The New York Communist Why Political Democracy Must Go By John Rood possible.
Why Political Democracy Must Go.
The frightful pressure on the working class at been in the form of political action and this politiURING the War the American Labor Unions this time led to an era of labor union organization, cal action has never been. clans conscious proletarD were attacked under the pretense of military most of the unions being local, and afiliated in ian movement, but always the joining of forces necessity, their union regulations broken trades assemblies, which supported one another in with the small property holders, in their efforts to down, and results of years of organization wiped strikes and boycotts. The local and scattered char conquer power. Such was the Union Labor Party, out. Pleading patriotism, the employers asso acter of these small unions corresponded exactly the Greenback Labor Party, the Populists, the to ciations represented in the Council of National De. conditions of production at the time. But Bryan Free Silverites, the Progressives, and finally fense and other bodies secured the suspension of by the end of the war the manufacture of standard the Wilson Democrats. And, as we have notod labor legislation in some states. Men who were ized products, and the establishment, though the in a preceding installment, these movements, which persistently active in labor organization, or who new railroads, of national markets, created rapidly, in essence were nothing more than revolts of failed to buy Liberty bonds or contribute to the one after another, the great national unions. This debtors against the strangling greed of the great Rod Cross, were thrown out of work, and rendered was the real birth of the American Labor Movo capitalists, failed utterly. The control of Govern.
liable to the Army draft. Whole striking factories ment.
ment by the great capitalists was too strong to were threatened with instant conscription into the Before the Civil War the Government was conbreak.
Army. In some parts of the country such workers, trolled by the Southern slave holding class. This In all these debtor revolts, the farmer, who foels not only for opposing the war, but even for oppos: control was challenged by the small capitalists of the pressure the most severely, was the most promining the ruthless profiteering of employers, were the North, opposing the interests of wage labor to ent element. Union labor followed the farmer blacklisted by the Councils of National Defense. those of chattel slavery. It was as a representative not as the propertyless industrial worker, Set as At the same time private police and detective organ. of this small property holding class that Abraham the owner, or prospective owner, of a little property: izations, composed of business men and manufac Lincoln was elected to the Presidency, and as a rep. The latest of these revolutionary movements of turers, and authorized by the Department of Jus resentative of this class that he conducted the war. small property holders is the Non Partisan League, uice, used their power to crush labor organization He feared the growing ruthless power of Wall with its program of State banks, Stato controlled wherever Street, and warned against it again and again. And elevators and transportation lines, and its combination of the farmer with Union Labor in the cities The Government created a joint body of workers when the war was ended, with the slave power de and employers representatives called the War La stroyed, he wished to see Reconstruction in the to wrest control of the State from the great finan.
bor Board, to settle industrial disputes. In many South proceed rapidly and generously, so that the cial interests. It, too, will fail. cases the awards, presumably binding upon rising class of small property holders there could For more than half a century American Labor the employers, were either accepted and not unite with the same class in the North to keep con has turned its attention alternately from politics applied, or else partially disregarded. The trol of the Government. But Lincoln was assas to economic organization. Says John Commons, most powerful corporations, such as the United sinated, and there is no small evidence to prove that in his History of American Labor. States Steel Corporation, which has always resisted the bullet which killed him was fired from the direc The repeating cycle of politics and trade unioniem, with terrorism and brute force all attempts of its tion of Wall Street. And the capitalists, seizpolitical struggle and economic strugels, political organi employees at organization, the Har Labor Board ing control of the Federal Government, proceeded due hielogom Tibor mation, and cconomic organization, marks out the course did not dare openly to affront.
In the last two decades before the European Protests of the workers against unfair awards sectional and racial antagonisın, that it made co War, Union Labor, disenchanted with the failure of of arbitralors during the War were met by defiance operation between the small property holders of political action, adopted the course of adjuring and threms from Government oficials such as the the North and South impossible and enabled a small politics, and developing the economic organization Alat refusal of Charles Piez, Director of the Emer. group of capitalists to settle themselves firmly in alone.
gency Fleet Corporation, to reconsider the Macy the saddle. Finally, abandoning the ruined South, In the last decade before the European War, award to the Shipyard Workers of Seattle, and his the ruling class turned its attention to looting the Houses of Congress, and was using the Courts to ferocious. denunications of the men.
public domain, natural resources, and the Govern the Employers Association had captured both These measures proceeded from an Administrament State and National. Great political ma. Houses of Congress, and was using he Courts to tion chines were built up throughout the country, rest.
1, to elect, and whose leader President Wilson ing on political patronage and Governmental graft, zations, and to defeat them by means of organihad Aattered the vanity of the workers by reviewing whose power to this day has never been shaken off!
the Labor Day, parade with Samuel Gompers in Before the Civil War there were no great capi to protect its economic action. Political pressure junction, turned its attention to politics in order 1916; and during a War which Organized Labor talists. Industry was largely, localized, the prod was brought to bear upon legislatures; lobbies America had voted overwhelmingly to support where ing. coplem do here and in the West to legislatures; the policy of voting for our friend in of typical sufferer during the War was the Mawhich the exploited could go, and the workman and defeating our enemies was largely practised; chinists Union. The employers discovered that could always become a small manufacturer and Mr. Samuel Gompers and other lahor leaders were skilled, highly paid machinist was a useless luxury.
