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Full text of "Daniel De Leon, American socialist pathfinder."

Daniel De Leon 




By OLIVE M. JOHNSON 



Price. 15 cents 



NEW YORK LABOR NEWS COMPANY 

45 Rose St., New York City 



^^^^^^H 









Weekly ® People IHI 



OFTICIAL ORGAN OF VHE SOCIALIST LABOR PARTY Of AMERICA 



OFFICIAL ORGAN SOCIALIST LABOR PARTY 

For forty years the voice of .Revolutionary Socialism in 
America. Dedicated to the idea that the freedom of the work- 
ing class from wage slavery must be the work of the working 
■class itself, the WEEKLY PEOPLE teaches the necessity 
of political and Socialist industrial organization as the meth- 
ods and tactics of the revolutionary struggle of the workers 
to overthrow capitalism. 

To read the WEEKLY PEOPLE week by week is to keep 
posted on events at home and abroad and to view these events 
in the light of Socialist science and the class struggle. It 
is a weekly review of contemporary history and sociology, 
with frequent interpreting essays on the great events of past 
historic struggles of labor. Ruthlessly the WEEKLY PEO- 
PLE exposes the freaks and frauds which, from time to time, 
fasten on the labor movement; a journal that "never compro- 
mises truth to make a friend, never withholds a blow at error 
lest it make an enemy." 



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WtittlY PtCPlt 



45 Rose St., New York City 



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American Socialist Pathfind 



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By 
OLIVE M. .JOHNSON 



Published by the 

New York Labor News Company 

New York City 



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University of Texas 

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First Printing 1923 

Second Printing 1930 

Third Printing 1935 



(Printed in the United States of America.) 



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PUBLISHERS' NOTE. 

This article on Dc Leon was originally written at 
the request of the Editor of the Modern Quarterly^ of 
Baltimore, Maryland, for publication in that magazine. 
Upon that occasion the author made the following ob- 
servations: 

"It is not strange, therefore, that in these days 
when the so-called Socialist movement, represented in 
this country by the S, P. — characterized by Robert 
Minor as a huge machine for lying about Socialism — 
is evidently degenerating and falling to pieces, that 
those who are genuinely interested In learning some- 
thing about Socialism, whether as a mere topic for in- 
vestigation or as a general social philosophy, should 
desire to turn over the pages of the life of Daniel De 
Leon. On the other hand, it is not because of mere 
"hero worship" or simple admiration of the man as a 
man that I, with a certain tinge of pleasure, have freely 
complied with the request to furnish some data on De 
Leon's life. It is because I recognize that the move- 
ment of progress, taken in its broadest implication to 
include every class of liberals, cannot fail to benefit by 
the knowledge and study of the life of this man who, 
without hesitation, may be put down as 'one of the 
prophets.' n 

The Publishers^ 

December, 1923. 



709866 




SIMMY 01110,1 



Daily® People. 



UI MI. 



CANDIDATES OF THE SOCIALIST LABOR PARTY j 



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FACSIMILE DAILY PEOPLE 

First Issue 



The Socialist movement of America 
will have its tactical moves determined 
by the sociological topography of the 
land. A movement that here is molded 
iby the sociological topography of any 
other country is in the air. 

-^DANIEL DE LEON. 



DANIEL DE LEON 

AMERICAN SOCIALIST PATHFINDER 

In his first great lecture, "Reform or Revolution,"' 
Daniel De Leon says : "We know that movements make 
men, but men make movements. Movements cannot 
exist unless they are carried on by men; in the last ana- 
lysis it is the human hand and the human brain that 
serve as the instruments of revolutions." The Socialist 
movement made De Leon. Had not his destiny, or 
whatever we choose to call it, thrown him into the So- 
cialist and labor movement, he would undoubtedly have 
lived and died a professor of international law, great 
in his field, referred to, no doubt, as an authority, but 
totally unknown and unheard of outside of very limited 
academic and legal circles. On the other hand, though 
the highly developed economic conditions of America 
furnish a ripe field for a clear-cut and highly advanced 
Socialist movement, it is barely possible that had it not 
been for the accident which threw Daniel De Leon into 
the Socialist movement and inseparably bound his name 
and his life to the Socialist Labor Party, there would 
not have been developed in this country at this time 3 






sound, clear-cut Socialist movement, however small and 
however insignificant it may be considered by those who 
measure numbers rather than principle, nor would the 
Socialist movement of the world be enriched by a 
clearly defined philosophy of Industrial Unionism, with 
the accompanying philosophy of the economic indus- 
trial basis of the future Socialist Republic, with indus- 
trial demarcations taking the place of territorial and 
political demarcations and the industrial vote supplant- 
ing the political vote. Thus, while the movement made 
De Leon, De Leon was also a powerful instrument in 
shaping the destiny of the American movement. 

