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or, Socialism vs. Syndicalism 


I. Historical. :^- V . ji '^ 

No one who reads current Socialist literature will fail to 
note a distinct tendency in some quarters in favor of policies 
that have come to be known in this and other countries as 
Syndicalism. Its advocates were rather vague at first and today 
are far from giving a clear outline of what they stand for and 
what they oppose, or would modify in the Socialist Party. In 
fact, as will be shown later, some of its prominent advo- 
cates in defending Syndicalism have shown by their utter- 
ances that they have merely caught a few phrases such as 
"direct action," or "Socialism with its working' clothes on," 
and captivated by these phrases they have called themselves 
Syndicalists without any conception of what the term means. 

The old revisionists who have gathered around Bernstein 
in Germany and other countries in a sincere effort to revise 
the revolutionary doctrines of international Socialism, have one 
thing in • common that distinguishes them from ' the new 're- 
visionists. Bernstein and his qoUeagues brought with them 
a thorough understanding of Marxism, though disagreeing with 
Marx in certain particulars. They brought with them a wealth 
of knowledge, keen insight, subtle criticism and historical 
j perspective that marked them as brilliant men. This will 
. be conceded by their opponents as well as their friends. In 
I fact so thoroughly did Bernstein and his leading supporters 
( prepare for their task that it taxed the resources of revolu- 
J tionists like Kautsky, Bebel, Liebknecht and others to follow 
L^hem in all their subtle by-plays of logic and argument. It is 
n/the personal opinion of the writer that the old revisionism is, 
-Son the whole, wrong, but at the same time he is willing to 
ij concede that criticism from this source is the most brilliant 
Jgand able that the Socialist movement has withstood, i 
tJ Not so with the new revisionists, or Syndicalists. They 
pS have created no literature outside of a few works in France, 
f^ while in this country they have no common understanding. 
( There seems to be as many views of Syndicalism as there are 
y. Syndicalists. One of its leading monthly publications in an 
j -^ editorial defense of "Sabotage," lacking a clear understand- 
^- ing of the word, had to quote a conservative Boston daily paper 
^ which professed to define it. - The same publication has con- 
tained numerous articles bearing on questions related to the 
, policies of Syndicalism that are frequently contradictory. One 
writer even affirms that the labor resolution adopted by the 
* National Convention of the Socialist Party at Indianapolis in 
1912, commits the party to the "revolutionary tactics of in- 
satiable Syndicalism!"- When it is borne in mind that the 
resolution in question contains, as will be shown later, abso- 
lutely nothing that favors any phase of Syndicalism, we have 
an excellent contrast between the brilliancy of the old re- 

ISee Inside Back Cov^r^.fqrc-Nojtts. O i_ /'Uoi' ^ "^e 

— 2— 

visionlsm and the intellectual poverty of the new. Reckless 
assertions and radical phrases bearing a close kinship to 
the utterances of the intellectual fathers of Anarchism, are 
characteristic of the new revisionism. It is totally lacking in 
that appeal to history and careful analysis of contemporary 
economic development which distinguishes the Bernstein re- 
formists. Coming in the name of Marx it is a caricature of 
all that the latter" wrote and all that he strove for and that 
finally brought him to his grave. * 

The development of Syndicalism in America is a recent 
phenomenon, yet, crude and ill-defined as it still is, it has 
had seven years in this country to reach its present status in 
numerical strength and doctrinal beliefs. It is closely re- 
lated to the old differences In the Socialist movement regard- 
ing the attitude' the Socialist Party should sustain towara 
the organizations of labor that struggle for shorter hours, 
higher wages and general improvement of the lot of the work- 
ers under capitalism. The development of Syndicalism in 
Prance and exaggerated accounts of its alleged achievements 
that have appeared in some of the Socialist publications of 
this country, have also had a marked influence in winning 
sympathy and Support in some quarters for it. But even 
among those who profess to be Syndicalists and who retain 
membersEip in the Socialist Party there seems to be no realiza- 
tion that such membership Is in contradiction to their pro- 
fessed^ beliefs. Still less do they seem capable of tracing the 
movement of Syndicalism to its origin or to forecast its ulti- 
mate consequences. If It had developed in the United States 
and the same type of men that worked out its theoretical basis 
in France had worked it out here, it would surprise some of 
our Syndicalists to learn that instead of Socialists like Eugene 
V. Debs, Ben Hanford, John Spargo, Algernon Lee, Ernest 
Untermann or A. M. Simons being its fathers, the only type 
in this country that would correspond with the Syndicalist 
'^philosophers" of France would be Johann Most, Abraham 
Isaacs, Emma Goldman and other "libertarian" followers of 
Proudhon, Kropotkin or Bakunin. It does not occur to the 
Socialist Syndicalist — which, by the way, is a contradiction 
in terms — that if he can accept the Syndicalist "philosophy" 
then he has achieved something that Marx and Engels and 
their colleagues in the •International Workingmen's Associa- 
tion regarded as impossible, that is, a reconciliation between 
Anarchism and Socialism. A further analogy is that just as 
the brilliant Paul Lafargue, Jules Guesde and other well- 
known Socialists of France have had to oppose Syndicalism 
because they knew its history, its theoretical basis and its ex- 
ponents, so it is apparent that with a like history here the 
well-known comrades mentioned above would naturally be 
fouad, as they are now, opposed to the new revisionism and 
the new revisionists. 

A better understanding of this Syndicalist tendency may 
be had by briefly reviewing the history of the relations be- 
tween the Socialist movement and the trades unions of this 
country. Many Socialists who have become such in recent 
years are not aware of our past struggles over tactical dif- 
ferences regarding the relations of the party to the trades 
unions and which often divided Socialis,|s_injtQ_bitter.iactions. 

The once promising Socialist Labor Party received a steady in- 
crease in its vote, beginning with 2,068 in 1888, and reaching 
its maximum of 82,204 in 1898. Since then its vote has de- 
clined until it reached about 15,000 in 1910. In spite of the 
increasing antagonism of classes, the development of trusts, the 
centralization of wealth and the increasing discontent of the 
working cfass, the Socialist Labor Party miserably failed to 
reach the workers, secure their confidence and enlist their 
, support. The period of its decline is practically identical with ' 
a change in its attitude towards the workers organized in 
the unions. It had maintained" a friendly attitude toward the 
labor unions, assisting them in their struggles and always 
voicing a protest against every outrage perpetrated against 
them. Its increasing vote and membership, as well as the 
history and experience of the Socialist movement of Europe, 
all testified to the soundness of this policy. 

But in 1895 Daniel De Leon, editor of the official organ 
of the Socialist Labor Party, became involved in a quarrel 
with Master Workman J. R. Sovereign, of the Knights of 
Labor, and under De Leon's skillful leadership the Socialist 
Labor Party abandoned its sympathetic attitude toward the 
labor unions and ranged thp Socialists in bitter antagonism 
to all unions not controlled by them. The work of education 
within the "unions was deliberately abandoned as useless. The 
shortcomings, mistakes and failures of the unions; sometimes 
the dishonesty and frequently the blunders of leaders were 
mercilessly criticised. This developed into a mania among 
most of its partisans. The daily press and the publications 
of the unions were carefully read and the slightest incident 
that could be twisted into a defense of this policy was used. 
Perhaps no other movement in America ever witnessed such 
a volume of vindictive, utterances. Hatred and frenzy pos- 
sessed its speakers so that it became positively painful, and 
often disgusting, to listen to their diatribes. 4 

All this, of course, was justified by an appeal to science 
and history. It was held that "boring within" the unions was 
folly as they were infested with "labor fakirs" and "labor 
lieutenants of capital" and must therefore be "smashed" by 
the "fighting S. L. P." To assist in ^the work of destruction 
the Socialist Trades and Labor Alliance was born almost in a 
night. No previous general discussion of the advisability of 
this was held; the membership of the Socialist Labor Party 
was not consulted. It did not spring frona the grim economic 
necessity of the working class, but from the brain of Daniel 
De Leon. It "was the most unique example of a Socialist 
trade union antl-pure-and-simple organization in the annals 
of labor history. Inasmuch as it was neither trade union nor 
Socialistic, nor pure, nor simple, in the true sense of the 
words." 5 It was the concrete expression of the vengeance felt 
by its author and partisans against the unions that refused to 
be led or driven to embrace Socialist views. Members who 
refused to endorse the new policies were expelled and some- 
times whole sections and state organizations were expelled for 
"treason" if they criticized these policies. 

The net result of this vindictive attitude was to range the 
great mass of organized workers in bitter opposition to Social- 
ism, and to this day Socialists are sometimes called upon to 


explain this phase of Socialist history. After a brief career 
the S. T. and L. A. disappeared while the vote and the 
membership of the Socialist Labor Party have dwindled to 
insignificance. In other words, the Socialist Labor Party, con- 
fronted with a magnificent opportunity, in a country with 
great contrasts between wealth and poverty, and a growing 
unrest among the workers, miserably failed to enlist the sup- 
port of the working class. While the Socialist Parties of 
Europe were making steady gains, the S. L. P. sustained con- 
tinued losses as its policy became generally known. No 
amount of "scientific" pleading will avail against this one 
tsupreme fact, as experience is the one test of the soundness 
of any policy. 

It is unnecessary to review the history of the subsequent 
"splits'* in the S. L. P. due to this 'policy. Suffice it to sa:^ 
that large numbers of its membership were aware from its 
inception of the disaster that awaited the S. L. P. and the 
S. T. & L. A. Any movement that professes to represent the 
working class and at the same time wages a vindictive war- 
fare against the first forms of working class resistance, is not 
scientific and is doomed to failure. It does not matter that 
the union membership lacks a Socialist consciousness, that it 
does not appreciate or understand the limitations of the union, 
that it makes blunders, that some of its leaders may be 
ignorant, dishonest or corrupt, it still remains a fact that the 
membership is drawn from the ranks of the exploited and 
that their exploitation and experience in the class war, with 
the patient and sympathetic co-operation of class conscious 
Socialists, must all co-operate in the end to bring them into 
closer unity and to direct their efforts to the conquest of 
the governing powers and thus emancipate themselves. If 
this policy does not make revolutionists of workingmen we 
may rest assured that an attitude of contempt, ridicule and 
antagonism never will. 

The decline of the S. L. P. proceeded with the rise of 
the Social Democratic Party, at first divided into two organ- 
izations which united at the Unity Convention, in Indianap- 
olis, and formed the Socialist Party in 1901. A fraternal policy 
toward the labor organizations was adopted and the organiza- 
tion has continued to increase in membership and votes. The 
party has assisted the unions with funds in every important 
crisis regardless of whether such unions accepted the Socialist 
programme or not. Professing to represent the whole work- 
ins: class, the Socialist Party has aided conservative and revo- 
lutionary unions, craft and industrial unions. It has aided 
the conservative American Federation of Labor, collected funds, 
and held masB meetings to assist its officers in their defense be- 
fore capitalist courts, even when those officers have frequently 
denounced the Socialist Party. It has followed this poiicy 
not because the particular officers favored or opposed Social- 
ism, but because we wish to preserve as much freedom of 
action for the workers as possible in the unions. The loss 
of any measure of freedom by the unions under Samuel Gom- 
pers would still be a loss if he was succeeded by a Socialist 
who would have the weakened organization transferred to 
him. The Socialist Party has assisted Moyer, Haywood and 
Pettibone of the Western Federation of^ Min^r§_when^i;hat or- 


ganization was opposing the A. F. of L. It has helped the A. 
F. of L. in many struggles and even the unorganized, as at 
McKees Rocks. It helped in the defense of Bttor and Gio- 
vanitti at Lawrence, Mass. Always for the working class as 
against its exploiters, no matter what particular organization 
the workers happen to represent in any given crisis. At the 
same time it sfeeks a closer unity of all workers and regards it 
as the duty of all Socialist members in the unions to use 
their best judgment in breaking down all barriers to com- 
plete solidarity and to help in forming a militant class con- 
sciousness among union men for the overthrow of capitalism. 

