The Evolution of Industrial Democracy
|This work may need to be standardized using Wikisource's style guidelines.
If you'd like to help, please review the help pages.
THE EVOLUTION OF INDUSTRIAL DEMOCRACY
ABNER E. WOODRUFF, C. E.
, in his pamphlet, " LewisProletarian and Petit Bourgeois," speaks of the "Co-operative Commonwealth" of the Political Socialists as an "Apocalyptic Vision." The same may be said of the idea held by some Industrialists in regard to the "Industrial Democracy." Like the Socialists, they foresee a great "Association of Working-men" producing and enjoying the wealth of the world, but when asked as to the nature of this wonderful Association are forced to fall back upon the old Socialist answer, that "we cannot say now just what form the "new society" will take—the workers will decide that question when the time comes."
Such an answer not only begs the question, but is an insult to the intelligence of the questioner, and is, therefore, an injury to the Industrial cause. We have a better answer and it is the purpose of this pamphlet to give that answer in general terms that can be readily understood by even the simplest men.
The purpose of the "Revolutionary Working Class" is to build and use an "Industrial Democracy"—a form of society based upon man's necessity to harmonize himself with the method by which he produces and distributes his living. The writer does not contend that this can be done by following any "cut and dried" line of action, or that the new society can be built to a "ready made" plan, but he does contend that, since human growth moves along certain lines towards better conditions, a study and understanding of the changes that have taken place in the past will indicate the changes that are yet to occur. A knowledge of past and present Industrial methods and the forms of society built upon them must surely point out, not only the Industrial methods of the future, but also the form of society that will arise to place man in harmony with these methods.
Each new form of human association has grown out of an older form, and was intended to meet the needs and demands of a growing and expanding class within the framework of the old society. The rising class followed no set plan, but fought out its battles according to the needs of the moment, using the materials and weapons it found ready for its hands, and then, throwing these aside for better things, when it had finally won the master's place, built a new society of its own.
"History repeats itself"—rather, it follows the course of a vast ascending spiral which periodically produces great "parallelisms"—it shows that in each human forward-step the method of change has followed the same general line of action. The "law of progress" holds good and, if we can understand modern conditions—modern class needs—in the light of the past, we can see a new society taking form within the framework of the present. Applying the laws of historical development, we may make an intelligent prediction as to the future civilization.
The new society exists. It is. The task before the working class is to free this new society from its bonds—to lead it out into the brightness of the day—and the more there are who realize this task the sooner the event will occur.
Human society must progress. As Barbarism replaced Savagery; as the Chattel Slave System replaced Barbarism; as Feudalism replaced Chattel Slavery; as Capitalism replaced Feudalism; as Plutocracy replaces Capitalism, so must Plutocracy be replaced by Industrial Democracy. Beyond that I do not go. The great Future I leave to the future—it has always taken care of itself.
In the pages which follow, an attempt is made to briefly show the rise and fall of past social systems and point out that general course of development which leads to the Industrial Democracy.
I hereby acknowledge much aid and friendly criticism on the part of a large number of the Fellow Workers.
ABNER E. WOODRUFF, C. E.
THE EVOLUTION OF INDUSTRIAL DEMOCRACY IN GENERAL
To understand the "how" of things, we must first know the "why" of things. We justify the existence of an institution by showing that it meets the needs of a class in society and then determine the means by which it was established. All social institutions are rooted in economic necessity and we need only to know the mode of wealth production and distribution prevailing in any historical period to be able to explain all the social phenomena of that time.
Primitive man probably produced nothing. He lived directly off of nature, as the beasts do. The discovery of the use of FIRE brought about the formation of the Family, and man entered upon the savage state. The Domestication of the Animals (the dog, the horse, the ox, the sheep) and the beginning of Agriculture founded Barbarism and its attendant communal institutions. Human Slavery came when tools and processes were improved to the extent that a man could produce out of the earth more than enough to feed himself. Private Property appeared after it was found possible to separate herding, agriculture and the handicrafts, and the slaves became chattels shortly afterwards. Numerous Chattel Slave Societies succeeded each other until the breaking up of the Roman Empire by the Barbaric Communal Tribes which overran the whole of Europe. The amalgamation of these two systems transferred the subject class from a condition of chattel property to a condition of Serfdom; in which conditions he was a creature bound to the soil—having the right to live upon and cultivate the land, but compelled to contribute to the support of the lord of the land and denied the right to move from place to place—the distinctive feature of the Feudal System. The growth of the Merchant Class, the rise of the Factory System of production, with its subdivision of labor in the shop, and the quarrel between the Guild Masters and the Journeymen brought about the overthrow of Feudalism. The Capitalists introduced Machine Production and the Corporate method of ownership; and these now give way before the Plutocrats, who rapidly Industrialize all production and prepare the world for its next progressive step.
The institution of Private Property broke up the ancient communal relations and introduced Classes into society. The constant warfare between the classes brought one class after another into power; in each case building a form of society which met the needs of the class holding power; until at last there is but one class that has never yet held power. This last class—the Proletariat—is peculiar in this, that it must do away with private property in order to obtain its power. By this act, it will abolish all classes (itself among the others) and will, at the same time, build a new society based on Social property and the Industrial method of wealth production—the Industrial Democracy.
THE SAVAGE ERA
During the Savage Era the males and females were economically equal. They worked together to provide food, clothing and shelter. The man may have killed the game, but the woman helped to skin the carcass and cut up the meat. Together they gathered fruits and roots and nuts, and worked at dressing the skins that furnished them both clothing and shelter. The division of labor began soon after the discovery of the use of fire and the commencement of the art of cookery. Someone must keep the fire and it must be kept in a suitable place. The crippled, the aged, the young first assumed this duty, but, later, it fell to the lot of the woman. During the period just preceding child-birth and then when the infant needed the most care she must have a place to stay. She assumed the care of the fire, because it was kept in a safe and sheltered spot; then she took charge of whatever was brought to the fire; and finally, took command of those who came to the fire. Woman was now master and the family was established.
The discovery and use of fire is the great turning point in the history of man. It sets him completely apart from the other animals and opens the way to all the social progress he has made. No fire—no family; no family—no domestic arts, no domestication of the animals, no progress, no civilization—nothing—only just beastly conditions. No wonder the Savage worshiped the fire!
The discovery of fire and the art of cookery which followed enabled man to extend his hunting grounds to the rivers, lakes and seas. His food supply was vastly increased—his range of travel immensely broadened. He had conquered his natural environment and could no longer be starved. It was the supreme event in the life of man—he was no longer a beast. Around the fire he grouped his growing institutions—his family, his handicrafts, his councils, his religion. Even down into our own day the veneration of the fire persists in the formal parts of religious worship, for in the cathedrals the candle must ever burn before the sacred images upon the altar.
