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It is difficult to see the difference between those who share
Walker's view and want to carry out the present non-Socialist political
program of the unions through a non-Socialist Labor Party and those who,
like this other union official, expect to use the Socialist Party for
the same purpose. Let us notice the similarity of certain arguments used
in favor of each method.


"The Socialist Party," says the organ of the Garment Workers'
Union, "does not command the confidence of American labor to the
extent of becoming a national power in our day and generation, and
it is, therefore, necessary that the working class should turn its
attention to the formation of a party that will be productive of
practical results in sweeping away the legislative and the legal
obstacles that now stand in the way of our rights and
progress."[251]

"Much is being written and said nowadays as to the danger of
Socialism and in favor of trades unionism," writes the _Mine
Workers' Journal_, "To us the condemnation of the Socialists,
coming as it does from the capitalistic press, is a reminder that
of the two evils to their selfish class interest, they prefer the
least.... It is useless to attempt to divide trades unionism from
Socialism. It cannot be done. They have all learned that their
interests are common; they know that labor divided will continue to
suffer, and will hang together before they will allow capital to
hang them separately.

"Indeed, looking at trades unionism in all its phases and from
every angle, we fail to see why Socialism and it should be
separated. The man or men in the movement to-day who are not more
or less Socialistic in their belief are few and far between and do
not know what the principles of unionism are, or what it stands
for. We are all more or less Socialistic in our belief."[252]


A perusal of the labor papers in general shows that while a number agree
with the Garment Workers a still larger number share the opinion of the
_Mine Workers' Journal_. Yet what is the essential difference?

The Garment Workers' organ claims that the European Socialists and trade
unionists support one another's candidates and unite their power without
the Socialists demanding the indorsement of their program, and argues
for that policy in this country. This statement is not accurate. Only in
England, where there has hitherto been no independent Socialist action
of any consequence, has there been any such compromise. On the Continent
of Europe the Socialists usually agree to leave the unions perfect
freedom in their business, and not to interfere in the slightest with
their action _on the economic field_, but there is no important instance
in recent years where they have compromised with them at the ballot box.
And this error is shared by the _Mine Workers' Journal_, which, as I
have just shown, is friendly rather than hostile to Socialism. In
another editorial in this organ we find it said that "whenever Socialism
in America adopts the methods of the British, and other European toilers
and pulls in harness with trade unionism, it is bound to make headway
faster than at present, because there is scarcely a man in the labor
movement that is not more or less of a Socialist." Here again the
British (Labor Party) and the Continental (Socialist) methods are
confused. It is true that the Socialist parties and the labor unionists
everywhere act together. But there are two fundamental differences
between the situation in Great Britain and that on the Continent. A
large part of the unions on the Continent are extremely radical if not
revolutionary in their labor-union tactics, and secondly, the
overwhelming majority of their members are Socialists in politics.
Surely there could be no greater contrast than that between the
swallowing up of the budding Socialist movement by non-Socialist labor
unions in Great Britain and the support of the Socialist Party by the
revolutionary unionist on the Continent.

In America only a minority of the unions are definitely and clearly
Socialist. The local federations of the unions in many of our leading
cities have declared for the Party. Among the national organizations,
however, only the Western Federation of Miners, the Brewers, the Hat and
Cap Makers, the Bakers, and a few others, numbering together no more
than a quarter of a million members, have definitely indorsed Socialism.
The Coal Miners, numbering nearly 300,000, have indorsed collective
ownership of industry, but without saying anything about the Socialist
Party. Besides these, the Socialist Party, of course, has numerous
individual adherents in every union. On the whole the Socialists are
very much outnumbered in the unions, and as long as this condition
remains, the majority of Socialists do not desire anything approaching
fusion between the two movements.

