In June 1905 the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) was founded. Delegates from America’s most militant unions and workers’ organisations came together in Chicago to discuss the foundation of the “one big union”, an “industrial union”, organising all workers. The “Wobblies”, as the organisation became known, aimed to break down all the barriers between workers of craft and tradition put up by right-wing labour bureaucrats.
It was especially successful in organising casual, itinerant and temporary workers, whom the conservative craft unions spurned. Its experience there deserves study today, when once again we face the task of organising large numbers of casual workers.
As this article* by the American Trotskyist James P Cannon explains, the IWW was also a “revolutionary” union, built by socialists. It had political goals. It wanted society to be ruled by the democratic organisation of workers. IWWers thought the IWW could form the basis of that organisation, and of a new society. Cannon explains the strengths and weaknesses of the IWW’s approach.
The founders of the IWW were indubitably the original inspirers and prime movers of the modern industrial unions in the mass production industries.
The Founding Convention of the IWW brought together on a common platform the three giants among our ancestors — Eugene Debs, Bill Haywood and Daniel De Leon. They came from different backgrounds and fields of activity, and they soon parted company again. But the things they said and did, that one time they teamed up to set a new movement on foot, could not be undone. They wrote a Charter for the American working class which has already inspired and influenced more than one generation of labour militants. And in its main essentials it will influence other generations yet to come.
The great majority of the other delegates who answered the call to the Founding Convention of the IWW were people of the same quality. They were the non-conformists, the stiff-necked irreconcilables, at war with capitalist society. Radicals, rebels and revolutionists started the IWW, as they have started every other progressive movement in the history of this country.
In these days when labour leaders try their best to talk like probationary members of the Junior Chamber of Commerce, it is refreshing to turn back to the reports of men who spoke a different language. Debs, Haywood and De Leon, and those who stood with them, did not believe in the partnership of capital and labour. Such talk, they said in the famous “Preamble” to the Constitution of the IWW, misleads the workers. They spoke out in advance against the idea of the permanent co-existence of labour unions and the private ownership of industry.
The men who founded the IWW were pioneer industrial unionists, and the great industrial unions of today stem directly from them. But they aimed far beyond industrial unionism as a bargaining agency recognising the private ownership of industry as right and unchangeable. They saw the relations of capital and labour as a state of war.
The founders of the IWW regarded the organisation of industrial unions as a means to an end; and the end they had in view was the overthrow of capitalism and its replacement by a new social order.
The bold design was drawn by Bill Haywood, General Secretary of the Western Federation of Miners, who presided at the Founding Convention of the IWW. In his opening remarks, calling the convention to order, he said:
“This is the Continental Congress of the working class. We are here to confederate the workers of this country into a working class movement that shall have for its purpose the emancipation of the working class from the slave bondage of capitalism.”
Hayood wound up with the prophetic suggestion that the American workers take the Russian path. He said he hoped to see the new movement “grow throughout this country until it takes in a great majority of the working people, and that those working people will rise in revolt against the capitalist system as the working class in Russia are doing today” [in the revolution of 1905].
Debs said: “The supreme need of the hour is a sound, revolutionary working class organisation… It must express the class struggle. It must recognise the class lines. It must, of course, be class conscious. It must be totally uncompromising. It must be an organisation of the rank and file.”
De Leon, the thinker, was already projecting his thought beyond the overthrow of capitalism to “the form of the governmental administration of the Republic of Labor.” In a post-convention speech at Minneapolis on “The Preamble of the IWW”', he said that the industries, “regardless of former political boundaries, will be the constituencies of that new central authority the rough scaffolding of which was raised last week in Chicago. Where the General Executive Board of the Industrial Workers of the World will sit, there will be the nation’s capital.” (Socialist Reconstruction of Society, by Daniel De Leon.)
These were the most uncompromising, the most unambiguous declarations of revolutionary intention ever issued in this country up to that time. The goal of socialism had been previously envisioned by others. But at the Founding Convention of the IWW the idea that it was to be realised through a struggle for power, and that the power of the workers must be organised, was clearly formulated and nailed down.
The IWW had its own forebears, for the revolutionary labour movement is an unbroken continuum. Behind the convention assembled in Chicago stood the Knights of Labor; the eight-hour movement led by the Haymarket martyrs; the great industrial union strike of the American Railway Union; the stormy battles of the Western Federation of Miners; and the two socialist political organisations — the old Socialist Labor Party and the newly-formed Socialist Party .