It may be conceded that many unions are slow in ap- 
proaching a closer unity through industrial organization, but 
this is only another reason why the Socialist members should 
be all the more active in pointing out the defects of organ- 
ization, and for the party to aid in all union struggles. Cap- 
italist development is slowly wiping out craft divisions and 
the unions must and will adapt their organizations to the 
changes. The increasing jurisdiction struggles show that eco- 
nomic development is disturbing every backward union. As 
Socialists we know that there is absolutely no solution of 
jurisdiction questions except through a gradual approach to- 
ward industrial organization. Attempts to preserve backward 
forms of organization only aggravate the problems of juris- 
diction and make the necessity for industrial organization 
clearer than ever. It is not because we wish it that industrial 
unionism will come, but because the wish is enforced and 
made possible and necessary by the economic development. 

In other words, the position of the Socialist party is 
founded on the reality of the capitalist world in which we 
live. One of the realities found in the unions is that the 
membership is also composed of Democrats, Republicans, So- 
cialists and men of other political beliefs. For this reason 
the party asserts that political differences ©hould not di- 
vide the working class In its struggles with the capitalist class. 
It would be disaster, even treason, to call attention to the 
political differences in the unions when the latter are oh 
strike. It would mean to divide the workers in favor of 
their exploiters. This does not mean that in the normal 
business and educational work of the unions the Socialist 
members should not educate their fellows in accord with So- 
cialist views. On the contrary, the Socialist should take ad- 
vantage of every opportunity to draw the Socialist moral in 
every vital question before the union, always being careful 
not to make himself a nuisance or a bore. And just as politi- 
cal questions should not endanger the solidarity of the work- 
ing class in the shop, mine and factory, so questions of in- 
dustrial organization should not be allowed to threaten So' 
ciallst solidarity at the ballot box. All theorizing must square 
Itself with the reality of the class strugale. A given union 
may be antiquated In Its form of organization; its leaders 
may be very conservative and the membership conservative 
also. But if these conservative union workers happen to be 
street car employes, for example, and either strike or are 
locked out by the employing corporation, all theories are tested 
by one grim reality. The classes are at war, and the question 
with you m^ nie is not whether these workers are Socialists, 



industrialists, or craft unionists, but whether we will ride the 
cars. If you ride you aid the exploiters; if you walk you op- 
pose them. You cannot even be indifferent. You will walk or 
ride, and thus, whether you want to or not, you become a 
factor in the class struggle. The only way to escape the 
reality of the qlass struggle is to leave civilization and live 
the life of a hermit. 

Now just because the policy of the Socialist Party has 
been in harmony with the mat eriar reality of the class war; 
because it has never allowed theory to lead it away from 
reality to abstract speculation, it is a growing working class 
party and will continue to be such as long as it observes this 
genuine scientific policy. Kautsky, who recognizes the back- 
wardness of some unions, does not allow his resentment to 
blind his judgment. Of the most aristocratic unions he writes: 
*'As mechanical production advances, one craft after another 
is tumbled into the abyss of common labor. This fact is 
constantly teaching even the most effectively organized di- 
visions that in the long run their position is dependent upon 
the strength of the working class as a whole. ^ They come to 
the conclusion that it is a mistaken policy to attempt to rise 
on the shoulders of those who are sinking in a quicksand. 
They come to see that the struggles of other divisions of the 
proletariat are by no means foreign to them." 6 

On the other hand, the same revolutionists of the prole- 
tariat do not overestimate the power of an industrially or- 
ganized working class. It is by no means invincible, as some 
would assure us. Although presenting a better fighting front 
to the exploiting classes than the craft unions, the industrial 
union cannot add any new economic weapons that are not 
now employed. The industrial union draws ever larger masses 
within the zone of labor struggles, wipes out the survivals of 
antiquated- forms of organization and by embracing the work- 
ers of an entire industry it promotes the growth of solidarity 
and class unity. But like the backward unions the indus- 
trial union must rely on the strike, boycott and mutual aid 
to win in any struggle. It has the same powerful ruling class, 
with mighty resources ba*ck of it, to face. It must contend 
with the courts, police, militia and spies the same as the 
craft union, and because of the ^'livina: wage" that goes to 
all sellers of labor power the industrial unionists find in a 
long strike that their resources of life will on the whole 
last but little longer than those of the craft unionists. "Hun- 
ger will compel capitulation," as one exploiter expressed it. 
More solidarity and greater, power go with industrial union- 
ism, but no new weapons are discovered or used. Increased 
solidarity tends to a more rapid development of a Socialist 
consciousness, and so adding to the objective of the industrial 
union the complete overthrow of capitalism and co-operating 
with the Socialist Party for that purpose. But this additional 
objective has also been proclaimed by many non-industrial 
unions, so that it is not necessarily a characteristic of the 
industrial union. The latter cannot afford to adopt a Social- 
ist political objective any more^than the craft union can until 
a Socialist consciousness has permeated a large portion of 
Hs membership. Experience teaches that Socialist resolutions 

— 7— 

adopted by the unions do not lead the non-Socialist ndembers 
to vote for Socialism. 

Here again we recogni-ze the limitations imposed on the 
working class by the world of capitalism. We cannot leap 
out of economic conditions and soar in a world of theories un- 
related to them, or disregard the limitations imposed by eco- 
nomic evolution. To attempt it is to become Utopians. W6 
may recognize the reactionary part that some representatives 
of labor unions play in associating at banquet tables with' the 
exploiters; we may recognize and oppose their conservative 
counsels, but when such "leaders" receive no strong rebuke 
from the members, candor compels us to recognize this 
also. And to recognize this fact, even though it be disagree- 
able, is to admit that the degree of Socialist consciousness has 
not become strong enough to find effective expression in such 
unions. When it has developed sufficiently we may be sure 
it will be forcibly heard. At the National Convention, in 1904, 
Delegate Sievermann of New York spoke forcibly to this 
point when the report of the Committee on Trades Unions 
was before the convention. 

"There is no lack of material," said Sievermann, "to prove 
that in the trades unions movement there are corruptionists 
galore, nor is there any lack of material to prove that if the 
Socialist trades unionists were to take a keener, more active 
and more thorough interest in their trades unions, that these 
corrupt elements would be sooner or later driven out of the 
trades union field. ♦ ♦ ♦ This trades union movement is 
the economic expression of the working class in the economic 
field. You cannot ignore this fact out of existence. This 
confiict Is here. You, as the chosen, the self-appointed cham- 
pions, if you please, of the interests of the working class, 
you cannot escape going on record for or against the working 
class in their struggle with- capital. You may hide behind 
whatever subterfuge you elect, but the trades unionists upon 
this field will drag you forth and will make you take a stand 
for or against labor in this economic field." 7 

The convention of 1904 adopted resolutions endorsing; 
this view, asserting that the unions are a natural product 
of capitalism; that the workers must '"fortify and permanently 
secure by their political power what they have wrung from 
their exploiters in the economic struggle:" that "neither po- 
litical nor other differences of opinion justify the division of 
the forces of labor in the industrial movement," and that the 
•"exploitation of labor will only cease when the working class 
shall own all the means of production and distribution." This 
position has been reaffirmed by subsequent conventions, the 
convention of 1912 adding a favorable reference to industrial 
unionism. The Socialist Party has carried out its expressed 
policy faithfully in every struggle of the working class. Finan- 
cial aid and support has been given to both A. F. of L. and 
T. W. W. organizations, even when officials or prominent mem- 
bers of them have opposed the party, the A. F. of Tv. representa- 
tives because they oppose Socialistic political action, and the 
I. W. W. because some of them favor what they call "direct 
action." In either case the party has kept in mind that each 
struggle has not been one affecting merely the welfare of a few 
leaders or representatives, but affecting the welfare and in 


terests of large bodies of workers whose freedom of action 
and economic security are essential to the final triumph of the 
whole working class. To desert any section of the working 
class in its struggle because a few or even all its leaders 
oppose the Socialist movement is to assist the capitalist class 
in the work of permanently binding the workers to capitalist 
exploitation as the serfs were bound to feudalism. 

It is hardly necessary to point out that this policy of 
the * Socialist Party is identical with the policy of the Socialist 
Parties of the world. To depart from it would be to confess 
that we are mere politicians seeking votes; that when the 
workers fail to vote with the Socialists after receiving our 
aid we refuse to aid them any more and that our support shall 
be extended only to the Socialist unions. But we are not bour- 
geois politicians. The tragedy of proletarian life is a terrible 
reality for us, and the fact that many non-Socialist prole- 
tarians share in it and ignorantly support the source of their 
exploitation only makes the tragedy more keen and all the 
more reason why we should support them in their struggles, 
even though they give us no support in ours. We say in our 
resolutions "we are for the working class." We do not add the 
qualification, "providing, you give us your votes." Capitalist 
politicians may consistently do this, but Socialists cannot if 
they are sincere in their professions of regard for the welfare 
of the working class. We know that our continued assistance 
to the working class must in time awaken even the dullest 
and most prejudiced to the fact that the Socialist Party is the 
party of working class emancipation. At any rate, unless a 
large majority of them reach this conclusion the Socialist 
movement is hopeless. How may we then expect them to reach 
this understanding unless we continue the sympathetic rela- 
tions we have fostered for years? 

Nor does this policy commit the party to any of the prac- 
tices or views of any reactionary "leaders" in the unions. 
We have no responsibility for such practices 6r views. We 
do not support them. We support the workers, their issues 
and their struggles, in spite of reactionary leaders, who 
would be only too glad if we would not extend our aid. In 
rendering assitance to the workers . in their struggles we at 
least secure their good will, later their confidence and, finally 
their support for the social revolution is won. Reactionary 
leaders would be content if we should fail to assist in these 
struggles, as there would then be no sympathetic ties be- 
tween the class conscious proletarians and the misled non-So- 
cialist unionists. Failure to help or indifference on the part 
of Socialists strenethens non-Socialist leadership in the unions. 
We would play into the hands of such leadership if we de- 
parted from our policy. Socialism has become a power to be 
reckoned with in America because of having followed the gen- 
eral policy outlined in this chapter. 

II. Principles of Syndicalism. 

There are three well-defined principles on which all genu- 
ine Syndicalists agree, although most of those who profess 
to be Syndicalists in the Socialist Party would hesitate to 
avow all three. The very fact that the latter are regarded as 
shamefaced syndicalists by the genuine article and that the 


— 9— 

chief offense charged against them is that of accepting politi- 
cal action, shows that the "Socialist Syndicalist" has to go 
much farther than he does to be accepted by the Syndicatlist 
fraternity. The three chief articles of faith may be stated 
as follows : 

1. Uncompromising opposition to political action. The 
state is a class state and parliamentary activity throws elected 
workingmen into intimate contact with politicians of the 
capitalist class. Workingmen cannot remain in capitalist par- 
liaments without being tainted with and being finally lured 
Into the corrupt practices of a parliamentary regime. Capi- 
talist society can be overthrown without sending workingmen 
into this vicious environment. 