merchant on his own account. Literally speaking, familiar figures in Congressional Committee rooms, Four unskilled workers could be taught each one there was no wage earning working class as such arguing for or against such and such a bill.
part of a machinist job, in a ver short time.
in the United States. But the free workingmen of The legislative achievements of Union Labor aro These four comparatively unskilled workers could America who enlisted or were drafted into the impressive. Department of Labor in Washington, do the work of four machinists, and do it much Union armies, leaving a society in which the manu.
and State bureaus in almost every State; eightcheaper. thus destroying the union wage scale, facturer came to them, returned after the war to hour laws in Government work, on the railways, and throwing the skilled workers on the street.
find gigantic new centralized industries, to which and in many States; Federal Boards of Arbitration It is interesting in this connection to quote from they must travel and beg for work. With the and Conciliation; Workmen Compensation laws un article in Fincher Trades Review, written by development of power, transportation, and great in most States; restriction of foreiga immigration, William Sylvis, the first great Americal labor and moved to the city; and the worker was forced of all sorts, legislative safeguards, and legalization and exclusion of Oriental laborers; Factory laws leader, in 1863. describing the same process ep. to follow. This concentration in the cities was in.
plied to the Slove Moulders: tensified by the waves of immigration from Europe. which declares that Labor is not a commodity, of strikes and picketing; and the Clayton Act. Simultaneous with this was introduced the Free land was gone; not even the Homestead Law, and professes to abolish the use of injunction in helper system. the stoves were cut up, that is, each man made one piece. Thus this system millions of small land owners, could prevent the hailed at the new Magna Charta.
breaking up the great land holdings and creating industrial disputes law which Mr. Gompers But in the last analysis, what does all this como have from one to five boys; and. prices became growing concentration of labor power and capital.
In fact, the new free holders were at the mercy down to? The Department of Labor in Washing.
men were obliged to increase the hours of the railroads, marketing facilities and banks ton represents nothing but the interests of the of labor, and work much harder; and then could which were already in the hands of the great capi: upper strata of skilled workers; it is headed by scarcely obtain the plainest necessities of life.
former workingman, William Wilson, who acIt was directly from these conditions that the From before the Civil War to this day, the quicaces in the persecutions of striking miners by Molders International Union. Likewise, it was the psychology of the American worker has been the the copper barons of Arizona, and defends the replacing of skilled men with young apprentice psychology not of class conscious laborer, but portation from the country of foreigners Active in boys, at starvation wages, which was the chief dustrial society in America has been so swift, that Bolsheviki. in other words, it faithfully serves labor organization, on the ground that they are grievance resulting in the second great union the the American worker still has in his mind the idea the capitalist Government. Long before the EightNational Union of Machinists and Blacksmiths, Hour laws were enacted, it was recognised by the under the leadership of another of the famous early thał he may climb into the capitalist class.
American labor leaders, Jonathan Fincher.
more intelligent capitalist employers that they Not the least of the reasons is, that two or three would increase the efficiency of workmen; and even The beginning of the Civil War, with its indusgenerations before Labor in other countries had now they are not obeyed by corporations whose trial paralysis and widespread unemployment, received the first privilego for which it fought, the interests they do not serve Boards of Arbitration wiped out whatever tentative labor organization had begun, except for the two great national unions The first manifestations of his class consciousness will not relinquish an atom of their power, or fail.
American worker had been given the political vore either arbitrate in favor of the employers, who above mentioned. Rut in 1862 the Government be were political manifestations. In spite of unending Most Workmen Compensation laws are mbject to gan its issuance of hundreds of millions of dollars disappointments, in spite of the hollowness of all decisions of Industrial Commissions, or similar in groenbacks, which, accompanied by the high his legislative victories, the American worker con Government bodies, and to appeal in the capitalist war tariff and the tremendous demand for array tinues to believe the promises of the capitalist courts. Factory laws are generally disregarded, supplies, caused hectic revival of industry, and political parties, and vote, vote, vole.
and strikes and picketing, though legalized, are laid the foundations for a class of capitalist em. It is to be noticed that the beginnings of Ameri still practically outlawed by the police. The Clay ployers. As in the European War just concluded, can economic labor organization were dictatod by ton Act is not worth the paper it is printed on.
all classes profited except the wage earners; for the necessity for defense of his class interests while wages in 1864 had risen 30. the average of never offense. The Knights of Labor was founded can Federation of Labor, and its increase of power, In spite of the phenomenal growth of the Ameriretail prices had risen 70.
to defend standards of living; the American Fodera nevertheless industry has grown, faster yet. Even tion of Labor was formed to defend Labor inter before the war, that great achievement of the Amer Mas meetings of workingmen to protest against the Civil War were held in Philadelphia. Reading. Norfolk, ests. Except comparatively lately, as partially in ican Foderation of Labor, the trado agreement, Peterborough and Richmond, Cincinnati, St. Louis and the W American Labor has never sup. sort of partnership between organised labor and Louisville, Ky, at which latter place resolution ported any economic organization with capital. in which contacts were signed between issue in the mere abatrace questions used to divide the political object that is to say, with the ob bargaining groups to cover. period of time when national Convention of workers met in Philaject of gaining control of the State. Ius ef been abolished in the largest companion, such as the delphia in 1861 to oppose the War.
forts at political conquest of government havo United States Steel Corporation. Little by little MO