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This booklet is published for the purpose of educating wage earners in the aims and objects of the Industrial Workers of the World, more popularly known as the I. W. W. It is written in a semi-fictional form, in the belief that it will prove more interesting in this form than in the usual style.

The I. W. W. is a labor organization that organizes according to industry instead of trade, with branches and affiliations all over the world. Hence its name, the Industrial Workers of the World.Organized in 1905 at Chicago, Ill., the I. W. W. still has its headquarters in the great metropolis of the West.

The I. W. W. seeks to bring about its aims and objects primarily through education. It believes that most of the evils of which workmen and women complain are due to ignorance. It seeks to educate the workers to realize their own importance in world affairs and to organize to solve those affairs as labor's importance demands, in a manner that will build up instead of tearing down. This latter work it leaves to the destructive forces of the present system of capitalism.

It is in this spirit of education, organization and construction, that the I. W. W. offers this, the first one of a series of booklets, dealing with its preamble, history, structure and methods.



The Talkers:

Bob Hammond, a laborer, hardworked but anxious to know.

Henry Tichenor, a technical engineer, his boyhood friend, eager to tell.


The Inland State Canal embankment. Coming out of the distant sunshine and pastoral landscape it curves gracefully around the outskirts of the grimy little city of Boonton. Along its sides are lined industrial plants and mills. Off a little way, mining shafts may be seen. On top of the canal banks are tow paths, used as a promenade on holidays, and as a road to plants and mills on all days, regardless of religious observances and festive occasions in the nearby city.


Early summer, 1922.

Hammond is trudging homeward. His attention is arrested by a shout behind him. Turning, he sees Tichenor waving to him.

Tichenor (coming up) : Hello, Bob! It's some time since I have seen you. How are you anyway? (They shake hands).

Hammond (cheerfully) : Golly, it's good to see you! Just now especially. I'm up against it. Mill shut down indefinitely. Savings all gone. But say, I'm going to grab a freight to-night and beat it to the harvest fields.

Tichenor (enthusiastically) : Good! I've got a mind to go with you. Just for the fun of it. The grind is getting on my nerves. You see, it's not only the necessity to seek a job, but also an escape from the present industrial drudgery, that makes migratory workers. Say, Bob, let's hobo it together. And when we get out out in the harvest, we'll line up with the Wobblies—the I. W. W. Eh, what do you say to that?

Hammond (in disgust) : Wobblies be damned! A man of your intelligence—Say, how do you get that way?

Tichenor (laughing) : Oh, I meet them at work. One of them is the chemist in our laboratory. He's written a fine pamphlet on "Revolution and Technique." The other is assistant editor of our plant magazine. He gets across I. W. W. stuff at the corporation's expense. He is a good cartoonist, too. And their literature shows a real grasp of social problems. And—but, say, did you ever read their Preamble?

Hammond (enraged) : What! me read I. W. W. literature!? Me an independent American workingman—

Tichenor (breaking in) : On the bum, and up against it! Say, Bob, when are you going to stop kidding yourself? Why not face the facts of our lives as workingmen, as they are? Why not read up on them? (Slyly) You've got some time now, you know!

Hammond (changing his tune, after some reflection) : I suppose you're right, Tich. There must be something wrong when fellows like myself are out of work by the millions. And there must be something to an organization that can appeal to men like you and that chemist, and that other guy, the assistant editor. (After another pause) Well, I'm game. Shoot! Tell us what is this preamble, anyway?

Tichenor (gaily) : That's the boy, Bob! But say, how about a shady spot under some trees, further up the canal first?

Hammond (nodding approval) : That's a good idea. (Having reached a fine clump, both took off their coats and sprawled on the grass, Bob flat on his back and Tichenor on one knee, so that he could read and expound the better. Both agreeing that, with outdoor nature, learning and friendship combined to favor them: This is the life!)


Hammond (cautiously) : Before you begin, Tich; tell me what is a preamble, anyway?

Tichenor (readily) : A preamble is a statement of principles on which is based the structure of the organization making it, like the preamble to the constitution of the United States. In the case of the I. W. W., the preamble is introductory to the constitution and by-laws of the body; and it must be subscribed to by all those who join the organization.

