This is a pamphlet discussing strikes, revolution, and class struggle. In addition to Haywood's "The General Strike," it contains G.B.'s "The Last War," and a short tract called "The Deadly Parallel." The pamphlet was originally used in the trial of the United States vs. William D. Haywood, et al. This exhibit was introduced into the trial of Michael Simmons vs. the El Paso and Southwestern Railroad Company through the deposition of John W. Hughes.
UA Special Collections AZ 114 box 1, folder 1A, exhibit 22
The General Strike
Speech by William D. Haywood at Meeting Held for
the Benefit of the Buccafori Defense, at Progress
Assembly Rooms, New York, March 16, 1911.
Comrades and Fellow Workers: I am here to-night with a heavy heart. I can see in that Raymond Street jail our comrade and fellow-worker Buccafori in a cell, a miserable cell, perhaps 4 1/2 feet wide, 7 feet long, sleeping on an iron shelf, wrapped up in a dirty blanket, vermin-infested perhaps; surrounded by human wolves, those who are willing to tear him limb from limb, those who will not feel that their duty to the political state is entirely fulfilled until Buccafori's heart ceases to beat. I had felt that this would be a great meeting. I feel now that I would hate to be in Buccafori's place. It is better, when charged with crime by a capitalist or by the capitalist class, to hold a prominent office in a great labor organization. You will then draw around you support--support sufficient to protect and to save your life. Had I been an ordinary member of the rank and file of a labor organization no more prominent than a shoe worker of Brooklyn I would not be here to-night. I am certain that I would be sleeping in a bed of quicklime within the walls of the Idaho State penitentiary. But it happened that I was a prominent official of a labor organization that was known world-wide; and for one to raise his voice in defense of the officials of that organization meant to give the speaker prominence. To speak in favor of Buccafori is to come into an out-of-the-way part of town and to speak to a small audience. There are those who prefer prominence to saving a fellow-worker's life. I came here to-night to do my little part, feeling that Buccafori is as much to the labor movement, is as much to the working class, is as beneficial to society as I myself, as any member here, or any of those who ever lifted their voice for me.
I am sorry that I haven't supernatural strength to reach into that prison and release Buccafori. I am sorry that I can't bring together the forces that saved my life. I can only speak here as an individual.
I came to-night to speak to you on the general strike. And this night, of all the nights in the year, is a fitting time. Forty years ago to-day there began the greatest general strike known in modern history, the French Commune; a strike that required the political powers of two nations to subdue, namely, that of France and the iron hand of a Bismarck government of Germany. That the workers would have won that strike had it not been for the copartnership of the two nations, there is to my mind no question. They would have overcome the divisions of opinion among themselves. They would have re-established the great national workshops that existed in Paris and throughout France in 1848. The world would have been on the highway toward an industrial democracy, had it not been for the murderous compact between Bismarck and the government of Versailles.
We are met to-night to consider the general strike as a weapon of the working class. I must admit to you that I am not well posted on the theories advanced by Jaures, Vandervelde, Kautsky, and others who write and speak about the general strike. But I am not here to theorize, not here to talk in the abstract, but to get down to the concrete subject whether or not the general strike is an effective weapon for the working class. There are vote-getters and politicians who waste their time coming into a community where 90 per cent. of the men have no vote, where the women are disfranchised 100 per cent. and where the boys and girls under age, of course, are not enfranchised. Still they will speak to these people about the power of the ballot, and they never mention a thing about the power of the general strike. They seem to lack the foresight, the penetration to interpret political power. They seem to lack the understanding that the broadest interpretation of political power comes through the industrial organization; that the industrial organization is capable not only of the general strike, but prevents the capitalists from disfranchising the worker; it gives the vote to women, it re-enfranchises the black man and places the ballot in the hands of every boy and girl employed in a shop, makes them eligible to take part in the general strike, makes them eligible to legislate for themselves where they are most intrested[sic] in changing conditions, namely, in the place where they work.
I am sorry sometimes that I am not a better theorist, but as all theory comes from practice you will have observed, before I proceed very long, that I know something about the general strikes in operation.
Going back not so far as the Commune of Paris, which occurred in 1871, we find the great strike in Spain in 1874, when the workers of that country won in spite of combined opposition against them and took control of the civil affairs. We find the great strike in Bilboa, in Brussels. And coming down through the halls of time, the greatest strike is the general strike of Russia, when the workers of that country compelled the government to establish a constitution, to give them a form of government--which, by the way, has since been taken from them, and it would cause one to look on the political force, of Russia at least, as a bauble not worth fighting for. They gave up the general strike for a political constitution. The general strike could and did win for them many concessions they could gain in no other way.
While across the water I visited Sweden, the scene of a great general strike, and I discovered that there they won many concessions, political as well as economic; and I happened to be in France, the home of all revolutions, during the strike on the railroads, on the state as well as the privately owned roads. There had been standing in the parliament of France many laws looking toward the improvement of the men employed on the railroads. They became dissatisfied and disgruntled with the continued dilatory practices of the politicians and they declared a general strike. The demands of the workers were for an increase of wages from three to five francs a day, for a reduction of hours and for the retroaction of the pension law. They were on strike three days. It was a general strike as far as the railroads were concerned. It tied up transportation and communication from Paris to all the seaport towns. The strike had not been on three days when the government granted every demand of the workers. Previous to this, however, Briand had issued his infamous order making the railroaders soldiers--reservists. The men went back as conscripts; and many scabs, as we call them over here (I don't know what the French call them; in England they call them "blacklegs"), were put on the roads to take the places of 3,500 discharged men.
The strike apparently was broken, officially declared off by the workers. It's true their demands had all been granted, but remember there were 3,500 of their fellow-workers discharged. The strikers immediately started a campaign to have the victimized workers reinstated. And their campaign was a part of the general strike. It was what they called the "greve perlee," or the "drop strike"--if you can conceive of a strike while everybody is at work; everybody belonging to the union receiving full time, and many of them getting overtime, and the strike in full force and very effective. This is the way it worked--and I tell it to you in hopes that you will spread the good news to your fellow-workers and apply it yourselves whenever occasion demands--namely, that of making the capitalist suffer. Now there is only one way to do that; that is, to strike him in the place where he carries his heart and soul, his center of feeling--the pocketbook. And that is what those strikers did. They began at once to make the railroads lose money, to make the government to lose money, to make transportation a farce so far as France was concerned. Before I left that country, on my first visit--and it was during the time that the strike was on--there were 50,000 tons of freight piled up at Havre, and a proportionately large amount at every other seaport town. This freight the railroaders would not move. They did not move it at first, and when they did it was in this way; they would load a trainload of freight for Paris and by some mistake would be billed through to Lyons, and when the freight was found at Lyons, instead of being sent to the consignee at Paris it was carried straight through the town on to Bayonne or Marseilles or some other place--to any place but where it properly belonged. Perishable freight was taken out by the trainload and sidetracked. The condition became such that the merchants themselves were compelled to send their agents down into the depots to look up their consignments of freight--and with very little assurance of finding it at all. That this was the systematic work of the railroaders there is no question, because a package addressed to Merle, one of the editors of "La Guerre Sociale," now occupying a cell in the Prison of the Saint, was marked with an inscription on the corner "Sabotagers please note address." This package went through posthaste. It worked so well that some of the merchants began using the name of "La Guerre Sociale" to have their packages immediately delivered. It was necessary for the managers of the paper to threaten to sue them unless they refrained from using the name of the paper for railroad purposes.
Nearly all the workers have been reinstated at the present time on the railroads of France.
That is certainly one splendid example of what the general strike can accomplish for the working class.
Another is the strike of the railroaders in Italy. The railroaders there are organized in one great industrial union, one card, taking into membership the stenographers, train dispatchers, freight handlers, train crews and section crews. Everyone who works on the railroad is a member of the organization; not like it is in this country, split up into as many divisions as they can possibly get them into. There they are all one. There was a great general strike. It resulted in the country taking over the railroads. But the government made the mistake of placing politicians in control, giving politicians the management of the railroads. This operated but little better than under private capitalism. The service was inefficient. They could make no money. The rolling stock was rapidly going to wreck. Then the railroad organizations issued this ultimatum to the government, and its now stands: "Turn the railroads over to us. We will operate them and give you the most efficient service to be found on railroads in any country." Would that be a success for the general strike? I rather think so.