2. Minority rule in the unions by the formation of mili- 
tant groups, who are to plan policies and campaigns in ac- 
cord with the principles of Syndicalism. 

3. Constant warfare through strikes, ever wider in their 
scope, until they embrace a sufficient number of conscious 
Syndicalists who will, after many victories, use the unions to 
seize the industries and own and operate them as the property 
of the "unions. The victories leading up to this final victory 
will have so weakened the capitalist state that their final 
conquest by the unions will be made possible. The State is 
to be abolished, together with its legislative bodies and other 
departments, as useless to the free groups possessing the in- 

It is not difficult for any one acquainted with Anarchist 
literature to trace the source of these "principles." Neither 
is it difficult to give historic reasons why these views should , 
develop at the particular time they did in France. The first 
two, rejection of political action and majority rule, are com- 
mon to Anarchism. The third, seizure of industry by the 
unions, is a recent development growing out of historical 
causes which we will consider later. The conception of the 
unions as free groups of producers after the final conquest of 
capitalism also bears a close resemblance to the "autonomous 
groups" we read so much of in Anarchist literature. All this 
is plain to one having the slightest acquaintance with these 
writings, but one will be puzzled to understand what war- 
rant William English Walling has for saying that "the new 
view of the syndicalists also contains at times the best, entirely 
fresh and up-to-date restatement of Marxism we have had for 
many years; indeed, it has almost brought about a rebirth of 
Marxism among the masses in many countries." ^ If Marx 
or Marxists have ever stood sponsor for anything resembling 
the above views, then the vvrell-known Socialists of the world, 
as well as the Socialist parties, have completely misunderstood 
Marx and his writings. They constitute not a rebirth, but 
an abortion: not a restatement, but a contrast. 

The embryo Syndicalist generally begins his career by 
losing faith in political action and parliamentary activity and 
by overestimating the power of economic action. This is the 
stage reached at the present writing by those who call them- 
selves syndicalists in the United States, but who give suf- 
ficient endorsement of political action to retain their member- 
ship, in the Socialist Party. The endorsement is feeble enough 
and enables them to speak of "direct action" and to decry 


political methods as the art of "politicians." Thus Tom lyfanny-.f 
the British Socialist, after years of splendid activity in Aus-xj 
tralia, finally laid undue emphasis on industrial unionism. ' 
Returning to England, in recent years this conviction became ^ 
more pronounced, until today he affirms that "with the 
workers properly organized there is nothing that they may not^ 
successfully demand from the capitalists by means of a gen- 7 
eral strike." 2 One holding this view of the sweeping power ^ 
of any form of unionism may easily reach the conclusion .:j 
that political action is useless and parliamentary activity a^ 
snare. His drift to this conviction will be all the swifter if^ 
for the moment he is able to point to some neglect or blunder t 
or apostacy of a Socialist representative in a legislative body. ] 
When he completes the circle he finds himself in agreement 1 
with the most reactionary of labor leaders, who also oppose 
Socialist political action. It is not the first time that re- ' 
actionary and ultra-revolutionist found themselves keeping 

Syndicalists accept the class war in common with So- ^ 
cialists, but have their own interpretation of it and their own 
methods of fighting the class struggle. The Socialist views it 
as a phase of history and a call to the workers for an intelli- 
gent struggle against the capitalist class for supremacy. The 
Syndicalist views it as a guerilla war aginst the capitalist class 
and goes 1t)ack to the blind methods employed by the workers 
in the infancy of capitalism, glorifies them and, translating 
this policy into French, calls it "Sabotage." The first forms 
of working class revolt against capitalism were attacks on 
labor-saving machinery. It was instinctive, blind resentment 
rather than cool, intelligent action based on a knowledge of 
the evolution of capitalist society. Even today many prole- 
tarians who lack a So cialist class consa ioasaess resort to this 
method of attack and Its treciuentiy injure their fellow work- 
men as they do the employers. The writer remembers an in- 
stance when the laborers in a certain iron and steel industry 
resented an increase in hours from nine to ten and an in- 
crease of only one cent in wages for the additional hour. They 
practiced "sabotage" by turning out inferior material. When 
this material reached several hundred other workers in an- 
other department, who were working at a tonnage rate, the bad 
material ruined the finished product to such an extent that 
their tonnage was thereby reduced to 25 and 30 per cent, and 
their wages fell accordingly. They worked as hard with bad 
material as the good and received absolutely nothing for it. The 
workers in one department were thus made the victims of the 
"sabotage" practiced by those in another. Any man with a pro- 
letarian experience can remember hundreds of incidents of this 
blind, instinctive "sabotage" practiced by proletarians who had 
absolutely no idea that they were the pioneers of the "new re- 
visionism." They were active in capitalist parties, or at least 
voted the tickets of the employing classes against whom they 
directed their vandalism. The ideal "sabotager" is the pious Irish 
Catholic supporting the rotten Democratic party and working as 
a railroad section hand. He has been the butt of much ridicule 
because of his interest in the landscape rather than the gravel 
inder the tie, but he never suspected that some day he would 
)e raised to the dignity of a philosopher of Syndicalism! 

-—"' o-^ /I 


But sabotage includes something more than the action of our 
Irish Catholic "soL liering on the job." \ His is a harmless form of 
sabotage and has been practiced since wage-payment camd into 
the world, with the rise of capitalism. His action requires no 
revolutionary sanction. His conservation of his labor power, 
giving as little of it as possible for the wage received, is a 
normal practice of proletarians and is due to the lack of incentive 
under capitalism. He follows the universal law of the exchange 
of commodities by giving as little as possible and taking as much 
as he can get. It is due to a recognition of this law by employ- 
ing capitalists that "scientific management" is being introduced 
in industry, and standards of work, output and quality are being 
established for wage workers. 

The sabotage that we have in mind is that which proposes 
the destruction of machinery, railways, arsenals, etc., a guerilla 
vandalism that leads to riot, that provokes brutal police and mili- 
tary power and reactionary interference by officials of the gov- 
ernment. The Syndicalist regards this as "striking on the job." 
It has two advantages, according to him. It enables the striker 
to stay at work and draw wages and does not give the em- 
ploying capitalists an opportunity to substitute strike breakers. 
Damaging or destroying products or machinery while "striking 
on the job" until the capitalist grants the demands of the strik- 
ers constitute the "mi litant jtagtics" of Syndicalism. It is not 
denied that this will prdvokeThe police and military. But what 
of that. The main exponent of Syndicalism in America faces 
this and asserts: "They (the strikers) will soon learn that a 
strike is a battle in the true sense of the word, and, while in 
these modern battles the guns and bayonets are against them, 
their power to 'raise general hell' is a far more formidable 
weapon, against which the army and police are about as effective 
as is a broom to sweep back the rising tide." ^ 

Splendid assurance, this. Armed police and soldiers trained 
for their grim work are ineffective if strikers will only "raise 
general hell." It seems almost incomprehensible that sane men 
can invite wage workers to this welter of unreasoning suicide in 
the name of revolution. Is it not one of the "glories" of the cap- 
italist state that It is capable of suppressing any "general hell" 
. . that desperate workers may "raise" and so give a sense of se- 
curity to the classes of "law and order?" One of the lessons that 
the working-class in modern nations have learned is that de- 
liberate violence can only be systematically practiced by the rul- 
ing classes. When indulged in by the workers it proves demor- 
alizing and reactionary. So well do the ruling classes appreciate 
this that it is a common practice with them to hire detectives, 
whose purpose it is to encourage strikers to "raise hell," in order 
that police and military may be called to break the strike. 
I ; Max Baginski, a German Syndicalist, also recognizes that the 

f"* practice of sabotage must provoke the use of police and mili- 
^.•'" tary powers. His solution of the question is to finally starve out 
the capitalist class. He says: "With the power of the general 
strike, the proletariat is able to starve out the bourgeois, includ- 
ing their system of law and order. There are people who will 
say: 'Yes, but the proletariat will be overcome with hunger be- 
'^ fore the propertied class.* " Baginski answers his own question 
as follows: "That is weak argument. Capitalist economy has 
created an entirely capitalistic morality, but the general strike 



has its own morality, and its first paragraph sounds like this: 
'The workingmen have the right to those products they have pro- 
duced through their own energy. * "4 in other words, should it 
come to an actual possibility of the capitalist class, -into whose 
hands the Syndicalist leaves all the police and military power, 
facing want, this class will be foolish enough not to use its power 
to secure food supplies! Opposed to police and military power 
will be the "morality of the general strike," which will some- 
how prove triumphant. And the reverse is weak argument! 

As Plechanoff points out in the case of the Anarchists in his 
brilliant "Socialist vs. Anarchism," all that is necessary to ac- 
cept the conclusions of their half-brothers is to "assume" certain 
premises and you will have no difficulty in disposing of "weak 
arguments." Two paragraphs following the one quoted from 
Baginski, he deplores the fact that the ruling classes use "the 
power of the government, with which they strike to the ground 
every resistance oftered." What then becomes of the irresistible 
"morality of the general strike?" One moment it is invincible; 
the next moment it is struck to the ground by the vile bour- 
geoisie who refuse to recognize its power. Some one certainly 
has a "weak argument," but the bourgeois is certainly not wor- 
rying whose logic is at fault. 

The reality of the state with its coercive powers is forced 
on Baginski and other Syndicalists, as we have shown. Sabotage 
destroys itself. To assume that a body of strikers can continue 
to "strike on the job" by remaining at work and destroying ma- 
chinery and products, is to assume that the capitalist employers 
have not the power of closing their shops, declaring a lockout 
and using the police and army the moment this vandalism is 
known. One experience with sabotage will place the employers 
on guard, and any attempt to repeat it would merely provoke a 
lockout before any damage could be done. 

The case has been well put by Joseph Cohen in an article 
in the Socialist press in June, 1912. "Sabotage is bred of the 
idea that the worker can improve his condition by stealth and 
secrecy," he writes. "Sabotage is on a plane with the notion of 
the small shopkeeper who imagines he can become a millionaire 
by sanding his sugar. ' It is on a level with the idea of a small- 
fry manufacturer who can see himself becoming a great captain 
of industry by cheap adulteration. 

"We think the working class can do better than to go to 
the upper classes for morality. The upper classes have none to 
spare of the right kind. The kind they have in abundance, the 
workers can do better without. 

"Violence and crime, indulged in by all elements of the ruling 
classes in acquiring their accumulations, are equally reactionary 
\ when picked up by the workers. Violence and crime, of course, 
\ cannot be defended by argument^they are the absence of argu- 
ment. Sabotage, violence and crime are an unholy trinity that 
can serve only minorities. It is folly to imagine that a whole 
union, for instance, could employ this trinity without it dawning 
upon even the dull wits of the ruling class. Once it is publicly 
known its serviceability passes away. Only parlor Socialists are 
permitted to suggest such tactics publicly and be free from ap- 
prehension by the police." 