Hammond (skeptically) : There must be something more to it, or else why is it so vigorously denounced? Are you sure it is not a formula for making dynamite?

Tichenor (laughingly) : Quite sure! Shall I read it to you, in order that you may see for yourself?

Hammond nods assent. Tichenor reads.

"Preamble of the Industrial Workers of the World.

"The working class and the employing class have nothing in common. There can be no peace so long as hunger and want are found among millions of the working people, and the few, who make up the employing class, have all the good things of life.

"Between these two classes a struggle must go on until the workers of the world organize as a class, take possession of the earth and the machinery of production, and abolish the wage system.

"We find that the centering of the management of industries into fewer and fewer hands makes the trade unions unable to cope with the ever growing power of the employing class. The trade unions foster a state of affairs which allows one set of workers to be pitted against another set of workers in the same industry, thereby helping to defeat one another in wage wars. Moreover, the trade unions aid the employing class to mislead the workers into the belief that the working class have interests in common with their employers.

"These conditions can be changed and the interest of the working class upheld only by an organization formed in such a way that all its members in any one industry, or in all industries if necessary, cease work whenever a strike or lockout is on in any department thereof, thus making an injury to one an injury to all.

"Instead of the conservative motto, 'A fair day's wage for a fair day's work,' we must inscribe on our banner the revolutionary watchword, 'Abolition of the wage system.'

"It is the historic mission of the working class to do away with capitalism. The army of production must be organized, not only for the everyday struggle with capitalists, but also to carry on production when capitalism shall have been overthrown. By organizing industrially we are forming the structure of the new society within the shell of the old."

Hammond (as Tichenor stops reading) : So that's the I. W. W. Preamble, is it? What's there great about it?

Tichenor (encouraged) : That's the proper spirit, Bob. Be from Missouri. Take nothing for granted; be shown always. Now, the greatness of the I. W. W. Preamble consists in its ability to see the cause and provide the way out, of the present social chaos. It is an analytical, critical and constructive document, especially in its very last paragraph. In fact, it may said to embody the only constructive method offered by any organization, that is in accord with and necessary to both evolution and revolution.


Hammond (doubtfully) : That's a pretty tall claim. I don't believe it. For instance, take that opening clause, isn't it true that the working class and the employing class have something in common? Don't they have the air, the sunshine, and so on?

Tichenor (delighted) : That's the stuff, Bob. Catechise me and find out what's what. Now you mistake the standpoint of the Preamble. It's not physical or psychological; but economic. That is, it deals with employers and employes, not as men or women with like bodily functions, or reactions to natural surroundings, but with opposite industrial interests. The worker works for wages or salary; the employers desire profits and dividends. So on down the whole Preamble—the viewpoint is economic—a consideration of industrial relations and their effects. Isn't that so?

Hammond (grudgingly) : I guess you are right! The Preamble's standpoint is one of wages vs. profits all the way through? And, I guess, that from that standpoint you win. But you still have to show me that even from the economic standpoint the working class and the employing class have nothing in common. Where's the proof?

Tichenor (amazed) : Why, blast it, Bob. Where do you live anyway? Do you live in the America of tradition? Or, do you live in the America of "labor deflation," the open shop drive, and the employers' war on labor unions? What are all these conflicts, if not manifestations of the antagonistic interests of capitalists and laborers? What do they prove, if not the truth of the statement that "the working class and the employing class have nothing in common"?

Hammond (puzzled) : Well, I guess you are right. There is no getting 'round those facts. They show a wide, impassable gulf. But, how comes it that, despite all that, employers inaugurate welfare departments and workers' republics, and give the workers the privilege to buy shares? Surely, they are looking after the workers and giving them something in common?