Without his powerful mind and powerful influence 
the Socialist movement might, undoubtedly would, to a 
great extent, despite our highly developed machine 
production, have run along the same channels as the 
general European Social Democracy, emasculated by 
reforms, compromise and log-rolling with capitalist par- 
ties, a counterpart of which manifested itself in this 
country in the Socialist party. Against this degenerating 
influence De Leon and the Socialist Labor Party held 
the field for more than a decade previous to the out- 
break of the war; the only other notable exception being 
the small group of Russian Bolsheviki led by Lenin, 
until, with the war, an even smaller group led by Karl 
Liebknecht asserted itself in Germany. In America, 
thanks to the untiring efforts of Daniel De Leon, there 
existed in the Socialist Labor Party, throughout these 
sad years of Socialist degeneracy, the nucleus of a well 

— 8 — 



founded and strongly constituted Socialist Marxian or- 
ganization. 

De Leon's early life apparently furnished no back- 
ground whatsoever for his later activity, and yet un- 
questionably during his youth and early manhood by 
his education and his work he laid the foundation for 
that thoroughness of thought and reasoning, that cold 
and relentless logic, that penetrating philosophy, which 
is so apparent in his truly creative work. For while 
his chosen study was the law, he was not a mere 
"lawyer." His mind had not the characteristics of the 
average lawyer. He was a legal philosopher and he 
had studied law as does the mathematical philosopher 
study mathematics, not merely to solve puzzles, but to 
reason out the riddles of the universe. 

The two poles of the earth are not farther removed 
from each other than were De Leon's early and later 
life. He was the son of Dr. Solon De Leon of Vene- 
zuela and his family was one of the most proudly and 
exclusively aristocratic of the old Spanish stock. His 
family, though removed in every sense from everything 
that could connect up with the labor movement, was 
of grand old fighting stock, eternally engaged on one 
side or the other in the so-called revolutionary upheav- 
als which constantly convulse the Southern republics. 
In fact, De Leon was born during just such an upheaval, 
while the men of the family were fighting, and his 
mother was removed to the island of Curacoa, where 
he was born on the fourteenth of December, 1852. An 

— 9 — 



uncle of whom he was very fond was killed in a later 
outbreak. 

As a youth De Leon was weak and sickly. The cli- 
mate was unbearable to him, so he was sent to Europe 
to be educated. There he went through the gymnasium 
at Hildesheim, Germany, and later the University of 
Leyden, from which he was graduated in 1872. Only 
a youth of twenty, and he had mastered Spanish, Ger- 
man, Dutch, French and English, all of which he spoke, 
read and wrote fluently. Like every other German 
student, he had mastered Latin and Greek and had be- 
sides acquired a reading knowledge of Italian, Portu- 
guese and modern Greek, and made a deep study of 
history, philosophy and mathematics. 

The very thought of the tropics was intolerable to 
him, so he came to the United States, where he became 
a teacher of Latin, Greek and mathematics at a school 
in Westchester, N. Y., at the same time continuing his 
studies at the Columbia Law School, from which he 
was graduated with honor, taking prizes in interna- 
tional and constitutional law. After this he held a chair 
at Columbia as lecturer in international law during two 
successive three-year terms and was fully expecting to 
be appointed to a professorship when the labor move- 
ment caught him. 

The change in his life came about so suddenly that 
even he himself could not explain it. In the spring of 
1886 great labor disturbances took place in New York. 
The men on the horse cars struck. The condition of 

— 10 — 




these workers was so deplorable that even the police 
sympathized with them and neglected to make arrests 
although a great deal of force was used by the strikers. 
The capitalist class became angry; these neglects were 
reported, and many policemen were discharged. Then 
a sudden change set in; the workers were treated most 
brutally. De Leon read about all this with great in- 
terest, but, as he said, not with any different interest 
than he read other sensational news. The brutality 
was so evident, however, that even the colored reports 
of the capitalist press inclined toward the workers. 