/^ K riot is noi a revolution; sabotage is.^. n(5)J;, ^vr^^i^^l^e class 
struggle. It is the street insurrection of the muddled Utopians 


before the days of the Communist Manifesto. It is a reversion 
. back to the days when it was thought that street revolts planned 
by "revolutionary" minorities could overthrow capitalism. Marx 
directed some of his keenest satire and most convincing argument 
against these hot heads in the International Workingmen's Ass'> 

On the other hand, besides being fruitless and reactionary,^ 
the practice of sabotage leads to brutality and coarse instincts 
among the working class. Deliberate vandalism has no place in 
a revolutionary movement that claims to raise unthinking pro- 
letarians to the status of human beings. "We are armed with 
the culture of our century," cried Lasalle. Sabotage invites the 
workers to part with it and pit brutality against brutality, in- 
trigue againsts intrigue. Capitalist vice cannot be transformed 
into proletarian virtue, and centuries of progress have bequeathed 
something better to revolutionary workingmen than a vulgar and 
barren imitation of a bourgeois vice. The capitalist class wel- 
comes the imitation, encourages it, even pays its hired tools to 
foster it in the unions. This class fostered it in the American 
Railway Union strike of 1894 for the purpose of breaking the 
strike. 5 The liberal press today ^ carries the story of how the 
employing classes at Lawrence, Massachusetts, planted dynamite 
in the recent strike to discredit the strikers, and one of the 
wealthy criminals lies a suicide after making a confession. The 
strikers declined to "raise general hell" and the exploiters decided 
to raise It for them. The Syndicalist, in the name of revolution^ 
does that which the exploiter is anxious to pay for having done. 
There is the further consideration that the methods known 
as sabotage are adapted to individual action, for which an entire 
group in a given struggle may be held responsible. It provides 
the conditions for the sneak and the spy to incriminate striker:; 
and destroy the efficiency of mass action. As Chas. Dobbs admir- 
ably says; 

"A resort to violence by individuals or a minority group as 
a means of settling a social problem is a confession of moral and 
intellectual incompetence. 

"It is a confession that those who advocate or practice vio- 
lence are afraid to submit the justice of their causo to the arbi- 
tration of reason. 

"These propositions are, or ought to be, axiomatic. We may 
be impatient at the slow progress of our campaign to convert 
the majority to our point of view, but when thi^ impatience finds 
. • ' expression in 'short cuts' to the New Jerusalem, it ceases to be 
scientific and becomes raw Utopianism. If this 'short cut' takes 
the form of brutal conflict or contemptible sabotage, it is a con- 
fession that education is a farce and that the only argument 
which men will recognize is a knife at the midriff or a blow be- 
tween the eyes." ^ 

The advocacy of sabotage is a natural consequence of the 

[ . rejection of political action. Without sabotage and political ac- 

- - tion, all that is left is conservative unionism. An example ( f the 

- "profound" reasoning employed for opposing political action may 

\^ be seen by selecting a sample from the bulk. An active Syn- 

S dicalist writes: "Politics being the dirtiest word in the English 

:;#. .language, let us keep it that way, forestalling all attempts oi 

\'4 politicians (Socialist or otherwise) to make it respectable in the 

fcj , eyes of the working class." 8 is there anything wanting in this 


to convince a reasonable human being that the struggle cf the 
working class for control of the governing powers is vile? It 
would be idle to attempt any reply. It carries with it the savag- 
ery of unreasoning bigotry that prompted the New England Puri- 
tans to pierce the tongues of Quakers for their "heresies." 

Other Syndicalists have rational moments when consider- 
ing political action, though it is not diflacult to give uumerons 
examples of the type of mind the ibove quotation discloses. ' 
Tom Mann, the foremost represntative o/ Syndicalism in Great - 
Britain, asserts that in many countries a proportion of So- "■ . 
cialist representatives who were revolutionary, on being re- \ 
turned are no longer so after a few years in Parliament. 
"They are revolutionary," he writes, "neither in their attitude • 
towards existing society nor in respect of preSent-day institu- 
tions. ♦ ♦ ♦ Many seem to have constituted themselves • : 
apologists for existing society, showing a degree of studied :^ ' 
respect for bourgeois conditions, and a toleration of bourgeois, j-^ 
methods, that destroys the probability of their doing any reaK -:;j 
work of a revolutionary character." 9 •^■^ 

Socialists have recognized this tendency without drawing ^'-«l 
Syndicalist conclusions. This tendency comes up in one form - ^ '•" 
or other at nearly every International Congress, which has Z^ 
always decided for a revolutionary attitude. In the different ^Jjj 
countries the party has also faced this tendency, and in France, JjH 
the classic land of Syndicalism, the, party has not hesitated to r'3fc 
expel its Briands, Vlvianis and Millerands. The Syndicalist ^gfl 
throws up his hands in despair when a reformist tendency ap- ^ 
pears in the party, and straightway gives his entire time to r< 
the unions, many of which are ofllcered by extreme conserva- '^ ^ 
tives, who openly oppose any revolutionary propaganda. Eng- . .^ ■ 
land, no doubt, has its John Tobins and Harry Whites, who, 
from once being Socialists in their unions, have become not 
only conservatives but, like John Burns, enemies of the work- 
ing class. Here in the unions will be found plenty of reasons 
for leaving them, as well as the party, and to insist that a 
proletarian revolution is a haunting vision of diseased minds 
This attitude also ignores the real achievements that a meas^: 
ure of political power has made possible for the workers in 
many countries, especially in labor struggles. It is only 
step from rejecting political action because a reformist ten 
dency had developed within the party to rejecting it on prin 
ciple and as being unnecessary. This latter attitude is th( 
position that your true Syndicalist finally takes. When hel 
has "arrived" there is no necessity for searching his literature! 
for his reasons for opposing political action, as he has adde^- 
nothing new to what the Anarchists have already said. 

On the other hand, it is difficult to believe that Syndical 
ists can be sincere in their assertions that the Socialist Part; 
stands for political action alone. The activities of the part; 
are manifold. They include public demonstrations against 
hostile movements to subject the unions, to cripple them, or 
to jail their representatives; aid to the workers in big strikes 
through contributions and publicity; defense of Russian, Mex 
ican and other political refugees and preserving the right of 
asylum for these in America; actual participation in every 
great class war of vital issue to the workers in this country. 


and very often extending assistance to the workers of Europe 
in some of their great struggles, as, for example, the Russian 
revolution or the Swedish general strike. It may be said with 
truth that in every great struggle of vital importance in this 
country that did not involve the casting of ballots the So- 
cialist Party has taken a leading part. In the Moyer-Haywood- 
Pettibone case, the struggle for the Mexican and Russian refu- 
gees, the strikes at McKees Rocks and Lawrence the party was 
the chief factor in directing public attention to these and se- 
curing assistance for the victims. Where else in capitalist so- 
ciety will one find an institution that has always been mili- 
tant in behalf of every popular struggle? Even the unions 
have often had to be aroused by the party to some impending 
danger that threatened them. The party has never followed; 
it has always blazed the way for others in these struggles. The 
struggle in the mountain states that culminated in the Moyer- 
Haywood-Pettibone kidnaping had been given full publicity 
and support for many months by the party before the labor 
organizations were thoroughly aroused, and it required the 
kidnaping to awaken them to the serious aspect of the strug- 
gle. In view of all this the Syndicalist simply ignores many 
facts of recent history when asserting that the party is only 
interested in electoral struggles. Socialists are interested in 
every genuine working-class struggle, whether expressed in 
strikes, lockouts, free speech struggles, refugee cases or other 
phases of the class war. 

Possessing little political power, the party is already mak- 
ing History. It has been a powerful factor in removing some 
particularly vile judges from the Federal bench. It is no ex- 
aggeration to also say that the rise of the Socialist Party has 
compelled the old parties to change their platforms. It has 
even been instrumental in calling into existence that sinister 
' abortion, the Progressive party, as a political department of the 
^-v United States Steel Corporation. It has compelled Roosevelt 
::^ to insert some of the demands of the Socialist Party in the 
platform of the Progressive party, but we, as Socialists, know 
that if these demands are enacted into law they will be 
■:l^ twisted and distorted into "jokers" that will give further se- 
-^ curity to the ruling classes. Still we have testimony to the 
^;V power of the party when Roosevelt takes these demands. It 
"y^ only requires the triumph of him and his associates to prove 
ti-c that such demands when passed as bills become the reverse 
p3 of these demands as conceived by Socialists. The Liberal Party 
T*' of Great Britain has already given evidence of this. Its "pop- 
^ ular" demands are not worth the paper that contains them, 
r^P- while it has even gone further in its use of armed forces to 
; : . suppress strikes of workingmen. 

It may also be said that the partial success of the Law- 
•- rence strike, which is pointed to by syndicalists as an example 
h of modern union tactics, was largely due to the fact that a 
.,,*r Socialist Congressman forced a genuine investigation of the 
^+ strike. This gave publicity to police atrocities and the wretched 
i-^ conditions of the textile operatives. In spite of all the boast- 
■jf ing of the men who became prominent as leaders of the strike, 
'"%. it is also a fact that they had to finally accept a compromise, 
^m and the most active man, who planned the struggle and who 
K Bhared in its sacrifices, was finally blacklisted and forced to 


—16— 1 

seek employment elsewhere. The state and political power 
will force themselves on the attention of syndicalists, how- 
ever much they may claim to reject them or to minimize them /I 
as factors in the class war. 

III. French Syndicalism. 

France is the home of Syndicalism, for here the doctrines 
and policies embraced by the word were formed. It devel- 
oped out of conditions peculiar to the working class movement 
of France and may be stated as follows: 

1. The recogniton by the Anarchists that the "propaganda 
of the deed" had failed to stir the workers to revolt for the 
overthrow of church and state. Repeated assassinations and 
outrages had left the European workers suspicious and hostile 
toward Anarchism instead of giving them courage to resort 
to violence, as the Anarchists had hoped. 

2. The apostacy of a number of prominent Socialists who 
had been elected to Parliament caused distrust among French 
workers for political action, which gave the Anarchists an 
opportunity for new activity which the failure of their old 
methods made necessary. 

3. The trade unions, formerly regarded by Anarchisms 
as largely a compromise with capitalism and conservative by 
nature, were now entered by them and union methods were 
glorified as the "economic revolution." The distrust of po- 
litical action was encouraged and the mass strike and sabotage 
were held to be sufficient for the task of overthrowing capital- 
ism. The dirk and the bomb were replaced by sabotage and 
the general strike. These are the historical conditions that 
gave rise to "insatiable Syndicalism." 

The Anarchist propaganda of the deed had its beginnings 
in the late '70s, and by 1894 a reign of terror prevailed in 
France because of frequent attacks on public officials and 
bomb explosions in theaters, cafes and other public places. 
These received enthuiastic approval in the Anarchist press, 
even when innocent people were among the victims. It was 
about this time that Ravachol, a common murderer, appeared 
in Paris and became associated with the Anarchists. In 1886 
Ravachol, desiring to possess the money of an old man, split 
his skull with a hatchet. In 1891 he unearthed a corpse with 
the intention of stripping it of its jewels, but his crime was 
barren of any material result. The same year he strangled 
an old hermit and shared his booty with his mistress. Later 
he turned up in Paris and professed Anarchist principles. It 
was not the first time that men of this type became attracted 
to Anarchism, and Ravachol soon became active in a number 
of bomb explosions, which finally led to his arrest and execu- 
tion for the murders already mentioned. When sentence of 
death was pronounced he defiantly shouted "Vive I'Anarchie!"! 
The end of Ravachol, recalls Plechanoff's epigram that "it is 
difficult to tell where the 'companion' ends and the bandit be- 
p^ins." In recent years a series of crimes were committed by 
"auto bandits" in Paris, and these and their deeds were glori- 
fied in the Syndicalist press. 

