Commissioner, and Connolly of the St. Louis International Typographical Union is the Factory Inspector under whose shield these crimes on Labor are permitted and committed. Under the auspices of Charters, the Carpenters' Union "Mayor of Ansonia, a proposition was introduced this spring to retrench on the school appropriations, so as to lower taxation. Thus, besides saving for the capitalists of Ansonia the profits that would otherwise have to go to the school tax, the Charters proposition amounted to cutting off fully two years from the educational opportunities of the children of the Working Class, and thereby and additionally hurl these young ones into the factories to compete with and lower the wages of the workers.
A favorite capitalist flank move to increase the exploitation of his hands, where he cannot reduce wages outright, is the "fines system." Under the name of "fines" enough can be whacked out of the workers' wages to very materially increase the plunder in the capitalist's pockets. The practice was threatening a revolt among the weavers of New Bedford, Mass. Thereupon the secretary of their Union, Boss, is picked out by the capitalists to run for the Legislature on one of the capitalist tickets, on the express issue of legislating the "fines system" out of existence. Boss was elected, and an anti-fines law passed. Nevertheless, the "fines system" continued in full blast; an aggrieved weaver hauled one of the violators of the law before the Court; the Court pronounced the law "unconstitutional" - and Boss continued in the Legislature, where he neither moved the impeachment of the Judge, nor any new anti-fines bill, and by his sepulchral dumbness gave the sanction of Labor to such a capitalist iniquity.
Conscious of the fact that, despite all the drag that the Labor Leader is on the impulses of Labor, the working men periodically take the bit into their own mouth, the Capitalist Class is intent upon so arranging things beforehand that when the working man goes on strike he may find himself "in a hole, with the wind blowing upon him from all sides." One of the many devices to this end is the enactment of laws clothing street railway employees with police powers. Such powers do not add inches to the working man in behalf of his class; on the contrary. A strike being on, these employees fall under the command of Chiefs of Police and can be handled with effect. A bill to this effect came up in the Ohio Legislature Only the other day, and it passed with the support of the following Labor Leader members: Kinney, ex-International Secretary of the Metal Polishers' Union and Business Agent of the Cleveland Local; Bracken, ex-National Secretary of the Lathers' Union of Columbus and Secretary when elected, and Cannon, of the International Cigarmakers' Union of Columbus. Parenthetically it is of no slight interest here to note that when, in 1899, a corrupt conspiracy now well known in the annals of the American Labor Movement as the "Kangaroo Conspiracy" broke out against the Socialist Movement and an attempt was made by the Cleveland wing of the conspirators to pack a certain meeting of the Cleveland Section of the Socialist Labor Party, so as to cause the Section to kangaroo, the above named J. J. Kinney was on deck; paid up two years' back dues, and, though vainly, yet 'strenuously, sought to scuttle the Section. Other devices looking to the placing of the workers in a helpless hole during strikes are "Tramp Laws," so-called, whereby a working man on strike can be adjudged a "tramp" and sent to work in the identical factory against which he struck; "Military Codes" vesting the Courts with power to call out the militia, etc., etc. Such conspiracies against the Working Class have been enacted into law in this State of New York, and they received the support of Prince of the International Cigarmakers' Union, and Maher of the Cabdrivers' Union, both members of the Legislature.
It is not merely by the process of sponging up the wealth produced by the Working Class that the Capitalist Class undermines the health and life of the working man. The Capitalist Class is, not constructively or inferentially only, a cannibal class. The roots of capitalism are literally watered with the blood of the proletariat. The fields of production - mills, shops, railroad beds, yards - are strewn with the limbs and fallen bodies of working men. Capitalist "progress" is built upon the skulls and crossbones of its Working Class victims. Obviously, in the interest of the Working Class is the tearing of the veil of hypocrisy with which the Capitalist Class seeks to conceal these deeds of mayhem and murder, and the giving to them the greatest publicity possible. What does the Labor Leader do? He aids in the act of concealment, and thereby lends direct support to the capitalist's reckless disregard for the safety of the working man's limb and life. Of this particular service to capitalism, the following few instances, taken from an inexhaustible quarry, may give an idea. In Silver Bow County, Mont., Sam Johnson, the Secretary of the Mill Smelters' Union, is Coroner, and Peter Breen, of the Miners' Union, is County Attorney. "Accidents," by which miners and smelters are injured for life or killed, due entirely to capitalist reckless methods, are matters of daily occurrence in the County. Johnson has been in office now seventeen months. Aided by Breen, not one - aye, not one - case has been prosecuted; they are all hushed up. Here in this State the cry went up, it was eleven years ago, on the outrages perpetrated by the Adirondack Railroad Company, Vanderbilt System, upon the men who were shanghaied to build the road. Florence F. Donovan, of the International Typographical Union, at the time a Commissioner of Arbitration, was appointed to investigate. He was shown to have been bribed by the Company with $500 to whitewash it; and he earned his bribe; and though he went down and out of office in disgrace, the Company went off scot free ! In the State of Washington, when the Great Northern Tunnel, called the "Cascade Tunnel," owing to its heavy grade and length, was first opened, three or four working men were suffocated to death, owing to the company's hurry to operate the road. The State Legislature appointed a Committee to investigate. William Blackman, a member of the Seattle Typographical Union, and, at the time, Labor Commissioner, was put on the Committee to "represent Labor." The Committee reported unanimously the tunnel perfectly safe, and none responsible for the accident. And in Pennsylvania. The Mine and Factory Inspectors in that bloodstained region, a region shaken up periodically by shocking "accidents" to miners, are Labor Leaders almost to a man. I shall not cumulate instances on this head. You know that the maimed and murdered miners go unavenged, the crimes being screened by those Labor Leaders.