And in Wales it was my good fortune to be there, not to theorize but to take part in the general strike among the coal miners. Previous to my coming, or in previous strikes, the Welsh miners had been in the habit of quitting work, carrying out their tools, permitting the mine managers to run the pumps, allowing the engine winders to remain at work, carrying food down to the horses, keeping the mines in good shape, while the miners themselves were marching from place to place singing their old-time songs, gathering on the meeting grounds of the ancient Druids and listening to the speeches of the labor leaders; starving for weeks contentedly, and on all occasions acting most peaceably; going back to work when they were compelled to by starvation. But this last strike was an entirely different one. It was like the shoemakers' strike in Brooklyn. Some new methods had been injected into the strike. I had spoken there on a number of occasions previous to the strike being inaugurated, and I told them of the methods that we adopted in the West, where every man employed in and around the mine belongs to the same organization; where, when we went on strike, the mine closed down. They thought that that was a very excellent system. So the strike was declared. They at once notified the engine winders, who had a separate contract with the mine owners, that they would not be allowed to work. The engine winders passed a resolution saying that they would not work. The haulers took the same position. No one was allowed to approach the mines to run the machinery. Well, the mine manager, like the mine managers everywhere, taking unto himself the idea that the mines belonged to him, said, "Certainly the men won't interfere with us. We will go up and run the machinery." And they took along the office force. But the miners had a different notion and they said, "You can work in the office, but you can't run this machinery. That isn't your work. If you run that you will be scabbing; and we don't permit you to scab--not in this section of the country, now." They were compelled to go back to the office. There were 325 horses underground, which the manager, Llewellyn, complained about being in a starving condition. The officials of the union said, "We will hoist the horses out of the mine."
"Oh, no," he said, "we don't want to bring them up. We will all be friends in a few days."
"You will either bring up the horses now or you will let them stay there."
He said, "No, we won't bring them up now."
The pumps were closed down on the Cambria mine. 12,000 miners were there to see that they didn't open. Llewellyn started a hue and cry that the horses would be drowned, and the king sent the police, sent the soldiers and sent a message to Llewellyn asking "if the horses were still safe." He didn't say anything about his subjects, the men. Guarded by soldiers, a few scabs, assisted by the office force, were able to run the pumps. Llewellyn himself and his bookkeeping force went down and fed the horses.
Had there been an industrial organization comprising the railroaders and every other branch of industry, the mines of Wales would be closed down to-day.
We found the same condition throughout the West. We never had any trouble about closing the mines down; and could keep them closed down for an indefinite period. It was always the craft unions that caused us to lose our fights when we did lose. I recall the first general strike in the Coeur d'Alenes, when all the mines in that district were closed down to prevent a reduction of wages. The mine owners brought in thugs the first thing. They attempted to man the mines with men carrying sixshooters and rifles. There was a pitched battle between miners and thugs. A few were killed on each side. And then the mine owners asked for the soldiers, and the soldiers came. Who brought the soldiers? Railroads manned by union men; engines fired with coal mined by union men. That is the division of labor that might have lost us the strike in the Coeur d'Alenes. It didn't lose it, however. We were successful in that issue. But in Leadville we lost the strike there because they were able to bring in scab labor from other communities where they had the force of the government behind them, and the force of the troops. In 1899 we were compelled to fight the battle over in a great general strike in the Coeur d'Alenes again. Then came the general strike in Cripple Creek, the strike that has become a household word in labor circles throughout the world. In Cripple Creek 5,000 men were on strike in sympathy with 45 men belonging to the Millmen's Union in Colorado City; 45 men who had been discharged simply because they were trying to improve their standard of living. By using the state troops and the influence of the Federal government they were able to man the mills in Colorado City with scab millmen; and after months of hardship, after 1,600 of our men had been arrested and placed in the Victor Armory in one single room that they called the "bullpen," after 400 of them had been loaded aboard special trains guarded by soldiers, shipped away from their homes, dumped out on the prairies down in New Mexico and Kansas; after the women who had taken up the work of distributing strike relief had been placed under arrest--we find then that they were able to man the mines with scabs, the mills running with scabs, the railroads conveying the ore from Cripple Creek to Colorado City run by union men--the connecting link of a proposition that was scabby at both ends! We were not thoroughly organized. There has been no time when there has been a general strike in this country.
There are three phases of a general strike. They are:
A general strike in an industry;
A general strike in a communitv; or
A general national strike.
The conditions for any of the three have never existed. So how any one can take the position that a general strike would not be effective and not be a good thing for the working class is more than I can understand. We know that the capitalist uses the general strike to good advantage. Here is the position that we find the working class and the capitalists in. The capitalists have wealth; they have money. They invest the money in machinery, in the resources of the earth. They operate a factory, a mine, a railroad, a mill. They will keep that factory running just as long as there are profits coming in. When anything happens to disturb the profits, what do the capitalists do? They go on strike, don't they? They withdraw their finances from that particular mill. They close it down because there are no profits to be made there. They don't care what becomes of the working class. But the working class, on the other hand, has always been taught to take care of the capitalist's interest in the property. You don't look after your own interest, your labor power, realizing that without a certain amount of provision you can't reproduce it. You are always looking after the interest of the capitalist, while a general strike would displace his interest and would put you in possession of it.
That is what I want to urge upon the working class; to become so organized on the economic field that they can take and hold the industries in which they are employed. Can you conceive of such a thing? Is it possible? What are the forces that prevent you from doing so? You have all the industries in your own hands at the present time. There is this justification for political action, and that is, to control the forces of the capitalists that they use against us; to be in a position to control the power of government so as to make the work of the army ineffective, so as to abolish totally the secret service and the force of detectives. That is the reason that you want the power of government. That is the reason that you should fully understand the power of the ballot. Now, there isn't any one, Socialist, S. L. P., Industrial Worker or any other workingman or woman, no matter what society you belong to, but what believes in the ballot. There are those--and I am one of them--who refuse to have the ballot interpreted for them. I know, or think I know, the power of it, and I know that the industrial organization, as I stated in the beginning, is its broadest interpretation. I know, too, that when the workers are brought together in a great organization they are not going to cease to vote. That is when the workers will begin to vote, to vote for directors to operate the industries in which they are all employed.
So the general strike is a fighting weapon as well as a constructive force. It can be used, and should be used, equally as forcefully by the Socialist as by the Industrial Worker.
The Socialists believe in the general strike. They also believe in the organization of industrial forces after the general strike is successful. So, on this great force of the working class I believe we can agree that we should unite into one great organization--big enough to take in the children that are now working; big enough to take in the black man; the white man; big enough to take in all nationalities--an organization that will be strong enough to obliterate state boundaries, to obliterate national boundaries, and one that will become the great industrial force of the working class of the world. (Applause.)
I have been lecturing in and around New York now for three weeks; my general topic has been Industrialism, which is the only force under which the general strike can possibly be operated. If there are any here interested in industrial unionism, and they want any knowledge that I have, I will be more than pleased to answer questions, because it is only by industrial unionism that the general strike becomes possible. The A. F. of L. couldn't have a general strike if they wanted to. They are not organized for a general strike. They have 27,000 different agreements that expire 27,000 different minutes of the year. They will either have to break all of those sacred contracts or there is no such thing as a general strike in that so-called "labor organization." I said, "so-called;" I say so advisedly. It is not a labor organization; it is simply a combination of job trusts. We are going to have a labor organization in this country. And I assure you, if you could attend the meetings we have had in Philadelphia, in Bridgeport last night, in Haverhill and in Harrison, and throughout the country, you would agree that industrialism is coming. There isn't anything can stop it. (Applause.)
Questions by the Audience.
Q.--Don't you think there is a lot of waste involved in the general strike in that the sufferers would be the workers in larger portion than the capitalists? The capitalist class always has money and can buy food, while the workers will just have to starve and wait. I was a strong believer in the general strike myself until I read some articles in The Call a while ago on this particular phase.
A.--The working class haven't got anything. They can't lose anything. While the capitalist class have got all the money and all the credit, still if the working class laid off the capitalists couldn't get food at any price. This is the power of the working class: If the workers are organized (remember now, I say" if they are organized" --by that I don't mean 100 per cent, but a good strong minority), all they have to do is to put their hands in their pockets and they have got the capitalist class whipped. The working class can stand it a week without anything to eat--I have gone pretty nearly that long myself, and I wasn't on strike. In the meantime I hadn't lost any meals; I just postponed them. (Laughter.) I didn't do it voluntarily, I tell you that. But all the workers have to do is to organize so that they can put their hands in their pockets: when they have got their hands there, the capitalists can't get theirs in. If the workers can organize so that they can stand idle they will then be strong enough so that they can take the factories. Now, I hope to see the day when the man who goes out of the factory will be the one who will be called a scab; when the good union man will stay in the factory, whether the capitalists like it or not; when we lock the bosses out and run the factories to suit ourselves. That is our program. We will do it.