Half a century ago, it is true, Marx himself favored the Socialists
entering into a labor union party in England. He assumed that English
unions would soon go into politics, whereas they took half a century to
do it; he assumed, also, that when they entered politics they would be
more or less militant and independent, and he never imagined that during
fifteen years of "independent action" they would oppose revolutionary
and militant ideas more than ever, and would even go so far in support
of the Liberal Party as almost to bring about a split within their own
anti-revolutionary ranks. Certainly Marx expected that they would accept
his leading principles, whereas only the smallest minority of the
present Labor Party has done so, while the majority has not yet
consented to make Socialism an element of the Party's constitution,
confining themselves to a broad general declaration in favor of "State
Socialism"--and even this not to be binding on its members.

Marx's standard for a workingmen's party was Socialism and nothing less
than Socialism. In his famous letter on the Gotha program addressed in
1875 to Bebel, Liebknecht, and others, at the time of the formation of
the Socialist Party and perhaps the greatest practical crisis in Marx's
lifetime, he said, it will be recalled, that "every step of real
movement is more important than a dozen programs," but he was even then
against any sacrifice of essential principle. He saw that the workingmen
themselves might be satisfied by "the mere fact of the union" of his
followers with those of LaSalle, but he said that it was an error to
believe that this momentous result could not be bought too dearly, and
if any principle was to be sacrificed, he preferred, instead of fusion,
"a simple agreement against the common enemy."

While Socialist workingmen, then, are inclined to attach more importance
to the Socialist Party than to conservative unionism, they expect the
new aggressive, democratic, and revolutionary unionism to do even more
for Socialism, at least in the expected crisis of the future, than the
Party itself. The tendency of the unions towards politics is merely an
automatic result of the tendency of governments and capitalists towards
a certain form of collectivism. Far more significant is their tendency
towards Socialism whether through politics or through the strike, the
boycott, and other means.

Trade unionism, transferred to the field of politics, is not Socialism.
The struggles against employers for more wages, less hours, and better
conditions has no necessary relation to the struggle against capitalism
for the control of industry and government. The former struggle may
evolve into the latter, and usually does so, but long periods may also
intervene when it takes no step in that direction. Moreover, a trade
union party of the British type, whether it takes the name Socialist or
not, if it acts as rival to a genuine Socialist Party, checks the
latter's growth.

When revolutionary labor organizations composed largely of genuine
Socialists enter into politics, the situation is completely
reversed--even when such organizations take the step primarily for the
sake of their unions rather than to aid the Socialist Party. This
situation I shall consider in the following chapter.

FOOTNOTES:

[240] Eugene V. Debs, "His Life and Writings," p. 140.

[241] John Mitchell, "Organized Labor," p. 208.

[242] Miss Hughan in her "American Socialism," p. 220, quotes an
expression of mine (see the _New York Call_, March 22, 1910) in which I
said that "petty reforms never have aroused and never will arouse the
enthusiasm of the working class and do not permit of its co÷peration,
but leave everything in the hands of a few self-appointed leaders."

Miss Hughan herself points out that I have never considered all
so-called reforms as petty (see "American Socialism of the Present Day,"
p. 216) and quotes (on p. 199) an expression from the very article above
mentioned in which I define what reforms I consider are of special
importance to the wage earners, namely, those protecting the strike, the
boycott, free speech, and civil government. I even mentioned labor
legislation on a national scale. The petty reforms I referred to were
State labor laws. These will not only be carried out by non-Socialists,
but receive very little attention from active labor bodies such as the
city and State federations, which are almost wholly absorbed in the
greater and more difficult task of defending the strike, boycott, free
speech, and sometimes civil government. Labor will do everything in its
power to promote child labor laws, workingmen's compensation etc.,
except to give them its chief attention instead of the struggle for
higher wages and the rights needed to carry it on effectively. As a
consequence these matters are left to a few selfish or unselfish
persons, who are "self-appointed leaders," even when the unions consent
to leave these particular matters in their hands. For active co÷peration
of the masses in the legal, economic, and political intricacies of such
legislation is not only undesirable, but impossible under the present
system of society and government.



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Keywords: towards, trades, journal, support, strike, struggle, action, together, independent, tendency
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