Tichenor (uproariously) : Say, those are all methods to keep the workers docile, underpaid and unorganized. Welfare departments are cheaper than union wages and union control. They are also paternalistic. "Workers' republics" —there aren't any such animals. The so-called labor representatives are bossed through their jobs. As for share holding, that is so limited in voting power as to prove useless to the workers. The cash results don't amount to much, either. In the Tidewater Oil Company plant at Bayonne, N. J., for instance, there was a workers' republic and share holding. Nevertheless, the wage earners there struck because they found that eight per cent dividends on a few hundred dollars in shares, in no way made up for the 25 per cent wage reductions ordered by the officials of the company. The most serious strikes occur wherever welfare departments, workers' republics and share holding are found. They simply prove the real nature of these devices. Now, what do you say to that?


Hammond (slowly) : Well, I must admit that these so-called new eras of good feeling between capital and labor, as the newspapers headline them, are failures, judging from the number of strikes that take place wherever they have been introduced. Now, what l'd like to know is, how does all this antagonism come about? One would think that working men and employers should be able to get along together without any such bitter displays of feeling. How is it, that it is actually otherwise?

Tichenor (delighted) : That's it, Bob; dig down deeper and deeper. Get at the cause of things and then you'll be likely to understand what you see, and where it is likely to end up. (After a pause.) It's all a growth, resulting from invention and machinery, with their need for large capital. Say, do you recall your wise old grandfather? How in our boyhood days together, he did delight to talk over old times with us? And instruct us in the differences of generations? He lived through several revolutions, he did; all of them bloodless. He told us of the days when men worked at home and knew how to do pretty nearly everything connected with the making of commodities for and by themselves. How he inveighed against the coming of machines and stock companies, that destroyed home industry and small shops and drove the workers from the land and independent small manufactures into the cities and the factories, there to work for others! And do you recall how your dad himself used to take the subject up and discuss it further?

Hammond (interested) : You bet I do! Those were happy days, around the old fireside! My old dad used to get hot under the collar, about the way the small factories and individual firms were being forced, by competition, into large companies and trusts; so that, finally, instead of small factories occupying a single story or two in a building, we now have a gigantic plant occupying square blocks, sometimes many acres of land. Or we have chains of plants throughout the country, like those of the National Biscuit Company and the General Electric Company, for instance. Instead of coming into direct relations with our employers and working together with them on a friendly basis as formerly, unaware of any great difference between us, we now have to deal with employment managers, bosses, superintendents, presidents and so on, who act as agents for stockholders and others, who form a corporation and never come directly in contact with us and who are, Christ knows where! Having a good time at Palm Beach, most likely! We are hired and fired, as their dividends dictate. We live and have our being on opposing economic planes, evidently. Say, (with a start as of a sudden awakening), big changes are going on even in our days, aren't there?"

Tichenor (promptly) : Well, I should say there are. Nowadays we have a new feudalism. We work not as independent individuals but as privates in great corporation armies. We are subject to an iron discipline. We ring up time-clocks and check up job tickets. We are watched by spies. Our methods of work are standardized and Taylorized. Some of us make only a small part of an article. We have become mere appendages to machines. We must keep pace with steam and electricity. We work in plants that are parts of a continuous process extending from the source of raw material to consumption and use; all for one corporation. Some of us do not plan our products. Some of us have nothing to do with inventing the machines that make those products, nor with either the sale or the distribution of those products, as formerly. Others of us do these things, technical men, like myself ; "salaried subordinates," as the New York Evening Post once called us. We provide the engineering and the executive ability, the inventive, chemical, laboratory, accounting, mechanical, selling and legal skill, all in their proper departments and according to well developed systems. Like our fellow, unskilled workers, we have neither propertied interests nor votes in the corporations. Like their labor, our skill is a commodity, bought and sold like other commodities, according to market conditions and the law of supply and demand. Our interests and their interests are common interests, for, on top of the modern industrial edifice, ruling over and exploiting us all alike for profit, is a financial absolutism. This is composed of the various interests controlling the corporations, centered in the money trust. They provide the capital for industry and are dominated by the Morgan-Rockefeller groups of bankers. They, through interlocking boards of directors, employers' associations, chambers of commerce and the banks formulate policies that all of us must conform to and suffer from. The whole tendency is to crush out the organizations that strive to ad vance and protect the opposite interests of the working class, and to make the country one titanic corporation, uniting all the functions of the industrial state, with themselves as the dictators and all the rest of us as their servile slaves. Isn't that so, Bob?


