The I. W. W. on Trial
THE L W. W. ON TRIAL
THERE have developed during the past ten years labor troubles in various parts of the United States. They have _1_ resulted in violence and have aroused unwonted bitterness of feeling. The responsibility for these disorders has been laid on the Industrial Workers of the World, an organization composed largely of unskilled workers, headed by William D. Haywood, a stormy petrel among labor agitators.
Charges of all kinds have been made; hundreds of men have Ъееп jailed and many convicted for participation in these so-called outrages. Local authorities have been helpless at times to deal with the situations which have arisen.
While the press has recorded the disturbances and charged the I. W. W. with crimes against life and property, little actual information has been gathered regarding this organization.
With the outbreak of the war came the efforts of the Government effectually to check various activities which were believed to be hampering the effective participation of the United States. With this purpose in view, a Nation-wide series of raids were made upon I. W. W. headquarters, followed by the indictment of the leaders.
For the first time there is being presented, in Chicago, in a United States court, the full case for and against this organization. The public will at last have an opportunity to discover many facts long concealed.
It is said to be the greatest criminal case in the history of American courts, not only in the number of defendants on trial, the great mass of evidence which the Government has collected, but also for its National importance.
The Federal Judge before whom the case is being presented is Kenesaw Mountain Landis, an exceptionally keen, virile, and able jurist whose name is too widely known to require comment.
The jury was selected after more than a month's grilling examination of a hundred and fifty venire-men by prosecution and defense.
Special Assistant United States Attorney-General Frank K. Nebeker, of Salt Lake City, is in charge of the Government's case, assisted by Claude R. Porter, of Iowa. The defendants are represented by attorneys George Vanderveer, of Seattle, and William Cleary, of Bisbee, Arizona.
The defendants number 101 at the present time; 166 were named in the indictment, but some were never apprehended, and the case against others was dismissed or a severance granted by the Government.
More than half of those on trial are foreign born, and the majority of these are naturalized; with a few exceptions, all of the defendants are or have been officers of the I. W. W.
Following the Nation-wide raids upon I. W. W. headquarters by the Department of Justice hist September, a corps of Government employees, under Mr. Nebeker's direction, began making a careful examination of the material seized. From torn 4 literature and correspondence a great volume of documentary evidence recording the activities of the organization aod it members was culled for presentation to the jury.
The great bulk of the evidence presented by the Government has been made up of literature circulated by the defendants - propaganda and correspondence which passed between officers and members of the organization in furtherance of their plan owing to this fact, it is possible to gather an unusually complete conception of the I. W. W., its purposes, methods, and the effect which its doctrine has upon the individual members.
Heretofore would-be investigators have had to content themselves with such explanations of the philosophy of industrial unionism, sabotage, and direct action as the individual members of the I. W. W. might be willing to vouchsafe for public consumption. Now there have been placed on record the ехрressions used commonly among themselves bearing on these subjects. Later, when the defense has completed the presentation of its evidence, further comment may be forthcoming.
The fundamental ideas of the I. W. W. are expressed in the instrument referred to by that organization as its "Preamble," which is as follows:
The working class and the employing class have nothing in common. There can be no peace so long as hunger and want art found among the millions of working people and the few, who make up the employing class, have all the good things of life.
Between these two classes a struggle must go on until the workers of the world organize as a class, take possession of the earth and the machinery of production, and abolish the wage system.
We find that the centering of management of industries in fewer and fewer hands makes the trade unions unable to cope with the ever-growing power of the employing class. The trade unions foster a state of affairs which allows one set of workers to be pitted against another set of workers in the same industry, thereby helping defeat one another in wage wars. Moreover, the trade unions aid the employing class to mislead the workers into the belief that the workers have interests in common with their employers.
These conditions can be changed and the interest of the working class upheld only by an organization formed in such а way all its members in any one industry, or in all industries. If necessary, cease work whenever a strike or lockout is on in иг department thereof, thus making an injury to one an injury to all.
Instead of the conservative motto, "A fair day's wage for a fair day's work," we must inscribe on our banner the revolutionary watchword, "Abolition of the wage system."
It is the historic mission of the working class to do away with capitalism. The army of production must be organized, not only for the every-day struggle with capitalists, but to carry on production when capitalism shall have been overthrown. By organizing industrially we are forming the structure of the new society within the shell of the old.
It is obvious to the most casual reader that these are the principles of a revolutionary organization. Let there be no doubt on that point, for it has been freely admitted by the defendants and their counsel. Members of the organization will tell you with pride that this "Preamble" was adopted by the Bolsheviki without amendment as their guiding light.
There is, it will be observed, no reference to political action in the foregoing document. It was shown by the Government that in the earlier history of the I. W. W. there was in the second paragraph a vaguely expressed intent to make use of political means to bring about the state of society advocated. This became an issue between the conservative and radical elements of the organization, and the latter group, under the leadership of William D. Haywood, won.