Q.--Doesn't the trend of your talk lead to direct action, or what we call revolution? For instance, we try to throw the bosses out; don't you think the bosses will strike back?
Another thing: Of course, the working class can starve eight days, but they can't starve nine. You don t have to teach the workingman how to starve, because there were teachers before you. There is no way out but fight, as I understand it. Do you think you will get your industrialism through peace or through revolution?
A.--Well, comrade, you have no peace now. The capitalist system, as peaceable as it is, is killing off hundreds of thousands of workers every year. That isn't peace. One hundred thousand workers were injured in this state last year. I do not care whether it's peaceable or not; I want to see it come.
As for starving the workers eight days, I made no such program I said that they could, but I don't want to see them do it. The fact that I was compelled to postpone a few meals was because I wasn't in the vicinity of any grub. I suggest that you break down that idea that you must protect the boss's property. That is all we are fighting for--what the boss calls his "private property," what he calls his private interest in the things that the people must have, as a whole, to live. Those are the things we are after.
Q.--Do the Industrial Unionists believe in political action? Have they got any special platforms that they support?
A.--The Industrial Workers of the World is not a political organization.
J[sic].--Just like the A. F. of L.?
Q.--They don't believe in any political action, either, so far as that is concerned.
A.--Yes, the A. F. of L. does believe in political action. It is a political organization. The Industrial Workers of the World is an economic organization without affiliation with any political party or any non-political sect. I as an Industrialist say that industrial unionism is the broadest possible political interpretation of the working-class political power, because by organizing the workers industrially you at once enfranchise the women in the shops, you at once give the black men who are disfranchised politically a voice in the operation of the industries; and the same would extend to every worker. That to my mind is the kind of political action that the working class wants. You must not be content to come to the ballot box on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November, the ballot box erected by the capitalist class, guarded by capitalist henchmen, and deposit your ballot to be counted by black-handed thugs, and say, "That is political action." You must protect your ballot with an organization that will enforce the mandates of your class. I want political action that counts. I want a working class that can hold an election every day if they want to.
Q.--By what means could an Industrial Unionist propagate Industrial Unionism in his organization of the A. F. of L.? He would be fired out and lose his job.
A.--Well, the time is coming when he will have to quit the A. F. of L. anyway. And remember, that there are 35,000,000 workers in the United States who can't get in the A.F. of L. And when you quit you are quitting a caste, you are getting back into your class. The Socialists have been going along maintaining the Civic Federation long enough. The time has almost arrived when you will have to quit and become free men and women. I believe that the A. F. of L. won't take in the working class. They don't want the working class. It isn't a working-class organization. It's a craft organization. They realize that by improving the labor power of a few individuals and keeping them on the inside of a corral, keeping others out with initiation fees, and closing the books, and so on, that the favored few are made valuable to the capitalists. They form a little job trust. It's a system of slavery from which free people ought to break away. And they will, soon.
Q.--About the political action we had in Milwaukee: there we didn't have Industrial Unionism, we won by the ballot; and while we haven't compelled the government to pass any bills yet, we are at it now.
A.--Yes, they are at it. But you really don't think that Congressman Berger is going to compel the government to pass any bills in Congress ? This Insurgent bunch that is growing up in the country is going to give you more than the reform Socialists ever asked for yet. The opportunists will be like the Labor party in England. I was in the office of the Labor Leader and Mr. Whiteside said to me: "Really, I don't know what we are going to do with this fellow, Lloyd-George. He has taken every bit of ground from under our feet. He has given the working class more than the Labor party had dared to ask for." And so it will be with the Insurgents, the "Progressives" or whatever they propose to call themselves. They will give you eight-hour laws, compensation laws, liability laws, old-age pensions. They will give you eight hours; that is what we are striking for, too--eight hours. But they won't get off the workers backs. The Insurgents simply say.[sic] "It's cruel, the way the capitalists are exploiting the workers. Why, look! whenever they go to shear them they take off a part of the hide. We will take all the wool, but we will leave the hide." (Laughter.)
Q. (By a woman comrade)--Isn't a strike, theoretically, a situation where the workingmen lay down their tools and the capitalist class sits and waits, and they both say, "Well, what are you going to do about it?" And if they go beyond that, and go outside the law, is it any longer a strike? Isn't it a revolution?
A.--A strike is an incipient revolution. Many large revolutions have grown out of a small strike.
Q.--Well, I heartily believe in the general strike if it is a first step toward the revolution, and I believe in what you intimate--that the workers are damn fools if they don't take what they want, when they can't get it any other way. (Applause.)
A.--That is a better speech than I can make. If I didn't think that the general strike was leading on to the great revolution which will emancipate the working class I wouldn't be here. I am with you because I believe that in this little meeting there is a nucleus here that will carry on the work and propagate the seed that will grow into the great revolution that will overthrow the capitalist class.
Q.--How do you account for the course of the Western Federation of Miners in applying for a charter in the A. F. of L.?
A.--I wish I knew just what happened to the Western Federation of Miners when they asked for a charter from the A. F. of L. However, it's only in the shape of an application. The A.F. of L. did nothing for us while we were in jail, but the local unions that comprise the A. F.of L.'s membership did a great deal in the way of moral support, and they furnished a great deal of money. That trial cost $324,000--my trial. I don't look worth that much, but I am in my own estimation. Of the total amount the outside organizations contributed $75,000, the Western Federation of Miners put up nearly $250,000. There was a tremendous agitation throughout the country and the officials of the organization felt that the trade unions had come to them in a crisis and that they ought to join hands with the A. F. of L. movement. I feel that they assisted in that crisis, but it wasn't through the trade union machine--it was through the working class. Gompers never said a word until a Socialist in the central labor body here made him open his mouth. The officials of the trade unions never came to our relief. It was the Socialists, the S.L.P.'s, the I.W.W.'s, some trade-unionist members of local unions, local officials. It wasn't the machine. So, while I feel and I know I owe my life to the workers of the nation, it is to the working class of the nation that I am under obligation, not to any subdivision of that class. That is why I am here now. That is why I am talking working-class solidarity, because I want to see the working class do for themselves what they did for me.
Q.--What do you think about the Socialist movement in Germany?
A.--I think I know something about Germany, and if you want my opinion I will say that the Socialist movement in Germany seems to me to be a topheavy one; that is, that the force comes from the top down--that is not a purely democratic movement, coming from the working class up.
Q.-Is it the capitalist class, or is it a labor movement, or both combined, or some conditions in between them that has anything to do with the insurrection in Mexico?
A.--I think the capitalist class are responsible for the insurrection in Mexico. Incidentally, the revolutionists, Magon, Villareal, Sarabia and Rivera, and their followers, have something to do with it, as also the local unions of the Industrial Workers of the World, there now being at this time three locals whose entire membership have gone across the line and joined the insurgents, and Berthold, one of the commandants, is an officer in the I.W.W. at Holtville, Cal. So that they have something to do with the insurrection. But the revolution in Mexico has been brought on by the capitalists, and it was no snap judgment on the part of Taft, the sending of the troops to the Mexican border. You recall two years ago Elihu Root went down to Mexico to visit Mr. Diaz, and following Root's visit, on the I6th of October a year ago, Mr. Taft went down and met with Diaz in Juarez and El Paso. Here is, to my mind, the nut of it, here is the milk in that cocoanut: the Japanese have been crowding into Mexico ever since the Japanese said they wouldn't come to the United States. They have been coming into Mexico in swarms, until now the administration looks on with a great deal of dread as to just what it means, if there is going to be a Japanese war, with the little brown fellows right down there in Mexico ready to come across the border.