And yet, not all this will stead the Capitalist Class. And they know it. As a last and most effective string to their bow, when all other means fail, the Capitalist Class thrums on the public powers that it is entrusted with. If, despite all their efforts at suppression and misleading, cajoling, and cheating, the indignation of the Working Class breaks loose, the policeman's club, the rifle of the militia, and, if. necessary, the military power of the Nation itself, are brought into requisition. What deception, cajolements and chicanery may. have failed to accomplish, brute force is ordered to bring about, and the working men are clubbed, or butchered into subjection. Obviously in the interest of the Working Class is, at least, emphatic protest against /such deeds. What does the Labor Leader do? From his safe perch in office he condones by his silence the brutality of capitalism, occasionally even applauds it.
A few instances in which this particular service is rendered to the Capitalist Class are these: John Burns, Labor Leader in the British Parliament, when the miners were shot down by the troops in 1893, and the Liberal Home Secretary Asquith "took upon himself the responsibility of the act" - John Burns upheld the hand of Mr. Asquith. Dave C. Coates, President of the State Federation of Labor of Colorado, as Lieutenant Governor of that State, remains silent at the periodical clubbings and shootings of working men in his State, and by his conduct accentuates the meaning of his taking the stump for Charles S. Thomas, who, in 1898, was rewarded by the Colorado capitalists with the nomination for Governor in return for his denunciation of the miners of the Bull Hill district as "thugs and incendiaries." In New York, the Sam Prince and William Maher, al-, ready mentioned, and before them Williams of the Carpenters' Union, sat quietly in their seats in the Legislature while Governors Flower, Morton and the present incumbent Odell successively hurled the militia of the State against the railway workers in Buffalo, Brooklyn and Albany, striking to enforce the ten-hour law, and in support of the capitalists who were violating the law. Vested as they were with the power to move the impeachment of these law-breaking magistrates, the silence of that batch of Labor Leaders was an emphatic expression of approval. Nor should it escape us in this connection that, fresh upon Governor Flower's conduct, and the applause bestowed upon him by his supporter and fellow-Democrat, Jacob Cantor, this Cantor becoming a candidate for the Senate, he was pronounced a "friend of Labor," and he who said the contrary "one who said what is not true," by another- Labor Leader, Samuel Gompers. In St. Paul, Minn., one B. F. Morgan, a member of Lodge 31 of the Switchmen's Union, enjoys a place on the police force of the city, and despite - or is it, perhaps, because of - this double capacity, appeared as a delegate at the recent Milwaukee, Wis., national convention of his trade. What virtues qualified that Labor Leader for selection as policeman by the capitalist government of St. Paul you may judge. You may also judge what influences secured his election to the convention, and what his mission was there. In Detroit, Mich., one C. P. Collins had earned his spurs with the Capitalist Class for shooting down the city employees at Conners Creek. Wishing after that to run for Sheriff, and his capitalist backers fearing that his Conners Creek record would militate against him with the working men voters, his backers hired Henry Eickoff of the Detroit Polishers' Union to impart to Collins a "Labor flavor." Collins was elected, and his capitalist backers rewarded Eickoff with the office of Factory Inspector.