Barbarism came with the invention of pottery and the domestication of the animals. At first the dog and horse were aids to the cause; afterwards they assisted in preventing the straying of the herds and flocks. Man ceased to hunt only for a living; he became a herdsman and around those herds and flocks grew up new institutions and very great changes in the old ones. Wandering was limited to mere change of pasture grounds; the fire remained longer in one place; the family relations became more settled; the man took control of the household, reducing the woman to the position of a drudge or mere bearer of children. Agriculture had its beginning; the handicrafts extended to spinning, weaving, sandal making, the building of mud and wooden hovels, the grinding of grain and baking, the smelting of metals, blacksmithing and the making of simple tools and weapons. The ox was broken to the yoke, the drag, the plow.
Religion also changed. The bull—father of the herds—was sacred; the flooding river that made sure the crop of grain was a holy thing; the hot wind of the desert was a demon. It was but a step from the worship of the fire to Polytheism—a separate god for every separate thing—the regions of the unknown as populous as the regions of the known.
Man finally settled himself upon the soil as an agriculturist—the artificial production of forage was essential to the preservation of his flocks and herds—and when he stopped long in one place his life began to grow more complex; tools and processes began to multiply; and soon he discovered that a division of the industries would promote a greater and better production. Herding, agriculture and the handicrafts became separated, and each member of the family or tribe took upon himself some particular task; the herdsmen watched the flocks; the farmers went afield; the smiths made tools and weapons of defense. Then what more natural that in the end each one should claim for himself the products of his toil and care, and that a system of exchange should be set up?
PRIVATE PROPERTY—a thing attached to man rather than to his family or tribe—has come into the world, furnishing us a basis on which to examine and criticise all the following systems of civilization. The individual now sets himself apart; no longer producing for the common use, but for himself alone; no longer bringing in according to his ability and taking away according to his needs; but depending, for the satisfaction of his wants, upon his own foresight, patience, energy and skill; and exchanging the products of his toil for the products of others, who, like himself, must find those who can, will or must exchange upon the open market. The law of supply and demand of commodities sets itself up in the affairs of men.
Next to the discovery of the use of fire, the institution of private property has probably had the most effect upon the progress of mankind. The individual, thrust again upon his own resources; every incentive to "get ahead," to accumulate a supply against the rainy day or old age when he may no longer be productive, held before him, suffers a revival of every base and cruel primitive instinct. Terrorized by his lone and defenseless condition, he plunges into a struggle through which only the craftiest and most cruel may survive. The most cowardly descend to the meanest depths and emerge with the greatest loot of worldly possessions.
In private property man has found an incentive for the noblest works and justification for the most devilish acts that history records. It is the producer of paradoxes—the parent of inconsistencies. It is a god—creating good and evil.
Owing to the structure of his hand, man is a tool using animals—no other animal can seize upon things as man does—and this development of his hand enabled him to do so many things that were not possible to the other tree dwellers—so widened the range of his experiences—that he rapidly grew away from them. His power to grasp and use a club made him dangerous to the other beasts and he boldly descended to the ground where he soon learned to walk upright. His erect posture tended to deepen the cranial cavity and made room for the enlargement of the brain; while his curiosity and disposition to experiment led him into experiences that strengthened his mental reactions and developed the complexity of his nervous organization.
No avenue of approach to primitive man gives us a better view of him than the study of Technology. The tools he left behind him tell us clearly of his progress. At first, the "stone age" and then, after the discovery of fire, the "age of bronze"; and always the tools and processes were being improved.
One of the most important changes in human society was the introduction of slavery—a result directly traceable to the improvement of the tools and processes in agriculture. In savage times the bodies of prisoners taken in battle were sometimes eaten by the victors, but when barbarism came into vogue and it was found that a man could produce from the earth more than enough to feed himself these prisoners were enslaved. They were the property of the tribe and, as such, produced for the tribe. But when private property came into existence it was quite normal that the slaves should also become private property. Indeed, so profitable was the labor of slaves that, in the course of time, we find nations waging war to enslave other nations. There is little doubt that the Gallic Wars waged by Julius Caesar were none other than great looting and man hunting expeditions; the plunder of goods and people being sold in the auction rooms and slave markets of Imperial Rome.
In the savage state the increase of population was very slow, for man was just beginning to conquer his environment. Under barbarism man is coming into his own, and the increase in population is hastened; while under the Chattel Slave System, with a greater food supply, the population steadily increases. Invention introduces improved weapons, tools and processes. The slaves in agriculture and the handicrafts produce in abundance. Tribes expand into nations. Petty chieftains become kings. Wars are waged for territory and slaves. Barter and exchange become domestic trade, which, in turn, grows into commerce and banking. The slave owners have wealth and luxury. There is a leisured class which has time for culture; and art, poetry, music, literature, the drama flourish. The classes are sharply divided—they clash—the class struggle is on, with all its bitterness. Wealth concentrates; power centralizes; the family is settled in its form; and religion, changing from the worship of the many gods to the adoration of only one, pushes that god off the earth into a heaven in the great beyond.
The very interesting periods of Barbarism and Chattel Slavery were the parent periods of Feudalism. They existed alongside of each other for a great period of time, but with only a limited connection between them. Egyptian, Assyrian, Grecian and Roman slave civilizations flourished along the shores of the Mediterranean, while across the Black Forest and beyond the Alps, the Slavic, Germanic and Celtic tribes worked out their communal destinies.
The social system of Rome was quite complex. Patricians, knights, plebeians, adopted citizens, freedmen and slaves mingled in a busy hive of industry, trade and intrigue; each class actively defending itself against the others. The highly centralized government, representing the proud and wealthy Patrician class held despotic sway, and underneath it all were the slaves. So numerous did these become that, at one time, they were required to be dressed like the citizens, for fear they would realize their own numbers and strength, and destroy the Empire.
A combination of wage slavery, serfdom and chattel slavery was at the base of the productive system. The workers performed their tasks by hand labor and with comparatively simple tools; though there were a few simple machines operated by men and horses.
One great social feature of the Roman system of personal relationships was the "Patrocinium," or relation of Patron and Client—a relation which, in an altered form, was practised during Feudalism and extends even into our own time in the form of the Italian "Padroni" System. Under the Patrocinium, any person not a slave or serf (coloni) being harassed by debt or enemies—needing protection of some sort—could go to a Patrician and, on assuming certain obligations of service as a client, would receive in return the patronage or protection of the great man. It is reasonably certain that if the client had any property he put that as well as himself under the protecting influence of the Patron.
Furthermore, there existed among the merchants and free handicraftsmen certain trade and craft associations which were evidently strong enough to maintain themselves without resorting to the Patrocinium. Indeed they seem to have been patrons within themselves—corporate patrons—the members being the clients. So forceful were these associations that they survived the destruction of Rome and transferred themselves bodily into the Feudal System where they were known as "Guilds"; and these formed the centers around which gathered the elements that finally overthrew Feudalism and established the Capitalist System.