The IWW was more than a union. It was also — at the same time — a revolutionary organisation whose simple and powerful ideas inspired and activated the best young militants of its time, the flower of a radical generation. That, above all, is what clothes the name of the IWW in glory.
The true character of the IWW as a revolutionary organisation was convincingly demonstrated in its first formative year, in the internal conflict which resulted in a split at its second convention. This split occurred over questions which are normally the concern of political parties rather than of unions. Charles O Sherman, the first general president of the IWW, was an exponent of the industrial-union form of organisation. But that apparently was as far as he wanted to go, and it wasn’t far enough for those who took the revolutionary pronouncements of the First Convention seriously.
When the Second Convention of the IWW assembled in Chicago in September, 1906, Haywood was in jail in Idaho awaiting trial for his life; and Debs, never a man for factionalism, was standing aside. Vincent St John, himself a prominent figure in the Western Federation of Miners, and a member of its delegation to the Second Convention of the IWW, came forward as the leader of the anti-Sherman forces, in alliance with De Leon.
St. John stated the real issue motivating him and his supporters in his own invariably forthright manner:
“The administration of the IWW was in the hands of men who were not in accord with the revolutionary program of the organisation… The struggle for control of the organisation formed the second convention into two camps. The majority vote of the convention was in the revolutionary camp. The reactionary camp, having the Chairman, used obstructive tactics in their effort to gain control of the convention … The revolutionists cut this knot by abolishing the office of President and electing a chairman from among the revolutionists.” (The IWW: History, Structure and Method, by Vincent St. John.)
This split at the Second Convention also resulted in the disaffiliation of the Western Federation of Miners, the only strongly organised union the IWW had had to start with. But St John, as was his nature and consistent practice, took his stand on principle.
Faced with a choice of affiliation between the widely advertised and well-heeled WFM, of which he was a paid officer, and the poverty-stricken, still obscure IWW, with its program and its principles, he unhesitatingly chose the latter. For him, as for all the others who counted in making IWW history, personal interests and questions of bread and butter unionism were secondary. The first allegiance was to revolutionary principle.
That, plus the indomitable spirit of Vincent St. John, proved to be enough to hold the shattered organisation together. The Sherman faction, supported by the Western Federation of Miners, set up a rival organisation. But it didn’t last long. The St John wing prevailed in the post-convention conflict and proved itself to be the true IWW. But in the ensuing years it existed primarily, not as a mass industrial union of workers fighting for limited economic demands, but as a revolutionary organisation proclaiming an all-out fight against the capitalist system.
As such, the IWW attracted a remarkable selection of young revolutionary militants to its banner. As a union, the organisation led many strikes which swelled the membership momentarily. But after the strikes were over, whether won or lost, stable union organisation was not maintained. After every strike, the membership settled down again to the die-hard cadre united on principle.
The IWW borrowed something from Marxism; quite a bit, in fact. Its two principal weapons — the doctrine of the class struggle and the idea that the workers must accomplish their own emancipation through their own organised power — came from this mighty arsenal. But for all that, the IWW was a genuinely indigenous product of its American environment, and its theory and practice ought to be considered against the background of the class struggle as it had developed up to that time in this country.
The experience of the American working class, which did not yet recognise itself as a distinct class, had been limited; and the generalising thought, even of its best representatives, was correspondingly incomplete. The class struggle was active enough, but it had not yet developed beyond its primary stages. Conflicts had generally taken the form of localised guerrilla skirmishes, savagely conducted on both sides, between separate groups of workers and employers. The political power brought to bear on the side of the employers was mainly that of local authorities.
In the situation of that time, with the class struggle of the workers still in its most elementary stages, and many of its complications and complexities not yet disclosed in action, the leaders of the IWW foresaw the revolutionary goal of the working class and aimed at one single, over-all formula for the organisation of the struggle. Putting everything under one head, they undertook to build an organisation which, as Vincent St. John, its chief leader and inspirer after the Second Convention, expressed it, would be “all-sufficient for the workers’ needs.” One Big Union would do it all. There was an appealing power in the simplicity of this formula, but also a weakness — a contradiction — which experience was to reveal.