Coining counterfeit money and practicing "individual ex- 
propriation" (robbery) also constituted the "direct action" of 
the Anarchists who coined the phrase. Iq ia£;t,.jdlr.ect action 




never meant anything but individual action until the Anar- 
chists entered the unions, when it came to include action by 
minority groups. 2 The Congress of Syndicates (unions) 
which met at Rennes in 1898 considered a report by M. Pou- 
get, an Anarchist, which stated, among other things: '*We can 
only lay down the theory and express the wish that the boy- 
cott and the sabotage should enter into the arsenal of weapons 
which the workingmen use in their struggle against capitalists 
on the same plane as the strike, and that, more and more, 
the direction of the social movement should be toward the di- 
rect action of individuals and towards a greater consciousness 
of their personal powers." ^ two years later in Paris another 
Congress affirmed that a daring revolutionary minority could 
accomplish a Social Revolution; that "everyone would take 
what he needs wherever he found it; the result would be the 
completest possible emancipation." One year later at Lyons 
another Congress declares the general strike will emancipate 
the workers "through the violent expropriation of the capi- 
talist class." 4 These are the views of the Anarchists after 
they abandoned the Ravachol kind of "direct action" and 
swallowed their ancient prejudices against the unions. In- 
dividual vandalism is not rejected, but is merely coupled with 
action by "militant minorities." This is "insatiable Syndi- 
calism," a "rebirth of Marxism," or the **New Socialism," ac- 
cording to Robert Rives LaMonte! 5 Marx has certainly be- 
come very yellow and out of date. 

The opportunity for securing acceptance of these destruc- 
tive ideas came when Millerand, and later Briand and Vivian!, 
accepted cabinet positions in a capitalist government. Th^ 
Anarchists now in the unions pointed to the treachery of the 
renegade Socialists as the logical result of all political action. 
Why should workingmen bother themselves with a capitalist 
institution like Parliament? Here is the logical result of all 
political action, they answered. The working class go into 
politics and their deputies not only become politicians, but re- 
actionary, and actually share in responsibility for repressive 
measures against workingmen. 

There, was absolutely nothing new in the argument that 
Socialists had not -met before, yet, it had its effect, so that tlje 
uniong_assiimed an jinti-political character and the -lusion^4)f 
naTQhism wTth^^jnuoiii sm produ ced the peculiar thing known 
a s^yhdicansm ! THe^ "genuine MaTxisfs, like Jules Guesde and 
Paul i^aiargue, were well aware of the origin and history of 
Syndicalism and opposed it. One of the most prominent theo- 
retical exponents of Syndicalism, M. Sorel, finally renounced 
his "revolutionary" views and in 1910 wrote in answer to an 
invitation from Italian Syndicalists to attend their Congress 
that deeper question*^ "now interest the cultivated youth of 
France." One of the "deeper questions" that seemed to at- 
tract him was the restoration of monarchy; he made prepara- 
tions for the publication of a neo-monarchist monthly which 
never saw the light. This act weakened the faction Sorel had 
affiliated with. 6 Political action may have its dangers, yet it 
jvould seem that even Syndicalism can not avail against the 
"original sin" that sometimes lead men into traitorous conduct 
and to embrace reactionary views. It is certain that vile>l 
politics was not responsible for the apostacjr of ^qrel. 

—18— ^ 

I French Syndicalists, like the Socialists, carry on an active 
I propaganda against militarism, and it may be admitted that y 
^ they have accomplished some good on this score. A reaction ^ , 
against the non-political attitude of the workers is also taking 
place, which would indicate that Anarchist vi.ews are on the « ; 
decline. Gustavo Herve, one of the most admirable of the ;--■ 
anti-militarists, and who had been very sympathetic with the _..^j 
Syndicalist propaganda, has recently admitted the mistake he ; 

and his associates have made. ' j 

In his paper, "La jGuerre Sociale," Herve recently wrote: / I 
"We went on to crab the Socialist Party and by a pleasant 
process of generalization called it a hotbed of traitors and ' 
humbugs on the make. We dtd our best to wreck the faith 
of the working classes in the parliamentary system. * j 

"Unfortunately, we have overshot the mark. We suc- 
ceeded only too well. We meant to react against the extremes -J 
of parliamentary Socialism, and we drove many of our best ■< 
men to the other extreme, a still more fatal one, viz., anti- ^-q 
parliamentarism, so today the great dangers for the Socialist 
Party are the ravages by abstaining from voting and by the 
anarchistic anti-parliamentarism in the general labor federa- 
tion." 7 It is certain that this declaration by Herve and his 
associates will have a marked influence on the French Social- 
ists who have been lured away from the political movement 
by the Anarcho-Syndicalists. ;jS 

French Syndicalism is also intensely anti-patriotic as its iM 
anti-militarist propaganda would indicate. In his book, "My \' 
/Country, Right or Wrong," Herve deals with this question at ¥ 
length and strongly advocates Insurrection by the working class J-^ 
In case of war. At the International Socialist Congress at '^ 
Stuttgart, 1907, Herve embodied his idea of how to meet the 
threat of war in a resolution which urged the military strike 
and insurrection. In the debate which followed he declared: 
"But you may depend upon It, If you march against France, 
. you will be received with the shots of our insurrectional com- 
munes upon which you will see waving the red flag of our In- 
ternational, which you will have betrayed!" 8 it is evident 
that these Insurrectional communes could only consist of a 
"militant minority* unless France had- been conquered by the 
working class. In the latter case, to greet foreign workers 
with shot and shell would be a crime greater than that of 
workingmen Ignorantly fighting a war for their ruling class. 
If the workers are still- a minority then the military revolt 
invites a wholesale massacre of the revolting minority at the 
hands of the military forces still at the command of French 
capitalism. The Congress declined to accept the resolution of 
Herve, though urging the workers to use "all their forces for 
utilizing the economical and political crisis created by war, 
in order to rouse the masses of the people, and to hasten the 
downfall of the predominance of the capitalist class." 

The French Syndicalists apparently believe that they are 
soon to overthrow the capitalist state and its related Institu- 
tions. The Congress of Lyons in 1901 proceeded to secure In- 
formation from affiliated syndicates bearing on the question 
of how they were prepared to carry on production after the 
social revolution; what resources they had for this purpose 
and what suggeatlons they had to offer fof jjuj^rying^ it .out. 


Among the question^ asked were the following: 

1. How would your syndicat act in order to transform 
itself from a group of combat into a group for production? 

2. How would you act in order to take possession of the 
machinery pertaining to your industry? 

3. How do you conceive the functions of the organized 
shops and factories in the future? 

4. If your syndicat is a group within the system of high- 
ways, of transportation of products or of passengers, of dis- 
tribution, etc., how do you conceive its functioning? 

5. What will be your relations to your federation of trade 
or of industry after your reorganization? 

6. On what principle would the distribution of products 
take place and how would the productive groups procure the 
raw materials for themselves? » 

"Insatiable Syndicalism," like the Utopianism of the past, 
is anxious to plan the details of a new society. The unions 
being regarded as the economic framework of a new society, 
the questions we^e naturally addressed to them. 

The French theorists of Syndicalism are divided by Le- 
vine into two groups, one of active workers in the Syndicalist 
movement and the other of "intellectuals" outside. The form- 
er have emphasized and worked out the methods of Syndi- 
calism while the latter have worked out its theoretical basis. 
The most "profound" thinker of this group is Sorel, who as 
already stated, has gone over to the party seeking a restora- 
tion of the monarchy. 

Sorers claim to originality Is that he has followed the 
Marxian method and has modernized the revolutionary prin- 
ciples of Marx. He is true to the spirit of Marx, but rescues 
the latter from the false interpretations of his vi^ws. Bed- 
sides, Sorel holds, Marx could not penetrate the future and 
anticipate present tendencies so that it devolves on\ Sorel, 
while following the Marxian method, to take up this neglected 
work. In commdn with Marxists Sorel will have no tolera- 
tion of Utopian speculation. The economic forces of society 
must develop to maturity before the social revolution is pos- 
sible, and the working class must be equipped morally and in- 
tellectually to direct the power that will come into its hands. 
This training and discipline can only be acquired in the 
unions for these develop the administrative and organizing 
capacities of the workers while politics only develops political 

The most potent educating and organizing iorce, accord- 
ing to Sorel, is the general strike which finally means the so- 
cial revolution. The idea is a "social myth" which gives it 
great force. The "social myth" plays an important part in 
Sorel's "neo-Marxism." Men in a great cause see themselves 
as images battling in future struggles and these images are 
"myths." These images can not be analyzed like a tangible 
;thing yet the "social myth" is ever present in every great so- 
cial struggle. The reader may think that Sorel is soaring in 
mysticism or drifting on a Utopian tide at this point, but 
we have his assurance that "myths" are esential to a revolu- 
tionary movement and we will have to be satisfied with this 
"Marxian method." Perhaps M. Sorel in following the "so- 
cial myth" found it later in his monarchist prt)paganda. 


He holds that violence stimulates the class feelings of the^ 
workers and will finally intimidate the exploiting caxyltalisuT 
into giving all their attention to the development of their 
economic interests and so hasten the complete development of 
capitalism. Marx was anything but mystical yet Sorel de- 
liberately plunges into the depths of his consciousness and 
brings forth the "social myth" as a contribution to economic 
and social science. Claiming to follow the Marxian method, 
he deserts it by affirming that science cannot explain anything, 
while Marx affirmed that it was possible to forecast at least 
the outlines of the future if we comprehend the tendencies of 
the present. Marx is the realist; Sorel is the mystic. As Le- 
vine puts it, Sorel "attributes a large role to the unclear, to 
the subconscious and to the mystical In all social phenomena." 
An example of Sorel's thought may be had from the following: 

"Socialism is necessarily a very obscure thing, because It 
treats of production — that Is, of what is most mysterious in 
human activity — ^and because it proposes to realize a radical 
transformation in this region which it is impossible to de- 
scribe with the clearness which is found in the superficial re- 
gions of the world. No effort of thought, no progress of knowl- 
edge, no reasonable induction will ever be able to dispel the 
mystery which envelops Socialism." 

Here we find it affirmed that the superficial can be ana- 
lyzed and described with clearness while the facts and reality 
of capitalist production must ever remain a mystery! Wages 
and profits are beyond the human mind but "social myths" are 
easily comprehended as well as "superficial regions of the 
world." We commend this passage to those sympathetic with 
the "rebirth of Marxism" or the "New Socialism" of our 
American Syndicalists, lo it is hardly necessary to contrast 
this pecilliar blending of mystical and abstract thinking with 
the realism of all the modern Socialist writers including Marx. 
If there Is any relation between the former and the latter It ^ 
Is a relation of antagonism at every point. Yet we are urged ^0 
In the name of the working class and Its future to abandon ^.J 
the modern scientific method and theory of Socialism for this 
shallow, mystical speculation of "revolutionary Syndicalism!" 

A number of other factors have played their part In shap- 
ing the Syndicalist movement in France. A country of small- 
scale production and small capitalists like France has not the 
economic basis for a large union movement. Contrary to the 
opinion of many American Syndicalists Industrial unionism Is 
not synonymous with Syndicalism. The two have no necessary 
relation. It Is doubtful whether there Is one genuine Industrial 
union In France, although the federated unions act with more 
unity than the craft unions of many countries. The genuine 
Syndicalists in America recognize this fact, as will be shown 
later, and lay less emphasis on industrial organization. They 
are more ^interested in methods than in form of organization. 