THE BARBARIC TRIBES
While Rome was at the height of her wealth and power a great natural calamity was occurring in North-western Asia. The country was drying up. For lack of water it could no longer support the people with their flocks and herds. Natural barriers prevented migration either north, or east, or south; but to the westward were pastures green and an open way. They came—a wild and unkempt horde—and looked with wondering eyes upon the wealth of Rome. No man can say what went on beyond the far flung frontiers of the Roman Satraphies; but this we know, Rome recoiled before the advancing tribes, and wherever Rome moved out the Barbarians moved in. For three hundred years that warfare raged. Goth, Visigoth, Ostrogoth, Frank, German, Alleman, Lombard, Vandal, Hun—tribe after tribe—poured in from the great unknown.
Rome fell. The wars with the tribes and fierce internal quarrels laid her low. Her hands were held and ruled by the warlike tribesmen, but the influence of her civilization lived after her.
The struggle of the tribes was primarily for land and wherever they secured possession their barbaric customs were put in force, but the Roman customs could not die out altogether and many of them were adopted entire. Others were adopted only in part or were joined with similar customs of the tribes.
The tribesmen were communal in their practices, so it is not surprising that they rejected the idea of chattel slavery. Indeed Rome herself had helped destroy slavery by liberating great numbers of the slaves, so that they might serve in her armies. But the Roman "Coloni" (captured people colonized on the land) came under the rule of the tribes and these were restrained by the tribes—bound to the soil, these were the beginnings of the serfs.
The Goths served in the Roman army in great numbers. At no time do the tribesmen appear to have been soldiers (paid fighters)—they were always "warriors." They did not fight in organized battalions and legions as the Romans did, but in "fratries" or sworn brotherhoods. Each man was sworn to his chief and the chief in turn was sworn to the man. It was an honorable relation and implied many mutual obligations and services. This custom was known as the "comitatus," and in many ways resembled the Roman "patrocinium."
During the period of change, when the Roman civilization and Barbarism were working out the new system, the patrocinium became a form of land holding and was known as "precarium"; while the comitatus continued to be a personal relation between the tribesman and his chief, and was known as "commendation." Thus, a freeman might hold lands from a bishop by precarium, while he was bound to perform military service for his chief by his oath of commendation.
Then a new invasion occurred. The followers of Mohammad—the Saracens or Moors—conquered all of Northern Africa and spread over into Europe by the way of Spain. A strong and warlike people, determined upon conquest and fanatical for their religion, they threatened the life of Christendom. Charles Martel, the Frankish king, gathered the warriors of the German tribes at Tours and drive the Moors backward in defeat. But his campaigns were fearfully costly to the tribesmen, who fought without pay and furnished the horses to mount the newly formed cavalry, which was organized to meet the Saracens in their own style of fighting. To relieve the distress among the warriors, Martel seized the lands of the Church and divided them among those who were most impoverished and, for the first time, combined the oath of commendation to himself as king, with a grant of land by the custom of precarium. This was the real beginning of the Feudal System.
Then followed the plagues—the "black death" devastating immense sections of the country—and social chaos prevailed. Out of this fearful condition, the strong and forceful finally struggled to the head of affairs and exercised a semblance of control. The former territorial officials of the kings took possession of the soil and all the obligations which men had formerly owed to the tribe or nation were changed into private obligations owed to persons and services were rendered as a form of rent FOR THE USE OF LAND. The Feudal System was in force.
LAND was the basis of the Feudal System and those of the people who were most impoverished were bound to it—they were Serfs. Production on the great estates was carried on entirely by hand labor. Each one gave a portion of his time to service and production for the overlord—the balance of the time he labored for himself. Out of the Lord's portion, his retainers were supported and the handicraftsmen, who contributed to his luxury and power, were paid.
But the Barons were not the only force in Feudal society. The associations of handicraftsmen, merchants and bankers, that can be readily traced through the Greek and Roman civilizations, had continued to live and appear in cities of their own, where they carried on the manufacture and directed the trading and commerce of their time. As Feudalism grew in age the "Guild cities" grew in population and importance. Fifty-seven of them formed a league, which performed all the functions of an independent government. They made war, entered into treaties of peace, guaranteed the independence of petty kingdoms in return for monopolies in trade, and in every way labored to make themselves more powerful than the Barons.
Within the walls of these cities or "bourgs" gathered the merchants and skilled craftsmen, where they produced and distributed a vast portion of the wealth of their time. Guildmaster, journeyman and apprentice lived and worked together. The shop was in the dwelling house and goods sold at prices fixed by the guilds.
The guildmasters finally subdivided labor. They found that, by limiting the workman to a single portion of the process of manufacture, production could be increased and the importance and privileges of the journeyman be greatly reduced. The guild system was disrupted by this innovation—the workshop was removed from the guildmaster's house to a separate building—the "factory system" was born.
Here also was Capitalism born. The manufacturer and merchant prince step upon the scene. The tools of the craftsman pass out of his ownership and become the property of the factory owner. A class of workers appear, who have only labor-power to sell and must go to the owners of the tools in order to sell that power—the proletarian class.
Here was a radical departure from the old method of production and a new struggle began. Manufacturers and journeymen clashed—the serfs, demanding greater liberties and led by the new capitalists, rose in revolt against the barons—and in the ragings of this dual conflict the feudal system had its end. All classes in the old society were thoroughly embroiled in the warfare. Out of the welter of the conflict the Capitalists rose supreme—the old personal obligations disappeared and payments of cash adjusted every human relationship.
Marx, in that wonderful epitome and arraignment of Capitalism—the Communist Manifesto—gives us an illuminating view of the new Capitalist class and all who consider themselves students of modern conditions, should read that splended document.
Man set himself apart from the beasts and commenced his social progress when he discovered the use of fire. The separation of herding, agriculture and the handicrafts introduced the institution of private property; and the subdivision of labor in the handicrafts introduced the factory system of production, with itscapitalist and wage slave classes. Then came the discovery of the expansive force of steam and the invention of the steam engine. A new force had been found and, like the wild horse of the prairies, it had been harnessed.
Who can say what were the dreams of the ambitious capitalists when this fact came home to them? A new source of power, harnessed and ready to do the world's work! Could you have imagined the results? Look around you and see the answer.
The application of steam to industry stimulated every capitalist activity. The possibilities of the event were so vast that they set every known agency to work to take advantage of it. Experimentation was the order of the day. Facts, facts, facts—facts were the things they wanted. Knowledge of every kind must be collected and they applied themselves to the task with the greatest enthusiasm. Gathering and garnering from every possible source, they built up the noble sciences. Chemistry, engineering, invention, processes, machinery—the iron slave with steel fingers took his place in the factory with a human slave as his groom. Iron slave and slave of flesh toiled together to produce.
Almost a century and a half have passed since the making of the first steam engine and practically all of our vast, complex civilization has been made over in that time. America (the land of the free and the home of the brave) has grown from a wilderness to the first of the capitalistic nations. No greater monument to the unbounded faith and energy of a ruling class has ever been so rapidly erected—no more wonderful triumph of the man and the machine can be imagined.
Machinery revolutionized the methods of production and, to keep pace with the possibilities, changed the mode of ownership. The old time partnership became a corporation; thus permitting the conduct of business on a broader scale and placing the management of large enterprises in the hands of men specially gifted or trained for the task. Ownership and control were separated and today we find many of the great industrial institutions directed and managed by men, who have no other interest in them than their splendid salaries.