One of the most important contradictions of the IWW, implanted at its first convention and never resolved, was the dual role it assigned to itself. Not the least of the reasons for the eventual failure of the IWW — as an organisation — was its attempt to be both a union of all workers and a propaganda society of selected revolutionists — in essence a revolutionary party. Two different tasks and functions, which, at a certain stage of development, require separate and distinct organisations, were assumed by the IWW alone; and this duality hampered its effectiveness in both fields.
The IWW announced itself as an all-inclusive union; and any worker ready for organisation on an everyday union basis was invited to join, regardless of his views and opinions on any other question. In a number of instances, in times of organisation campaigns and strikes in separate localities, such all-inclusive membership was attained, if only for brief periods. But that did not prevent the IWW agitators from preaching the revolutionary overthrow of capitalism in every strike meeting.
The strike meetings of the IWW were in truth “schools for socialism.” The immediate issues of the strike were the take-off point for an exposition of the principle of the class struggle, for a full-scale indictment of the capitalist system all up and down the line, and the projection of a new social order of the free and equal.
The professed “non-political” policy of the IWW doesn’t stand up very well against its actual record in action. The main burden of its energies was devoted to agitation and propaganda — in soap-box speeches, press, pamphlets and songbooks — against the existing social order; to defence campaigns in behalf of imprisoned workers; and to free-speech fights in numerous localities. All these activities were in the main, and in the proper meaning of the term, political.
The IWW at all times, even during strikes embracing masses of church-going, ordinarily conservative workers, acted as an organisation of revolutionists. The “real IWW’s”, the year-round activists, were nicknamed Wobblies — just when and why nobody knows — and the criterion of the Wobbly was his stand on the principle of the class struggle and its revolutionary goal; and his readiness to commit his whole life to it.
In truth, the IWW in its time of glory was neither a union nor a party in the full meaning of these terms, but something of both, with some parts missing. It was an uncompleted anticipation of a Bolshevik party, lacking its rounded-out theory, and a projection of the revolutionary industrial unions of the future, minus the necessary mass membership. It was the IWW.
The second split of the IWW, which broke off De Leon and SLP elements at the Fourth (1908) Convention. The issue this time was “political action” or, more correctly, conflicting conceptions of working class action in the class struggle which — properly understood — is essentially political.
The real purpose of the split was to free the IWW from the Socialist Labor Party’s ultra-legalistic, narrowly restricted and doctrinaire conception of “political action” at the ballot box; and to clear the way for the St. John conception of overthrowing capitalism by the “direct action” of the organised workers. This, by a definition which was certainly arbitrary and inexact, was declared to be completely “non-political”.
In a negative gesture, the 1908 Convention merely threw the “political clause” out of the Preamble. Later, going overboard, the IWW explicitly disavowed “politics” altogether, and political parties along with it. The origin of this trend is commonly attributed to the influence of French syndicalism. That is erroneous. Brissenden [The IWW: a study of American syndicalism] is correct when he says:
“The main ideas of IWW-ism were of American origin, not French, as is commonly supposed. These sentiments were brewing in France, it is true, in the early nineties, but they were brewing also in this country and the American brew was essentially different from the French. It was only after 1908 that the syndicalisme révolutionnaire of France had any direct influence on the revolutionary industrial unionist movement here.”
The IWW doctrine was sui generis, a native product of the American soil. And so was its chief author, Vincent St John. St John, as all the old-timers knew, was the man most responsible for shaping the character of the IWW in its heroic days. St John’s public reputation was dimmed beside the glittering name of Bill Haywood, and this has misled the casual student of IWW history. But Vincent St John was the organiser and leader of the cadres.
St John, like Haywood, was a miner, a self-educated man who had come up to national prominence the hard way, out of the violent class battles of the western mining war.
As an executive leader in practical situations he was superb, full of ideas — “enough to patch hell a mile” — and ready for action to apply them. In action he favoured the quick, drastic decision, the short cut. This propensity had yielded rich results in his work as a field leader of the Western Federation of Miners. He was widely renowned, in the western mining camps and his power was recognised by friend and foe.
In dealing with people — “handling men,” as they used to say — Vincent St John had no equal that I ever knew. He “sized up” men with a quick insight, compounded of simplicity and guile, spotting and sifting out the phonies and the dabblers.
St. John’s positive qualities as a man of decision and action were contagious; like attracted like and he created an organisation in his own image. He was not a back-slapper but a leader, with the reserve that befits a leader, and he didn’t win men by argument alone. In fact, he was a man of few words. The Saint lived his ideas and methods. He radiated sincerity and integrity, and unselfishness free from taint or ostentation. The air was clean in his presence.