Columbia College was then on Madison Avenue, 
opposite St. Patrick's Cathedral. One day De Leon was 
sitting there together with a number of his colleagues. 
Suddenly there was a great noise — bells ringing, horns 
tooting. The street cars came in a row down the ave- 
nue. The workers had won. The group of professors 
hastened to the window and saw the parade go by. De 
Leon's colleagues expressed during this procession so 
much contempt and scorn and even threats against the 
workers that De Leon felt his blood boil. His resent- 
ment and anger were aroused and in this temper he 
wrote offering his support to Henry George whom he 
had heard the workers were intending to nominate 
for mayor. This happened. But even then De Leon 
avowed he did not have the slightest intention of throw- 
ing himself into the labor movement. Immediately, 
however, petty persecutions commenced. The honor 
of the University was at stake. All manner of obstacles 

— n — 



were put in his way. They could not discharge him, 
but neither was he appointed professor as he had ex- 
pected. He was told that he might compete again 
for the lectureship, but the break was already inevi- 
table. 

Whatever De Leon did he did with his whole soul. 
There was no half-heartedness, no wobbling in his 
make-up. He had been caught in the net of the labor 
movement; from that moment he was in it body and 
soul. 

The Socialist Labor Party at that time was the only 
organization that bore the name Socialist, the only or- 
ganization that frankly called itself revolutionary. De 
Leon, though he entered the movement through the 
door of single tax, soon got into contact with Socialism 
and this led him to study Karl Marx, and through Marx 
and Engels he became acquainted with the American 
anthropologist, Lewis H. Morgan, whose "Ancient So- 
ciety," though it is not really a Socialist work, De Leon 
frankly credited with having made him a Socialist. 
Soon afterwards he joined the Socialist Labor Party 
and in 1889 the Knights of Labor, which was then a 
revolutionary economic organization. In it he fought 
many a hard fight after it became evident that it was 
swerving from its original purpose. 

The PEOPLE was started by the Party in 1891 
and printed by the Volkszeitung Association. Lucien 
Sanial was the editor. In 1 891 De Leon was appointed 
national lecturer of the Party anc! made his first tour 

— 12 — 



ary 

Unim j em 

stin 



from coast to coast. In the winter of that year Lucien 
Sanial resigned from the PEOPLE to give way to De 
Leon and from that hour, properly, De Leon's career 
dates. 

The fight in the Knights of Labor was now on, led 
by District Assembly 49, to which De Leon belonged. 
Democratic and Republican politicians and labor fakers 
— so named by De Leon — now infested the old order. 
The struggle ended with the withdrawal of District As- 
sembly 49, which became in 1895 the nucleus of the 
Socialist Trade and Labor Alliance. In the meantime 
the American Federation of Labor had been launched, 
from its inception frankly anti-revolutionary, and as De 
Leon recognized absolutely the necessity of the eco- 
nomic labor movement going hand in hand with the po- 
litical revolutionary movement, he naturally both 
through the PEOPLE and the Socialist Trade and La- 
bor Alliance opened fire upon Mr. Gompers and his 
reactionary organization. 

The Volkszeitung Association, however, the back- 
bone of which was the German trade unions, now A. 
F. of L., arose in rebellion against the new trade union 
policy of the Party and the struggle between the Party 
and the Association ended with the split of the Party 
and the launching, through the fusion of the secession- 
ists and the Debs and Berger groups of the West, of 
the Socialist Democratic party, later the Socialist party. 
This party, in relation to the trade unions, pursued the 

— 13 — 

709866 



policy of "boring from within" only, "making Social- 
ists without mentioning Socialism," "catching flies with 
molasses instead of vinegar," being in fact nothing 
more than a toady to the A. F. of L. and the labor 
faker, until it finally split to pieces on the rock of its 
own illogic. 

But I am not going to follow De Leon's career 
through the various events and struggles of the move- 
ment. Far more important today is his mental devel- 
opment, and with it the growth of the Socialist philoso- 
phy for which his name stands — Industrial Unionism 
and the Workers' Socialist Industrial Republic. This 
development can best be traced through his important 
lectures. I select only those which I consider epoch- 
making. 

The early Socialist Labor Party, like all the social 
democratic organizations of Elurope, was not much 
more than a reform organization, its membership con- 
sisting of everybody who had a quarrel with existing 
society. The platform was a long string of "immediate 
demands," such as any reform party, from Single Tax 
and Populism to the present Socialist party and the so- 
called communist and Workers party, still carries. De 
Leon soon conceived that as the Socialist movement 
was a revolutionary movement, it ran great danger if it 
did not frankly declare itself. 

