Shrapnel from the States

The “Strength” of the I.W.W.
Once more the bitter and tragic lesson of economic weakness has been driven home to the toilers of the U.S.A. Many thousands of the iron-ore miners employed by a subsidiary company of the great Steel Trust struck work. They were organised by the I.W.W. which sent special national organisers to the State of Minnesota to teach the Finns, Slavs and others of our fellow-workers, the road to victory. After months of struggle the organisers are held under a charge of murder in the first degree, the miners have gone back after declaring the strike off and several workers have been killed by gunmen and others injured for life. At the last minute the I.W.W. turned their backs on “economic force” and hired lawyers to get their men out of capitalist clutches.

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Out West, in the Pacific Coast States, the I.W.W. consider they are strong and triumphant. In November they decided to teach the “Vigilant” bosses of the city of Everett (Washington Territory) that “free speech” could not be denied to the I.W.W. They gathered their braves and 250 boarded the boat from Seattle to take and hold “the rights of free speech” in Everett. Spies had already informed the bosses of the latter city and they armed and waited on the dock for the “Revolutionists.” When the boat-load of I.W.W. members arrived, rioting and murder took place. The city of Everett lost its Sheriff and the I.W.W. several members. The boat returned to Seattle like a hospital ship, covered with the results of capitalist brutality. Thus the violence and sabotage preached by the I.W.W. breeds worse violence and fills cemeteries—with the workers’ slain.

The “Woman Rebel”
“Mother Jones” has been popularly known in the States as the “idol” of the miners, “the great Socialist agitator,” and the like of those. She was amongst the first of the “Socialist” Party leaders in organising the I.W.W. at that memorable meeting in Chicago in 1905 along with DeLeon and others. She was acclaimed in the “Socialist” and “Socialist Labour” Press as a great fighter for the proletariat. When Debs stood for President—she was for “our ‘Gene'” as she called him. But scenes change. It is 1916 and Debs no longer runs for President—he shoots at a nearer target and runs for Congress for Indiana. And “Mother” Jones ! Our stately old lady speaks no more for Debs. As the official organ of the Socialist Party of America tearfully says. (“American Socialist,” Nov. 11).

“Now she is in the Fifth District of Indiana, whooping it up for the minions of the capitalist class. … I thought it would not be more than my duty to make known to the comrades of the U.S. that “Mother” Jones is out in the interest of the capitalist class.”

They now refer to her as an apostate. And, they now confess that

“She has never been able to understand the principle of the class struggle. She has never
understood Socialism. She has never understood capitalism. She knows nothing of political economy. . . . Naturally, like all persons who do not understand the teachings, of Marx and Engels, she goes wrong.”

But when we said that years ago we were “abusive,” “liars,” etc.

“Silver-Tongued Debs”
Strange reading all this makes when we know that lots of that criticism of “Mother Jones” applies to Debs himself. He has never understood the class struggle—hence his gymnastics on the Union question. He has never understood Socialism or capitalism and therefore believed in “Socialist Colonies.” He known absolutely nothing of political economy, and “naturally like all persons who do not understand tin teachings of Marx and Engels,” he goes wrong. We who have heard him in America know the part that sentimentality plays in his orations and how little there is Debs and how much of Ingersoll. How little of Socialism and how much of hot air in the attractiveness of “Gene.”

The Stars and Stripes For Ever
The Socialist Party captured the beer-soaked city of Milwaukee. A “Socialist” Mayor was elected—with the help, of course, of the labour unions, and preparedness being the current form of insanity afflicting the United States at present, the contagion spread to our Mayor and our “Socialists” in Milwaukee. Far and wide it became known that Milwaukee was to have a parade in favour of preparedness and national defence and the “Socialist” Mayor lead the procession.

Even Debs protested and sobs—

“The parade was conceived, initiated, organised, and managed by the ruling class, and its hirelings were expected to march in it and did. Since when it has become necessary for Socialists to demonstrate their “patriotism” by marching in parades financed by the steel trust, the powder trust, the gun factories, and the munition manufacturers, who are fastening an infamous militarism on the country.” (Quoted by the “International Socialist Review,” November.)