It was this separation of management from ownership that made possible the greater capitalism—Plutocracy. The old time capitalist knew his business from the top to bottom. He knew his market and the productive capacity of his plant. He could not be frightened off the job. He performed some service in the way of management—might be said to have earned his keep—but the absentee stockholder, depending on someone else for the success of the enterprise, is absolutely a parasite upon the business from the personal point of view and correspondingly skittish. His connection with the concern depends on his confidence in another and once this confidence is shaken or he fears for the safety of his capital, he sells out. Being ignorant of the business, he is a coward.
Upon this ignorance and cowardice the Plutocrats built themselves. Manipulators and stock jobbers are they, and the other fellows' weakness makes it an easy matter for them to gain control of industry. Under their rule small enterprises disappear—being swallowed up or merged in the trusts. All the old dividing lines in production are wiped out. Not only are individual plants merged to form an industrial trust, but allied industries are brought together in great departmental trusts. The Steel Trust, for instance, is no longer a mere manufacturer of steel, but a miner of ore and coal, transporter by lake, sea and rail, and constructor of ships, railroads, bridges and buildings. All the processes, from the raw material to the final delivery of the finished product into the hands of the consumer, are under its control. It has become the Base Metal Department of American industry.
Here, then, is the latest development in industry—the Departmental Trust controlled by the Plutocrats.
One step yet remains to be taken before the process of concentration of control is complete, and that is to co-ordinate the departmental trusts by means of interlocking directorates. These are rapidly forming, in spite of legislative enactments to the contrary, and it cannot be long until we shall have in full operation the Industrial Feudalism*—the special product of the Plutocrats.
NOTE ON INDUSTRIAL FEUDALISM
Under the ancient Feudalism, land was the source of wealth for the majority of the people, but the ownership of the land was monopolized by a few great landlords—Barons, Counts, etc. The people, needing access to the land in order to live and agreeing to the ownership of the earth by these Lords, naturally became subject to them, and were bound to the soil as serfs.
In modern days the great mass of the people earn bread by the industries, as distinguished from Agriculture, and must have access to the machines in order to live. The industries concentrate into the hands of a few men (the Lords of Industry) and the people agreeing to their ownership became subjected to them.
The ancient serfs could not move from place to place—it now remains for the Plutocrats to limit the rights of the workers to change from industry to industry, thus establishing a condition of serfdom equal with that of the Middle Ages.
In England, under present war conditions, with the industries concentrated under the control of the Cabinet, we may see Industrial Feudalism in operation—the workers cannot quit work or change their occupations without first obtaining permission to do so. Industrial Feudalism is the last calamity to man, from which we must drop back to savagery, unless an aroused and class conscious proletariat shall rescue civilization by the institution of the Industrial Democracy.
A. E. W.
THE SLAVE CLASSES
Ever since it was discovered that a man could produce from the ground more than enough to feed himself, there have been slaves; and the very day the first slave was driven to his task two classes set themselves up in human society—the masters, who owned and enjoyed, and the slaves, who toiled and suffered—a master class and a slave class. The earliest slaves were communal property and worked in the fields, but when the industries were separated and private property was instituted the slaves also became private property. They were bartered and sold just like any other commodity and the degree of happiness or comfort they experienced depended upon the character of the master and his necessities. Food, clothing and shelter they had, for they must be kept in condition to work, and, since the tools of production were simple and large numbers of hands were needed to keep up the power and luxury of the masters, they were encouraged to breed—to reproduce themselves. They must be obedient and submissive; so they were kept in the densest ignorance, filled with the vilest superstitions and taught to believe in themselves only a little above the beasts, while their masters were descended from the gods.
Under the Feudal system the slave became a serf—a creature bound to the soil and forbidden to leave the lands of his overlord. He must cultivate the fields and perform various personal services. He had food, clothing and shelter—the amount and kind depending on the fertility of the soil, his own industry and the exactions of his Lord—and he could always work. The tools of the time were simple and many hands were needed. The more there were to labor and wait upon the Lord, the more were his vanity and his palate gratified. Petty wars, scourges and famines raged, and the serfs must breed, that more plowmen should turn the furrow and more soldiers march at the heels of the military chieftains. Also, they must be kept in ignorance—they must believe the false and debasing superstitions that would keep them in submission. They were taught to accept "the natural depravity of man"; to submit to every villainy on this earth, that thereby they might win a home in heaven; and to endure the brutalities of the overlord as the will and desire of an all-wise, all merciful and omnipotent god.
With the fall of Feudalism the Capitalists set up the fiction that all men are free and equal. The serfs were liberated from their personal obligations to the Lords and became the landed peasantry, or rented lands for a cash payment from the gentry. Lands and commodities passed from one proprietor to another by direct purchase. Trade in all things was open and free. The workingman, possessed of labor power only, was not bound to work for any certain master, but could take that labor power into the open market and sell it to whoever would pay the highest price—he was a free man.
While between master and slave, between baron and serf, between guildmaster and journeyman certain personal obligations existed; under the Capitalist system all obligations ceased upon the payment of the day's wage. Both were free to go their separate ways if the terms of the employment did not suit them. They were free men.
The slave worked all the time for his master and received food, clothing and shelter in return. The serf worked a part of his time for the Baron—the balance of his time for himself—receiving protection from other barons in return, but providing his own food, clothing and shelter. The free workingman sold his labor-power for a price, therefore he was said to work for himself, and he took this price, or wage, and went into the open market where he bought food, clothing and shelter. In each event—whether as slave, serf or freeman—all the worker really got was food, clothing and shelter.
In truth, the freeman was not a free man. The lands and tools of production were still privately owned. The workman possessed no property on which he might employ himself—he had merely labor power and he must sell that power in order to live. It was not a matter of choice, but of grim compulsion. He must submit his will to the will of another. He was a slave—a wage slave. The greater portion of the wealth he created remained in the hands of someone else; the portion he received barely supplied his creature wants and allowed him to reproduce his kind.
Furthermore, the slave and serf could always work, for it was vastly to the interests of the master and baron that they should produce in abundance, but the wage slave may be denied the right to labor—he can be excluded from the field or shop. His labor power is now a commodity and no one need buy unless a profit appears in the labor. No one is responsible for him or to him—he is a free man and all modern obligations are paid in cash. If, through an improved process, the use of a better machine, or overproduction, his services are no longer needed, he may be discharged; and, if he can find no other master before his slender savings are exhausted, he should starve in silence and die with the dignity befitting his high estate as a free man.
WAGE SLAVES ARE DIFFERENT
Environment is the ruling force in the lives of men—they are moulded and moved by the things about them—their ideas come from their experiences—their thoughts and actions are determined by the manner in which they get their livings—and in a world so changed by the use of machinery, we find that the modern working class differs very much from the slaves and serfs that preceded it. The slaves worked with the simplest tools that moved as fast as they moved. Their ignorant, untravelled minds groped but a little way beyond the horizon that bounded them. They took no care of the morrow—their master did that. Besotted by their toil and the very fact of their slavery, they seldom sighed for other than a better master. History records a few great slave rebellions, but usually the servile revolts were not of their own making. In most of them, they furnished numbers, but not initiative, and when the affair was concluded either served new masters, or returned to the old ones and the punishments meted out to them.