""'You will perceive the danger run by movements 
that — instead of accepting no leadership except such as 

— 14 — 



stands squarely upon their own demands — rest content 
with and entrust themselves to 'promises of relief.' 
Revolution, accordingly, stands on its own bottom, 
hence it cannot be overthrown; reform leans upon 
others, hence its downfall is certain. Of all revolution- 
ary epochs, the present draws sharpest the line between 
the conflicting class interests. Hence, the organizations 
of the revolution of our generation must be the most 
uncompromising of any that yet appeared on the stage 
of history. The program of this revolution consists not 
in any one detail. It demands the unconditional surren- 
der of the capitalist system and its system of wage 
slavery; the total extinction of class rule is its object. 
Nothing short of that — whether as a first, a temporary, 
or any other sort of step can at this late date receive rec- 
ognition in the camp of the modern revolution." 

Thus, De Leon laid down the fundamentals of the 
Proletarian Revolution in his first epoch-making lecture, 
"Relorm or Revolution," delivered at Boston in 1896. 
This may be considered the first landmark of revolu- 
tionary Marxian Socialism in this country. It was the 
beginning of the parting of the ways. The reform "so- 
cialists" were becoming wary. 

But the study of De Leon's writings, particularly his 
editorials, at this period shows that while he recognized 
the necessity of Socialist Unionism, he was still essen- 
tially a "political Socialist" only, who perceived no 
other force that could back up the revolutionary ballot 

— 15 — 



than the purely physical force of the workers. The ne- 
cessity of a classconscious Socialist Union became 
stronger in his consciousness year by year. The impor- 
tance of such a union he makes clear in his next epoch- 
making lecture, "What Means This Strike," New Bed- 
ford, 1898. 

"Proceeding from the knowledge that labor alone 
produces all wealth; that less and less of this wealth 
comes to the working class, and more and more of it is 
plundered by the idle class or capitalist; that this is the 
result of the working class being stripped of the tool 
(machine), without which it cannot earn a living; and, 
finally, that the machine or tool has reached such a 
stage of development that it can no longer be operated 
by the individual but needs the collective effort of many; 
— proceeding from this knowledge, it is clear that the 
aim of all intelligent classconscious workingmen must 
be the overthrow of the system of private ownership 
in the tools of production because that system keeps 
them in wage slavery. 

"Proceeding from the further knowledge of the use 
made of the Government by the capitalist class, and of 
the necessity that class is under to own the Government, 
so as to enable it to uphold and prop up the capitalist 
system; — proceeding from that knowledge, it is clear 
that the aim of all intelligent, classconscious working- 
men must be to bring the Government under the con- 
trol of their own class by joining and electing the Amer- 

— 1# — 



ican wing of the International Socialist party — the So- 
cialist Labor Party of America, and thus establishing 
the Socialist Cooperative Republic. 

"But in the meantime, while moving toward that 
ideal, though necessary goal, what to do? The thing 
cannot be accomplished in a day, nor does election come 
around every twenty-four hours. Is there nothing that 
we can do for ourselves between election and elec- 
tion?" 

From election to election he then proceeds to show 
the workers must fight the capitalists in the unions. But 
the union to him was still merely a weapon to wring 
concessions from the capitalists under the present sys- 
tem, the difference between new and old trade unionism 
being that the old "pure and simple" union looked upon 
the capitalist system as a finality while the new union 
was: 

"... .clear upon the fact that, not until it has over- 
thrown the capitalist system of private ownership in the 
machinery of production, and made this the joint prop- 
erty of the people, thereby compelling every one to 
work if he wants to live, is it at all possible for the 
workers to be safe. 

"A labor organization must be perfectly clear upon 
the fact that it cannot reach safety until it has wrenched 
the Government from the clutches of the capitalist 
class ; and that it cannot do that unless it votes, not for 
MEN but for PRINCIPLES, unless it votes into 

— 17 — 



I 



power its own class platform and program : THE 
ABOLITION OF THE WAGES SYSTEM OF 
SLAVERY." 

After this followed in 1902, "Two Pages from Ro- 
man History," divided into two lectures: "Plebs Lead- 
ers and Labor Leaders," and "The Warning of the 
Gracchi." This is a treatise on revolutionary tactics and 
De Leon now shows the real master hand. The divi- 
sion: "Plebs Leaders and Labor Leaders," is an un- 
mercifully scathing exposure of the labor leaders of the 
A. F. of L. type, whom De Leon had long ago and for 
all time dubbed "labor fakers," or, taking the cue from 
Mark Hanna, "the labor lieutenants of the capitalist 
class." "The Warning of the Gracchi" constitutes a 
riddling of reform, which winds up with the "Ten Can- 
ons of the Proletarian Revolution," which may be called 
the ten commandments of a revolutionist, ten sound un- 
compromising and brilliant rules of revolutionary con- 
duct. 