Again, Mr. Taft would like to extend the territory of the United States by benevolent assimilation down to the Isthmus of Panama. He would like to take in all of Mexico and Central America. Why? Because the interests of this country--when I say "the interests" I mean the big ones, the Standard Oil and the Morgans, and even the fellows on the undercrust, like Bill Hearst--have got vast interests down in Mexico. Not that it cost them a great deal of money. Hearst has a million and a half acres down there that he estimates to be worth $12,000,000, and he paid perhaps half a million for it. But their interests are there. Mexico is a wonderful country. The remarkable thing is that the capitalists have let it go as long as they have. It is a wonder they hadn't jumped on Mexico as the dons of Spain did, because there is no country under the sun that is as rich as Mexico. Central America is a marshy country, but in Mexico you come to the highlands and the plateaus; and that country, situated as it is, a narrow land between the Gulf of Mexico and the Gulf of California and the Pacific gets the benefit of the atmospheric precipitation, the benefit of the waters from both sides, so that they have plenty of rain, and can raise crops of everything--from rubber, cocoa, cotton, the tropical fruits, to the very hardest of wheat. The primeval forests in Mexico are second to nothing except the jungles of Africa. There they have great forests of mahogany, of dragonsblood wood, ironwood, copal, juniper and cedar that have never been touched. Just at this stage the reading of Prescott's "Conquest of Mexico" would be very interesting, also Humboldt's and Buckle's. The latter book I found to be perhaps not as exhaustive as Prescott's, but splendidly written. Those I read while I was on my vacation, when I didn't have anything else to do but read. (Laughter.)
The capitalists, who are responsible for all wars are responsible for the present trouble in Mexico. (Applause.)
By G. B.
Reprinted from an English Pamphlet.
The great European war has come. The truth has almost staggered our imagination, we do not know what to do and the one only definite thought is that we must win. To this end all our efforts are bent. We fight, we pray, we die, and we pay all to attain victory for our arms. It is the same with the men and women of France, of Russia, of Belgium. It is exactly the same, alas! with the men and women of Germany and Austria. We are all prompted by the same strong feelings of patriotism. We and they rejoice to give our lives that our country may be victorious, and more than all do we each rejoice if we may take the life of another.
Such is war. It is strange, is it not ? Almost to a man we, in the countries concerned, have thrown aside what belief we had in charity, love, and the rest of the christian[sic] virtues and openly declare for destruction and death to our enemies.
Do not think that I am trying to preach to you Christianity--"Love your enemies," "Do good to them that despitefully use you." I am not, for have not all the peoples of Europe agreed to say "Hate your enemies," and "Blow to pieces those who despitefully use you"? Yet I believe that both you and I hate war, and would rather give our life to save a brother man, no matter of what nation, than we would give it in an attempt to kill him. What then is it that has led us so far from our ideals? In what do we really believe? Let us think quite candidly about the whole matter.
It is certain that the German soldier whom we are trying to kill marches to war prompted by the same feelings as the Englishman. If the Englishman is doing right when he obeys the call of his king and country, and without questioning places his life at their disposal, then also is the soldier of Germany doing his duty when he acts similarly. Yet these men each try to kill the other! Something is wrong, for it is clear that if they did well in offering their services, and if they both succeed in their task, their reward will be death. Someone is to blame for bringing about such a state of affairs as this. Who is it? If a native of one of the allied countries you will probably reply without hesitation: It is the Kaiser and his gang. If you chance to have been born over the other side of the French or Russian frontier--that is, if you are a German--you will be equally positive that the fault lies with the English Government.
It is so in every war. Had you been born in Russia, it would have appeared to you certain that the government of Japan was to blame for the Russo-Japanese war a few years ago. If Japan had claimed to be your birthplace, then the Czar would have been the criminal.
Now it is clear to all of us that if there is any difference between that which is true and that which is false, between that which is and that which is not, then such differences do not change about simply because you or I were born this or that side of a certain frontier.
If patriotism is to lead us to think that the others are always wrong; it will also lead others to think that we are never right. Patriotism has ever been inclined to play this trick on people, and consequently every army that has gone out to slay or be slain has done so with the calm assurance that God is on its side.
I argue this point because I want it to be clear that if we are really to understand what is wrong and how to ensure that the last of all wars shall soon be reached, then we must be guided in our judgment by something greater than this patriotism which allows us to see one side of the question only.
Let us frankly confess to ourselves what we have done. We are certainly not a savage or blood-thirsty people in our everyday life, and yet we are now doing, or helping others to do the bloodiest deeds that imagination and science can make possible.
The truth is we are, as a people, at that stage when we don't really believe in anything. The teachings of two thousand years ago will not fit the affairs of today. Most of us are a little afraid to say we will have no more to do with them, but we should be still more afraid to start practicing them.
Turning from religion, we fall back on our faith in patriotism, but, as we have already seen, it is an ill guide to reason. Finally, we don't know in what we believe and as a result--because we have no definite ideas about life and what it means to us and what we mean to it--we have allowed ourselves to be thus easily led into killing one another, when really we have no liking for the occupation. Those who have led us, we may be assured, have their ideas fixed and firm. The Kaiser and his gang have their views about the German empire and its future, and this makes their action purposeful and therefore powerful. The Czar of Russia and his friends, who have been hanging or imprisoning every thinker in Russia for many years, they have their reasons for joining in this great game of finance and murder. The politicians of France and England too know what they are about--but what of us? We who are not politicians, or kings, or czars, or kaisers; we who serve in the shops, who work in the factories, drive the trams--and, in a word, make and distribute all that is necessary for life; we surely have a very different view of things from those who have organized this war and who call on us to fight it.
If we had a clear idea of life and its purpose, if we knew what we wanted as clearly as do these great men, might we not organize our own wars for our own purpose, instead of merely fighting in their wars for their purposes--much better still--might we not finally organize an universal peace?
It is because some among the workers have a clear idea of what we need and for what we ought to work that this pamphlet is written with the hope that in the near future the workers of all nations will see their way to fight their own fight against the common enemy, and will no longer kill each other because they are told to do so by their masters.
Patriots and Invasion.
Let us begin with the man in the trench, for though the war does not start with him, it depends on him. If there were no man willing to go into the trench there would be no war--a fact worthy of remembrance for future reference.
Today he is a romantic figure, his life is so unlike the monotony of our existence here at home, and, moreover, does he not wake and sleep in the presence of death?
Instinctively we feel reverence for him who stands in the shadow of death, for strangely enough we have more respect for the barren and useless end of things than for the active, fruitful course of life itself--but more of this hereafter. Let us for a minute consider the life he has lived rather than concern ourselves with the death he is possibly about to die.
Perhaps our man is a volunteer, or a reservist, and till the start of the war was engaged as a miner or railwayman, or it may be working in some factory. Possibly he has recently taken part in some strike, and side by side with his comrades of the workshop he has begun to mildly fight for a little more of the wealth of his native land than has been granted to him by those who own it. Perhaps he has begun to realize that the wealth he and his friends are day by day producing, in the factories which their mates have built, is most of it being used to enrich those who take no part in the work and who form a class apart from and superior (as it believes) to the workers.
To the wife and kiddies whom he dearly loved he had been able to give only the bare necessities of life. He has seen them cut off from the luxuries of the world and the joys of culture. His little world, his country and his life have been rendered unbeautiful to him because the best of all which the worker can produce goes to make rich the master class. He has fought against this, fought so that he might bring a little more beauty into the lives of those he loves, and to help the class of which he is one.
And who has been opposed to him in this fight? Is it those whom he is now trying to kill, the German soldiers, or the Austrians? No, both of them, if they are workers like himself, have been suffering from the same wrongs in their own land; they have been fighting the same battles and striving in the same way against those who own the country in which they live.
Our man in the trench then, when he returns from the war--if he ever does--and when he renews his fight for a fuller life at home, will find himself face to face, not with an alien enemy, but with the British soldiers who were fighting side by side with him in the trenches. At the word of command they will fire, upon him, so great is the power of discipline in the army.
The German also, when this sad business is over will return to his daily work, and should he, with his friends, try also to capture a little of the country and its wealth for the workers, instead of the wealth-owning class, he will find soon that the German military are ready to shoot him. These facts surely force us to think. And we pause before we rejoice in the honor of dying for our country, for is it not true that we who are asked to die this glorious death in a foreign land are compelled even by the military to live but sad, inglorious lives here at home?
Such thoughts bring us within sight of an important fact, a truth that in future will make us see a quite new meaning to that word "patriotism," so loved by the politicians and all who live comfortable lives.
And what is this new, very simple truth?
It is this: the English army is not kept because of the danger that England may be taken possession of by the Germans or some other foreign power, but it is kept most of all lest this island should be taken possession of by the English. That would be the disaster of all disasters.
If those who today spend their lives in toil and service, were to turn "patriotic" in a new sense of the word, and were to tell each other that the love of their country was so great that in future they themselves meant to possess it, then indeed we should see how far goes the patriotism of those rich people who today are asking us to fight in their quarrel.