The revolutionary traditions of France have had a marked 
Infiuence on all political and economic theories and no man 
can hope to get a hearing, or at least a following, unless he 
presents his theories In some startling or revolutionary way. 
Impulsive and idealistic as the people are everything must be 
reduced to a^ scientific formula and be justified before the bar 
of their revolutionary traditions. Craft unionism, with this 


historical background and guided by its . Anarchists patrons, 
thus became a "revolutionary" craft unionism, or Syndicalism. 
Even bourgeois politicians like Clemenceau have in their pub- 
^ lie addresses exhibited a daring in the use of revolutionary 
language that sometimes startled their immediate followers. 

The small membership of the unions and the reluctance 
of the members to pay high dues are also sources of weak- 
ness which made the resort to sabotage and violence easily ac- 
ceptable, especially when these methods were outlined and de- 
fended by the adroit arguments ever at the command of the 
Anarchists. The poverty of the unions has induced them to 
consider co-operative associations to aid them when their mem- 
bers are on strike. For this reason, also, as Levine points out, 
"Syndicats on strike, impelled by the desire to increase their 
forces, try to involve as many trades and workingmen as pos- 
sible and to enhance their own chances by enlarging the field 
of struggle. This is why such general movements, as the move- 
ment for an eight-hour day, * * * ♦ are advocated by the 
syndicats. Th« latter feel that in order to gain any impoi;J:ant 
demand they must be backed by as large a number of working- 
men as possible. But in view of their weakness, the syndicats 
can start a large movement only by stirring up the country, by 
formulating some general demand which on the one hand ap- 
peals to all workingmen, while on the other hand it throws 
employers into consternation. The same conditions explain 
in part the favor which the idea of the general strike has found 
in the syndicats." n 

It is not contended that the Anarchists alone are respon- 
sible for Syndicalism. In the Syndicalist movement of France 
may be found many active Socialists, some accepting and some 
•pposing the Anarchist theories. There are others who are 
neither Anarchists or Socialists, but unionists "pure and sim- 
ple." Yet it remains a fact that the Anarchists have had the 
largest share in formulating the theoretical basis of Syndical- 
ism,' and the latter is in many respects harmonious with Anar- 
chism in general. 

IV. Syndicalism in America. 

It is not very difficult to trace the development of Syndical- 
ist views in America, although they are not as clearly defined 
as in France. The first utterance giving expression to- some 
phase of Syndicalist thought is contained in the speech of 
Daniel De Leon, of the Socialist Labor Party, in Minneapolis, 
on July 10, 1905. The Industrial Workers of the World had 
just been organized at Chicago, and De Leon proceeded to give 
his own interpretation of its mission and principles. De Leon 
had long had access to the French Socialist and Syndicalist 
publications, and in this speech he proclaims it the mission of 
the union to "take and hold" the machinery of production. He 
further emphasizes this by asserting that "it is not a political 
organization ♦ * ♦ ♦ that can 'take and hold' the land 
and the capital and the fullness thereof." Only an economic 
organization can do this and this constitutes the "code of ac- 
tion," the "code of Marxian tactics." The end of the political 
movement is destructive; the moment we capture the powers 
of the State— "the robber burg of capitalism"— we do nothing 

but adjourn! To hold this power any longer than it takes UB 
to abandon it would' be usurpation. In taking the State we do so 
only to "abolish" it. The headquarters of the I. W. W. then 
becomes the capital of the nation. If the capitalist class resist 
the seizure of industry by the union — well, so much the worse 
for them, for the I. W. W. "will be in position to mop the earth 
with the rebellious usurper." i 

Three Syndicalist ideas are here more or less clearly ex- 
pressed, namely, seizure of the machinery of production by the 
union; immediate abolition of the State, and, though not re- 
jecting political action, using it to obtain power and then giving 
it up after being attaned. De Leon recognizes the possibility of 
capitalist resistance to union seizure, and this at least would 
suggest the wisdom of holding the State and using its powers to 
suppress the usurper, but he will have none of this. The 
politically victorious workers must "adjourn," and if the capital- 
ists resist the I. W. W. will in some way — we are not told how — 
"mop the earth with them." Perhaps the I. W. W. will "raise 
gei\eral hell," as another Syndicalist expresses it. At least there 
is no other conjecture left to us. Political action is not com- 
pletely rejected, but to abandon political power after winning 
it differs little from refusing to struggle for it in the first place. 
De Leon's grudging concession to politics at all was necessary, 
or the S. L. P. would also have to "adjourn." 

To "abolish" the State is also an idea common to Anarchists 
and Syndicalists. Engels shows that. by no means will the State 
be "abolished" when it is conquered by the workers, nor will 
our first and last act on assuming power be to adjourn^, "The 
proletariat seizes political* power and turns the means of pro- 
duction into State property," he writes. He further asserts that 
in doing this the State is abolished as a State, i. e., as an organ 
of a ruling class. It is not abandoned, but its class character 
disappears and this comes by a gradual process; its "inter- 
ference . in social relations becomes, in one domain after an- 
other, superfluous, and then dies out of itself ♦ * ♦ ♦ The 
State is not 'abolished.' It dies out." He then refers to the 
"demands of the so-called Anarchists for the abolition of the 
State out of hand." - In fact, the state, like the school and the 
press, will simply lose its class character and with the aboli- 
tion of classes will be transformed into a popular agency for 
serving the common needs of society. 

The ideas embodied in De Leon's speech and later in his 
paper were repeated by his partisans and accepted by some 
members in the Socialist Party. Scarcely anything was known 
of Syndicalism in America at this time and the word itself had 
not appeared in our publications. A short time before De Leon 
delivered his Minneapolis speech he delivered another at New- 
ark, N. J. Here he spoke of the necessity of industrial organ- 
ization to "save the eventual and possible political victory from 
bankruptcy, by enabling the working class to assume and con- 
duct production the moment the guns of the public powers fall 
Into its hands — or before, if need be, if capitalist political chican- 
ery pollutes the ballot box. "3 Here the ideas are expressed of 
the union seizing industry before a political victory — "if need be" 
— or under the protection of the guns which political power will 
give us. At Minneapolis, however, we are to abandon the guns 

as soon as they fall into our hands by "adjourning" and, if it Is 
necessary, the I. W. W. will "mop the earth" with the rebellious 
capitalist even without guns, i. e., the force which control of 
the governing power gives. There is no more certainty in the 
phrase "mop the earth" than there is in that of Labille's, who 
urges the workers to "raise general hell." Both are suggestive 
of some form of violence, yet blissfully vague as to whether the 
general strike or armed insurrection or some other method is 
advised to meet the crisis. The shamefaced Syndicalist is no 
more definite at this point than the pure variety. 

• After the Minneapolis speech of De Leon the conception of 
the indsutrial union as the agency through which industry 
would not only be seized by the workers, but affeo serve as the 
"structure of the new society within the shell of the old," be- 
came more pronounced. One faction of the I. W. W. drifted to 
the position of rejecting political action entirely and advised 
the workers to "strike at the ballot box — with an ax!" This 
faction at least dispensed with the folly of urging the conquest 
of political power, only to abandon it when conquered. 

Later the Utopianism of the French Syndicalists, who an- 
ticipated the social revolution by sending out a series of ques- 
tons to learn how the workers would manage the particular 
industries each union would seize, was matched by a pamphlet, 
issued by William E. Trautmann, containing a chart with a 
complete outline of the organization of all industries.4 The 
Frenchmen at least had the merit of moving cautiously and 
getting information from the workers as to their ideas and 
wishes before reducing the New Jerusalem to a diagram. 

One of the largest monthlies soon became affected with 
the new propaganda, first by printing articles from contributors 
of a Syndicalist trend, and later by editorially endorsing Syn- 
dicalism. A. M. Stirton wrote in January, 1910, that "it is 
quite impossible to convince him (the worker) that the mere put- 
ting of pieces of paper in a ballot box will solve problems which 
; * he finds ourselves side-stepping in our literature and party 
'■' platforms." He goes on to state that when "the workers are 

once industrially organized so that they are competent to con- 
' trol production and distribution, in that very moment they 

have possession. They need no further process, either with 
; gun, ballot or bargain. They are practically in possession." 

Here no resistance to union seizure is expected, for neither 
"gun, ballot or bargain" are required if the workers will simply 
I "take and hold" the industries. Later in the same article the 

possibility of capitalists resistance occurs to him, and he sug- 
\ gests the "convenience" of the workers having a political party 

; . in power, but merely to "ratify the acts of the revolutionary pro- 
; - letariat." r> Putting "pieces of paper in a ballot box" might 
f. ' after all be of some service to the workers, slight though it be. 
[.- Tom Mann is quoted by William D. Haywood, with approval, 
ti " in a later issue of the same publication thf^t "with or without 
£,*.. Parliamentary action, industrial solidarity will insure ecof- 
p* nomic freedom." « 

b- In a pamphlet Haywood and Bohn join in a restatement 

le of their attitude toward unionism and Socialism, which bears 
r^ the impress of Syndicalist ideas. Speaking of the State, they 
fe. assert that "The Socialist Party can seize it,^preventit^ doing 

further harm to the workers and at the proper time throw It 
on the scrap heap. * * *." The Syndicalist idea of "aholish- 
ing" the State is here rather vaguely expressed. Their con- 
ception of its use before being thrown on the "scrap heap" is 
to prevent it doing any harm to the workers who are taking 
possession of industry. As Sorel, the French Syndicalist, re- 
garded Socialism as a deep "mystery," so Haywood and Bohn 
regard the political phase of Socialism, "by the passing of laws 
in the legislatures and Congress," as so many questions that 
are "naturally many and hard." Everything becomes simple, 
however, when looking at Socialism through "shop windows." 
Why the first is hard and the second not is left to the con- 
jecture of the reader. It is our opinion that the assertion is 
merely a gentle form of sabotage against political action, with 
which all this literature abounds. In fact, they become more 
positive in this sabotage against political action by proclaim- 
ing old-age pensions "charity doled out to paupers, or bribes 
given to voters by politicians." However, suspicion is set at 
rest when they come to consider the government of cities, where 
fire departments, waterworks, public schools and health de- 
partments are not regarded as so much "charity doled out to 
paupers," but as "social service departments" that must be 
extended under working class control. Just why health de- 
partments are not classed with pensions as charity for paupers 
we are unable to say. The same pamphlet contains the state- 
ment that provoked so much controversy last year, to the 
effect that the worker "will use any weapon which will win 
his fight."7 

Everywhere in this literature is to be found ambiguous 
statements, adroit evasions, suggestive passages, guarded at- 
tacks and contraditions. It is difficult to find any two that 
agree regarding political action, what part it is to play in the 
class struggle and the role ascribed to it when the working 
class is triumphant. All of them, however, emphasize the 
supreme importance of the union, and if political action is not . 
rejected it is accepted only as a weak aid, at least, to the union. 
All of them regard the industrial union as the agency that will 
take possession of industry, and this final act will be reached 
by a series of strikes leading up to it, during which the party 
is to be a collecting agency to secure funds for the strikers. In 
a personal interview with Haywood in New York on June 4, 
1912, the Scripps-McRae paper report him as saying: 

"Syndicalism is the creed of the direct attack by one big 
union, composed of all the workers of the world. When we 
are all ready, when we have our world-union near enough to 
completion, we will simply lay down our tools — all of us. And 
if we are strong enough to lay down our tools in a body, we 
will be strong enough to pick up our tools — and at our own 
terms. Our terms will be an utter rejection of any bargain 
except that we receive all that we earn." 