The young men who fought under his command — a notable cadre in their time — swore by The Saint. They trusted him.
The IWW, as it evolved under the influence of St John, scornfully rejected the narrow concept of “political action” as limited to parliamentary procedures. St John understood the class struggle as a ruthless struggle for power. Nothing less and no other way would do; he was as sure of that as Lenin was. He judged socialist “politics” and political parties by the two examples before his eyes — the Socialist Party bossed by Berger and Hillquit and the Socialist Labor Party of De Leon — and he didn’t like either of them.
That attitude was certainly right as far as it went. Berger was a small-bore socialist opportunist; and Hillquit, although slicker and more sophisticated, wasn’t much better. He merely supplied a little radical phraseology to shield the cruder Bergerism from the attacks of the left.
De Leon, of course, was far superior to these pretentious pygmies; he towered above them. But De Leon, with all his great merits and capacities; with his exemplary selflessness and his complete and unconditional dedication to the workers’ cause; with all that, De Leon was sectarian in his tactics, and his conception of political action was rigidly formalistic, and rendered sterile by legalistic fetishism.
St. John’s objections to the parliamentary reformism of Berger-Hillquit and the ultra-legalism of the SLP contained much that must now be recognised as sound and correct. The error was in the universal opposition, based on these poor and limited examples, to all “politics” and all political parties. The flaw in his conceptions was in their incompleteness, which left them open, first to exaggeration and then to a false turn.
St. John’s cultivated bent to learn from his own limited and localised experience and observations in life rather than from books, and to aim at simple solutions in direct action, deprived him of the benefits of a more comprehensive theory generalised by others from the world-wide experiences of the class struggle. And this was true in general of the IWW as a movement. It took the First World War and the Russian Revolution to reveal in full scope the incompleteness of the governing thought of the IWW.
Continued next issue
A statement of intent
The Preamble to the IWW Constitution
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 organise as a class, take possession of the means of production, abolish the wage system, and live in harmony with the Earth.
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 interests of the working class upheld only by an organisation formed in such a way that all 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 the historic mission of the working class to do away with capitalism. The army of production must be organised, not only for everyday struggle with the capitalists, but also to carry on production when capitalism shall have been overthrown. By organising industrially we are forming the structure of the new society within the shell of the old.
Eugene Debs was born in Indiana in 1855. He worked on the railroad from the age of 14 and became a union organiser, rising to become President of the American Railway Union. In 1894 he was jailed for his role in a strike. While in jail the socialist Victor Berger converted him to socialism. He was Presidential candidate for the Socialist Party (at that time left wing and Marxist) in 1904, 1908, 1912 and 1920. He opposed World
War 1 and was jailed for sedition.
From Eugene Debs’s speech to IWW Convention
They charge us with being assembled here for the purpose of disrupting the union movement. It is already disrupted, and if it were not disrupted we would not behold the spectacle here in the very city of a white policeman guarding a black scab, and a black policeman guarding a white scab, while the trade unions stand by with their hands in their pockets wondering what is the matter with union labour in America. We are here today for the purpose of uniting the working class, for the purpose of eliminating that form of unionism which is responsible for the conditions as they exist today.
The American Federation of Labor has numbers, but the capitalist class do not fear the American Federation of Labor; quite the contrary. The capitalist papers here in this very city are championing the cause of pure and simple unionism. Since this convention met there has been nothing in these papers but a series of misrepresentations. If we had met instead in the interest of the American Federation of Labor these papers, these capitalist papers, would have had their columns filled with articles commending the work that is being done here. There is certainly something wrong with that form of unionism which has its chief support in the press that represents capitalism; something wrong in that form of unionism whose leaders are the lieutenants of capitalism.
There are those who believe that this form of unionism can be changed from within. They are very greatly mistaken. We might as well have remained in the Republican and Democratic parties and have expected to effect certain changes from within, instead of withdrawing from those parties and organising a party that represented the exploited working class. There is but one way to effect this great change, and that is for the workingman to sever his relations with the American Federation and join the union that proposes upon the economic field to represent his class.
The supreme need of the hour is a sound, revolutionary working-class organisation. And while I am not foolish enough to imagine that we can complete this great work in a single convention of a few days’ duration, I do believe it is possible for us to initiate this work, to begin it in a way for the greatest promise, with the assurance that its work will be completed in a way that will appeal with increasing force to the working class of the country.