De Leon had now reached his mental height, but 
still he had not completed his lifework, nor founded his 
theory. He was near to it, however. The understand- 
ing of the final mission of revolutionary unionism was 
becoming clear to both himself and the Party mem- 
bership. 

The next milestone was planted at Newark, N. J., 
in 1904 in the lecture called: "The Burning Question 
of Trades Unionism." Here the twin nature of the 

— 18 — 




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revolutionary movement is made clear. The equal im- 
portance as A revolutionary factor of the economic 
and political organizations of labor is elucidated. We 
can perceive by the following extracts how far he has 
advanced from 1898: 

"The anti-union Utopians only see the political fea- 
ture of the labor movement. According to them all 
that a lance would need is its iron head; on the other 
hand, the pro-unionists have their noses so close to the 
ground that they fail to see the political aspect of the 
trades union movement, and can only see What they call 
its industrial aspect. In other words, they virtually 
hold that all that a lance would need is its shaft. It 
goes without saying that neither he who thinks a lance 
is all iron head, nor he who thinks that it is all shaft 
has a correct idea of what a lance is, or what its uses 
are. Each may have a technical, theoretic, more or less 
practical knowledge of each particular part of a lance, 
but a lance neither of them will have, nor can wield. I 
shall show you that unless the political aspect of the la- 
bor movement is grasped, Socialism will never triumph; 
and that unless its trades union aspect Is grasped 
the day of its triumph will be the day of its de- 
feat." ' 

"Accordingly, the political aspect of the labor move- 
ment spells REVOLUTION. It points out exactly the 
duty of the Socialist or classconscious workingmen 
elected to office — no tinkering, no compromise, unquali- 

— 21 — 






fred overthrow of existing laws. That means the 
dethronement of the capitalist class. What does that, 
in turn, mean with regard to the subject in hand? 

"Did you notice and did you realize all that there 
was in the capitalist threat of closing down the shops 
and stopping production if Bryan was elected in 1896? 
We know that Bryan was a reactionary capitalist; never- 
theless, the fact was brought out in his campaign by 
that upper-capitalist threat that the ruling capitalists 
have it in their power to create a panic any time the 
government slips from their hands. What places that 
power in their hands? Now watch close, think close — 
WHAT PLACES THAT POWER IN THEIR 
HANDS IS THE PURE AND SIMPLE TRADES 
UNION: it is the fact that the WORKING CLASS 
is not organized. And I have shown you that the pure 
and simple trades union is unable to organize the work- 
ing class; that it keeps the working class hopelessly 
divided. The majority of the voters are workingmen. 
But even if this majority were to sweep the political 
field on a classconscious, that is, a bona fide labor or 
Socialist ticket, they would find the capitalist able to 
throw the country into the chaos of panic and 
famine unless they, THE WORKINGMEN, WERE 
SO WELL ORGANIZED IN THE SHOPS THAT 
THEY COULD LAUGH AT ALL SHUT-DOWN 
ORDERS, AND CARRY ON PRODUCTION." 

"Accordingly, the trades union question is indeed a 
— 22 — 



Burning one. On it is pivoted the success of the Social- 
ist Movement Seeing that a thing called a union 

may act as a drag upon the Socialist Movement, the 
temptation is strong upon the part of anti-unionists to 
drop it. I have shown you how fatal such dropping 
would be. The political and the industrial movement 
are one, he who separates them dislocates the Socialist 
Movement." 

This lecture, like those previously mentioned, was 
printed in pamphlet form and was widely read and dis- 
cussed during the following year. Unquestionably it 
contained the intellectual basis for the formation of 
the I. W. W. 

Philosophically the original I. W. W. Was unques- 
tionably De Leon's creation. Its first declarations and 
principles were sound, but anarcho-syndicalist elements 
were in evidence and constituted a danger from the 
first. They finally conquered when, nicknamed "bum- 
merites" from one of their favorite songs with the re- 
frain: "Hallelujah, I'm a bum," they captured the 1908 
convention and the "De Leonites" withdrew, forming 
the Detroit I. W. W. (later the W. I. I. U.) attempt- 
ing, however few in numbers they were, to hold an or- 
ganization around the old preamble and principles. De 
Leon from this time onward gave his energies entirely 
to the political organization, never flagging, however, in 
using his pen to clarify the theories and make plain 
the necessity of sound Socialist Industrial Unionism. 