Throughout the interview there is no mention of political 
action- or of the Socialist Party. The social revolution is to -^ 

be accomplished by "one big union," and we are assured that no i 

violence will accompany the world strike, but that, on the con- ^ 

trary, the change will be effected in a peaceful manner. It >^ 

would seem that Haywood's terrible experience with the po- .^ 

g^ litical and military powers of the Rocky Mountain States in the 
w strike a few years ago has taught' him nothing. If the working 
1; class is not to learn lessons from the reality of the class strug- 
.' gle, all theorizing about a peaceful world-strik« is on a par 
4 with the Frenchman's "social myth" — it is a Utopian phantom 
% of the brain. Capitalist ownership and control of the great 
'\ plants of production and" means ol distribution is secured by 
y its command of force which centers in the State. Experience 
"h teaches that even a strike, when prolonged any length of time, 
^ stirs the agents of governing power, the judges, executives, 
y\- Dolice and militia which are directed against the strikers. To 
-.^ Assert that the control of the powers that direct these agents 
gfr of class rule is of no consequence to the working class is to 
*^ ignore the sinister part these agents have played in class strug- 
^ gles and to abandon the lessons that history and experience 

^^" teach. It is advice as treacherous in its consequences as the 
'^ advice of reactionary labor leaders who would lead trusting 
0.^ workers to support capitalist parties, who, in turn, have used 
iw these capitalist agents against strikers. 

We have seen in a previous chapter that common bandits 
have been glorified by the French Syndicalists. It would seem 
hardly necessary to argue that the Socialist movement has 
no room for the burglar or the bandit, and that a general ap- 
^.' proval of their acts would be to encourage a general campaign 
^ of Individual crime that would shatter class solidarity and ren- 

<• der the practitioners the victims of police hunts. Yet Haywood 
r' ' wrote from Paris, in March, 1911, quoting Herve*s editorial ex- 
1^ tolling the deeds of a pickpocket, who, after serving his sen- 
.•^ tence, armed himself with a revolver and knife and murdered 
one of the policemen who had arrested him. Individual ven- 
geance is praised to the skies in the editorial, and all in the 
name of a movement that seeks a world transformation that 
will make both police brutality and private vengeance merely 
i' records of a barbaric past.s This, by the way, is hardly in ac- 
jC cord with the Scripps-McRae interview, in which the forecast of 
^^^ a world-strike is sketched along peaceful lines. 
r' The conquest of the State by a working class party is nom- 

^ inally accepted by some of our shamefaced Syndicalists^ with 
t" the understanding that such nominal endorsement will bring 
^ sympathy and aid to them in the strikes they would encourage. 

r> The Socialist Party, having a large membership and a mass of 
i sympathizers, is capable of securing large sums for working. 
r men engaged in strikes, and this is not to be overlooked, but 
y the party must accept a secondary and minor role in the forces 
Z thsit make for revolution. The following, from a semi-Syndicalist 
\,. organ, is an indication of this attitude: 

f: "Direct action is now and always will be the most effective 

weapon that the worker can use in the class war. Political 
action should never be considered as anything more than an 
adjunct to direct action. The political party of the working 
class should never be looked upon as being more than an aux- 
iliary force to the industrial* union of the working class. '^ * * 
If we lose every city and town we have 'captured' we should 
be not one bit less hopeful, so long as the workers continue to 
organize in One Big Union." » 

Shall we be "one bit less hopeful," on the other hand, should 


the industrial union lose strike after strike? Or is it contended 
that the industrial union canfiot suffer defeat the same as the 
party of the working class? The assumption is that the indus- 
trial union is invincible, as it is proposed to win more and 
more through strikes until the capitalist class is so weakened 
that a final general strike will force it to yield the remaining 
measure of power it possesses. Neither experience nor history 
are drawn on to support this claim. In this country it is a 
bare assumption and in France only the phantom of the "social 
myth" is advanced to sustain it. One Big Union has become a 
fetish, and so absorbed in it have some of its partisans be- 
come that they forget the world of capitalist power lodged in"" 
the press, pulpit, newspapers, police, militia and army, all of 
which they must face when at war with the capitalist class, 
even for some minor concession. 

On the other hand, while the Syndicalists insist on the 
party coming to the aid of strikes, they have been very careful 
in the constftution of the I. W. W. to oppose any sympathetic 
relations with the party; to prohibit the use of funds for po- 
litical purposes; to deny its organizers the right to speak for 
the party or any of its oflScers to accept nominations from the 
party. Three clauses outline this attitude, as follows: 

"Art. VI, Sec. 7. No funds of the General Administration of 
the I. W. W. or subordinate parts thereof shall be used for po- 
litical party purposes. 

"Art. VII, Sec. 12. No organizer of the I. W. W. while on 
the platform for this organization shall advocate any political 
party or political party platform, 

"Art. IX, Sec. 3. No general officer of the organization or 
parts thereof, or any salaried organizer, shall be permitted to 
accept any office in any political organization, nor shall they 
be allowed to accept any nomination for any pblitical office 
except permission be granted by a referendum vote of the en- 
tire organization." 

It is a peculiar kind of reciprocity which demands aid and 
support from an organization and then refuses to grant it in 
return. In its effect there is little difference between this at- 
titude and the hostile attitude of the reactionary leaders of the 
American Federation of Labor. Here again we find the ultra- 
revolutionist in practical agreement with reactionary opponents 
of Socialism. In their effort to become more revolutionary than 
the revolutionist they complete the circle and find themselves 
companions-in-arms with the enemy. 

The attitude of our shamefaced Syndicalists toward vio- 
lence is suggestive of the Jesuit. The genuine Syndicalist is at 
least frank regarding this, as we have seen in extracts from 
their organ, "The Toiler." The national convention of the 
Socialist Party, in 1912, inserted a clause in the National Con- 
stitution which reads as follows: 

"Any member of the party who opposes political action or 
advocates sabotage or other methods of violence as a weapon 
of the working class to aid in its emancipation shall be ex- 
pelled from membership in the party. Political action shall be 
construed to mean participation in elections for public office 
and practical legislative and administrative work along the 
lines of the Socialist Party platform." jigitizedbyGoOgle 

— 27— 

This clause provoked the most heated debate in the con- 
vention and was opposed by the sympathizers with Syndicalism 
on the grou^id that the party had never advocated violence and 
to adopt this clause was to confess that we had. The debate 
ranged about this question, but the opponents of the clause had 
forgotten that the National Convelition four years before had 
adopted a resolution advising the working class to abstain from 
violence, which was adopted without debate and with only one 
dissenting vote. The resolution was reported by the Commit- 
tee on Resolutions, and reads as follows: 

"The present industrial depression has reduced a large 

number of men and women to acute distress through lack of 

employment, and many of these, not knowing how to express 

[ their indignation and revolt, are easily led by detectives, police 

and other agents of the capitalist class into acts of violence. 

'*We hold that any such acts of violence on the part of the 
working people not only result in Injuring their cause, but in 
- helping the ruling class to maintain its power. 

. "We urge, therefore, all who desire the triumph of the work- 
ing class to refrain from violence and from words inciting to 
violence, and to put all their energy into the economic fight 
waged by the unions, and the political fight waged by the 
Socialist Party." lo 

Only the dissenting vote of Delegate Slobodin, of New York, 
prevented the adoption of this resolution by a unanimous vote. 
Not one of those who professed a fear that the adoption of a 
clause four years later similar to this resolution would be an 
admission that we had favored violence in the past, urged this 
objection in 1908. Neither was any referendum demanded on this 
resolution. The tendency toward violence had not manifested 
itself in the national councils of the party at that time, so that 
the resolution was applauded and adopted without debate. 

The clause adopted by the Convention of 1912 contains 
the word "sabotage." It was also contended by the Syndicalist 
sympathizers in the convention that there were special objec- 
tions to the insertion of this word. They, however, offered a 
substitute for this clause which would not only strike out the 
objectionable word, but everything referring to violence. The 
^ clause adopted by the convention was afterward endorsed by 
f the membership. In an analysis of the vote in the convention, 
i W. J. Ghent has shown that between 67 and 75 per cent of 
& the delegates who voted against the clause were not proletarians, 
i though they professed to represent the revolutionary prole- 
■ tariat. n 

r - However, the defeat of the Syndicalists leaves them as 

^ active as ever. Robert Rives La Monte in a recent article 
L writes of the "almost miraculous powers" of Syndicalism. He 
ft quotes the resolution on labor organizations of 1912, which 
affirms the necessity of organizing the unorganized, abolishing 
artificial restrictions on membership, closer industrial and po- 
litical union and joint attack of both on capitalism, and then 
draws the remarkable conclusion that "the Socialist Party 
now stands officially committed to the aggressive, revolutionary 
tactics of insatiable Syndicalism." 32 This in face of the fact 
that no phase of Syndicalism is endorsed in the labor resolu- 
tion and the further fact that when the issue was clearly be* 

fore the convention and the membership, in Section 6 of Article 
2 of the Constitution, both rejected Syndicalism by decisive 
majorities! In this same article La Monte advises political 
action, but one month later he devotes eleven pages to show, 
among other things, that he who rejects political action is 
still a Socialist if he believes the union will overthrow the 
capitalist class. Indeed, he outlines a "New Socialism" and 
affirms that "The only Socialism that now inspires hopes and 
fears is of the school of Tom Mann and William D. Hay- 
wood.'* He is^ unable to find that Marx ever believed that par 
liamentary politics would play any part in dispossessing the 
capitalist class. We, therefore, naturally wonder why Marx 
did not advise against the German working class, for example, 
organizing politically to* secure control of the Reichstag. But 
later on, in the same article, La Monte makes the contra- 
dictory admission that "there can be but little doubt that Marx 
and his allies were right in holding that at that stage (the 
early period of modern Socialism) of industrial and historical 
development a powerful movement could only be built up along 
political lines.*' i^ Marx did and he didn*t believe in parlia- 
mentary politics! We confess that this is beyond our com- 
prehension. Perhaps "Marx and his allies** would today be 
classed among the "yellows'* who find themselves unable to 
follow the logic embodied in the "New Socialism** and the writ- 
ings of the new revisionists. 