The serf differed little from the slave. He worked with very little better tools and endured about the same abuse (in France his condition was particularly abject) and, though he had somewhat more of intelligence, he only stirred in revolt when led by adventurous bandit chieftains, or when urged by the rising and militant Capitalists. Left to himself, he might have continued to endure and to have become more helpless and hopeless as time went on.
The modern wage slave is something different. The machine has conquered production and the worker must keep pace with it. Intelligence and a measure of resourcefulness are necessary to his continued presence in industry—the besotted and slothful are of no use to the present master class, for that gentry yet practice a certain amount of competition. Furthermore, the worker, thrown on his own resources, as to food, clothing and shelter, and having no certainty of continuous employment, must take heed of the morrow. The very nature of capitalist production forces him to think and, thereby, his wits are exercised and sharpened. The "Machine proletariat" as this class is now beginning to call itself, is not to be measured by the old slave or serf standards, but by standards of its own.
The capitalist system of machine production requires the workers to possess considerable dexterity and education in order to function to the best advantage. Also, the capitalist method of absentee ownership throws a great part of the burden of management upon the workers, so that they have, not only a large technical training, but executive ability as well. Is it any wonder that such a class should become critical of its conditions and surroundings? Is it strange that, finding itself in practical control of industry, it should commence to inquire why it continues in poverty while the proprietors mount to the position of millionaires? Is it amazing that this class, having the wealth of society within its grasp, should seek to take possession?
History teaches us that, in each epoch of the world since the advent of private property, some one class has been dominant; that the civilization of each epoch was the product of the then ruling class; and that a subject class grew and expanded within that civilization and finally made itself the dominant class. The new class created a new society and, in its turn, was displaced by yet another class which set up another society in its turn. Following the parallelism, it is quite unbelievable that the proletariat—a class having large intelligence and a militant spirit—should continue to submit indefinitely to the dominion of a dwindling few, who, from every practical viewpoint, have become absolutely parasitic.
Immediately the capitalist class settled itself into power, it began to have trouble with the wage slave class. The "iron law of wages," which decrees that "wages shall always tend to sink to the lowest point at which the worker can maintain the efficiency demanded by the development of industry and reproduce his kind," began to operate forcefully. The wage workers awoke to the fact that the boasted freedom of the capitalists meant, for the workers, an unlimited freedom to starve. Private property in the lands, tools and machinery of production gave the proprietors a right of exclusion and, unless the workers accepted the terms laid down by the masters, they would starve.
The individual worker found himself helpless, and the early history of the factory system is too shocking and too shameful to be repeated here. It is enough to say, that out of the suffering and humiliation of the workers, the first Labor Unions arose. Originally, these were Mutualist Associations, with the design of conforming the worker to his environment by providing sick and burial benefits, and in other ways assisting him to make both ends meet; but later, the craftsmen, finding the automatic machine encroaching upon their skill, converted them into defensive institutions with the purpose of protecting the crafts.
The craftsmen now set up the plea that "skill is a property" and, therefore, possessors of skill should have the same rights as other property holders; and, so long as the machine processes were crude and imperfect and the organization of the master class was equally imperfect, these craft unions were able to secure small concessions for themselves. The theory that skill is a property led easily to the effort to monopolize that property and many were the dodges and subterfuges adopted to make the monopoly effective. Limitation of apprenticeships, high initiation fees and dues, difficult and technical examinations for membership, gentlemen's agreements with the employers and closed books in closed shop cities and towns, were a part of the protective and exclusive measures adopted, but beyond this property idea the craftsmen apparently could not go. The hand tool limited their vision to the mere thing they hold in their hands—they could not see the great world of industry growing up around them, nor catch the inspiring message of the machines to the struggling masses.
The American Federation of Labor, the Australian Workers Union, the Amalgamated Societies of the English workers and other nationalistic organizations of their kind seem never to have come to a realizing sense of the great fact that production is now a social process and that the organizations of the workers must take on an all inclusive or universal character in order to conform to that fact. Their protestations of industrial vision and purposes are mere hollow phrases belied by their persistent separation of the workers into craft or district organizations that render them helpless and futile in the vast industrial sea in which they are submerged. Without doubt, they continue to accept the wage system as a finality and seek only to maintain themselves as integral parts of that system. While they struggle and fight for a larger wage, there is no apparent knowledge that the wage is merely a portion of the worker's production and not a reward for services rendered—their cry is "a fair day's wage for a fair day's work," the only question being "what is fair"?
Collective bargaining is a principle with the craftsmen and, since they choose to accept the laws and standards of the master class, it is but natural that they should regard their bargains, or contracts, as holy and sacred, even when such contracts force them to work alongside of men who are "scabbing" or "black-legging" on other craft unionists who may be out on strike. They are thus forced into the paradoxical position of paying strike benefit assessments with one hand while they filch away wages with the other by working with the scab or black-leg and aiding the boss to break the strike.
Such string-halted morality certainly comes from ignorance of the structure of capitalist society and the mission of the working class, and so long as it continues to influence the minds of these workers will lead their class in an ever-descending spiral.
So long as the capitalists competed vigorously among themselves and the various shops confined themselves to the manufacture of single articles, or closely related articles, or only one of the processes of transformation was carried out in the one shop, the craft unions had a measure of success, but when, through the process of elimination, competition entered wealth into fewer hands and machine production took on the form of industry (following the raw material through all the processes to the completed article) craft unionism lost its force and effect.
The machines break up the skill of the craftsmen and spread it out in the hands of groups of unskilled workers, who do simple tasks in connection with the machines. And since such skill as these machine workers require is mostly in the nature of mere nimbleness and can be acquired in a very short time, the craftsman's notion of "property in skill" can never obtain any foothold with them. The essence of property is a right of exclusion, and the machine tender's skill (?) is too easily acquired for exclusion to be practiced at the machines.
The craftsman's opposition to the machine in industry loses validity in the presence of the machine—defeat is too apparent—and the machine attendants, developing under new and different conditions, have a new and different viewpoint—to them, the old craft notions of property, mutual interests, contract and defense are just so much ancient and useless "junk."
THE MACHINE PROLETARIAT
With the development of the machines there also developed the grooms of the machines—the machine proletariat (workers possessing no specialized skill). These workers have always been denied recognition by the craftsmen, because the craft attitude was one of contempt for the unskilled; and further, the craftsmen have always had an instinctive knowledge of the difference of the proletarian outlook upon industry and life, and feared that the machine men would refuse to accept the "God-given" leaders and would rule the labor organizations by reason of their superior numbers. However, these workers are now organizing on their own account and, since they are now the most numerous and most militant class in production, with the most urgent need to be served, they must in the end become the dominant force within the working class and their form of organization become the prevailing form.