Hammond (emphatically) : I should say that it looks that way! The farmers, the middle class, the labor unions, everybody—is being "deflated," that is, ruined or run by the big financial interests. Isn't that right?

Tichenor (rejoicing) : Surest thing you know, Bob. Orestes Brownson, an American scholar, in the first half of the last century, put his finger on the vital spot when he pointed out that "the great, The Mother Evil of modern society was the separation of capital and labor; or the fact that one class of the community owns the funds and another class is compelled to perform the labor of production. The consequence of this system is that the owners of capital enrich themselves at the expense of the owners of labor."

This is done by taking from labor all that it produces and paying it a part thereof, in the form of wages. The withheld products of labor are the profits and the source of capital. The workers rebel against this system, not only because of its injustice in enriching the capitalists and making them all powerful at the workers' expense, but also because of the brutality and oppression which it involves. The workers, accordingly, try to either get more of their product in the form of increased wages, less hours, better conditions and more control, or else they strive to end the entire system. Both of these conservative and radical attempts are resisted to the uttermost by the organized capitalists, who wish to be unrestrained in the advancement of their own interests and the continuation of their own power. The result is the irrepressible conflict between capital and labor, as defined by Brownson.

This conflict involves losses in wages and profits to both sides, amounting to many hundreds of millions of dollars annually. Many workers, in addition, are killed and imprisoned. The struggle grows in scope and intensity, including many cities and states throughout the land and absorbing the activities of press, pulpit, government and judiciary in its settlement and repression, but without avail. If this tendency is maintained the conflict between capital and labor will, eventually, threaten social collapse. Isn't that clear to you, Bob?

Hammond (with a start) : By God, it looks that way! I am beginning to see now that "the working class and the employing class have nothing in common," except a struggle for mastery between them. What's the next clause in the I. W. W. Preamble? I am anxious to see how all this works out.


Tichenor (aloud) : The next clause of the I. W. W. Preamble reads: "There can be no peace so long as hunger and want are found among the millions of working people, and the few, who make up the employing class, have all the good things of life." Is there any doubt about that, in view of what we have already discussed? Hunger and want are found among the workers all over the world, while the few, who make up the employing class, wallow in profits, and live in luxury unsurpassed. War has cursed humanity; and war, with its world slaughter, revolution, famine and starvation, is just as much a product of the capitalist system as are strikes, with all their many evils, present and prospective. As shown in the quotation from Brownson, the capitalists enrich themselves at the expense of labor. This deprives labor of the means to buy back all that is produced. This makes the scramble for foreign markets necessary. It also swells the funds of the capitalists so that they are compelled to search for fields of investment abroad. This twofold need, originating in the robbery of labor, gives rise to commercial and financial rivalry, it breeds the policy of imperialism, or struggle for supremacy in the exploitation of weak and backward nations, like China and the Far East Republic, as reflected in the Washington Arms Conference. The result is war, together with all the horrors that it gives rise to—not to mention the colossal profiteering and bloated enrichment of the capitalist class in general.

It is war and the threat of war that gives to the working class misery and degradation, such as it has never known before. Not only is there conscription, slaughter, revolution, plague, reparations and all the aftermath of hate, lack of employment, suicide and crime, but also the destruction of idealism, brotherhood, and hope for the future generations—all for the greater glory of the capitalist class, to whom all the benefits and powers flow. The materialism of capitalism, as expressed in its acme, war, not only destroys the body, but also every finer quality that separates man from the brute and enables him to both aspire and hope. It is the brutalization of humanity.

Hammond (approvingly) : You can't make that strong enough to suit me. I have seen service overseas, as you know ; and here I am out of work and up against it. By God, I know you are right! Who can doubt then, that, in the words of the I. W. W. Preamble, "There can be no peace ...?"


