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Manitoba History No. 89
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No. 89

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Jack Houston’s Editorials in the OBU Bulletin: 4 October 1919

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Two Strikes

The railway strike in Britain and the steel strike in the United States may result in the introduction of a new historic situation.

In both strikes it now looks as if all the powers of resistance at hand were to be fully used by the owners of the properties, to enforce the right to do, absolutely, what they like with their own.

Neither of these strikes can be won by the men. No strike can be won against owners who are determined to resist the demands of their employees. The law of property, of ownership, involves discretion and control by the owners. The state exists to maintain them in possession of their property rights.

Since the days when the state as an institution was built up to guarantee property and peace and order, under which property and contract can alone function, the industrial revolution has taken place. No longer exists individual production with simple barter and exchange. Now all workers are engaged in producing a social product; each worker does his necessary bit; the product is the result of the labor of all.

The modern strike brings industry to a dead-stop. It challenges society and the organization of society. The institutions of society are on trial. Can they survive?

No strike can be won. If the men win, it is not a strike, it is a revolution. It is a failure to maintain the relation of ownership to the thing owned, a negation of the rights of discretion and control over poverty.

Our analysis is that the powers of the state unflinchingly applied will bring an immediate victory to the owners. But often victory is worse than defeat. The enemy retires to perfect new resources for another assault.

What is now challenges is the ethical right of owners of property to dispose of the social product of labor and the lives of men, their happiness, their joys and sorrows, their hopes and aspirations. The class struggle is on, but the end is not yet.

Situation of Railway Shopmen

The American committee representing the Shop-men of the railways have signed up with the War Board. This gives the principal mechanical trades 72 cents per hour and provides for a 44 hour week.

The Canadian War board has agreed to accept the American settlement. If the Canadian Committee representing the men accepts the result as it stands it means that the higher paid mechanics will receive a reduction in the pay checks of 28¢ per week. The net results of much negotiating, and a number of strike votes is therefore a reduction in hours which is a gain and a little less cash.

The American roads of back to the private owners on January 1st, 1920, and the private owners are not and cannot be bound by this agreement so that all the work to maintain the standard of living in the face of the shrinking purchasing power of the dollar must be fought over again. The Canadian Roads will be on the alert to take any advantage of the confusion growing out of the American Roads going back to their owners.

Holy Horror

The Winnipeg Street Railway is assumed to have, in some way or other, suffered a lapse from virtue inasmuch as a firm of chartered accountants have, by reason of great research ability, discovered $3,000,000 worth of water in the stock.

Then between the years of 1905 and 1915, we are told by the “Press” $7,500,000 were paid out in dividends, most of which were “met by an overdraft” on the bank.

Not being a corporation lawyer, we do not know whether paying dividends not earned is a misdemeanor or a perfectly legal transaction, nor do we give a damn. Neither are we worried about the water in the stock.

If a manager is able to earn in profits, say $1,000,000 per annum on an average each year, then, our sense of accountancy would say that the physical valuation of that plant should be $20,000,000 the average rate of interest being taken to be five per cent. The stock will sell on the market at that price or thereabouts, whether we have moral scruples or otherwise.

If the management flim-flams the bank into standing for a bunko-game in the public it is a matter for the investing public and the banker to worry about or to disagree over. All these matters are beyond the discretion and control of the workers.

Dope The Kiddies

The most sinister meeting so far as the education of the working class children is concerned will be held in Winnipeg next month.

The agenda bears all the bench-marks of reaction. It is broadly hinted that the German method of indoctrinating the youth of the country with survivals from past cultures is to be lifted up and transferred to this soil. The shade of Edgerton Rierson [sic=Ryerson] must be perturbed.

Drumhiller [Drumheller] Gas

We receive more accurate news of the Drumhiller deportations from time to time. The latest is that the gasoline supplied to the car which took the coal diggers out of town was paid for by the internationals on the ground.

Strong arm citizens-alliance methods by best citizens, were, until recently, supposed to be utterly foreign to the British spirit of fair play. But under the tutelage of Senator Robertson, coached by the cloud of international labor officials, it looks as if the citizens committee and the citizens alliance and the organized mob was to be turned loose to wreck their spite and venom on disreputable workers, and that British law would wink at the whole infamy.

The Crimp in the Deck

What a horrible crimp it is that the New Farmers have thrown into the deck of cards that has been used in the past by the tin horns of party politics in playing their surething game on the Canadian people.

At the convention of this new party 490 delegates were seated. The convention call had for its business the nomination of a candidate to stand for some of the farmers of the constituency of Assiniboia in the coming by-election scheduled to be held on October 27th. The new feature of this convention was that a canvas of the constituency had been made by the New Farmers party with the object of collecting funds to pay the expenses of electing their own man. Ten subscribers were represented by a delegate. The C.P.R., Massey Harris, The Swift Canadian Co., Ogilvie Milling Co., nor any other capitalist institution was asked to subscribe , and so were not represented on the floor of the convention, unless they had bribed some old time, old party crook to continue on at the old game of betraying his fellows.

A candidate chosen under these conditions would be a dirty, low-lived traitor to his brother farmers if he would not fight on the floor of parliament for farmer policies and do everything possible to secure justice and liberty for all of the people, just as the men sitting in the present parliament and financed by the propertied interests would be dirty, low-lived traitors to the capitalist, if they did not earn their money by supporting all legislation in the interest of corporate wealth.

The farmers who did not subscribe and who, consequently were not represented at the convention, are survivals from the bush culture of the past century or they are a bunch of political and moral perverts, who through use and wont, and habituation, cannot break away from the conditioned, vicious habits imposed on them through so long participating in that dirtiest of all crooked games, the game of old party politics.

Page revised: 27 July 2013

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