Suppose that the worker lifted his head as high as does the warlike spirit of the present day. Suppose he argued thus: The factories have been built by us and the machinery constructed by us. The factory gates have been made by us, the lock has been manufactured in our workshops, and it was we who shaped the key to fit it. What then remains for the master-class to claim? Then no longer will we work within on the terms dictated by a class who construct nothing and only can destroy.
Suppose they argued thus, and further, did something must[sic] greater than mere argument, and began to wage this real war--the war of the poor against the few who own the country and its wealth. This indeed would be the conquest of England by the English people, and that is the foe whom our present landlords and war lords would most of all hate.
Now the position of the Britisher, which we are beginning to understand, is not peculiar. The German is in the same plight, as we have already seen. The Russian, the Spaniard--it makes no difference where you may go, there you will find a small party, who own the country, the factories, the railroads, and everything else. In every case this party is backed by hired men, who are prepared to hold their master's position and wealth by force against any who may lay claim to it. This is why in every country the great majority of the people are poor; this is why they are huddled together in dark and gloomy streets. It is for this reason that their clothes are rough and coarse, their minds immature and their bodies ill fed.
It is to this cause we must attribute the poverty and monotony which lays low the life of the great bulk of the people. This indeed we workers of the world are beginning to understand is an international matter in which we may well take part. It is no question of this or that treaty secretly signed by the representatives of the classes who own the various countries of the world. Let those who sign such treaties, see that they are kept, and if they cannot agree about these matters then let them fight. It is not our business. We have a treaty to keep, it has been signed by the blood of our fellow workers in every nation of the world, for there is not one of the governments but it has shown itself ready and over anxious to shoot down the workers directly they begin to think of recapturing the land that has been taken from them.
And these great newspapers, politicians and learned men to whom we look up with such reverence, all of them today are teaching us the virtues of patriotism, and asking us to fight side by side with our soldiers in the trenches. But tomorrow, when we have peace, these same kind people who now can think of nothing but woolen comforts and shrapnel, will be quite well satisfied when the soldier now in the trench is commanded to fire on the crowd of workers outside the factory, whose only sin has been that they loved their country and their kith and kin, so much that they have tried to reconquer some of the wealth of the land for their unhappy brothers.
Indeed is not the patriotic zeal of these great men past all understanding? Today, if the German is taken prisoner, he is treated as well as circumstances permit, and his freedom restored when the dispute is ended; but let an English factory worker escape the soldier's bullet and fall into the hands of the police and he is imprisoned, while his wife and children starve as surely as the wounded veteran thrown on the military scrap heap.
The Lesson of Boldness.
Bravery is one of the greatest of our attributes, but if it merely consists in shutting our eyes and doing what we are told, then even our courage is not worth much. To be quite frank with one another and with ourselves, we must admit that there is not much to admire in a man who, for a little cash, is ready to kill anyone whom his boss may tell him to shoot. This is the part a soldier has to play. It is his duty to obey without question, to ask if the cause is just is to commit an offence which will bring on him serious consequences.
We cannot admire the position of a man so placed though we may perhaps make excuses for it on the ground that the owners of the country have, by hoarding all the wealth, compelled him either to join the army or starve. Thus is the freedom of our Empire maintained.
The man of true courage is he who thinks as boldly as he acts and acts as boldly as he thinks. Now if we remember this we shall see that neither we, as workers, nor the rich people--the politicians, pressmen, and junkers, who have organized this war--are really brave. In thinking these latter have done excellently, boldly. In England, for example, while the war was being arranged they increased the naval expenditure up to and over £50,000,000 and formed an alliance with Russia (the most brutally reactionary government in Europe) and France, in order to meet the growing power of Germany who was busy in just the same way.
When we have thrown aside all humbug and cant, we are bound to admire the greatness of the scheme that has been thought out. We workers who have organized our petty strikes, and found nine out of ten of the strikers wavering and timidly wondering if they were quite justified in so upsetting the work-a-day world; we who have sometimes, in a strike, known a comrade to break a window or seen a policeman's bludgeon answered by a well-aimed bottle, and then have had to listen to the apologies of the labor leaders and the timid among the strikers, who declare that such actions are confined to hooligans and outsiders; we who have seen this lack of boldness can understand at once that we have much to learn from the master-class in these matters. In following their purpose, they have recognized at once that property is a detail. Even in its most beautiful form it must be removed if it stands in the way of their plans which must be carried through.
Thus Europe is strewn with ruins of towns and villages, and thousands of corpses, and all this destruction has been brought about by scientifically conceived instruments, carefully prepared for that sole purpose during many years of labor. Indeed it would seem that these politicians have the boldness to think and plan on a scale that we workers may well envy. I do not say let us imitate them, for their brutality is too great, but as we shall presently see, our cause is greater than theirs, and our plans must be drawn up with, at least, equal courage.
Let us not forget, however, that while we give credit to the upper class for their boldness in thinking out their plan, we cannot allow that they come within our definition of brave men, for their action falls far short. It is the workers who build and man their ships, their guns; and who manufacture their explosives and the whole of the engines of war. It is they who lead dreary lives to make these marvels of destruction possible. It is the workers who submit themselves in their thousands to be blown to pieces by these weapons, it is they who bear the poverty that follows in the wake of war--and all the time the rich grow richer and, if their plan succeeds the Empire grows so great that in the workhouses of the country our veterans weep with joy in reading of our glory!
Thus we see that it is the worker who has the courage to act boldly, but it is the master-class who can courageously think, and so we find the working-class constantly doing great things, but never becoming great itself, because it is merely fulfilling the plans of others, and adding to their splendor.
Great is the power created by the workers who spend their lives in armament factories, but it is power which will be turned against them if one day, being in need of bread (baked by their comrades), they should attempt to take it.
Rich are the palaces the workers can build and furnish with the utmost wealth, but should they attempt to enter them they will meet the bludgeon which they have made for the policeman, and be conducted to the prison they have so substantially built, and locked in by the lock they have so carefully constructed.
The artistic dress made by the hands of ill-paid seamstresses is passed on to grace the figure of some woman in the upper class and to assist her in the belief that she is superior to the workers who created it.
Verily our blessings have become our curses. The more we produce, the greater our courage and endurance, the greater is the power which oppresses us. And why are we in this dilemma? It is because, though we are great in the power of action, we are mighty small and timid in our ability to think.
We have allowed others to plan--and they have done it in the only way we might expect. They have decided that the palaces, the factories, the houses and the land belong to them. This decision they call the law and, as we have seen, scientific force, from the bludgeon to the aeroplane, awaits him who disturbs the "peace"--for such is this state of affairs commonly and comically called.
Thus we are learning slowly, and very, very painfully. Our masters have long taught us the lesson of humility, but now they have set us the example of quite another creed. We see them ready to sacrifice countless lives, to secure the success of their well laid plans, and by the side of their efforts our little timid movements seem shamefully small, even as their purpose seems mean and petty beside ours.
Inspired by great ideals, our plan of action should be worthy of them, we should organize, and fight on as bold and brave a scale as they.
It is not intellect, but courage that we lack. They are no more wise than we. The policy of the politician everywhere is to increase the size and influence of his country for the benefit of big financiers, and as there is but one planet to divide between them, it follows that each nation can grow only at the expense of another. It needs little intellect to grasp that fact. The politician understands it, and beyond that he uses his intellect no further, but simply accumulates strength to fight.
The scheme by which a small group in every country are made the owners of all things, while the remainder who are forced to work are allowed from their masters' warehouses less than enough to go round is, similarly, not intellectually brilliant, but it is audacious, and it is backed by force.
If now we turn to the workers' plan of action and draw it up boldly without fearing to destroy old ideas as ruthless as the master class can destroy life and wealth, if we cast aside our humility and timidity, we shall find that our plan of action is so simple, and so plain and obvious that the meanest among us, if he has courage enough, certainly has intellect enough to understand it.
The Conquest of England.
Let us leave it to the bomb-throwers and war lords to boast of their love of peace. We will leave it to the Christians of the churches who have pronounced their blessing on the war, to boast of their humility and their habit of turning the other cheek to the smiter. We will be bold enough to proclaim that we know no peace while men and women of every land are ill-clothed, badly housed and starving in the midst of plenty. What! would they plunge Europe into war because of some broken treaty! Then, my brothers, what will we do when we think of the broken lives around us? Is it war or peace while the babies die in the slums and the rich grow richer on the cheap labor of their mothers.
It is war we proclaim, the last war, the international war in which the workers of all lands shall be united against the invaders--the rich who have seized the land and lived on the labor of the poor.
