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But the
larger part of the consumers are workingmen, and their cost of
living is thus rising more rapidly than ever _on account of the
strikes_. Finally, the unions of the unskilled are as a rule not
yet recognized by their employers, while the railway union is
probably as completely at the mercy of the government as ever.

In a word, _the point reached_ is by no means very advanced; on the
other hand, _the material gain made_ in view of the former
backwardness of the railwaymen, seamen, and dockers is highly
important for England, while the methods employed, the movement
having originated from below, and having been sustained against
conservative leaders (only a few radicals like Tom Mann and Ben
Tillett being trusted), is of world-wide significance. The unions
as well as their common organizations, the Trade Union Congress,
the Labour Party, and the General Federation of Trade Unions are
drawing closer together, while the Socialists and revolutionary
unionists are everywhere taking the lead--as evidenced, for
example, by the election of the most radical Socialist member of
Parliament, Mr. Will Thorne, to be President of the 1912 Trade
Union Congress.

The success of the new movement as against the older Labour Party
and trade union tactics may also be seen from the disturbed state
of mind of the older leaders. Take, for example, the attack of the
Chairman of the Labour Party, Mr. J. R. MacDonald:--

"The new revolution which Syndicalism and its advocates of the
Industrial Workers of the World contemplate has avoided none of the
errors or the pitfalls of the old, but it has added to them a whole
series of its own. It has never considered the problems which it
has to meet. It is, as expressed in the _Outlook_ of this month, a
mere escapade of the nursery mind. It is the product of the
creative intelligence of the man who is impatient because it takes
the earth twenty-four hours to wheel around the sun (sic).... The
hospitality which the Socialist movement has offered so generously
to all kinds of cranks and scoundrels because they professed to be
in revolt against the existing order has already done our movement
much harm. Let it not add Syndicalism to the already too numerous
vipers which, in the kindness of its heart, it is warming on its
hearthstones."[257] [258]


The new revolutionary unionism takes different forms in Great Britain,
France, and America. In France it has expressed itself through agitation
for the general strike and against the army, the only thing that a
general strike movement has to fear. The agitation has completely
captured the national federation of unions, has a well-developed
literature, a daily paper (_La Bataille Syndicaliste_--The Union
Battle,--established in 1911), and has put its principles into effect in
many ways, especially by more numerous and widespread strikes and by
attacks on military discipline. But there has been no strike so nearly
general as the recent British one, and both the efforts in this
direction and those directed against the army have a future rather than
a present importance and will be considered in succeeding chapters (Part
III, Chapters VI and VII).

In America the new movement first appeared several years ago in the very
radical proposal indorsed at the time by Debs, Haywood, and many
prominent Socialists, to replace the older unions by a new set built on
entirely different principles, including organizations of the least
skilled, and the solid union of all unions for fighting purposes. This
movement took concrete form in a new organization, the Industrial
Workers of the World, which was launched with some promise, but soon
divided into factions and was abandoned by Debs and others of its
organizers. It has grown in strength in some localities, having
conducted the remarkable struggles at McKees Rocks (Pa.) and Lawrence
(Mass.), but is not at present a national factor--which is in part due,
perhaps, to the fact that the older unions are tending, though
gradually, towards somewhat similar principles.

Not only is Socialism spreading rapidly in all the unions, but along
with it is spreading this new unionism. For many years the Western
Federation of Miners, famous as the central figure in all the labor wars
in the Rocky Mountain States, was the most powerful union in this
country that was representative both of revolutionary Socialism and of
revolutionary unionism. But it was not a part of the American
Federation of Labor. When it became closely united with the Coal Miners,
and the latter union forced its admission into the American Federation
of Labor (in 1911), it at once began a campaign for its principles
inside this organization. It now stands for two proposals, the first of
which would solidly unite all the unions, and the second of which would
cut all bonds between labor and capital. Neither is likely to be adopted
this year, but both seem sure of a growing popularity and will in all
probability result in some radical and effective action within a very
few years.