I am satisfied that the great body of the working class in this country are prepared for just such an organisation. I know, their leaders know, that if this convention is successful their doom is sealed. They are hoping that we will fail to get together. They are hoping, as they have already expressed it, that this convention will consist of a prolonged wrangle; that such is our feeling and relations toward each other that it will be impossible for us to agree upon any vital proposition; that we will fight each other upon every point, and that when we have concluded our labours we will leave things in a worse condition than they were before.
If we are true to ourselves we will undeceive those gentlemen. We will give them to understand that we are animated by motives too lofty for them in their baseness and sordidness to comprehend. We will give them to understand that the motive here is not to use unionism as a means of serving the capitalist class, but that the motive of the men and women assembled here is to serve the working class by so organising that class as to make their organisation the promise of the coming triumph upon the economic field and the political field and the ultimate emancipation of the working class.
Let me say that I agree with Comrade DeLeon upon one very vital point at least. We have not been the best of friends in the past, but the whirligig of time brings about some wonderful changes. I find myself breaking away from some men I have been in very close touch with, and getting in close touch with some men from whom I have been very widely separated. But no matter. I have long since made up my mind to pursue the straight line as I see it. A man is not worthy, in my judgment, to enlist in the services of the working class unless he has the moral stamina, if need be, to break asunder all personal relations to serve that class as he understands his duty to that class.
To accomplish its purpose this organisation must not only be based upon the class struggle, but must express the economic condition of this time. We must have one organisation that embraces the workers in every department of industrial activity. It must express the class struggle. It must recognise the class lines. It must of course be class-conscious. It must be totally uncompromising. It must be an organisation of the rank and file. It must be so organised and so guided as to appeal to the intelligence of the workers of the country everywhere. And if we succeed, as I believe we will, in forming such an organisation, its success is a foregone conclusion.
If this work is properly begun, it will mean in time, and not a long time at that, a single union upon the economic field. It will mean more than that; it will mean a single party upon the political field; the one the economic expression, the other the political expression of the working class; the two halves that represent the organic whole of the labour movement.
And so we must dispel the petty prejudices that are born of the differences of the past, and I am of those who believe that, if we get together in the true working-class spirit, most of these differences will disappear, and if those of us who have differed in the past are willing to accord to each other that degree of conciliation that we ourselves feel that we are entitled to, that we will forget these differences, we will approach all of the problems that confront us with our intelligence combined, acting together in concert, all animated by the same high resolve to form that great union, so necessary to the working class, without which their condition remains as it is, and with which, when made practical and vitalised and renewed, the working class is permeated with the conquering spirit of the class struggle, and as if by magic the entire movement is vitalised, and side by side and shoulder to shoulder in a class-conscious phalanx we move forward to certain and complete victory.
Making the workers mighty
Daniel De Leon was born in Curaçao, South America, in 1852. He came to the US in 1874 and was an academic and teacher until he became a full-time socialist.
De Leon first became politically active in the anti-landlord campaign of Henry George and later learnt about socialism through the ideas of the utopian socialist Edward Bellamy. After studying the work of Marx and Engels he joined the Socialist Labour Party. In 1895 De Leon helped set up the Socialist Trade and Labour Alliance, a (not very successful) forerunner of the IWW. De Leon was a very forceful voice at the founding conference of the IWW. In 1908, together with Debs, he led a faction which advocated political action. The opposing faction, led by Bill Haywood and others, believed that general strikes and boycotts were the way for workers to build up power in society. De Leon died in 1914.
Daniel De Leon’s speech to the Founding Convention
Out of this convention, a new economic organisation or union will rise. The times are ripe. General information is extended, and during this process of pounding one another we have both learned; both sides have learned, and I believe that this convention will bring together those who will plant themselves squarely upon the class struggle and will recognise the fact that the political expression of labour is but the shadow of the economic organisation.
I know that he who will not vote right will do everything else wrong. But I also believe and I know that there is nothing more silly than Right without Might to back it up. And the ballot box, though it is a civilised method of discussion, though it is powerful in its way as a historic development, that ballot is the weakest of things, is the hugest fraud on earth if it is not backed by the Might to enforce it.
