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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: 6 December 1919

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The Free Press, the O.B.U. and the Internationals

The O.B.U. Bulletin has on a good many occasions exposed the lying and the hypocrisy of the Free Press newspaper. It passes our comprehension how sane people can continue, habitually, to misrepresent, distort, twist and warp the plainest facts and expect to have their readers believe any statement in the sheet unless there is to be found somewhere, somehow a corroboration of the story.

On the eve of the civic elections, Thursday the 27th, the Free Press under a two column heading “The O.B.U. and the Internationals,” follows up a systematic campaign of lying, persistently carried on throughout the election period, to persuade its readers that the radicals and the O.B.U were alone, back of the labor candidates and the civic election. Those in charge of the propaganda in support of Labor have become tired of nailing this lie down where it belongs, on the door posts of the Free Press and the other capitalist papers of Winnipeg. The records of the convention which nominated the candidates have been quoted to prove that the Central Labor Council, the O.B.U. organization took no part in the proceedings. The convention ratified the nominations made by ward mass meetings in which some O.B.U. units took part in both the mass meetings in the wards and at the convention of the labor party. Then, the Labor Party was formed by the Winnipeg Trades and Labor Council following the Dominion Trades Congress, bringing into being a Dominion Labor Party, Provincial Labor Parties and Labor Parties wherever they were necessary in the interests of Labor. With these facts iterated and reiterated and given the widest publicity that the Labor Party could possibly give to them, the Free Press must have known that it was lying like a horse thief. No more dishonest and disreputable piece of journalism has ever been perpetrated by a Canadian newspaper.

As to the International and the O.B.U. we are of the opinion that the workers who have seen fit to remain with the older organizations will not thank the Free Press for its championship. The difference we have with our brother workers are none of the business of any others than ourselves. Labor is quite able to settle its own troubles without calling in the advocates and henchmen of the bosses in the shape of servile editors.

The O.B.U exists not only because some labor leaders determined to bring it to birth, but because the workers would not remain in the internationals. This is a fact and not a theory. During the war, both in Canada and the United States, the heads of the labor movement initiated openly the closest kind of cooperation with the governments; that is with the bosses. To the extent that this cooperation prevailed, labor was betrayed and to the same extent the leaders of labor proved themselves to be crooks. Is there a man so silly as to believe that the interests of labor and capital are identical? John Mitchell said so, but John dies worth $250, 000. There is a paper published in Toronto, in the interests of International Trades Unionism” called the “Labor Leader” which prints in a little “box” at the head of the paper. “Canadian labor men should not tolerate the I.W.W. and the One Big Union, nor Bolshevism.” It is this kind of rotten dishonesty in the labor movement that has disgusted the rank and file of labor to such an extent that every man who holds an official position is necessary under surveillance if not actually suspect. The history of the labor movement is a record of labor officials who have time after time sold out body and soul, to the corrupting influences of capitalism for either hard cash or position. Labor, today has to fight, unaided, for every foot of ground that is captured, and subject to undying hostility of the toad-eating satellites of big business in the press, the law, the legislature, and the universities, the church etc.

When Tom Moore and Paddy Draper announce that the Trades and Labor Congress; through its executive, has entered into the closest kind of cooperation with the Dominion government, which can, as at present constituted, represent only these same big interests which set the pace for productive work, for competitive gain, and through the standard rate of gain, for competitive consumption also, labor looks upon the Labor Congress as lost to labor as a means expression of the needs of labor. Until such time as the Congress is purged of its co-operators with the boss, it is useless to any militant class of workers. The western workers became so disgusted with the state of affairs in the Trades and Labor Congress and the Internationals, that the rank and file, simply would not continue to pay dues to support the enemy.

The militant workers have under the closest kind of surveillance all of the acts and statements of all their membership, and especially of the elected officials. The so called split in the ranks of labor is not a permanent thing by any means. It is simply an incident in the experience of the workers, in working out their institutions through the means of trial and error. The lessons to be learned will be most enlightening. In the meantime, as in the civic elections, common ground is found for common action. In spite of the wailings and railings of a prostitute press which imputed to all of the workers of Winnipeg criminal intent, the result of the Winnipeg elections indicates a virtual division of the community into workers and reactionaries, on the basis of a fifty-fifty segregation. The vote of those who live outside of the community and the number of disfranchised residents, especially of the returned soldier element, proves that, on any fair franchise, the triumph of labor is assured in a straight referendum to those who live within the city gates. The note of triumph in the kept press is strangely lacking.

The Political Questions of Tomorrow

For years to come the political questions are to revolve about labor and capital. We are living under institutions where the discretion and control of the whole economic situation is in the hands of capital. Capital can do business only when a profit is in sight. Capital exists for profit alone. To get the largest possible profit it is often advisable to slow down production or to discontinue production entirely. This is what is known as sabotage. The big capitalists are the most persistent and consistent sabotagers known in all the world. To sabotage industry is a crime when it is committed by a worker, and rightly so, but when it is committed by a capitalist it is only unethical or immoral, and then pronounced so, only by the real economists and social-psychologists. The sabotaging of industry by capital is the principal cause of unemployment and poverty and all of the social ills which flow from them. It is at the bottom of all the labor unrest that is abroad in the world today. President Wilson in his message to congress Tuesday, December 2nd, practically sees that this is so, but like so many more confused statesmen and diplomats, he can find no adequate remedy. One thing he recognizes, however, and that is that the right of the workers to strike is and “must be inviolable and ought not to be interfered with by any process of government” “Analysis of labor’s complaint shows it is based on justice.” We will come back to the president’s message on another occasion.

Page revised: 28 July 2013

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