Jack Houston’s Editorials in the OBU Bulletin: 10 January 1920
The Year 1920
In the last issue of the Bulletin appeared a detailed report of the discussion at a special meeting of the Central Labor Council.
That report carries all the defects of its qualities. Man after man got onto his feet and spilled what was inside him. Put into cold type the result carried also the faults of its qualities.
From some of the remarks recorded the outsider would think that the O.B.U. was in a bad way indeed and that the Bulletin was on its last legs.
The O.B.U. is growing vigorously and the Bulletin is gaining in circulation. If the O.B.U. could not stand the ordeal of having a report made of actual discussion that takes place at a council meeting then there would be no reason for its existence. The causes that brought the O.B.U. into being are stronger than that but at the same time, its progress can be retarded by ill considered discussion, put into print.
We publish in this issue the preamble of the Constitution of the O.B.U. Every member of the organization should as the English Church prayer book says “Mark, read, learn and inwardly digest it.” If the members stand for these principles, then a lot of the discussion was out of place.
The Internationals do not stand for these principles. They stand for control of the organizations from the executive offices, for a hedge of constitutional provisions which in practice makes it impossible for the rank and file to dictate the policy of the organizations. Their officials in practice rule and govern the different organizations.
There has come to pass, therefore, a condition of things in the Internationals that stinks to high heaven. The high paid officials have taken to cooperating with the boss through the government. A trades-union official who cooperates with the government is a crook, there is no other name for him. A man who is a trades-union official and looks for an office from the boss or the government is not loyal to the workers.
Now let it be thoroughly understood that the O.B.U. is a dead failure from the start if it is to be run with the same apathy and deadness on the part of the members as they were wont to indulge in while in the old organization. Also let it be clearly perceived that understanding must precede action if the action is to be intelligent. Therefore, the O.B.U. stresses education that there may be understanding. But the O.B.U. is only started. Organization has just begun. The easy work of organization has been largely done. The tough work remains to be done. Who is going to do this tough work? Not the arm chair philosopher. He never was anything but a critic. It must be done by the workers themselves and to do the work well they must bring the work of organizing an enthusiasm and resolve determination that will overcome all obstacles. Let every O.B.U. member take example from one who is still possessed of the zeal, the courage, the understanding which alone brings results, but who cannot use his talents in your behalf, simply because he is in prison for you.
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