Obviously, independent, class-conscious political action is the head of Labor's lance. Useful as any other weapon may be, that weapon is the determining factor. Entrenched in the public powers, the Capitalist Class command the field. None but the political weapon can dislodge the usurpers and enthrone the Working Class; that is to say, emancipate the workers and rear the Socialist Republic. And none are better aware of the fact than the Capitalist Class, nor, consequently, more anxious to have the Labor forces turned from the field of independent Labor political activity. Obviously, in the interest of the Working Class, is it to arouse them to class-conscious political action. What does the Labor Leader do? From England, westward over the United States and Canada to Australia, we find the Labor Leaders solidly arrayed against the very idea. A veritable bulwark of capitalism, they seek to turn the political trend of the Labor Movement into the channels of capitalist politics, where the head of Labor's lance, its independent, class-conscious political effort, can be safely broken off.
Such are the facts thrown up by the career of the Labor Leader everywhere, every one of whom, in public office, is there by the grace of capitalist parties. Even in the instances that would seem exceptional, the exception is in seeming only. As far, then, as this goes, the parallel between the Labor Leader and the Plebs Leader is accurate: Just as with the Plebs Leader, the Labor Leader is "practical," he makes a boast of that; he nurses no "visions," he "chases no rainbows." Just as with the Plebs Leader, the Labor Leader sees no way out of the existing Social System. He will admit the evils of capitalism; it is profitable that he should; but no more than did the Plebs Leader of old, does the Labor Leader of to-day aim at the extinction of the flames that devour the wage-slave class. Just as with the Plebs Leader, the Labor Leader accepts the social economy of the ruling class: "Poverty always was; poverty always will be." Just as the Plebs Leader looked down upon the plebeian proletariat and middle class as a hopeless, helpless element, fit only to be used, and brought his religion to sanction the exploitation of these classes, the Labor Leader places no, faith whatever in the capacity of the Working Class to emancipate itself. Finally, and by reason of all this, just as the Plebs Leader sought to secure himself against plebs distress, and, in doing so, propped up both the economic power and the political privileges of patricianism at the expense of the plebs masses, the Labor Leader of to-day limits his aspirations to the feathering of his own nest, and, in pursuit of this purpose turns himself, at the expense of the Working Class, into a prop of capitalism.
There remains just one feature to consider, and that the most significant of all, in the physiognomy of the Plebs Leader - the circumstance that placed in the Plebs Leader's hands the means to carry out his designs. That circumstance, it will be remembered, was his sharing the designation of "plebeian." That designation raised the delusion of "community of interests" between him and the plebeian middle class and proletariat; it secured for him the confidence of these; it placed in his hands the club that we saw him swing over the head of the patriciate, and with the aid of which he wrenched from the patriciate the privileges ho needed to safeguard himself against the hell of plebsism. This feature was the determining factor in the physiognomy of the Plebs Leader. It was the feature that constituted him into the strategic force that buttressed patricianism, and, consequently, could and did operate with deadly effect upon the victimized masses. How, on this point, stands the case with the Labor Leader? Exactly the same. The common designation of "Labor" that clings to the Labor Leader, and which he is zealous to cultivate, does for the Labor Leader what the common designation of "plebeian" did for the Plebs Leader: it covers him, along with the toiling and fleeced wage-slaves in the shops, mills and yards, placing him before these in the light of a "fellow working man." In this instance, as in that of the Plebs Leader, the people - capitalists as well as proletarians - generally fall victims to the delusion, a delusion that, just as in the instance of the Plebs Leader, the Labor Leader alone remains free from. Accordingly, in this instance, as in that of the Plebs Leader, the common delusion arms the Labor Leader with the club wherewith to wrench from the Capitalist Class safety for himself. True enough, the character of that safety differs markedly from that which the Plebs Leader needed, aimed at and got. Theoretical political equality in capitalist society, especially in a capitalist republic, eliminates the political issues that arose in patrician Rome. To-day the only question among the elements that accept the existing Social System is economic. And that question is considered solved by the folks of the "practical" brigade when a "living" is secured; that is to say, when immunity is gained from work as a wage-slave.