The machine proletariat recognizes itself as the product of the machine, and, just as the craftsmen organized into craft unions on the basis of the hand tool, because it was the source of their living, so do the proletarians organize into industrial unions, on the basis of the machine—that being the source of life. They do not recognize skill as a property, giving anyone an aristocratic standing in labor, for the conquering machine rapidly destroys such skill as yet survives. Manual training, industrial schools and shop experience quickly fit the worker for his place at the machine, so the industrial union practices no exclusion, but accepts all who enter at only a nominal fee. It regards the wages system as a passing phase and, instead of offering "a fair day's work for a fair day's wage," inscribes on its banner "the abolition of the wage system" and endeavors to build up the co-operative and communal instincts of its class. It demands the full product of its collective toil, declaring that modern conditions and modern needs have set aside all the rights of private property that may have existed heretofore, and that the modern absentee owner is a parasite, doing nothing to earn his keep. It accepts collective bargaining, but sets no time limits to its agreements and holds no contract sacred—in fact, it abhors the contract with a master—and stands ready to disregard all contracts when an observance of the same would force it into the attitude of a strike breaker, or compel it to give countenance to organized scabbery.
The machine proletariat, recognized its subject position in modern class society, stands squarely on the class struggle, organizes to carry on the class struggle, and prepares itself to direct industry and administer society when that struggle shall have been won.
In all the various social systems of the past, the wealth and power of the ruling class has depended upon the wealth producing capacity of the working class and the degree to which it could be exploited. If the tools were simple and the portion of the wealth remaining after the workers were provided for was small, then the master class which took this surplus was relatively poor. But when modern machinery is used and the working class is highly productive, then the surplus of wealth is vastly increased and the master class actually wallows in a glut of wealth. The gulf between the workers and the masters yawns wider and deeper, and the workers, increasing in intelligence, grow ever more bitter and impatient with their poverty.
The chattel slave and feudal serf might well have toiled and suffered in silence—they knew no better—ignorance, superstition and bestial conditions held them in thrall, but not so the machine proletarian. He must be quick of body and alert of intellect—only as a trained man is he useful to the masters—therefore his reactions on his environment are more intelligent and more vigorous than those of any servile worker that has preceded him. He takes up the cudgel to defend himself. All the knowledge of the world is at his command and he quickly learns that labor power applied to the materials of the earth is the source of all wealth, and that the source of the master's riches lies in his appropriation of the surplus of wealth remaining after the workers are miserably fed, clothed and housed. Conversely, he learns that the worker's poverty arises from the fact that he does not retain the surplus of his own labor for himself, but allows it to be taken by another. The proletarian learns that governments and laws are used to awe him into submission to the looting of his labor; and that school and church and press are used to lull him into quietness. Is it then strange that he despises governments, despises courts, rebukes teachers, loathes editors, abhors priests and seeks only to seize the materials and machinery of production, that thereby he may turn them to his own advantage and, through them, destroy the domination of class and the governments, laws, schools, presses and pulpits that uphold class domination?
The machine proletariat attacks private property as a human institution. It recognizes the fact that through that institution all the other institutions of modern society have their force and effect, and nothing short of its destruction as an institution will ever be satisfactory. The proletariat knows that it can build a better society—a society, into which poverty, with all its hideous concomitants, can never come—and it is thoroughly determined to build it.
THE PROCESS OF TRANSFORMATION
The historic mission of the proletariat is to overthrow the present master class and to replace this civilization with a new and better civilization. In the meantime it is under the necessity of making growth and developing itself within the framework of modern capitalism in preparation for this great transformation. Let us see what are the transforming processes going on in modern society which promote the growth of the proletariat and on which we may predicate the structure of its new society.
The greatest of these processes are: First, the perfecting of the machinery of production and distribution, which goes on by means of invention; second, the perfection of the processes of manufacture, which goes on by means of chemical and engineering experimentation; third, the perfecting of management, which goes on by means of the study of cost data and automatic systems of superintendence; fourth, the centering of wealth in the hands of a few great Plutocrats, which goes on by means of manipulation and stock jobbery; fifth, the development of the proletariat, which goes on by means of the intimate contact of the workers with the machinery of production and management; and sixth, the awakening of the proletariat to a realization of the fact that it must take over and operate the industries in order to save itself from an impending condition of Industrial Serfdom and preserve such culture as the genius of man has handed down through the ages.
So great is the inventive faculty of the human animal, that, in all of the civilized countries, great bureaus are maintained for the examination and classification of the inventions; and each great industrial plant keeps a corps of trained men constantly at work trying to perfect the machines and make them truly automatic. Prizes and bonuses are paid to workmen, who suggest valuable changes or bring in useful hints; and so great are the improvements, that, at times, entire plants are scrapped to make way for new devices that have actually revolutionized the methods in a particular line of production. New combinations of chemical elements and new facts in regard to the qualities of old materials are constantly being discovered, with the result that new industries spring up to make and supply new wants of the people. The craftsmen are constantly threatened by the machines and whole crafts are, at times, swept off the boards to be replaced by an automatic device that can be operated by unskilled labor.
When the machines seem to be perfected, the workers themselves are experimented upon to discover new ways of doing old tasks. Motion studies are made to develop methods for increasing the output and efficiency of individuals. Rearrangement of plants and team work are devised to get the most and best work out of gangs and working forces. Automatic systems of management, by which the workers practically drive themselves, are introduced; and profit sharing, piece rate and bonus systems of payment, which are intended to induce the slaves to work themselves to death for a supposed increase of pay, are instituted.
Although the middle class, which is being consistently wiped out, screams with agony and uses every possible reactionary device, the process of the centering of wealth goes steadily forward. The personnel of the Plutocracy may change from time to time, but the number grows beautifully less and the control of industry centers into fewer hands. So also, the real government centers into these same hands; through a show of democracy is maintained to keep the ignorant and patriotic deceived as to the true state of affairs. Salaried managers, engineers, chemists and accountants, together with the workers specialized at the machines, carry on production, while the Plutocrats thimblerig the middle class with Stock Exchanges, Boards of Trade and other similar gambling devices.
The numbers of the proletariat and the "slum proletariat" are constantly increased by craftsmen, whose skill is no longer needed, and by members of the middle class, who have lost out altogether in their efforts to buck the gigantic brace game that the Plutocrats maintain for their special benefit.
The tendency of the machines toward perfection, naturally causes the great majority of the workers to become machine attendants to the approximate a level, so far as skill is concerned; thus breaking down the craft and other artificial barriers that formerly divided them. The machine process of production prevents the separating out of individual outputs and results in a practical equality of wages. This equality of wages naturally standardizes the livings of the various workers and causes them to flow together as a class. They find themselves subjected to almost identical conditions in all sections and begin to recognize themselves as a class, regardless of races, nationalities or creeds. Recognition of class generates that sense of duty known as the social conscience—the moral sense of the working class. They study their class needs and, through their identity of interest, associate so that they may harmoniously promote those interests.