— 23 — 






The central principle of unionism as held by the 
I.W.W., 1905-7, is elucidated by De Leon in his lecture 
delivered at Minneapolis a few days after the adjourn- 
ment of the first, the 1905, convention of the I. W. W. 
This lecture is now issued under the title: "Socialist 
Reconstruction of Society," with the sub-title: "The In- 
dustrial Vote." 

"I shall now proceed to the sentence 

which sets up the theory that the final, the consum- 
mating act of Working Class emancipation must be 
achieved by the tollers 'taking and holding' the prod- 
uct of their labor 'through an economic organization 
of the Working Class, without affiliation with any po- 
litical party.' In no country, outside of the United 
States, is this theory applicable; in no country, outside 
of the United States, is the theory rational. It is irra- 
tional and, therefore, inapplicable in all countries, with 
the possible exception of Great Britain and the rest of 
the English-speaking world, because no country but the 
United States has reached that stage of full-orbed capi- 
talism — economic, political and social — that the United 
States has attained. In other words, no other country 
is ripe for the execution of Marxian revolutionary tac- 
tics In this sentence of the Preamble is con- 
densed what may be called the code of Marxian 
'tactics,' as distinguished from the code of Marxian 
'economies'; the code of 'action,' as distinguished from 
the code of 'theory.' As a consequence, the sentence 

— 24 — 



outlines the form of the governmental administration 
of the Republic of Labor." 

"The 'reason' for a political party unfits it to 'take 
and hokf the machinery of production. As shown when 
I dealt with the sentence that urges the ne- 
cessity of political unity— the 'reasons' for a political 
movement are the exigencies of the bourgeois shell in 
which the Social Revolution must partly shape its 
course. The governmental administration of capital- 
ism is the State, the government proper; that institution 
is purely political: political power, in the language of 
Marx, is merely the organized power of the capitalist 
class to oppress, to curb, to keep the working class in 
subjection. The bourgeois shell in which the Social 
Revolution must partly shape its course dictates the set- 
ting up of a body that shall contest the possession of the 
political robber burg by the capitalist class. The reason 
for such initial tactics also dictates their ultimate goal— 
THE RAZING WITH THE GROUND THE 
ROBBER BURG OF CAPITALIST TYRANNY. 
The shops, the yards, the mills, in short, the mechanical 
establishments of production, now in the hands of the 
Capitalist Class— they are all to be 'taken,' not for the 
purpose of being destroyed, but for the purpose of be- 
ing 'held'; for the purpose of improving and enlarging 
all the good that is latent in them, and that capitalism 
dwarfs; in short, they are to be 'taken and held' in order 
to save them for civilization. It is exactly the reverse 
with the 'political power.' That is to be taken for the 

— 25 — 



) 



purpose of ABOLISHING IT. It follows herefrom 
that the goal of the political movement of Labor is 
purely DESTRUCTIVE. Suppose that, at some elec- 
tion, the classconscious political arm of Labor were to 
sweep the field; suppose the sweeping were done in such 
a land-slide fashion that the capitalist election officials 
are themselves so completely swept off their base that 
they wouldn't if they could, and that they couldn't if 
they would, count us out ; suppose that, from President 
down to Congress and the rest of the political redoubts 
of the capitalist political robber burg, our candidates 
were installed; — suppose that, what would there be 
for them to do ? What should there be for them to do ? 
Simply TO ADJOURN THEMSELVES, ON THE 
SPOT, SINE DIE. Their work would be done by dis- 
banding. The political movement of Labor, that, in the 
event of triumph, would prolong its existence a second 
after triumph, would be a usurpation. It would be either 
a usurpation, or the signal for a social catastrophe. 
It would be the signal for a social catastrophe if the 
political triumph did not find the Working Class of the 
land industrially organized, that is, in full possession 
of the plants of production and distribution, capable, 
accordingly, to assume the integral conduct of the pro- 
ductive powers of the land. The catastrophe would be 
instantaneous. The plants of production and distribu- 
tion having remained in capitalist hands, production 
would be instantly blocked. On the other hand, if the 
political triumph does find the Working Class indus- 

— 26 — 



trially organized, then for the political movement to 
prolong its existence would be to attempt to usurp the 
powers which its very triumph announced have devolved 
upon the central administration of the industrial organi- 
zation. The 'reason' for a political movement ob- 
viously unfits it to 'take and hold' the machinery of pro- 
duction. What the political movement 'moves into' is 
not the shops, but the robber burg of capitalism — for 
the purpose of dismantling it. n 