In the city of Minneapolis another “Socialist” Mayor was elected this month and judging by the little Socialism he knows, another Milwaukee is in store. But the S.P. of A. does not know any better, and it has to be pretty bad before they take action to stop this mockery of the name of Socialism. The other “Socialist” Mayor, Lunn of Schenectady, New York, got so bad that he had to be expelled.

A “Socialist” for President.
The Socialist Party nominee for President is another bright specimen of what to avoid. This is the way he fights jingoism in his “Common Sense about the Navy :

“If we are to have immense appropriations for war preparedness thrust upon us, let’s see to it that the ships to be built shall be of the sort which are proving the most effective in the big war—fast, armored ships and submarines. AND LET’S SEE TO IT THAT THEY ARE BUILT BY OUR GOVERNMENT WITHOUT PROFIT TO ANY INDIVIDUAL. There’s no urgent need for haste. Admiral Fletcher’s testimony proves that. It is true that our navy, to be quite properly balanced, needs submarines and fast armored ships. All right—but let’s build them ourselves—let our government arrange to do it. It will be much cheaper that way and we will get better ships. We have time—there’s nothing to be scared about right away. Nothing at all—if you think there is—if your knees still shake—turn back and read Admiral Fletcher’s words again.”

Such is Allen L. Benson !

Education—in America
The national railroadmen’s strike was averted by the passing of the Adamson 8-hour Bill by Congress. Now the “direct action” apostles are explaining their victory. The “International Socialist Review” for November opens on the first page by stating the position thus:

“What 8 hours work in 24 is so simple, clear, and specific that no lawyers, glib gabbyjacks hired for skill in tergiversation, can come in and make black white and white black . . . Eight hours work means 8 hours, and there is no going behind the returns.”

Now such a statement couls ibky be made by a fool or a—philosopher.

Shorter Hours and Higher Profits
No sooner was the Act passed to secure 8 hours than the lawyers were on the job and the vast railroad corporations of America were commencing a huge organisation to make “white—black and black—white.” The Act itself was framed by glib lawyers and experience has taught bitterly in the U.S.A. how powerful the Courts arc in administering laws for the bosses. So far from 8 hours meaning just 8 hours, every great factory in America that adopted it has reaped higher profits.

Woodrow Wilson used the 8-hour law during the current election as his great achievement in stopping strikes, and circulated throughout the country the statement of Henry Ford that since 8 hours was adopted more work had been done than in ten and the profits had travelled sky high. More efficient and automatic machinery, scientific shop management, better division of labour and shorter meal times are the methods used by Henry Ford with 8 hours. A three-shift system is also widely used for the purpose of covering the cost of machinery before it gets out of date.

The Economics of the Insane
Worse, however, is to follow. The same writer urging the view that shorter hours are a safer step than higher wages, makes this alarming discovery :

“Always too, the capitalist class with its power of fixing prices, can raise the cash cost of life necessities so as to take away thru [sic] higher prices all that has been conceded in higher wages.”

Hence a fight for higher wages is useless ! But if our economist places no limit to the power of the capitalist in fixing prices, why not just as easily say that the output in an 8 hour day depends upon his will and can be raised at his pleasure ! But no—work is a fixed quantity !

Just like the Bible !
The “Review,” however, does not bind you to their economist’s opinion. If you care to read further on you will find another article written by one of the editors. Mary E. Marcy, entitled, “Who pays the Taxes ?” and she says:

“We know that your boss and my boss cannot raise the cost of living. We know that they cannot raise the price of things they sell because they have to compete with other manufacturers.”

This flatly contradicts the other contributor. But that should not trouble them. It gives a little variety to the magazine, and if it confuses the workers that is merely incidental to its sale and after all secures hay and oats to those who edit it.

The Outlook for Socialism
The quotations made are typical of the confusion in the ranks and Press of the alleged Socialists in the United States. Here and there in the existing parties one meets with well-read and clear thinkers, but they are like happy times for the worker few and far between. The prospects for a real and revolutionary Socialist body are good but the difficulties are enormous. Not only has the great size of the continent got to be considered, with the great distance between large towns and the expense of supporting a hall or a paper, but the agencies of confusion and cant are enormous.

However, a new movement is on foot and is taking definite shape, but its consideration must be deferred for another mail.


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