Tichenor (enthusiastically) : Now you are talking, Bob. And who will doubt the accuracy of the next paragraph in the Preamble that declares, "Between these two classes a struggle must go on until the workers of the world organize as a class, take possession of the machinery of production, and abolish the wage system"? This, labor the world over is beginning to recognize. Even the conservative national groups of trade unions that have joined in an international organization, with headquarters in Amsterdam, have declared themselves in favor of a general strike to prevent war. And the need of a new society is being recognized and promoted among the organized workers the world over. In fact, they can be said to be more socialistic now than ever before. But more of this when we come to consider the last paragraph in the Preamble.

Hammond (rising to his feet and stretching) : Say, Tich: it's after the noon lunch hour, now. How about some eats?

Tichenor agreed; and while he went off to get some coffee, frankfurters and bread, Hammond gathered some twigs and built a fire. Soon both were burying their faces in big slices of baked dough, munching "hot dogs" and feeling pretty good, generally speaking. After "eats" both reclined at full length for a quiet snooze. They would have continued at this enjoyable pastime indefinitely, had not Hammond awakened and put an end to it. Amid friendly greetings both got up together, stretched themselves and after a little frolicking and horse play, settled down in their former positions and resumed the discussion on the Preamble of the I. W. W.

Hammond (reflectively) : That was a great light you shed on war, via the I. W. W. Preamble, Tich. I never before linked war up with the wages and profit system and the class struggle. Now I see that war is a phase of that struggle. And that to end war, we must end it. I am progressing some, eh?


Tichenor (proudly) : You bet you are, Bob ! Let's resume where we left off, bearing in mind that the end of the class struggle must, like charity, begin at home, in the right way. He reads: "We find that the centering of industry into fewer and fewer hands makes the trade unions unable to cope with the ever growing power of the capitalist class." What do you make out of that, Bob?

Hammond (smiling) : 0, that's easy. Translated into the vernacular that means that as the big fellows gobble up the little fellows they get so damn powerful that the trade unions can't buck them. Look at the steel trust, for instance. There's a consolidation of nine or ten other consolidations before it. It combines coal and ore mines, lake steamers, railroads, blast furnaces, rolling mills, selling agencies, export companies, banks, and divers other corporations, operating in twenty-two states and several nations. It's got a couple of billions capital, and a financial backing composed of all the largest interests, with a power that is far-reaching and stupendous. Against this colossal combination twenty-four different trade unions, loosely amalgamated, with twenty-four different trade interests, pulling twenty-four different ways, go on strike. They have no loose amalgamation, even, with the unions in allied industries, like the miners and railroad men's. Nor does the A. F. of L. stand behind them, except in theory only. Because of their trade divisions and lack of industrial union backing generally, the twenty-four trade unions lose the strike. On the railroads one sees the same thing. There is one big combination of railway executives, under the directing genius of the House of Morgan, and with the greatest of financial backing accordingly. Against this giant fusion are pitted unions divided into maintenance of way men, shop-men, and motive power operating men, such as switchmen, conductors, firemen and engineers—the so-called big four. Behind them stand—what? Nothing! They are licked before they even begin. The I. W. W. Preamble is right again ; the trade unions aren't knee-high to a grasshopper, when it comes to combatting the power of combined capital. What is the next clause, Jack?

Tichenor (reading) : "The trade unions foster a state of affairs that allows one set of workers to be pitted against another set of workers in the same industry, thereby helping to defeat one another in wage wars." That is, trade unions not only prevent working class consolidation equal to that of the capitalist class, but they breed rivalry among themselves. They are continually engaging in squabbles over jurisdiction. At such times they scab on one another, during strikes. They sign agreements that prevent them from acting together and that also compel them to remain at work when the members of other trade unions are out on strike. They breed internal warfare and organized scabbery. They surely do defeat one another. What do you say to that, Bob?


Hammond (cordially) : You're right, old top ! What is the next clause? What does it signify?

Tichenor (reading) : "Moreover, the trade unions aid the employing class to mislead the workers into the belief that the working class have interests in common with their employers." Even when Rockefeller massacres the Ludlow miners, and the West Virginia miners rise in armed insurrection, do the trade unions, with Gompers at their head, preach the mutual interests of capital and labor. Furthermore they, on the same principle, favor the continuance of the present system. Trade unions are, in principle, capitalistic. But such are the needs of their membership, that they are compelled to resist capitalist exploitation and aggression in a manner that belies their own teachings and leanings. In that exists the only hope for their progress upward.