Do our bourgeois capitalist rulers proceed upon a different principle? Look at their law libraries [De Leon was a lawyer by training]. I do not believe the law books in those libraries are bound in calf or sheepskin by accident. How innocent those books look. The sheepskin in which they are bound is an emblem of innocence, of the weakness of the law without Might to enforce it. And they gather their Might in their way; we gather it in our way; and the Might of the revolutionary socialist ballot consists in the thorough industrial organisation of the productive workers, organised in such a way that when that ballot is cast the capitalist class may know that behind it is the Might to enforce it.
The capitalist class may monkey with the ballot all they like, but for the same reason that a man can monkey with a thermometer without ever changing the temperature, a handful of capitalists may do their ballot-monkeying, but they cannot change the political temperature. The capitalist may count us out. He may lower this thermometer of the ballot, but he cannot change the temperature.
When speaking to Brother Debs a few days ago, when we shook hands over the bloody chasm, I said to him that I greatly admired the spirit of a certain sentence uttered by him, though not the application of it. I shall leave aside the application of it so as to remove friction. The substance of his sentence was: “We are here in America under special American conditions, and we must have our own expression of the American labour movement.” Admirable.
There is an instinct both among the foes and the unwise friends of the movement to hold America down to the European level. I was there last year, at the Amsterdam Congress [of the Socialist International], and I can assure you that I pitied from the bottom of my heart the men whom I considered socialists, because, socialists though they are, they are under feudal conditions and they are worn out with feudal issues. Their efforts are neutralised; they cannot have a movement such as we can have in America, where capitalism is full-grown, where head and shoulders it is above all other nations of the world, where, not only economically but politically and socially, we have the most advanced capitalism in existence; no longer England, but America, has that distinction. Now, then, the American capitalist class is a different thing from the European capitalist class. The European capitalist class is feudal.
Take for instance this half crazy, half crippled emperor of Germany, he has all the vices of the catalogue except one, and that vice which he has not is cowardice. He is a brave man. That is the one virtue that feudalism develops. So that the Social Democracy of Germany — and when I say Germany I mean the whole of Europe, because they are so intimately dovetailed that none of the European states can go it alone — when the Social Democracy of Germany shall have reached five millions, that emperor will with a handful of men attempt to overthrow it. He will fail. Blood will flow, workingmen’s blood and ruler’s blood. In other words, a physical conflict is inevitable; inevitable on account of that psychology that has developed, from the material conditions of that rule, the spirit of the European capitalist class, namely, bravery.
On the other hand, do we find that spirit in the rulers of America? Have our rulers been brought up in the cradle of feudalism? Have they reached their position through any act of bravery? Have songs of bravery been the songs that rocked their cradles? No; they came to their position of rulers by putting sand into your sugar, by putting water into your molasses, by putting shoddy into your clothes, by fraudulent failures, by fraudulent fires. In other words, they have reached their position through fraud, through swindle. Being a coward, the swindler will swagger like a bully when the adversary is weak. What do we see the capitalist class do in America today? It has one set of workingmen in one body, and with the other it is clubbing them, shooting them down with gatling guns. It is simply a result, not of any bravery in the capitalist class, but of the weak condition of the Giant Labor, which lies fettered by the lieutenants of capitalism.
But they will never yield unless they realise that behind that ballot lies an organised movement, well organised, well disciplined and entirely awakened to the present condition; namely, with the industrial trades all in one organisation, so that one workingman will not scab it upon another. Then in case of a strike in one place the locomotive engineers will not transport the militia, and union men, so-called, will not, as recently happened in Colorado, carry union cards in their pockets while they were aiming their guns at the miners on strike. When the capitalists know that their labour lieutenants can no longer protect them, the latter will find that their occupation, like Othello’s, will be gone.
The Socialist Trade and Labor Alliance stated what it was there for, and stated it frankly. It has proceeded upon the principle that you cannot conceal your purpose from the enemy. The enemy’s instincts will tell them what you are after, whether you hide it or not. But if you hide your policy, if you hide your aims, if you conceal what you mean to do, then, while you cannot deceive the enemy — he will be as strongly against you as if you stated clearly what you wanted — you will deprive yourself of the support of the organisations that would stand behind you if they knew what you wanted.
The Socialist Trade & Labor Alliance was the first labour organisation in this country, since the early labour organisations who also began soundly, that frankly and fully stated to the working class of America that they had to capture the public powers. Their belief is this: that you could not first take the men into the union under the false pretence that you were going to raise their wages, and afterwards indoctrinate them. No, you had to indoctrinate them first, and then bring them in.