In its Convention of July, 1911, the Western Federation of Miners
decided to demand of the Federation of Labor the free exchange of
membership cards among all its constituent unions. Thus the unions would
preserve their autonomy, but every member would be free, when he changed
his employer, to pass from one to the other without cost. The result
would be that quarrels between the unions over members would lessen
automatically, and also admission fees, dues, and benefits would tend
towards a level. Thus all the things that keep the unions apart and
prevent common action against the employer would be gradually removed,
and the tendency of certain unions to ignore the interests of others
reduced to a minimum. The plan is practical, because it has already been
in successful operation for many years in France.

Another new policy--which should be regarded as a supplementary means
for bringing about the same result--would be to so strengthen and
democratize the general Federation as to allow great power to be placed
in the hands of the executive, and at the same time subject it to the
direct control of the combined rank and file of all the unions. If, for
example, national Federation officials were elected, instructed, and
recalled by a vote of all the unionists in the country, the latter would
probably be willing to place in the hands of such an executive power to
call out the unions in strike in such combinations as would make the
resistance of employers most difficult, and power to control national
strike funds collected from all the unions for these contests. Unions
with a specially strong strategic situation in industry and a favored
situation in the Federation are not yet ready to forego their privileges
for this form of direct democracy, but the tendency is in this
direction. (Since these lines were first written the Federation has
taken steps towards the adoption of this plan of direct election of its
officials by national referendum.)

Indeed, when the Western Miners' second proposal, the refusal to sign
agreements for any fixed period, is adopted, this simultaneous
centralization and democratization of the Federation may proceed apace.
As long as the various unions are bound to the employers by an entirely
separate and independent agreement terminable at different dates, it is
impossible to arrange strikes in common, especially when the more
fortunate unions adopt an entirely different plan of organization and an
entirely different policy from the rest. The Western Miners now propose
that all agreements be done away with, a practice they had followed long
and successfully themselves--with the single tacit exception of the
employees of the Smelter Trust (Guggenheim's). This exception they have
now done away with. Their fundamental idea is that as long as the
capitalist reserves his right to close down his works whenever he
believes his interests or those of capital require it, every union
should reserve its right to stop work at any moment when the interests
of the union or of labor require it. Temporary arrangements are entered
into which are binding as to all other matters except the cessation of
work. That this cessation would not occur in any well-organized union
over trifles goes without saying--strikes are tremendously costly to
labor. The agreement binds in a way perfectly familiar to the business
world in the call loan or the tenancy at will.

President Moyer of the Western Federation (one of those Mr. Roosevelt
called an "undesirable citizen" at the time when he was on trial in
Idaho, accused of being an accomplice in the murder of Governor
Steunenburg) explained that his union knew that agreements might bring
certain momentary advantages which it would otherwise lose, that it had
often been in a position to win higher wages through an agreement, and
in three cases even to gain a seven-hour day. But by such action, he
declared the union would have surrendered its freedom. It would have
been tied hand and foot, whereas now it was free to fight whenever it
wanted to. If working people want to be united and effective, he
concluded, they must have the fullest freedom of action. This would
always pay in the end.

In view of the great advance in the organization and fighting spirit of
labor secured by this new kind of industrial warfare, some
revolutionary unionists even expect it to do more to bring about
Socialism than the Socialist parties themselves. Indeed, a few have gone
so far as to regard these parties as almost superfluous. Many of the new
revolutionary unionists, though Socialists by conviction, attach so
little importance to political action that they have formed no
connection with the Socialist parties, and do not propose to do so.
Others feel the necessity of some political support, and contend that
any kind of an exclusively labor union party, even if it represents
anti-revolutionary unions like most of those of the Federation of Labor,
would serve this purpose better than the Socialist Party, which belongs
less exclusively to the unionists.

An American revolutionary unionist and Socialist, the late Louis Duchez,
like many of his school, not only placed his faith chiefly in the
unskilled workers, either excluding the skilled manual laborers and the
brain workers, or relegating them to a secondary position, but wanted
the new organizations to rely almost entirely on their economic efforts
and entirely to subordinate political action.



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Keywords: political, example, radical, industrial, interests, parties, american, already, direct, agreements
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