Obviously, the landing on the "stairs of safety" with the Labor Leader is far below what it necessarily had to be with the Plebs Leader; with the Labor Leader the landing is brought down to the level of the "bribe." The lowering of the character of the "safety" with which the Labor Leader is satisfied, quite in keeping with the lowering morality of capitalist atmosphere, does not affect the essence of the Labor Leader's exploit, nor the nature of its effect. That he can secure such safety; that he is enveloped in a popular delusion which enables him to secure such safety, and that imparts direction to would-be imitators; finally, that, bundle of ignorance, perverseness and corruption as he is, he succeeds in his double game of double dealing - that is the important fact. And that fact makes the Labor Leader of to-day, just as the Plebs Leader of old, a masked position, a strategic post and force that buttresses capitalism, and the very quality of which cannot but operate demoralizingly, disastrously upon the Working Class. And this strategic power for evil on the part of the Labor Leader has so far been effective. With increasing rafts of them in public office by the grace of capitalist parties, and still larger rafts of them qualifying for the distinction, we see to-day that, despite an increasing percentage of working men, even the census admits a decreasing percentage in wages. And the general situation of the Working Class in the land to-day is well pictured by the now common grim joke: "When a working man has reached forty-five years, take him out and shoot him; he is too used up to be of any further account, and is too poor to take care of himself." And yet, despite these facts, there are those who say: "The Labor Leader amounts to nothing, ignore him" - which goes to prove that the ostriches are not all of the feathered tribe. And others there are who declare: "The Labor Leader and his organizations need not concern the Socialist Movement, capitalism itself is destroying both" - which goes to show how wide of the mark abstract scientific principles, when recited by rote, will fall.
The Socialist knows that popular well-being implies the emancipation of the race from class rule, and he knows that such was not possible at the time the Licinian law was being struggled for - 400 B. C. The abolition of class rule had to await the modern machinery of production. Not until mechanical perfection in production can render the production of wealth ample and easy enough to afford to all the leisure that civilization craves, does it become at ill possible to abolish involuntary poverty. The Socialist knows all that, and, knowing it, does not suppose that in B. C. aught could have been done to remove the causes at the root of popular suffering. But this other he knows also, that even if the effects could not then be wholly wiped out, neither was their aggravation inevitable, and that their aggravation was the result of fortuitous circumstances. Those fortuitous circumstances were the Plebs Leader, together with the superstitions in his favor that he was able to exploit; In the Plebs Leader there was a strategic post of incalculable strength for usurpation, and of consequent weakness for the revolutionary class, the Roman proletariat The fact having escaped the revolutionary elements of Some, they, and the whole Commonwealth with them, suffered the full consequences. The net result of these combined causes - deepening poverty among increasing numbers; increased power of usurpation in an oligarchy; and, as the hoop to hold these staves together, the delusion born of the term "plebeian," that fastened the oppressed in blind attachment to the oppressor, - the net result I say, of these combined causes was one that neither side looked for, but was forced upon both: it was the transmuting of the Roman people into a professional army of freebooters; the revolutionary pulse was turned into the channels of rapine, a development, that, having satiated itself with plunder abroad, finally turned, as I indicated at the start, into a weapon, not for national comfort, but of national suicide. That the revolutionary elements of Rome should have slipped and fallen is pardonable. Not so with the revolutionary elements of to-day - the wage-slave or Working Class, together with the materials whom its great Cause! attracts. In the first place, to slip is easy where to run is yet impossible. The primitiveness of production made it, I explained, impossible for the revolutionary element of Rome to accomplish its emancipation. In the second place, the steps of the Rome of 500 B. C. to 400 B. C. were not lighted by the experience of older civilizations. Not so to-day.
To-day the condition precedent for proletarian emancipation has been reached: the mechanism of production has reached the point where "the wheels move of themselves." No longer are civilized conditions for some predicated upon the unavoidable privations of any, let alone of most. Civilized conditions are to-day possible for all; and the class interests of the revolutionary class - the Working Class - dictate the programme, the collective ownership of the land on and the tools with which to work; in short, the Co-operative Commonwealth, or Socialist Republic. Furthermore, to-day we need not grope in historic darkness. The past throws its light, and no flickering light it is, across our path, to guide our steps. By that light we may read the strategic significance of the Labor Leader; by that light we may perceive him to embody, as the Plebs Leader did of old, those fortuitous circumstances that, unless made decided front against, certainly will nullify all the possibilities for good of the age, turn awry "enterprises of great pith and moment," and make them lose the name of action. The blindness of the Roman revolutionary, elements was pardonable; blindness on our part would be unpardonable today. The army that operates upon hostile territory may not "ignore" a strategic post from which it may be mowed down; nor should a parrot-like recitation of Socialist philosophy be allowed to lull the Socialist Movement into imaginary safety. Item no doubt, would the Capitalist Class of to-day smash the Labor Leader and, along with him, the "Organized Labor" that he operates, but no more so than, and for the same reason, that the Roman patriciate would gladly have smashed the Plebs Leader, together with the organizations on and with which he operated. Why should we expect the modern usurping class to have less wit than the patriciate of Rome in utilizing a popular delusion, and seeking to curb Labor with the aid of the Labor Leader? We have seen the patriciate do the trick, though at the cost of no mere trifles yielded by it to the Plebs Leader; why should the modern capitalist be supposed to be less "clever," especially seeing that mere bones to gnaw at suffice to cause the Labor Leader hound to do his bidding? But we are past the point of "expecting," "supposing" and "speculating" upon the subject. Hanna's imitation, premature though it is, of Camillus's Temple to the Goddess of Concord removes all conjecture.