Hammond (consulting a note book) : Don't you think, Tich, this contradiction is due to the failure to understand events? To all Americans, no less than to Gompers, with their traditions of democracy and opportunity, the idea of a division of interests, according to classes, is repugnant. Yet I once, without understanding their full meaning, made some notes while studying Professor Chas. Beard's "Readings in American Government and Politics." These notes show that even the two great American statesmen, Alexander Hamilton and James Madison, recognized and believed in class divisions and interests.

Hamilton, according to Beard, contended that (reading) : "All communities divide themselves into the few and the many. The first are the well born; the others are the mass of the people."

Madison was more specific and pointed. He said (reading again) : "Those who hold, and those without property, have ever formed distinct interests. A landed interest, a manufacturing interest, a mercantile interest, a moneyed interest, with many lesser interests, grow up of necessity in civilized nations, and divide of necessity into different classes, actuated by different sentiments and views."

We all know that today democracy and opportunity are dead. Also that most of the various major interests, referred to by Madison, have become, thanks to consolidation, one, under the domination of the financiers. While the lesser interests, such as those of the workers, have also organized and grown more pronounced, so that the two now stand, practically, in hostile array towards each other. It seems to me, that the trade unions will have to be taught, through a campaign of education, to see this, just as I am beginning to see it. What's your opinion, Tich?


Tichenor (laughingly) : Either that, or through a campaign of hard knocks, such as set you a-going today, Bob! How about reading the next clause? Agreed? (Reads) : "These conditions can be changed and the interest of the working class upheld only by an organization formed in such a way that all its members in any one industry, or in all industries, if necessary, cease work whenever a strike or lockout is on in any department thereof, thus making an injury to one an injury to all."

Hammond (quickly) : That is apparent whichever way you turn. As the failure of the steel strike and the railroad difficulties show, the workers have got to organize just as the employers are organized, into one big union on class lines. There must be an end to trade agreements and divisions, and all must stand and fall together. Is there any other way out of it, Tich?

Tichenor (admiringly) : You're progressing wonderfully, Bob. Of course there isn't. Can you see any other way out of the next clause, too? (Reads) : "Instead of the conservative motto, 'A fair day's wage for a fair day's work,' we must inscribe on our banner the revolutionary watchword, 'Abolition of the wage system.' " The question here arises, what is a fair day's wage for a fair day's labor? Price and currency fluctuations, together with living standards make it hard to determine what one's wages are or really ought to be. Industrial developments and inefficient and wasteful management, due to the greed for profits, render us idle and often leave us without any wages at all. The wages and profit system, by robbing us of our products, and making foreign markets and investments necessary, creates class conflicts and war, with their social derangement and chaos generally. The situation, thus engendered, becomes one, not merely of wages only, but of social preservation also. Thus it comes that the workers, perforce, are beginning to realize that labor movements must be more than wage movements. In brief, the whole tendency of capitalism is to compel us, the workers, to inscribe on our banner the motto, "The abolition of the wage system." How that will happen is told in the next and most important paragraph in the Preamble. Shall I read it to you?

Hammond (decisively) : You bet! Say, this is blamed interesting. There's more to the I. W. W. Preamble than appears at first glance. It is a great social document, without doubt.


Tichenor (joyously) : Now you're talking, Bob. The first clause reads: "It is the historic mission of the working class to do away with capitalism." This historic mission is thrust upon the working class. Strikes and wars show that industrial development makes the capitalist class dependent upon the brain and muscle of the working class. No social activity is possible when labor folds its arms and ceases production. Industrial development, accordingly, makes the working class the only class able to do away with capitalism. In all previous history the useful under class was impelled by economic forces and interests to throw off the useless upper class. This was the historic mission of the capitalist class in doing away with feudalism. It will be the historic mission of the working class when it does away with capitalism.

