Jack Houston’s Editorials in the OBU Bulletin: 24 April 1920
So long as the economic system, based on private ownership of the means of production, is the system by which we supply our wants, the workers will have to apply to the boss for a chance to work in order to get money to buy commodities. If the boss hires the workers, one at a time, and the workers have no organization, he hires them cheap. Where the workers have strong and well-ordered organizations, they are in a position where they are able to bargain successfully for a price for that which they take to the labor market, their skill and ability to do work in production.
A workers’ union must be in the position to, at all times, bargain with the capitalists for the sale of their labor power. The capitalists must also be able to ready to contract for the purchase of the labor power without which the ownership of the plant, the raw material, and the possession of the pay roll would be of no benefit to the capital.
A successful bargain is one in which the things exchanged are exchanged at their value. To make such a trade the parties to the transaction must be on an equality. A starving man would give much gold or precious stones for the food that would save life. Experience shows that the workers are naked and defenceless against the greed of the boss if they have not the power to bring to a stop the production of profit, which is the only reason why the capitalist has become an owner of the means of production. The withdrawal of their labor power from the plant is the only force at the disposal of proletarians, that is, a class of men who must sell the skill and efficiency that they possess, in order that they may live and support those near and dear to them.
If workers make a mistake in their guess, or their estimate, of how much the capitalist will give rather than see his plant go out of production, there comes a lockout or a strike.
The capitalists being business men or buyers and sellers are ready to make bargains of any kind whatsoever. In fact the wholesale transaction, the bargain on a big scale, carries an appeal to the big business man that the small transaction never possesses. So it is found that many of the managers of the large-scale industries have encouraged their workers to perfect their organizations so that the buying of labor power is carried on in the largest possible, efficient way, and schedules are arranged with all the workmen for a period more or less lengthy.
The capitalist is no fool or he would not become, or remain a capitalist. He knows that there is both Direct action and Indirect action. The politician finds it more profitable, sometimes, to buy up the members than to buy the constituencies through a slush fund. In a similar way, the capitalist often finds it to better advantage to buy the leaders of the men’s unions than it is to meet the representatives of the men in a straight effort at negotiation. Again, if the relations of bargain and sale could be institutionalized in such a way that he would always meet the same men in negotiations, if these men were safe and sane and reasonable, how much better would the relations be between capital and labor. Still better, if the workers could be fooled into believing that there was no class state, could be made to believe that that the Government was the Government of all the people, and if his Government, in co-operation with the safe and sane labor leaders, would only undertake to preserve peace and order in the labor world, then all would indeed be well for the capitalist.
In such a case the capitalist would at once recognize that the labor leaders who would lend themselves to such a game, were crooks. But what of that? His money is invested to make profits, and business man has often to take dark chances to get the balance on the right side of the ledger.
Then, as to the politicians, what is the moral attitude toward such a transaction? Being politicians they have all the qualities of their calling. Their calling is to keep the confidence of the voters to the extent that they remain in office. Stripping the political game bare, the politician must have money to carry out the work of winning elections and he can get this money only from the same source from which he levies the taxes, from those who have the money. The division of labor gives to the politician the job of making the laws necessary and imperative to allow the economic system to live and move and have its being. That is, his job is to keep capitalism so that it can work, that it can make profits on the capital invested, that it can exploit labor. It is, therefore, all right for the politician to make the necessary arrangements with the labor leaders. Historically, the politician has never flinched or allowed moral concepts to stand in the way of serving capital. To do aught else would be to commit political suicide, also for obvious reasons.
Having disposed of the politician and the capitalist, it remains to further inquire into the standing of the crooked, co-operating labor leader. He has some ability, some plausibility, and some ambition. Once he finds that he is able to make a living by being a labor leader, he finds that his manner of life is changed, and, as he thinks, for the better. No longer the dust and grime of the shop; new faces to meet; new experiences to undergo; travel and hotel life and time not at all occupied. He comes into contact with the givers of gifts. He is under appraisal; his abilities are measured; his vanity and his integrity and his moral fibre are all weighed. In short, if the man has in him the capacity of being a traitor, he is reached, and labor suffers one more betrayal to be added to the thousands of the past.
And so it comes that labor must negotiate with the boss, but it also follows that today wise labor will spew out any and all who show any lack of loyalty to labor in any respect.
But for Canada it may already be too late. All signs point to the direction that the treacherous labor leaders have made their market and are now engaged in co-operating to have laws enacted to sell Canadian labor into a peonage to big capital, with an arrangement as to what is to go to the labor crook and as to what politicians are to be favoured by receiving the slush.
The Russian Communist Confernce has decided to confer the Order of the Red Flag upon Georges Clemenceau, former Premier of France, and Winston Spencer Churchill, British Secretary of State for War.
The Russian Conference adopted the resolution as a joke, declaring the Allied leaders merited some recognition for “ their great work for international revolution.”
It is understandable that the soviets feel gratitude towards Churchill, when we read the Archangel booty included 10 milliard cartridges, 65 million shells, 22,000 rifles, several thousand machine-guns, aeroplanes, and a huge quantity of coal and provision stores.
The Skunk in Moose Jaw
Someone from Moose Jaw has sent us an editorial from the Moose Jaw Daily News.
The pure psychologists, who hold that irritation is the stimulus to all animal reaction and who irritate the lower animals to record their responses, interpret human activities in terms of animal reaction.
To one of these scientists, the editor who penned that dirty stuff would be described as a rattle-snake, a coyote, a cuttle-fish and a skunk with an hypertrophied stink-bladder.
The workers who have acquired the discipline of the machine process, who know that a lathe or an electric current can always be depended on to act in a materialistic manner according to the properties of force and matter, knows that that editor lies without qualms.
If the workers of Moose Jaw, who have gone on record, or who appear from the capitalist press to have gone on record, as opposed to the men who have been convicted in Winnipeg, are really believers in the dope which is being served to them in such rotten editorials, it only proves that the country town and all its institutions are the citadel of reaction, and the home of the bush-culture which the settlers brought from Eastern Canada with them to the prairies.
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