Along with twenty-four active limbs of capitalism, we find in the niches of Hanna's Temple to the Goddess of "Industrial Peace" a choice collection of twelve Labor Leaders - Samuel Gompers; John Mitchell, President of the United Mine Workers; Prank P. Sargent, Grand Master Brotherhood of Locomotive Firemen; Theodore Shaffer, President Amalgamated Association of Iron, Steel and Tin Workers; James Duncan, General Secretary Granite Cutters; Daniel J. Keefe, President Longshoremen's Association; James O'Connell, President International Association of Machinists; Martin Pox, President Iron Molders; James Lynch, President International Typographical Union; Edward E. Clark, Grand Chief Order of Railway Conductors; Harry White, General Secretary United Garment Workers, and W. Macarthur, Editor Coast Seaman's Journal, each of whom, without exception, prates of "Harmony between Employer and Employee"; in other words, each of whom upholds the capitalist system of society. This should be warning enough.
I mean not to, I shall not here, take a hand in the discussion that is going on in our Party press on the Socialist Trade and Labor Alliance. Nevertheless, at this point I must quote a passage from Letter XX in that discussion. Comrade Francis A. Walsh, of Lynn, says there: ."If by some great strike taking place the workers turned in the direction of the ballot box, if the Socialist Trade and Labor Alliance was not there to guide them right, they would naturally elect the labor fakirs to office who happened to be misleading them, and by so doing they would defeat the purpose of their own spontaneous, honest, well-intended movement." I admit the dialectic point that it does not follow because a certain thing is bad, therefore a certain other is the proper means to remove it. Such a conclusion would need demonstration. Accordingly, I here leave aside that part of this passage which argues that the Socialist Trade and Labor Alliance is needed to avoid the particular danger that he points out. What I here want to underscore is the point made, that the Labor Leader - "Labor Fakir" is the term he uses - would, under ordinary circumstances, naturally be chosen by the rank and file to head their political outbreaks and that the Working Class would thereby unintentionally defeat their own honest and serious purposes. The Labor Leader would sell out.
The Lynn Comrade there hit a nail, and no unimportant one, squarely on the head; so squarely that the blow rings. Moreover, there is nothing to prevent the Labor Leader from committing to memory a few Socialist phrases - the more scientifically sonorous all the better for his purpose - and thus adding, to the delusion of "Labor" that of "Socialism" in his favor. Indeed, the trick is already being tried. And thus, as I stated in my introductory remarks, abstract scientific dissertations, unaccompanied with accurate knowledge on the military topography, so to speak, of the field of the Social Question, may redound to the undoing of the Socialist Movement.
In the fire of the revolutionary discontent during the formative period from 500 B. C. to 400 B. C, the Roman Commonwealth was forged awry into a weapon of eventual national suicide. Let there be no fatalism in our councils. The Socialist Republic is no predestined inevitable development. The Socialist Republic depends, not upon material conditions only; it depends upon these - plus clearness of vision to assist the evolutionary process. Nor was the agency of the intellect needful at any previous stage of social evolution in the Class Struggle to the extent that it is needful at this, the culminating one of all. Is the revolutionary class of this Age living under ripened conditions to avail itself of its opportunity and fulfil its historic mission? Or is the revolutionary spark of our Age to be smothered and banked up till, as in the Rome of old, it leap from the furnace, a weapon of national suicide? In sight of the invasion of the Philippine Islands and the horrors that are coming to light, is there any to deny that the question is a burning one? The answer depends, to-day, not upon a knowledge of scientific Socialist economics and sociology alone. It depends upon that and, hand in hand with that, upon an accurate knowledge of the strategic features of the field. Nor is there a strategic post that the Socialist or Labor Movement should keep its weather eye more firmly on and take more energetic measures against than the Labor Leader.
As the Plebs Leader of old was a strategic post of peculiar /strength for the patriciate and of mischief for the proletariat, so and for like reasons is the the Labor Leader of to-day nothing but a masked battery, from behind which the Capitalist Class can encompass what it could not without-the work of enslaving and slowly degrading the Working Class, and, along with that, the work of debasing and ruining the country.
Lecture 1: Plebs leaders and labor leaders. Part 1.
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Lecture 2. The Warning of the Gracchi. Part 1.
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