The workers now become critical of their environment. They tear it to pieces and examine its parts—they study its effects upon themselves—and see to what depths of degradation they have been reduced. They perceive the growing numbers of the unemployed (displaced by the perfecting of the machines and the long hours of labor) and the steady operation of the law of wages towards further reductions of the standard of living. They learn also that there must be a constant effort to raise the rate of pay to keep pace with the increased production and cheapening of gold, on which the prices of all commodities, including labor power, are based.
The proletariat is at bed rock. It views the world and the institutions of society from the standpoint of utter disillusionment. Everything is naked before it and its attitude is one of absolute disgust and uncompromising hostility. In fact, it is at bay—its back is against the wall—it has turned upon its tormentors. The "social revolution" is on.
The modern socialist parties, which pretend to represent the workers upon the political field, but which are almost wholly "middle class" in their aspirations and tactics, and are obsessed with a reverence for statute laws, propose that the direction of industry shall be placed in the hands of the "government," thereby illustrating their own fatuity, for government can only operate industries through the agencies of bureaus—and bureaucrats are primarily despots. In their keenness to be social saviors the politicians, who usually know very little about industry, fail to realize that the workers must control the industries through their own associations, if the spirit of democracy is to be preserved and promoted. Working class control of the industries means democratic participation and control in all production and in the social life flowing from it; therefore, the workers are not to be hampered by administrators appointed by some delegated authority, as would surely happen under a territorial political system. To adopt such a policy, would defeat the ends of the social revolution and set up a new form of servitude, since the bureaucrat could only secure efficiency by adopting coercive measures.
If, by some chance, a purely political Socialist party should accomplish the overthrow of the present master class government and divert the control of industry—the administration of production—into the hands of the working class as at present developed and organized, nothing short of chaos could result. A recession in civilization is all that could be expected, since the Industrial Democracy is not to be had as a gift from above, but is a growth—a development—a thing to be achieved through the economic training and disciplining of the working class. Our good Socialist friends must remember that "the nations and classes which, in the past, have acquired the right of self government, have demonstrated their ability and have laid the foundations of their new governments while they were struggling for freedom." The workers must do the same.
The workers must undergo a training for voluntary co-operation in production, and engaging in political contests at the polls is no such training. That is a game of "follow your leader," or a mere counting of noses—an enumeration of those people of all classes, who, for the moment, adhere to the same sentiment, or hold the same opinion. It is no indication whatsoever that these people are so organized, trained and developed that they can harmoniously and effectively operate and manage the complex industrial life of today and build up the new social institutions in the face of a determined opposition on the part of a large minority of the people, who will have voted the other way. The development of the social consciousness and altruistic emotionalism no doubt cause many persons to vote the Socialist tickets, but that does not mean that these same persons would remain steadfast in their allegiance when they should see their present economic security threatened with wreck at a time of crisis in the real struggle. No. Industrial Democracy comes only by the desire and with the consent of a conscious class—an organic division of the people—and that class is the machine proletariat; the workers trained in the processes of industry, experienced in social production, living and working on an identical plane of material interest, subjected to the same economic influences, constant, stable, harmonious, and capable of discipline and responsibility. Nor is the change likely to come as the result of a general election; but more likely, it will come at a time of great economic and social turmoil (lockouts and general strikes threatening) and as the result of a "plebiscite," or election held by the workers only. Even then, it can properly occur only after the working class has been thoroughly marshalled, drilled and disciplined for the event—"when the proletariat has had sufficient training in voluntary co-operation and self-government to be able to demonstrate its ability to successfully continue production and handle distribution so that all may be fed."
Marx, the great economist and social philosopher, has well pointed out that political action is a mere reflex of economic power; that as a class grows in wealth and conscious economic importance, it endeavors more and more to take part in political activities; that the government, in a class society, is an instrument of class domination—strong, as the class it represents is strong, or weak, as that class is weak. He also declares that the mission of the working class is to overthrow Capitalism, with its class government, and establish a new order of society based on economic equality, and therefore without classes or the forms of government that flow from class dominion. Frederick Engles, commenting on the later French revolution, concludes that the working class can never seize upon the ready made powers of the state and convert them to uses of its own. All our thinkers are quite agreed that the State, as such—the coercive instrument of economic class power—must disappear with the classes that have upheld it, and, in its place, must appear an "administration of affairs," an economic institution conforming to the needs and aspirations of an economically free and fluid industrial society. Therefore, the prime consideration of the proletariat is not to take over the powers of government by a mere conquest of the political state at the ballot box, but to develop and organize its economic powers, so that it may proceed by methods of its own to destroy the class power of its opponents and the hateful, hurtful institutions which that class power bolsters and maintains. Economic power constitutes the entire force of the capitalists—all modern institutions are based on that foundation—and when that power is undermined, when its protecting strength weakens and fails, all these institutions must naturally totter and fall.
Man is like the bug—he travels in the direction of the food supply—and institutions are like men—they perish when unfed. The master class, besieged upon the economic field by an aroused and class conscious proletariat holding the sources of wealth in its determined grasp, must go down in defeat and its class institutions must be drawn down with it into the abyss, thus clearing the field and making room for those better and fairer structures which the genius of the new society will erect.
THE STRUGGLE FOR POWER
The first duty of a ruling class is to direct production, and the fact that it can and does prevent chaotic conditions in distribution generates confidence in it, breaks down opposition and gathers adherents to its cause. Therefore, the proletariat, in its struggle for power, must grasp at the means of production and distribution—in fact, the success of its movement depends upon its ability to seize the lands, tools and machinery, and set itself up as the supreme economic factor in the life of mankind. It must be in a position to starve out all opposition and dictate the terms of surrender, just as the present master class starves the rebellious workers into subjection and makes submission the condition on which they may be admitted to the use of the machines.
The conquest of economic power is the supreme consideration of the workers and the stupendous fact of the new labor movement is the contest for ownership. The master's right to possession is challenged and the right of the workers, based upon their use of the machines, is set up in opposition. "Only those who use shall possess." An open and conscious class struggle begins, in the course of which, modern society is shaken to its foundations.
The miseries of the working class arise from exploitation at the point of production—robbery on the economic field. Its struggles constitute a daily battle, taking place on the farms and in the mills, mines, shops and factories—around the machines, by access to which it lives—therefore it must organize its forces at the machines and in terms of industry in order to fight successfully. Without an organization conforming consistently to present economic conditions, it is a defeated class. It must marshal its hosts on the true battlefield—in the place where it daily meets its enemy and where its class weapons are ready fashioned to its hands.
The craft method of organization, as practiced by the A. F. of L., the A. W. U. and the British Amalgamated Societies, is foreign to the proletariat, since its mental viewpoint differs from that of the craftsmen. Its experience is a machine experience—not the experience of the hand tool; the exclusive skill, or property, idea does not exist, because the machines have scattered skill, and exclusion cannot be practiced by machine workers. Modern industrial methods have destroyed individuality—"by group effort, or team work about the machines, the proletariat earns its bread"—"access to the machines is the basis of proletarian life"; and, with the loss of individuality and the property idea, the workers think no longer in the restricted terms of property institutions, but in the terms of an industrial class. Realizing themselves as a class—knowing that only as a class may they hope to survive—they attack modern society in the place where they function within that society—at the point of production. Their whole attitude is one of opposition and, therefore, distinctly revolutionary.
