The opponents of the Industrial Workers, numerous, varied and
powerful though they be, will find themselves baffled in every
attempt they make to stem the tide of new industrial
These opponents, strange as it may seem, embrace, besides the
capitalist class and their “labor lieutenants,”
Socialists who profess to favor industrial unionism and trades
unionists who profess to be class conscious workingmen!
An anomalous situation, indeed!
The only national labor union that recognizes the class
struggle, the Industrial Workers of the World, is opposed, and
the American Federation of labor, whose leaders deny the class
struggle, is supported by men who call themselves Socialists and
class conscious workingmen.
But in spite of all this the Industrial Workers is the coming
labor union in the United States and all the powers of
capitalism and all the resources of its emissaries cannot
The conditions are mature for it and the working class will
embrace it and stand by it as they learn to comprehend its
meaning and grasp its mission.
Three years ago, when the Western Federation of Miners and the
American Labor Union, in national convention assembled, in
Denver, struck the new trail of class-consciousness and declared
in favor of independent political action along working class
lines, the very thing Socialists have been clamoring for, the
press of the Socialist party, almost solidly, instead of
cheering the new departure and encouraging and supporting the
movement, treated the matter coldly, or damned it with faint
These papers felt themselves committed to the American
Federation of labor and feared to offend the anti-Socialist
organization. Upon no other ground is such opposition to
Socialist action by Socialist papers conceivable.
When the Industrial Workers of the World was recently organized
at Chicago the same Socialist papers fought the movement openly,
or, what revealed the same antagonistic attitude, remained
These Socialist papers, smiling patronizingly upon the American
Federation of Labor which repudiates and despises them, and
frowning scornfully upon the Industrial Workers of the World, a
truly class-conscious organization, have committed a grave
mistake and appearances indicate they are beginning to realize
it. The open opposition has died out and silence has taken its
place. They have evidently heard from the rank and file. In any
event it may be well for them to know that De Leon’s
Weekly People is getting a harvest of new subscribers,
including many members of our party, because of his espousal of
the Industrial Workers.
That Socialists can still find it consistent to remain in the
American Federation of labor in the light of its fixed
pro-capitalist policy is, I confess, incomprehensible to me.
Why do they not apply their peculiar logic to the political
situation? The Republican and Democratic parties both consist
mainly of workingmen. Why not turn them into working class
parties? The workingmen have a majority in both—why
organize a Socialist party?
The workingman who reasons in that way and attends Republican
and Democratic conventions as a delegate is by Socialists set
down as ignoramus or fakir, and yet that is precisely the
attitude of certain Socialists with reference to the old
anti-labor federation and the new working class union.
The American Federation of Labor, which is simply an attempt to
harmonize pure and simple trade unions, that were built up on
tools long since discarded and on principles long out of date,
is the enemy of working class solidarity. It is in control of
the capitalist class. The Civic Federation and its personnel is
sufficient proof of this fact.
It leers at the class struggle.
Professing to oppose independent political action by the working
class and even forbidding the discussion of political questions,
it connives with the political hucksters of capitalist parties
in consideration of beggarly “hand-outs” for its
This aggregation of one time labor organizations have veered
about and are now thoroughly reactionary, and every inch of
genuine working class progress from this time forward will have
to be made in spite of them.
Would but Socialists remain away from the national convention of
this alleged federation the jurisdictional lightnings would then
have full play and soon strike and sever the flimsy bonds that
hold the old antiquated unions together. The few Socialists
serve the federation leaders in the valuable role of lightning
rods to attract and divert the bolts of disintegration. These
Socialist comrades are on a cold trail. Their misguided zeal is
worthy of a better cause. There was a time when their efforts
bore fruit, but that day is passed. They might as well spend
their time, as Thomas Paine put it, “administering
medicine to a corpse.” The role they are now in at the
federation convention is almost pathetic. Even the applause in
the gallery is dying out. They are sadly out of place. They are
in truth laughing stock—the footballs of two by four
fakirs that serve the capitalist class for their stereotyped
dispatch reporting the annual kicking out of Socialism by the
American Federation of Labor.
When the moon turns into green cheese will these Socialists
succeed in converting the American Federation of Labor,
honey-combed with capitalistic influences, into a revolutionary
working class organization.
But in the meantime they are extremely valuable to the
federation leaders, who would undoubtedly seriously regret to be
deprived of their services.
The opposition to the Industrial Workers inspired by personal
hatred for Daniel De Leon and the Socialist Trade & Labor
Alliance is puerile, to say the least. With all that has been
said about the latter it has never been charged with being a
capitalist annex and as for De Leon personally he is not an
issue to be considered when choosing between a bona-fide labor
union organization for the benefit of the working class and a
bogus labor organization defended by every capitalist paper and
supported by every capitalist politician in the land.
De Leon is sound on the question of trade unionism and to that
extent, whether I like him or not personally, I am with him.
My personal likes and dislikes are secondary to my allegiance to the working class.
The choice is between the A. F. of L. and capitalism on one side
and the Industrial Workers of the World and Socialism on the
The A. F. of L. is for the wages system; the Industrial Workers of the World for its abolition.
How can a Socialist hesitate in his choice an instant?
The A. F. of L. keeps the working class divided into trades
which have ceased to exist; the Industrial Workers unites them
into one compact militant body.
Which of these truly expresses the present industrial situation
and which actually stands for working class solidarity?
As a member of both the Industrial Workers and the Socialist
party I want to see one class-conscious labor union on the
industrial field and one class-conscious labor party on the
political field, each the counterpart of the other, and both
working together in harmonious cooperation to overthrow the
capitalist system and emancipate the workers from wage slavery.
The Industrial Workers has made a sound beginning and at its
convention the work will be rounded out and the organization
fairly started on its mission of proletarian emancipation.
The time has come to strike out boldly and cut loose from all
associations that are not with and for the revolutionary program
of the working class. Any professed labor organization that
does not recognize the class struggle and stand squarely on the
right side of it forfeits all claim to the respect of
intelligent workingmen; and to remain with it is not to help the
union get right, but to risk personal contamination.
The way to serve the working class through the A. F. of L. is to
get out of it and leave the capitalist class and their henchmen
in undisputed control.
The paramount question is the labor movement and working class
victory. All other things—parties and unions
Therefore, organization, economic and political, along class
lines. Any organization that attempts to obscure these lines
The Industrial Workers is right. It has come at the right time
and it will fight its way to the front! It is asking no favors
of capitalism and granting none; it is pandering to no
organization and no man or set of men to curry favors; it stands
squarely on the class struggle, defiantly challenging the
capitalist class, relying only upon the awakening working class
to rally to its standard and carry it to victory.
 Miners’ Magazine was the
official journal of the Western Federation of Miners.