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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: 27 December 1919

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Taking Stock

At the close of the year, the end of a year of peace following four and a half years of a world’s war, it is but natural that labor should take stock of its present situation and relations.

Europe finds itself in the position of all societies that have fought until compelled to cease the struggles through exhaustion. In such cases exhaustion is followed by collapse and decay. This is the present condition of Europe.

In a country situated and conditioned as Canada is, being a part of the Imperial realm of the British Empire, and only a few decades under the discipline of the Industrial Revolution with her fertility made productive largely through the arts of husbandry, the disturbance in the credit system of the mother country must seriously affect both the worker and the farmer in this society.

Britain which formerly took both the raw material and the agricultural products of Canada, paying prompt cash for the goods and lending, judiciously, such sums of cash as were necessary for the development of her infant, or growing industries, is not now in a position to pay in cash for such products or to lend further assistance in supplying funds for new developments. No other market being able to absorb our surpluses it becomes necessary, in some way or other, to contrive a make shift in the way of credits to keep industry and commerce from falling down entirely. The net result is that we are buying in ever larger measure from the USA and giving Britain credit for the goods we send her. This flow of goods from Canada to Britain and the purchases in the United States was in existence before the war, but now we are owing more and more money to the states where formerly Britain was the source of our borrowings.

The sum of the shift of relations means that the Republic to the south of us is now exerting an influence in our political economic and industrial affairs. That we owe in Wall Street a sum approximating $4,000,000,000; carrying an interest charge of about $370,000,000 annually, gives to the masters of money in that Street a live interest in all things Canadian, politically, economically and industrially. Canada must heed the voice of the money barons under penalty of their grave displeasure. The owners of such sums of money have a faculty of making it very unpleasant for those who owe and who do not take advice readily.

It has come to pass that those of an observant turn of mind are looking across line 45 and 49 to see how the weather vane is trimming. Already in our own affairs we see signs of the influences of money actively influencing all our affairs in these respects. Was the latest president of the C.P.R. the choice of money, rather [than**] the owners of money? Was the purchase of the G.T.R. [Grand Trunk Railway] dictated from the south? Was the once servant of the Rockefellers the American choice as leader of his majesty’s loyal opposition? When our Sir Robert finds his physical powers failing, was the hitch in the appointment of his successor held up, because those who presented themselves as candidates for his mantle were unsatisfactory to the masters of the funds? We keep wondering and we would think ourselves credulous were we not to wonder.

And now we are getting close to home. The coal strike in the United States with its injunction proceedings taken at the instance of the government, the steel strike and its semi-legal and brutal suppression by a power stronger than government itself in defiance of its former allies and cooperators, Sammy and his A. F. of L., the arrest and deportations of anarchists, Bolsheviks and I.W.W., the untrammeled activities of The Citizens Leagues to unleash the mob passion of a crazed patriotism on organized labor fighting with its back to the wall, all these social phenomena we are already beginning to see transplanted onto British soil under the emblem of the beaver. Also, is that sinister alliance between, big capital and labor leaders in evidence.

It becomes the duty, therefore, for all workers to at once get into organizations whose functions as means for offence and defence are not hamstrung by the defects of their form or structure. The Internationals with their constitutional provisions which make it so easy for the officials to manipulate and dominate the membership are a menace to every organization which has any wish to struggle for manhood and freedom of action in resisting the aggressions of big capital. The estimate of the capacity of the workers to resist is a low one indeed or the U.M.W.A. would not be trying to dragoon the miners of the Crow’s Nest Pass into accepting a slave agreement by which he loses the control of his own dues. The estimate of the intelligence of the workers is low indeed when President Wilson thought that the workers of the railway shops would believe that he could reduce the high cost of living in the three months he had set himself. The H.C.L. commissions that have been trotting over Canada now are ashamed of themselves even and are telling us that nothing can be done. If all these facts cannot get a man with any courage and independence into the O.B.U. then his brain must be one whirl of fog and confusion.

Page revised: 28 July 2013

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