"The form of central authority to which the politi- 
cal organization had to adapt itself and consequently 
looked to, will have ceased to be. As the slough shed 
by the serpent that immediately reappears in its new 
skin, the Political State will have been shed, and society 
will simultaneously appear in its new administrative 
garb. The mining, the railroad, the textile, the build- 
ing industries, down or up the line, each of these, re- 
gardless of former political boundaries, will be the con- 
stituencies of that new central authority the rough scaf- 
folding of which was raised last week in Chicago. 
Where the General Executive Board of the organized 
industrial workers will sit there will be the nation's 
capital. Like the flimsy card-houses that children raise, 
the present political government of counties, of states, 
aye, of the city on the Potomac herself, will tumble 
down, their places taken by the central and the subor- 
dinate administrative organs of the Nation's industrial 
forces. Obviously, not the 'structure' of the POLITI- 
CAL Movement, but the structure of the ECONOMIC 

— 27 — 






Movement is fit for the task, to 'take and hold* the 
industrial administration of the country's productive 
activity — the only thing worth 'taking and holding.' " 

"Inestimable is the value, dignified the posture of 
the political movement. It affords the Labor Move- 
ment the opportunity to ventilate its purposes, its aspi- 
rations and its methods free, over and above board, in 
the noon-day light of the sun, whereas otherwise, Its 
agitation would be consigned to the circumscribed 
sphere of the rat-hole. The political movement ren- 
ders the masses accessible to the propaganda of Labor; 
it raises the Labor Movement above the category of a 
'conspiracy'; it places the Movement in line with the 
Spirit of the Age, which, on the one hand, denies the 
power of 'conspiracy' in matters that not only affect 
the masses, but in which the masses must themselves be 
intelligent actors, and, on the other hand, demands the 
freest of utterance. In short and in fine, the political 
movement bows to the methods of civilized discussion: 
IT GIVES A CHANCE TO THE PEACEFUL SO- 
LUTION OF THE GREAT QUESTION AT 
ISSUE." 

The latter subject, the peaceful solution of the ques- 
tion at the ballot box, De Leon expatiated still further 
in a discussion carried on in the columns of the DAILY 
PEOPLE in 1906-7 with the rising anarchistic element. 
This discussion was published under the title: "As to 
Politics." The keynote of the discussion is: 

— 28 — 



"Not everything that capitalism has brought about 
is to be rejected. Such a vandal view would have to 
smash the giant machine of modern production as well. 
Among the valuable things that capitalism has intro- 
duced is the idea of peaceful methods for settling dis- 
putes. In feudal days, when lords fell out, production 
stopped; war had the floor. The courts of law have 
become the main fields of capitalist, at least internal 
capitalist battle, and production continues uninterfered 
with. It matters not how corrupt the courts have be- 
come, or one-sided against the working class. The 
jewel of civilized or peaceful methods for settling dis- 
putes is there, however incrusted with slime. Capital- 
ism, being a step forward as all Socialists recognize, 
cannot help but be a handmaid, however clumsy, to 
civilized methods. Of a piece with the court method 
for the peaceful settlement of disputes is the political 
method. The organization that rejects this method 
[the peaceful method, i. e., the political method of set- 
tling disputes] and organizes for force only, reads itself 
out of the pale of civilization, with the practical result 
that, instead of seizing a weapon furnished by capital- 
ism, it gives capitalism a weapon against itself 

The inevitable result is that the agitation has to degen- 
erate into 'conspiracy'; conspiracy can be conducted in 
circumscribed localities only, such localities exclude the 
masses — and the wheels of time are turned back. The 
bringing together of the physical force organization be- 
comes impossible. Political agitation equips the revolu- 

— 29 — 



J 



tiort with a weapon that is indispensable. Political 
agitation enables the revolution to be preached in the 
open, and thereby enables the revolution to be brought 
before the million-masses In short, political agi- 
tation, coupled with the industrial organization able to 
'take and hold,' or 'back up' the political movement, or 
'fill the bucket,' places the revolution abreast of civilized 
and intelligent methods — civilized, because they offer 
a chance to a peaceful solution; intelligent, because they 
are not planted upon the visionary plane of imagining 
that right can ever prevail without the might to enforce 
it. Of course, 'political agitation' implies the setting 
up of a political ticket, and that, in turn, implies the 
'ballot.' Indeed, the 'ballot' may be lost; let it; the 
fruits, however, of the 'political agitation' are imper- 
ishable. Under the shield of that agitation the organi- 
zation is shaped. To Father Time the final issue may 
be safely left." 