In the next clause we get a suggestion of the method by which this will be done. This clause reads, "The army of production must be organized, not only for the everyday struggle with capitalism, but also to carry on production when capitalism shall have been overthrown." That it, the workers must be organized not only in unions for defensive but also for constructive purposes. Not only more wages, but also the mastery of industry in the interests of all society, instead of a small dominant class, must be and is their increasing aim.


This, too, is being forced on the workers by industrial development. This development draws millions of workers into organized effort, not only for the profits of a few capitalists, but also in opposition to their continued, unrestrained domination and control. It is an economic maelstrom into which the most conservative workers are being whirled. As already indicated before, this conflict of opposing class interests creates increasing social paralysis and loss through strikes and lockouts. It is the hope of the workers in England, Germany and the U. S. A. to end this class conflict as peacefully as possible, by the gradual expansion of the workers' power and the absorbtion of capitalism thereby. This hope is encouraging. But it looks as if, ultimately, the workers will be compelled, by the social breakdown which the class conflict will precipitate, to take and hold production by locking out the capitalist class. This has already occurred for a brief spell, and as a war aftermath, in both Italy and Japan. Next time they may be more successful.

Hammond (stirring) : Well, this gets ever more interesting. Events have occurred since the writing of the Preamble in 1905, that justify the principles it laid down, haven't they? Evidently the course to be taken by the working class will be determined by the development of capitalism itself. What do you say, Tich?


Tichenor (eagerly) : You are right, Bob. There is war and bankruptcy still to be considered. These by breaking down capitalism may also force the working class to step in and act for society by taking over production. This was the case in Russia during the world war. Following the collapse of Czarism and the Kerensky coalition government, the trade unions took hold of the situation and prevented anarchy and chaos during the three or four years that immediately followed. Should this country become involved in war, with either Japan or England, the shock may send what little civilization there is still left to perdition, unless the workers in all of these countries intervene and, through their own class in dustrial organization, avert the terrible disaster by keeping production agoing and society free from starvation and extinction. The highest of human considerations stand back of the constructive features of the Preamble of the I. W. W. It is big because it is basic and basic because it is big!

Hammond (all animation) : By God, you are right, Tich! Hurray for the I. W. W. Preamble! Me for it, it for me!


Tichenor (overjoyed) : Good, old pal, good for you! Now we can go to the harvest fields and join the Wobblies with one accord. But first let us finish our consideration of the Preamble. We've got one more clause which contains the essence of the I. W. W. It reads, "By organizing industrially we are forming the structure of the new society within the shell of the old." Here again the idea of organizing according to industry instead of trade set forth, not only as a more perfect means of improving conditions but of building up the framework of a new society during the developments that are undermining and threatening the old.

The justice of, as well as the necessity for, this industrial organization were set forth in the consideration of the previous clauses of the Preamble. Labor must organize, not only in order to improve its conditions, but, also, to secure all that it produces, and save society from the destruction by which it is threatened from class and national wars. And it can only do these things well, not from a trade but from an industrial standpoint, a standpoint that recognizes the extensive social character of production, both at home and abroad.

This principle, it may be repeated, is born of three different causes, all related to one another. First, there is the fact that the trade unions must expand in order to conform with industrial development. Recent economic changes make trade unionism, both in form and principle, a backward development, especially in the United States. Secondly, we have the need for a medium through which to obviate social ruin, as the culmination of strikes, wars and bankruptcy. This the recent world war has made evident on all sides. Thirdly, there is still a deeper conception than even these. This is a recognition of the basic importance of industry in modern life the world over. Industry is the rock on which the social edifice is raised. We spend most of our lives in industry, or we are vitally affected by its maladjustments and expansion everywhere. Our entire social life revolves around industry. And he who controls industry, in its broadest sense, controls society.


Especially in the United States is the predominance of industry over the state evident. We here talk of the "power of the trust," "the money power," etc.; and it is common talk here that it is economic interests that rule the nation. If it isn't the "agricultural bloc" that is being damned as a source of all "our" legislative ills, it is the House of Morgan that is being arraigned for "our" railroad and financial policies, the open shop drive, "deflation," and all that thereby hangs.