This is the war that remains yet to be fought. Is it possible? Nay, it is inevitable. It may be delayed but it cannot be prevented. Already and everywhere dimly the worker sees the injustice of his lot and recognizes his folly in laboring so hard, while he enjoys so little of the fruit of his work. Many a man in each army engaged today knows in his heart that the enemy soldiers are men just as he is, no better and no worse. These dim thoughts only lack boldness, and they would make of each such soldier a revolutionist, who would refuse to fire in such a cause.
It is by this growing courage that the industrial workers will presently form their army--not indeed an army like that which their masters possess, where the soldiers blindly obey their officers and care not if their cause is right or wrong. The workers' army organized for a different purpose must be a very different affair.
To understand this we only have to contrast the position in which the bosses and big people find themselves today with that which we, the workers, occupy. When we make this comparison we shall find to our surprise, that though we have been letting them have it all their own way, their position is weak compared to ours.
It is we who manufacture the wealth, and it is they who enjoy it. It is they who organize wars, but as we have already seen it is we who supply the material and fight them. It is they who order our comrades of the army to shoot us down, but it is we who manufacture the rifle. Every time it is our activity, but we have allowed them to think it out.
We may understand from this that our power is of a very different nature from theirs. They give the order but there is no strength in that alone. It is the prison the bludgeon, the rifle and the maxim gun--all of them instruments of destruction--these which lurk behind the order and the law, are the real power of the master class.
The power of the worker is of quite a different nature and much more effective. He, when he is bold enough to know it, is master of the situation because he is the maker of all the things upon which the master class depends. Their power is that of destruction, ours is that of construction. Their[sic] indeed is the army of death, and ours the army of life.
They will keep from war upon us only so long as the factory worker does his allotted task and produces what the master needs. We will refrain from war upon them only when the factory workers are free and when the people of the slums come out to work with us and enjoy the world's wealth.
This is the class war, about which the socialists have so often talked but which they have never waged. It is the only war which can bring the final settlement, and until it is reached nation after nation will rise and fall, and in the process millions will be slaughtered and millions more degraded and depraved in the trade of murder.
It is worth while here to lay special stress on this point, especially as some of our amateur recruiting agents have tried to hearten others to give their lives in the present conflict, with the promise that it shall be the last. Let no one believe it. So long as political governments last there will be wars.
Is it to be supposed that England will maintain unquestioned for all time her position as ruler of the waves and owner of vast colonies all over the world, when we know that young and vigorous races and nations are developing? So long as national ideals, the world over, lead men only to rejoice in the extension of their nation, so long will there be ceaselessly war and preparations for wars.
So long as there are sufficient men who are willing to give themselves in military service to those who own the country in which they live, and others who undertake to supply all the necessities of war, just so long, we may be sure, will the masters be willing to use them to fight their quarrels and settle their disputes.
Wars will cease only when the people have higher national ambition than that of capturing foreign lands, when men are not willing to fight in the quarrels of nations, when the people are no longer contented to have their country owned by a class which lives entirely on their labor. In a word the last war will be fought when the workers of all the various nations begin to capture their own countries from the real enemy which now holds them--an enemy so brutal that not only is it ever prepared to wage relentless war against the workers, but in time of peace commits more outrages than the most savage armies of the most ruthless war lords. Figures and facts condemn them beyond the lowest damnation.
What German atrocity can equal that committed by the master class here at home, which enjoys the wealth of the land while millions struggle with and even succumb to poverty? What German outrage can be equal to that which is told of in our infantile mortality returns ? None, except those same atrocities which are committed by the German rich on the German poor in their own country.
May we and they soon have the patriotism to conquer our own countries from those who now hold them.
To Defeat the Invaders.
Before summing up and pronouncing our final sentence, it may be well to consider one other objection that possibly will be raised. Suppose, it may be urged, that even if we admit all this that has so far been argued, yet the fact remains that the Germans are at our gates. Are we not even to resist this invasion? Let us see where it leads us if we agree that at all costs the Germans must be defeated. It is clear to begin with that, if we are able-bodied, we shall first join the army, and in addition try to persuade others to do the same. After we have taken these steps any opinions we may have against the military system we had better keep to ourselves. We become as hopelessly involved and responsible for the whole thing as was Kitchener himself or any other military enthusiasts, for we have admitted that under circumstances over which we hake no control, it becomes necessary to fight.
The military man has understood that if fighting is necessary it is also desirable to prepare for a fight-- hence the permanent army and navy. If therefore we admit that the German army must be defeated by that of England we are practically agreeing to the whole army system. Hence we see that there must be no compromise, we must allow those who have organized the war to fight it themselves. It is no concern of ours.
A yet more fatal result there is to this so thoughtless attitude of so many, who while half opposed to war still maintain that we must defeat the Germans. The politicians in this democratic land are very fond of what is termed secret diplomacy, by which the people are kept in ignorance as to the friendships and enmities of the various governments. By this plan our government may be secretly pledged by our politicians to fight, say, with France against Germany without our knowing anything about it, and without parliament itself knowing.
When we are called upon to fight wars so arranged, are we going to reply by saying: "Well, since you have already picked the quarrel we will fight?" Is not such an answer absolutely asking the ministers to continue their secret diplomacy?
What does it really imply? It means: if you were to ask us before things were settled we might disagree with you, but since you settle the matter first we will not dispute it, and will fight for you. And so, taught by the crowd, the politicians continue to settle matters first, and to manufacture the causes of war in private, knowing that the people will be willing to fight when the enemy is on the march. What is the alternative it may still be asked. How can we do other than defeat the Germans by helping our government, even though we may know that the latter is composed of the politicians who, tomorrow will send the army to shoot us?
Indeed the only other course that we can take is that which I have tried to indicate, and that is to join the army of workers, who would oppose in every possible way all invaders as much those who now possess our country as those who are quarreling for it. Each government wants it in order that the rich men of its country may get richer by the labor of the worker.
It is, as I have insisted throughout, the business of the workers to resist the invader, but it is no concern of his to help one invader against the other.
Indeed there is an old saying that when thieves fall out honest men come by their own. A few workers seemed to understand this when the war started, including those who were responsible for supplying coal to our battleships. They refused to undertake the extra work entailed by the war. But alas! Where small signs of understanding did appear we had the pitiful sequel of the leaders apologizing to the politicians for this slight interference in their ruthless murder plans.
Unimportant as these one or two strikes were, however, they ought to have been enough to remind us of our power. The labor movement of this country has been composed of men who faithfully followed their leaders without question. They have fought many brave struggles, but they have also been led into many shameful failures, like that of the miners' strike, for which their leaders stand utterly condemned. Now, after cheering, year after year, the speeches made by their orators, declaring that the workers of all lands were united, they have been persuaded by these same leaders to allow the rich of all lands to lead out the workers of all lands to fight each other.
Suppose instead of this labor movement being composed of men who are led by leaders, it was made up by those who, not being blind, needed no leaders. Suppose those who formed it had their common purpose, and that that purpose was to conquer the world for the workers. Their reply to the war minister's call to arms would then be clear, would it not?
We--for it would be we who should form this movement--should be able first of all to rely upon our friends of other nations, for always our movement must be international. We, like our foreign brothers, should tell our war lords that they might fight their own battle. The coal miners would politely suggest that they might dig their own coal, while the transport workers would invite them to carry their own troops to whatever part of the world they desired.
Surely this is the answer we ought to be preparing ourselves to make. It would create a revolutionary situation, and no government faced with such internal difficulties, even though the workers were not yet strong enough to make a revolution, would dare to go to war. This would be the surest way to prevent an invasion, for certain it is that even though our comrades abroad were not perhaps so strong in their organization as we were or we so bold as they, yet the workers would still be able to organize sufficient militant strikes to make their government very reluctant to send their army out of the country.
Have we not seen by the huge military camps established in Liverpool, London and other great centers during the recent great strike period, that the master class feels none too safe, even when the workers are, as now, entirely unarmed? It would need but a comparatively small labor movement in England and Germany at the present time to make these governments very quickly change their minds as to who was the real enemy.
The danger of rebellion at home would make a fellow-feeling between the opposing governments, and they would very quickly agree to withdraw their armies to shoot their own countrymen. True it is, that we are not yet strong enough to thus defeat war and invasion, but great things have small beginnings, and if we are to wait until we can be successful before we throw our energies into a movement, we shall find that we are always behind. If we are but a few in this movement, which will by and by make war and oppression impossible, it is certain that we should exercise no more influence by joining the hosts of English, French, and Russian invaders than we have by raising the standard of revolt in our countries at home. Powerful, or even powerless then, as the workers' movement may now be, it should take up its stand of definite and uncompromising opposition to the war.