Realization of class character naturally strengthens the class characteristics; realization of class needs generates class aspirations and ideals; and realization of class power leads to class organization in order to use that power in supplying class needs and attaining class aspirations and ideals. "The world for the workers" is their rallying cry; "an injury to one is an injury to all," their watchword; "Educate! Organize! Emancipate!" their slogan.
THE INDUSTRIAL WORKERS OF THE WORLD
The proletariat, being now an awakened class, with an experience peculiar to itself, conscious of its position in modern society and of its class needs, and with a vision of a future condition of economic equality and social freedom, organizes into One Big Union, in order to solidify its strength and carry on the class war in a systematic manner. Necessarily the Industrial Workers of the World has three functions to perform: First, to oppose and break down the power of the master class; second, to build the new society within the framework of the present society; and third, to operate as manager of the productive forces and director of the social life of the new society when emancipation shall have been achieved. Naturally it must assume a form different from any other organization ever before attempted by any portion of the working class. It must conform to the modern development of industry—to the machine age—and group the workers accordingly.
The displacement of the hand tool by the machine; the displacement of the small shop by the great industrial plant; the displacement of the individual employer or the partnership by the huge corporation or industrial trust; means that the craft union must be displaced by the One Big Union, organized along modern lines, so that the struggle may be waged on terms more nearly equal. The machine—aye, industry itself—must be the basis of organization.
The structure of the Industrial Workers of the World provides that all who labor in a given industrial plant or in an industry, of which there are one or more plants in the same locality, shall be gathered into one Industrial Branch, without reference to the tools they may use and without prejudice as to skill, race, color, sex, age or creed. The combined Industrial Branches from the Industrial Union. Wage earning is the "open sesame" to membership. Eligibility depends on the fact that the worker earns his bread in that industry and his labor is wrapped up in the output—laborers, craftsmen, office force and salesmen—all may be members because all are necessary to efficient production. The Industrial Union is a class organization and, as such, not only promotes that solidarity which gives clearness of vision and generates lofty ideals.
Branches, Industrial Unions of allied industries are combined into Industrial Departments (of which there are six), and the combined Industrial Departments from the Industrial Workers of the World. This, however, is not a rigid structure and may be varied as the needs of the working class may dictate; but its purpose is to bind the workers together in one general union of the entire working class—the ONE BIG UNION—with the thorough knowledge and understanding that wealth production is today a SOCIAL PROCESS, in which the entire working class co-operates to feed, clothe, shelter and provide the entire population of the world with the accessories of civilization." … This form of organization precludes the idea of the workers in one industry 'owning and operating that industry for themselves.' That proposal is found to be impossible of realization in view of the social character of production. The GENERAL ORGANIZATION of the I. W. W. is for the purpose of securing and maintaining the co-operation of all industrial groups for the work of social production for the use and benefit of all the people."—(B. H. Williams)
The Industrial Workers of the World not only marshals the workers properly upon the economic field, but drills and disciplines them for the final test of their strength and solidarity, the Social General Strike, which is regarded as the culmination of the class struggle. At the same time instruction in regard to the industries is carried on, so that each worker learns his true relationship in the world of industry. The social lives of the workers are broadened and built up on the basis of their economic relations, and their vision of the future society strengthened and ennobled by the cultivation of the communal instinct and the awakening of the social conscience.
That form of social organization known as the Industrial Democracy should not be—in fact, is not—a hazy or nebulous conception. It is predicated upon the Law of Economic Determinism which says that "the thoughts and actions of men are determined by the manner in which they obtain their livings," and that psychologic law which says that "similarities of experience cause similarities of thought and promote unity of action." Therefore, the common method of living forced upon the proletariat by modern industrial development and methods, furnishes those common experiences which generate its common mind, inspire its common ideals, and energize its common purpose towards the construction of a new society. The proletariat has no choice—it must proceed—the law of evolution is imperative. The miseries of a suffering humanity justify its every act and deed.
The proletariat, functioning at the machinery of modern production and gaining its living by group effort—team work—about that machinery, cannot conceive of a society producing its living properly in any other way. The machines are absolutely to its existence in society today, therefore it will carry the machines with it into the new society. Functioning at the machines—conscious group effort—will be the means of life in the new society and all the social institutions of the new order will be grouped about the machines and be colored by them. The machine method of production will determine the form of the new society, and human relationships (the great Association of Happy Workingmen) will be determined by the industrial method of wealth production.
The proletariat is essentially a democratic class and in its new society the ownership and control of the means of life must necessarily be democratic—to give an opportunity for monopoly to reappear is unthinkable. Freedom of access to the machines and enjoyment of the full product of one's toil must be the base of life. Participation in production will make the worker a joint owner and administrator with his fellows, not only in the industry in which he works, but in all industries—in all the wealth producing activities of the race.
Compensation in the industries would necessarily be upon the basis of the "man-day"—the average production of an average man in an average day when working under average conditions—and in those industries not of an actual productive nature, such as "public service," etc., the man-day must prevail there also (being based upon the average production of all the industries served) for the reason that no man could be induced to serve for less than that average—to do so being to confess himself an inferior being—and to compel him to serve for less would be to set up a new slavery, which the moral sense of the new community could not endure.
Rights of inheritance would disappear with the right to hold private property in the lands, tools and machinery of production. Any accumulation by the individual that might be used for exploitation would pass to the collectivity at the death of the holder. Society would be the heir of the individual and, vice versa, the individuals would be the heirs of society. The right to freely function at the machines and enjoy the social value of his toil would guarantee the worker a full competence. Rational human and industrial association would teach self control and promote initiative. In harmony with his environment the worker would be free and, being free, his best powers must manifest themselves in the highest degree.
Responsibility for the efficiency of the various industries would, at first, devolve upon the collectivities which operated them, but, since the lines of "co-operation in production" cross several (sometimes many) industries, there must, with the perfection of machinery, be a rapid growth towards the classification of all industries as portions of "public service," and when this merger shall be complete, responsibility for industry will be universal or social. "Government," as now understood, will disappear—there being no servile class to be held in subjection—but in its place will be an "administration of affairs" based upon universal economic and social equality. The present territorial representatives (industrially ignorant politicians) who are a necessary part of master class government, will also disappear, being replaced by industrial representatives (engineers, chemists, educators, technical men, etc.), who will constitute an advisory council and direct the gathering of those industrial statistics that will be necessary in maintaining the economic adjustment of the new society.
Universal participation in production and in the benefits of industry—equality within the industries and equality of the industries—must necessarily result in a free and fluid society. Machine production, the social consciousness of humanity, and the industrial form of social organization; these are the bases of the new society. These are the guarantees of the Industrial Democracy—an harmonious civilization, from which must spring a truly cultured race; and this, from the viewpoint of the proletariat, is the eminent purpose of the existence of man upon the planet Earth.
Abner E. Woodruff, C. E.