We have now reached the conclusion of "De Leon- 
ism." De Leon's theoretical mission in the working 
class movement had been fulfilled. His work as a 
teacher and educator went on until his death, May n, 
19 14, just when a period in the world's history was 
approaching when his versatile, virile and deeply philo- 
sophical mind would have been more than ever needed 
to direct the workers in the world revolution, when a 
period was approaching when his voice would undoubt- 
edly have been heard. 



In conclusion, for the sake of clarity, let me recapi- 
tulate. De Leon's first struggle was with the element 
of pure and simple economics, the Gompersites, the A. 
F. of L. In this fight he showed the necessity of a po- 
litical revolutionary party. He won the battle; but a 
portion of those who had heard his voice had but partly 
understood. They flew to the other extreme, pure and 
simple Socialism. Result: the Socialist party. From 
1899 until 1905 De Leon's great struggle was against 
pure and simple "Socialist politics." He conquered 
again and the result was the I. W. W. — "the workers 
must come together on both the political and economic 
fields in a revolutionary organization," etc. But again 
a portion of those who had listened failed to compre- 
hend. His denunciation of pure and simple political 
Socialism reacted on revolutionary political action itself 
and the result was anarcho-syndicalism, anti-political 
action, physical-forcism or, as De Leon called it, pure 
and simple bombism. This in turn failed, as fail it 
must. 

Today De Leon stands vindicated, theoretically and 
in action. The following quotation from Arthur Ran- 
some's "Six Weeks In Russia in 19 19" will show that 
De Leon is becoming recognized far beyond the borders 
of his original sphere of influence: 

"Lenin said he had read in an English Socialist pa- 
per a comparison of his own theories with those of an 
American, Daniel De Leon. He had then borrowed 



— 30 



31 — 



some of De Leon's pamphlets, read them 

for the first time, and was amazed to see how far and 
how early De Leon had pursued the same train of 
thought as the Russians. His theory that representa- 
tion should be by industries, not by areas, was already 
the germ of the Soviet system. He remembered seeing 
De Leon at an international conference. De Leon made 
no impression at all, a grey old man, quite unable to 
speak to such an audience ; but evidently a much bigger 
man than he looked, since his pamphlets were written 
before the experience of the Russian Revolution of 
1905. Some days afterwards I noticed that Lenin had 
Introduced a few phrases of De Leon, as if to do honor 
to his memory, into the draft for the new program of 
the Communist party." 



Published Works by Daniel De Leon. 

Abolition of Poverty. 

A Decadent Jeffe-rsonian on the Socialist 

Gridiron. 
Anti-Semitism. 
As to Politics. 

The Ballot and the Class Struggle. 
Burning Question of Trades Unionism. 
De Leon-Berry Debate. 
De Leon-Carmody Debate. 
De Leon-Harrinian Debate. 
Fifteen Questions. 

Flashlights of the Amsterdam Congress. 
Industrial Unionism. 
James Madison and Karl Marx. 
Marx on Mallock. 
Marxian Science and the Colleges. 
Money. 

Reform or Revolution. 

Revolutionary Socialism in U. S. Congress. 
Russia in Revolution. 
Socialism vs. Anarchism. 
Socialist Reconstruction of Society. 
Two Pages from Roman History. 
The Trusts. 
Ultramontanism. 
Unity. 

Vulgar Economy. 
What Means This Strike? 



For further information write to 

N. Y. Labor News Co., 45 Rose St., New York 



Socialist Reconstruction of 

Society 



The Industrial Vote 



By DANIEL DE LEON 



When a worn-out social system approaches the inevitable 
end, social disorders, and disturbances in the mechanism of 
the system, become the order of the day. These manifesta- 
tions of social dissolution warn us that a social reconstruc- 
tion is imperative. That social reconstruction can only be 
the Socialist reconstruction of society, if progress is to be the 
law of the future as it has been of the past. 

This magnificent address by America's greatest sociolo- 
gist and Marxian scholar, Daniel De Leon, exposes the cause 
of the collapse of capitalism, and points to the road out of 
present day misery and difficulties. Read it. Study it. Pass 
it along to fellow workers. On the lines laid down in this 
booklet the American working class must organize. The al- 
ternative is industrial feudalism. Look to Italy, and particu- 
larly to Germany, for a sample of that industrial feudalism. 

64 pages, paper covers 
Price 10 cents 

NEW YORK LABOR NEWS COMPANY 
4,5 Rose St., New York City