War is a part of the present system, but it is one of its most vulnerable parts, for the system is based on violence, and when the means of violence are fully occupied, a great opportunity occurs for those who have been kept in subjection and poverty by them at home. When we are prepared to take advantage of this opportunity, we shall find that we have not only rendered war impossible, but that we are perhaps, powerful enough to capture our country from the invaders who now hold it.
Hate Thy Neighbor.
The task which is before the workers is indeed no easy matter, but it is not so difficult as it at first appears. The army is not so powerful a weapon as it sometimes seems. Already the master class have realized that a comradeship instinctively springs up and will take the place of the hatred which it would like to see existing between the soldier and his victim. Referring once more to the recent strike period, the "Don't Shoot" leaflet will probably be remembered. This was a quite simple appeal to the workers not to kill their comrades of the working class when ordered to do so by their masters.
It is well known that some few soldiers refused to fire on the crowds of workers, and the masters were so enraged that they imprisoned those who had distributed the leaflet, in which had been revived the old teaching, "Thou shalt not kill"--a dogma ever hated by the master class. Several historical examples might be quoted where the army--the last support of the masters--has failed at the critical moment. Thus for example, in the famous Commune of Paris, when the people of France made such a brilliant effort to put into practice some of the ideas expressed above, the Parisian soldiers made friends with the "mob" and refused to fire. These facts all indicate how insecure a weapon the master class hold. At any moment the soldier may become a real, live thinking man, and the moment he begins to think for himself, he is useless to those whom he now serves.
In the present war there have been certain symptoms which must have filled the war lords with alarm. The daily papers have done their dirty duty with enthusiasm, if with some stupidity. Never a chance has been missed to stir up hatred between the two parties.
According to the German papers the English are little better than savages, and according to those of England the Germans are a little worse. Yet in spite of the huge campaign of lies and all the efforts of the good, respectable Christian people of England and Germany, to make the working class of each country hate the workers of the other, they have but partially succeeded. In spite of the fact that they have, to their satisfaction, succeeded in getting the workers of so many countries to slay each other, nevertheless the war furnishes some remarkable examples of a comradeship between the soldiers of enemy trenches. Is it not a proof that this comradeship has a tremendous vitality and wish to live, when we see it springing into existence and bearing fruit in such hell holes of hatred as are the battlefields?
It is more than worth while to give some examples of the friendship of German and English soldiers.
All the following quotations have been taken from letters written to friends at home and subsequently published in the Times. Many others might have been quoted, indeed these have been taken from the issue of January 2 alone. Some of those not quoted draw special attention to the fact that the truce was made by the men themselves, without the knowledge of the officers.
An officer of a Highland regiment was evidently taken by surprise by this friendly movement among his men. He says:
"I was horrified at discovering some of our men actually had gone out, imbued more with the idea of seeing the German trenches than anything else; they met half-way, and there ensued the giving of cigarettes and receiving of cigars, and they arranged (the private soldiers of one army and the private soldiers of the other) a 48-hours' armistice. It was all most irregular, but the Peninsular and other wars will furnish many such examples; eventually both sides were induced to return to their respective trenches.... Christmas Day was very misty, and out came those Germans to wish us 'Happy Day'; we went out, told them we were at war with them, and that really they must play the game and pretend to fight; they went back, but again attempted to come towards us, so we fired over their heads, they fired back a shot to show they understood, and the rest of the day passed quietly in this part of the line, but in others a deal of fraternizing went on. So there you are: all this talk of hate, all this fury at each other that has raged since the beginning of the war, quelled and stayed by the magic of Christmas."
The letter an officer of the North Staffordshire Regiment is peculiarly interesting, because the writer has observed that natural and easy friendship among the "enemies," which is existing underneath the artificial and unreal hate and fury to which the last writer has referred.
"We had been calling to one another for some time Christmas wishes and other things. I went out and they shouted 'No shooting,' and then somehow the scene became a peaceful one.... All were very nice, and we fixed up that the men should not go near their opponents' trenches, but remain about midway between the lines. The whole thing is extraordinary. The men were all so natural and friendly.... The Germans are Saxons, a good-looking lot, only wishing for peace, in a manly way, and they seem in no way at their last gasp. I was astonished at the easy way in which our men and theirs got on with each other. We have just knocked off for dinner and have arranged to meet again afterwards until dusk, when we go in again and have songs until 9 p. m., when 'war' begins again. I wonder who will start the shooting-. They say 'fire in the air and we will,' and such things but, of course, it will start, and tomorrow we shall be at it hard, killing one another."
The third letter from which I quote is that of a Belgian soldier, and its general tone comes as a pleasant contrast to the hatred which our good people have been trying to foster in that quarter.
"At dawn the Germans displayed a placard over the trenches on which was written 'Happy Christmas,' and then, leaving their trenches, unarmed, they advanced towards us singing and shouting 'Comrades!' No one fired. We also had left our trenches and, separated from each other only by the half-frozen Yser, we exchanged presents. They gave us cigars and we threw them some chocolate. Thus almost fraternizing we passed all the morning. Unlikely, indeed, but true. I saw it, but thought I was dreaming. They asked us to spend Christmas without firing, and the whole day passed without any fighting."
The last quotation is from an officer of the Rifle Brigade. In some respects it is the most interesting because of the type of man the writer shows himself to be. He tells that the Germans "had got little Christmas-trees lining all along the parapet of their trench," and adds "I was all for not allowing the blighters to enjoy themselves." Later, he rejoices that he had his excuse and "I quickly lined up my platoon and had those Christmas trees down and out."
Yet in spite of his unfriendly feelings this officer is forced to realize the comradeship which exists, and the all important result that it some day must have. English and Germans unite to bury the German dead.
And then a little later:
"We gave them some wooden crosses for them, which completely won them over, and soon the men were on the best of terms and laughing. Several of the Saxons spoke very fair English, and some hailed from London, much to our Cockneys' delight, and talk became general about 'Peecadeely,' etc."
"It's really an extraordinary state of affairs. We had an inter-platoon game of football in the afternoon, a cap comforter stuffed with straw did for the ball, much to the Saxons' amusement."
"It is a rum show: I believe politicians will be wrong now, and that the war will come to an end because everyone will get fed up and refuse to go on shooting!"
Will they? What excellent good sense they would show if they did. Nothing so well as these examples of friendship and comradeship among the men of the enemy armies can illustrate better the fact that the war is not ours or theirs. It is an affair of the governments and we have been asked to be fools enough to fight it. How thin is the mask of hatred that the rich and respectable have managed to stretch over the faces of the opposing countries! Through the mask we are constantly seeing appears that look of comradeship and fellow feeling which is destined by and by to bring together the workers of all lands in a common brotherhood. How clearly we may see how the last war will be reached-- when the workers "will be fed up and refuse to go on shooting."
The Final Victory.
Our program is now becoming clear. It is based upon two simple facts. The first is that the human race has reached a stage where it can command more wealth and luxury, and combat suffering far better than any other race of animals on the earth. The second is that the human race has reached a stage where it is beset with more poverty and suffers more pain than any other race of animals.
These are the great outstanding facts that demand attention. To be so powerful to produce richness and yet so powerless to prevent abject poverty and starvation is surely an absurdity. At the whim of any rich man a palace of infinite beauty and luxury is hewn out of the stone and takes shape and form, but the thousands in our slums live and die generation after generation in fruitless longing, for they are ever surrounded in their hovels by dirt and poverty.
It is to this great contradiction in human affairs--on the one hand our undoubted power to achieve great things of infinite worth, and on the other our inability even to fill our stomachs or supply ourselves with clean beds on which to lie--it is this that demands the first attention of all who would work in any great cause. It is exactly this subject, however, that is avoided by all our great movements, which are financed by the very people who have captured the wealth of our countries, and who thus produce poverty.
The churches, for example, are engaged for the most part in bitter quarrels among themselves, as to the best correct ceremony by which to show their love of God and humanity. They touch the problem only in sometimes giving to the poor in the name of charity and of God, a little of the wealth which these same poor have produced. But for the law and the brute force behind it, which the churches uphold, this wealth would never have been taken in the first place from those who needed it.