If it isn't American investments in Mexico that engage "our" "dollar diplomacy," it is commercial rights in China and Russia that do so, instead. It is this recognition of the importance of industry that causes the I. W. W. to make the workshop, figuratively speaking, the workers' state. It believes that neither a political party nor a political government can carry on production. For this purpose, industry and indus trial organization are necessary. Consequently, if a transformation is to take place in the ownership and control of production, it must take place in industry via the organization of the workers employed therein. Therefore, the I. W. W. limits its main endeavors to industrial organization and leaves to politicians the impossible task of effecting a fundamental change through political parties and political government!

It is this change from within industry outward, instead of from outward inward, that gives the concluding clause of the I. W. W. Preamble its profound character. It is the only way a truly free workers' society may be born and successfully continued.


In pursuit of this ideal, the I. W. W. lays great stress on the acquisition of economic knowledge and industrial technique by the working class. It believes that the great mass of workers as yet do not possess the social vision, the sensible responsibility, and the conscious administrative ability successfully to assume democratic industrial control, as it believes they will ultimately be compelled to do. But the leaven is working. The development of capitalism is forcing recognition. The ranks of organized labor are dimly beginning to see it, and the number is increasing to whom the goal is becoming clearer and clearer—social, political and industrial democracy, a new economic and social order in which labor shall be free. With this goal before it, the I. W. W. seeks to rouse the working class, calling on it to organize for the new day coming when it shall operate industry for the good of all and not for the profit of a few, as at present.

It is recognized, in this connection, that in order to change the present economic system, there must be a greater consolidation of workers of all degrees of skill and ability, from the technicians down to the laborers. Combined with this there must go education of the workers for the control of industry. This education includes courses in economics, factory and business management, social questions and labor laws. For these purposes shop organization and shop councils, under the control of the industrial unions, are advocated. They perform educational functions, together with strike and administrative functions, from the standpoint of the workers' interests. Full particulars concerning the giant plants in the basic industries are spread broadcast and everything possible is done to keep the organized workers abreast of capitalism in the fight for democratic control of industry.

In addition, the I. W. W. advocates international labor organization, according to industry. It has already taken the lead in the marine transportation industry. It organizes branches all over the world. It makes affiliations with labor organizations and takes part in world labor conferences wherever possible. It does this in response to the international character of industry and the industrial empire which the latter is building up in every nation and that combines with those of other nations in leagues for imperialistic exploitation.

Thus is the structure of the new society being erected within the shell of the old—by means of capitalist compulsion and workers' education. Thus is the Preamble of the I. W. W. being made a reality; and thus do we also reach the end of our discussion, Bob.


Hammond (frankly) : It's great, Tich. It's great! But suppose there is no breakdown of capitalism, either through the class struggle or war. Suppose the plans of the world's financial interests for a greater capitalism and greater prosperity carry, what will the I. W. W. Preamble be good for then?

Tichenor (laughing) : Why, it will still provide the workers with the best means for reaping the fruits of that prosperity. Prosperity will mean another demand for labor. This will again be labor's opportunity to secure control, as it partly did during the war, owing to the labor demand then. Industrial organization will do the trick, better than any other kind will.

Hammond (laughing too) : I see the I. W. W. Preamble catches capitalism coming and going.

Tichenor (joining in) : Righto, Bob old boy. But say, regarding the "coming prosperity," hasn't W. P. G. Harding, governor of the Federal Reserve Board, leading bank official of the country, already warned, that "a reaction will follow sooner or later"? How about the I. W. W. Preamble and philosophy then?

Hammond (keeping up the mood) : They'll be all to the mustard. They will fit in right, I can see. But say, Tich, let us hurry and make that freight for the harvest. It will be pulling out soon.

Both thereupon scramble to their feet, eat some more grub and rush in the direction of the railroad yards, singing (to the tune of "John Brown's Body"),

Solidarity forever,
Solidarity forever,

until both their forms and their voices are lost in the calm twilight.


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Transcribed from an original copy by J. D. Crutchfield. Some errors silently corrected; some punctuation and formatting changed for clearer reading.

Last updated 5 March 2009.