La Monte's article represents the latest attempt to square 
Syndicalism with Socialism. Where the genuine Syndicalist 
is frank in his opposition to political action all the others, 
while nominally accepting it, do so in varying degrees. De 
Leon favors it, only to surrender the powers its exercise may 
bring to the workers. Haywood and Bohn in their pamphlet 
think it well to engage in political action to keep the army and 
police oft the union while it is taking over industry and then 
throw the state over into the "scrap heap.** St. John and his 
colleagues urge us to "strike at the. ballot box with an ax.** 
Stirton only has sarcasm to offer to those who "put pieces of 
paper into the ballot box,** but on reflection thinks that it 
might be well to "ratify,** by control of the state, the union 
seizure of industry. The Bridgeport variety thinks that to 
lose every political victory is of no consequence, so long as 
"one big union** thrives. William English Walling and the In- 
ternational Socialist Review favor political action, but con- 
tend that the immediate measures favored by Socialists will 
benefit the capitalist class more than the working class. This 
Is the first instance we know of where "revolutionary" Social- 
ists supported measures which they contend will advance capi- 
talist interests more than they will proletarian Interests. The 
Imposslbilist position is more honest. Finally, La Monte con- 
tends that it makes little difference whether the professed So- 
cialist accepts political action or not, so long as he says he is 
a Socialist and affirms that he stands for the social revolu- 

With this general summary we leave the reader to straight- 
en out the tangle of conflicting views and cross purposes and 
piece out of them some definite policy — If he can. 


by Google 


V. Conclusion. 

^; \ The views of a number of prominent Socialists may be 

f^ here briefly considered ia closing this booklet. It is a&- 
V serted by La Monte i that, contrary to general opinion, Syn- 
.; dicalists do not favor violence, but that Socialists of the type 
j of Morris Hillquit and Victor L. Berger do. The basis of this 
assertion is an article a few years ago by Berger advising 
> -armed rebellion if the workers after achieving a poltical vlc- 
■f tory are cheated by capitalist trickery. Hillquit, referring to 
» the same possibility, stated that we would "fight like tigers." 
ft It is not difficult to perceive the sophistry of La Monte and 
|» the International Socialist Review in ascriblBg to these ut- 
jt terances an endorsement of violence in general and under nor- 
? mal conditions. Both Berger and Hillquit have reference to a 
^ possible contingency where peaceful methods are no longer 
S* possible and when to submit would be cowardice. In fact, 
there is nothing in their utterances that is in conflict with 
the recognized views of Socialists throughout the world. To 
affect a contrary belief is to admit a degree of ignorance that 
does little credit to its partisans. Even one who merely 
believes In a republic and popular suffrage may be in hearty 
agreement with the statements of Hillquit and Berger. Many 
non-Socialists would join with Socialists In armed resistance 
to any attempts to Install "a man on horseback," for example. 
But there Is a vast difference between this position and those 
who favor violence, or methods that invite it, under the nor- 
mal development of capitalism. 
;. "We are neither men of legality at any price, nor are we 

revolutionists at any price," writes Kautsky. In Chapter V. . 
of one of his most brilliant books 2 Kautsky has a masterly i 
discussion of this whole question of violence. "The Socialist I 
Party Is a revolutionary party, but not a revolution-making^/ 
party," he writes. '"The statesmen of the ruling class deslreV 
above everything else the commission of some Insane act that 
would arouse, not only the ruling class Itself, but the whole 
great Indifferent mass of the population against the Social- 
ists, and they desire this before the Socialists shall have 
become too powerful to be defeated. ♦ ♦ ♦ 

"When ^e declare that revolutions cannot be made, and 
when we maintain that it is foolish, and Indeed pernicious, 
to Incite to revolution, and when we act In accordance with 
these statements we do not do this In the Interest of the 
capitalist politicians, but of the fighting proletariat. The in- 
terest of the proletariat today more than ever before demands 
that everything should be avoided that would tend to provoke 
the ruling class to a purposeless policy of violence. The So- 
cialist Party governs Itself In accord with this position. 

"There Is, however, a faction that calls Itself proletarian 
and social revolutionary which takes as Its most tfavored 
task, next to fighting the Socialist Party, the provoking of a 
policy of violence. The very thing that the statesmen of the 
ruling class desire, and which Is alone capable of checking 
the victorious progress of the proletariat, is made the princi- 
ple business of this faction. ♦ ♦ ♦ The adherents of this 
faction do not seek to weaken but to enrage the capitalist. 
"In France a portion of our narty membership became 


temporarily a government party. The masses received the 
impression that the Socialists had renounced their revolution- 
ary principles. They lost faith in the party. Not a small 
section of them fell under the influence of the latest variety 
of Anarchism — Syndicalism — which, like the old Anarchism, 
follows the propaganda of the deed not so much to strengthen 
the proletariat as unnecessarily to frighten the bourgeoisie, 
to arouse its rage and provoke immature, inopportune t,ests of. 
strength, to which the proletariat is not adequate in the ex- 
isting conditions. 

"It is just the revolutionary Marxists among French So- 
cialists who hftve presented the most determined opposition 
to this tendency. They fight Syndicalism as energetically as 
ministerialism, and consider one just as injurious as the 
other." 8 

Kautsky further points out in a recent article that the 
French Syndicalists have not achieved any remarkable vic- 
tories to boast of; that while in 1908 the percentage of vic- 
torious strikes was 17.14 per cent, at the same time the ratio 
of defeats rose from 37.8 to 52.56. He also quotes Hubert La- 
gardelle, one of the prominent Syndicalists, in 1911, as ad- 
mitting that "the present crisis compels a general revision of 
the facts and the idea of Syndicalism. After a glorious be- 
ginning we find ourselves faced with that which is generally 
the result of forced marches — complete exhaustion." 4 

Perhaps the most prominent and best loved of all Ameri- 
can Socialists is Eugene V. Debs. Though one of the strong- 
est advocates of industrial unionism, he has refused to ac- 
cept the Syndicalist interpretation given to the movement for 
it. "As a revolutionist," he writes, "I can have no respect for 
capitalist property laws nor the least scruple about violating 
them. If I had the least force to overthrow these despotic 
laws I would use it without an instant's hesitation, or delay, 
but I haven't got it, so I am law-abiding under protest — not 
from scruple — and bide my time. Here let me say that for 
the same reason I am opposed to 'sabotage' and 'direct action.' 
I have not a bit of use for the propaganda of the deed. These 
are the tactics of Anarchist individualists and not of Socialist 
collectivists. If I regarded the class struggle as guerilla war- 
fare, I would join the Anarchists and practice as well as 
preach such tactics. If sabotage and direct action, as I inter- 
pret them, were incorporated in the tactics of the Socialist 
Party, it would at once be the signal for all the agents pro- 
vocateurs and police spies to join the party and get busy." 5 ^ 

The Western Federation of Miners, one of the powerful 
organizations that made the organization of the I. W. W. pos- 1 
sible, withdrew from it because of the Syndicalist views ex- 
pressed by many of its active supporters. The official organ 
of the Federation has repeatedly attacked these views. "Hun- 
ger, strikes and sabotage," reads one editorial, "are not weai)- : 
ons of intelligent men in the labor movement. ; 

"We are unalterably opposed to their tactics and methods. *, 
♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ Industrial unionism will not come through soup ^4 
houses, spectacular free speech fights, sabotage or insults to :.j 
the flags of nations, but will come through the logic and ar- *^3 
gument that appeal to the intelligence of the working class. 5 

"Men will not be organized or educated by means of via- ^ 

lence, for violence is but the weapon of ignorance, blind to 
the cause that subjugates humanity and si^tless to the remedy 
that will break the fetters of wage slavery."6 

The attitude of the Federation is significant, in view of 
the terrible struggles its members have endured and their ex- 
perience with the brutal powers of the Rocky Mountain States. 
The criticisms directed by the Miners' Magazine against vari- 
ous phases of Syndicalism are usually very bitter and uncom- 

It is also interesting to note that John Ohsol, a delegate 
to the National Convention of the Socialist Party from Massa- 
chusetts, voted in favor of Section 6 of Article 2, condemning 
sabotage. Ohsol is a Russian revolutionist and braved all 
the terrors of the Czar's regime, being elected to the seconel 
Duma. He was forced to flee, like so many of Russia's noblest 
youth, to escape the Czar's hangmen. Russia of all countries is 
fertile soil for the development of intrigue and violence in 
the working class movement, and it is probable that only 
armed insurrection will avail to overthrow the criminal re- 
gime. Yet even here, where most any form of violence has 
its justification, the revolutionary movement was shocked to 
learn that Father Gapon deliberately delivered the workers 
on Bloody Sunday to the Russian butchers. Still later it was 
found that Azeff, one of the most trusted of the revolutionary 
members of the EJxecutive Committee, had betrayed many 
comrades to the hangmen. Nothing but secrecy and force are 
open to Russian Revolutionists, as the Duma and the Cesar's 
word are practically worthless, yet even here these tactics 
have been adopted at a terrible cost to the revolutionary move- 
ment. The application of the word "yellow" to men of the 
type of Ohsol, who have been tried in fire and blood, can only be 
characterized as crass impudence, to use no harsher term. 

In his report to the membership of Massachusetts, Ohsol 
wrote: "The Socialist Party has the control over acts of its 
members not only within the party, but also when these mem- 
bers are active within their labor organizations. One cannot 
afford to be a Socialist on a party platform and advocate 
sabotage from a labor organization platform. Those who want 
a 'free hand' should leave the Socialist Party at once. 

"Crimes and violence are not to be confused with revolu- 
tion. While the Socialists stand for revolution, they are op- 
posed to individual acts of violence, which are nothing but 
manifestations of weakness and despair." 7 

Sabotage, or "striking on the job" by checking the pro- 
cesses of production or spoiling products, has one fatal weak- 
ness we have only hinted at in a preceding chapter. In many 
industries the capitalist class can arrange conditions of em? 
ployment so that the practice of sabotage will automatically re- 
duce the wages of the sabotagers in the same ratio as products 
are damaged. In fact, the introduction of "scientific manage- 
ment" by many capitalist firms is a tendency in this direction. 
Instead of maintaining time wages the employers can substitute 
piece wages, making the wage dependent on the quantity and 
quality of the articles produced, so that any damage they may 
sustain by the practice of sabotage will react on the sabotagers 
by reducing their wages. ^^ ._., , ..^ 



It may even be encouraged by the capitalists for the pur- 
pose of fomenting antagonism and bitterness between workers 
in a given industry by goading the workers in one department, 
working for low time wages, to produce damaged material 
for workers in another department who receive piece or ton- 
nage wages. The latter must naturally suffer from the sabo- 
tagers in another department, as their wages are dependent 
on the good material received from the sabotagers. It is just 
this antagonism within the workshop that the Socialist move- 
ment has every reason to break down and the capitalist class 
to encourage. The solidarity of class interests necessary to 
overthrow the capitalist regime cannot be realized so long as 
the exploiters can niake proletarians work at cross purposes. '^ 
A general indulgence in sabotage would soon teach shrewd cap- ^^ 
italists how to make it react against the workers, and all the 
employing capitalists would soon follow the example of their 
more far-sighted fellow exploiters. 

Much of the Syndicalist literature views the world only 
through "shop windows." Outside the shop there are no prob- -1 
lems and the capture of the shop solves all questions. Many c^ 
do not perceive that the State and its subdivisions, the county, ^ 
city, ward ,and township, embrace many services and func- *j? 
tions that are absolutely essential to modern civilization.?, Pub- 1 
lie roads, hospitals, schools, sewage, health departments, parks, 
libraries, etc., are all a part of the social life of our time and, 
with the leisure that will come to an emancipated working 
class, many of these services and functions will have a larger 
expansion than under capitalism. They are all bound up with 
various divisions of the state and do not come under shop 
control and management. Yet these and related questions re- 
ceive no consideration from many Syndicalist writers. \ Their 
^ "shop" view, of the world is a vulgarized conception of the 
^ working class and its needs that differs little from the bour- 
geois view that Lafargue has so wittily satirized in his "Right 
to Be Lazy." The "shop" philosophy is not the collectivist ;, 
philosophy of modern Socialism, but falls far short of it. " 

Capitalist society has generated a complex civilization that ■ 

contains more than can be comprehended through "shop win- 
dows." It has also recruited its "grave diggers" in the mod- \ 
ern proletarians, but they are not vulgarized proletarians. 
They are workers who are conscious of the class rule that *, 
holds them in servitude and they are determined to overthrow O^ 
it. They recognize with Lassalle that this class "in whose ^ 
heart therefore no germ of a new privilege is contained, is ^ 
for this very reason synonymous with the whole human race. ^2 
Its interest is in truth the interest of the whole of humanity, J 
its freedom is the freedom of humanity itself, and its domina- -aS 
tlon^is the domination of all." * 



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