The politician it is perhaps most of all who is anxious to keep the people from noticing and dealing with this greatest of all questions. One of the most useful of the many tricks he has for diverting public attention from the real issue is that which he calls patriotism. We have seen how little his patriotism is worth to us, but it is of great value to him. Sometimes it has to be carried to the extreme of war, and at others it takes the form of a huge sham fight on Tariff Reform and Free Trade, but all the time the politicians of all parties and all countries agree that the poor shall be kept from the wealth they produce.
"Look!" cries the cunning candidate at the election. "Look at the German waiter, he is taking your job--the very bread out of your mouths." And thus we are got to quarrel with our German comrade, as to whether he or we shall have the honor of carrying the dinner up to our master. How much better to shake hands and eat the dinner between us without taking it upstairs at all!
Is it not clear that they would try to keep us quarrelling among ourselves as to which shall have the pleasure of working for and waiting on them, whereas we should be uniting to work for ourselves and one another, and those dependent on us.
There is the whole problem. It is as simple as you like, and when we understand it and face it there will be an end of poverty, of slums and of wars and, in short, of the great bulk of human suffering.
Today, the genius and ability of the human race is used to enrich a few and thus make poor the many. It is our work to see that in the future those who create all the greatness shall themselves become great in enjoying what they produce.
Is not this more worth fighting for than the cause to which thousands of lives are being sacrificed today ? This is indeed the real purpose and meaning of the labor movement, and thus we begin to see that there is much more to be done than merely refusing to shoot in the wars which are run by the master class, although such action may be a good starting point.
If there is ever to be a time when there is no poverty and no slums, in other words, if the time is coming when the wealth manufactured in our factories will be kept and used by those who labor, and when the land will be free to those who alone can make it bear fruit, then it is certain that that class which now owns it will die hard, and fight to maintain its happy existence living on the labor of the poor.
It is for this coming struggle that the army of workers should be preparing itself today. By refusing to take part in the present war they might have confused their real enemies, strengthened their own forces and come a step nearer the desired end, but the real task before them is the war of the mines, the railways, the factories and the fields. When this has been fought successfully, so that those who use them enjoy the wealth that they yield, then we shall find there is no master class to make wars and slay us by thousands. There will be no longer the military power, the prisons and our law courts, by which the poor are kept in their slums. Men and women will be free, united by the common purpose of building up a rich and beautiful community, in which they shall have their place and play their part.
We believe that the factory workers should organize and run their factories themselves, and that an agreement between this section of workers and the transport group would bring about the distribution of what was produced.
If extensions to factories were needed, those who worked in them would be best judges of what was required and then would apply to the builders' union.
Thus by these agreements and activities we should see developing a new complex society, in which there were no bosses living on the labor of the workers, and in which all were free, and where there was no poverty, because the workers would be laboring only to supply the needs of the people, and not slaving as now to produce profits and luxuries for the masters.
It is towards this end, of liberty and wide-spread happiness on earth, that the Industrial Workers of the World struggle today.
I. W. W. PREAMBLE
The working class and the employing class have nothing in common. There can be no peace as long as hunger and want are found among millions of working people, and the few, who make up the employing class, have all the good things of life.
Between these two classes a struggle must go on until the workers of the world organize as a class, take possession of the earth and the machinery of production, and abolish the wage system.
We find that the centering of the management of industries into fewer and fewer hands makes the trades 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 one another in wage wars. Moreover, the trade unions aid the employing class to mislead the workers into the belief that the working class have interests in common with their employers.
These conditions can be changed and the interest of the working class upheld only by an organization formed in such a way that all its members in any one industry, or in all industries if necessary, cease work whenever a strike or lockout is on in any department thereof, thus making an injury to one an injury to all.
Instead of the conservative motto, "A fair day's wages 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 organized, not only for the every-day struggle with capitalists, but also to carry on production when capitalism shall have been overthrown. By organizing industrially we are forming the structure of the new society within the shell of the old.
For all further information write WM. D. HAYWOOD, General Secretary - Treasurer Industrial Workers of the World, 1001 W. Madison, Chicago, Ill.
By the Industrial Workers of the World.
We, the Industrial Workers of the World, in Convention assembled, hereby reaffirm our adherence to the principles of Industrial Unionism, and re-dedicate ourselves to the unflinching prosecution of the struggle for the abolition of wage slavery, and the realization of our ideals in Industrial Democracy.
With the European War for conquest and exploitation raging and destroying the lives, class consciousness, and unity of the workers, and the ever-growing agitation for military preparedness clouding the main issues, and delaying the realization of our ultimate aim with patriotic, and, therefore, capitalistic aspirations, we openly declare ourselves determined opponents of all nationalistic sectionalism or patriotism, and the militarism preached and supported by our one enemy, the Capitalist Class. We condemn all wars, and, for the prevention of such, we proclaim the anti-militarist propaganda in time of peace, thus promoting class solidarity among the workers of the entire world, and, in time of war, the General Strike in all industries.
We extend assurances of both moral and material support to all the workers who suffer at the hands of the Capitalist Class for their adhesion to the principles, and call on all workers to unite themselves with us, that the reign of the exploiters may cease and this earth be made fair through the establishment of Industrial Democracy.
PLEDGE GIVEN TO NATION BY AMERICAN
FEDERATION OF LABOR.
We, the officers of the National and Internation Trades Unions of America, in national conference assembled, in the capital of our nation, hereby pledge ourselves in peace or in war, in stress or in storm, to stand unreservedly by the standards of liberty and the safety and preservation of the institutions and ideals of our republic.
In this solemn hour of our nation's life, it is our earnest hope that our republic may be safeguarded in its unswerving desire for peace, that our people may be spared the horrors and the burdens of war; that they may have the opportunity to cultivate and develop the arts of peace, human brotherhood and a higher civilization.
But, despite all our endeavors and hopes, should our country be drawn into the maelstrom of the European conflict, we, with these ideals of liberty and justice herein declared, as the indispensable basis for national policies, offer our services to our country in every field of activity to defend, safeguard and preserve the republic of the United States of America against its enemies, whomsoever they may be, and we call upon our fellow workers and fellow citizens in the holy name of labor, justice, freedom and humanity to devotedly and patriotically give like service.
Washington, D. C., March 11--There have been 5,719,400 casualties in the entente armies and 3,384,800 in the Teutonic forces since the war began, according to authoritative figures obtained here today. The classified figures by countries follow:
ON MARCH 11, 1917.
TEN MILLION HUMAN LIVES STAND AS A MONUMENT TO THE NATIONAL PATRIOTIC STUPIDITY OF THE WORKING CLASS OF EUROPE! WHO WILL BE? TO BLAME IF THE WORKERS OF AMERICA ARE BETRAYED AND LED INTO THE BLOODIEST SLAUGHTER OF HISTORY? WHO?
INSTRUCTIONS HOW TO ORGANIZE.
To secure a Charter of the Industrial Workers of the World, get the names of twenty actual wage workers. Those who make a living by working for wages.
All who sign the Charter Application Blank pledge themselves to be in accord with the principles of the I. W. W., as outlined In the Preamble.
The Charter fee is ten dollars. This covers the cost of all books and supplies needed to fully equip a Union of twenty-five members.
Dues paid by the Union to the General Organization are fifteen cents per member per month.
If those who sign the Charter Application Blank are employed in the same industry they will be chartered as an Industrial Union Branch, with jurisdiction over all wage workers employed in that industry in that locality. If the signers of the Charter Application are employed in two or more industries, they will be chartered as a Recruiting Union. Recruiting Unions are temporary organizations, formed for the purpose of having organizations to early on the educational work necessary for the formation of Industrial Unions.
The methods used in getting a Union started depend upon the circumstances in the locality where the Union is to be formed. You can call a meeting, advertising the same. If there are any among you who are able to explain the principles of the I. W. W., have them do so to those who attend the meeting.
After the explanation has been made, you can call upon all those present, who are in accord with the principles of the Organization, to come forward and sign the Charter Application. Or you can circulate the Charter Application among those with whom you come in contact, and explain the principles of the Industrial Workers of the World to them individually. If they desire to organize, have them sign their names and addresses on the Charter Application.
When you have twenty names, or more, you can notify them to attend the meeting, form a temporary organization by electing a temporary Secretary and Chairman. Collect the Charter fee from those who sign the Application, forward the same to this office, with the Application. The Charter and supplies will be sent to you at once.
In forwarding the Charter Application be sure to specify in what industry those who sign the Blank are employed, so we will know how to make out the Charter.
Trusting that the above will be of assistance to you in organizing your fellow workers, I am,Yours for Industrial Freedom,
WM. D. HAYWOOD,
1001 West Madison Street,