By this change the I. W. W. became, and has continued to be, committed to the doctrine of "direct action," and with this revolutionary principle as its fundamental premise it has been built up. This policy of "direct action " not only presupposes the non-use of political methods of every kind, but it calls for continuous and unyielding opposition to all political institutions and laws whenever and wherever such opposition can be made effective. The basis for this attitude, as universally expressed in the literature and correspondence of the organization, seems to be based on the premise that the Government is capitalistic and that all laws are promulgated for the protection of the capitalistic society, hence the courts and the officers charged with their enforcement are the enemies of all workers. All accepted standards of ethics are regarded by members of the I. W. W. as emanating from and devised for the protection of private property, hence they do not regard these as binding upon their membership. Their primary interest is to secure sufficient power by organization to be able to overthrow accepted standards and seize the industries. This is expressed by their historian as follows:
As a revolutionary organization the Industrial Workers of the World aims to use any and all tactics that will get the results sought with the least expenditure of time and energy. The tactics used are determined solely by the power of the organization to make good in their use. The question of "right" and "wrong" do not concern us.
In short, the I. W. W. advocates the use of militant "direct action" tactics to the full extent of our power to make good. —St. John History Structure Methods.
Sabotage has been accepted as a practical method of applying the doctrine of " direct action." The literature of the organization is filled with references to this lawless and sneaking form of activity. One of their writers defines sabotage in the following language :
Sabotage is the destruction of profits to gain a definite, revolutionary, economic end. It has many forms. It may mean the destroying of raw materials destined for a scab factory or shop. It may mean the spoiling of a finished product. It may mean the destruction of parts of machinery or the disarrangement of
bunch of cats here," or "what we need is to have a bunch of fellow-workers get on the job and turn the cat loose," appear again and again in letters written by organizers, secretaries of branch unions, and members.
Books by various members of the organization on the subject of sabotage were circulated as widely as possible. Stickerettes, or small pasters, were ordered in lots as high as a million at a time and sold to members. These were surreptitiously placed in mills, factories, and camps to keep the suggestion to practice sabotage continually before the membership.
To aid in spreading their doctrine the I. W. W. leaders conduct a publishing bureau in connection with their general headquarters in Chicago. Here books, pamphlets, and circulara are printed for distribution by the various branch organizations throughout the country. In addition to two weekly newspapers printed in English there were papera printed in the Bulgarian, Hungarian, Italian, Hebrew, Lithuanian, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Slavonian, Swedish, and Norwegian languages.
After hearing the translations of the numerous articles of an inflammatory character which appeared in these papers one could not fail to realize the force of the arguments which have been advanced since the beginning of the war against the continuance of the foreign-language press. These papers were maintained for the sole pul-розе of arousing in the minds of the thousands of immigrants who have come to this country seeking new opportunities and dreaming of future prosperity hostility to the Government, a lasting distrust of
a whole machine where that machine is the one upon which the other machines are dependent for material. It may mean working slow. It may mean poor work. It may mean missending packages, giving overweight to customers, pointing out defects in goods, using the best of materials where the employer desires adulteration, and also the telling of trade secrets. In fact, it has as many variations as there are different lines of work.
There are hundreds of methods suggested in the literature of the I. W. W., ranging from the misplacing of signal-lights on railways to introducing bedbugs into first-class hotels. Two symbols of this practice have been adopted, and appear in the propaganda and correspondence of the organization—the wooden shoe or sabot and a cat. Scores of letters were read by the Government attorneys in which such references to the "cat" as the following appeared:
There was a big parasite owned a box factory in Everett. He was very active among the Vigilantes, in fact, a leader. He was a chesty guy until Sunday night. He owned a box factory worth $50,000. He isn't so chesty now, as all lie owns is an ash-pile that is worth about fifty cents. "Vengeance is mine, saith the Lord." I am going down and join the Holy Rollers, as God is with us, the oppressed, or possibly it was the cat. Who knows? I don't.
Just got word from the camp that twenty scabs are lying in sick as a result of the cat.
Such phrases as "get the cats on their trail," or "send a [...]
all our institutions, and a lack of faith in the honesty of our society.
The following excerpt from the letter of the managing editor of one of these papers reveals how thoroughly this influence was understood. He wrote :
I have in this issue soft-pedaled the war talk. My reason is that if we came out strong there are hundreds of the boys who would pull stunt s that would do the movement no good and land them on the inside of a jail, when they could be doing effective work on the inside of industry. I am not scared of jails. I have sampled a good many ; but if I go it will not be over arguments in regard to Sags.
In the phraseology of the I. W. W., these were publications designed to " fan the flames of discontent."
Among the various publications of the organization which were shrewdly calculated to this end mention should be made of the I. W. W. song-book. Among the " Hymns of Hate " that were sung by the members in the " jungles," the wheat-fields, and the mining and lumber camps is the following, entitled " Christians at War," Bung to the tune of " Onward, Christian Soldiers :"
" Onward, Christian soldiers ! Duty's way is plain ; Slay your Christian neighbors, or by them be slain ; Pulpiteers are spouting effervescent swill, God above is calling you to rob and rape and kill ; All your acts are sanctified by the Lamb on high ; If you love the Holy Ghost, go murder, pray, and die.
Onward, Christian soldiers ! Rip and tear and smite !
Let the gentle Jesus bless your dynamite ;
Splinter skulls with shrapnel, fertilize the sod ;
folks who do not speak your tongue deserve the curse of God.
Smash the doors of every home, pretty maidens seize ;
Use your might and sacred right to treat them as you please.
Onward, Christian soldiers ! Eat and drink your fill ;
Bob with bloody fingers, Christ O. K.'s the bill.
Steal the farmers' savings, take their grain and meat ;
Even though the children starve, the Saviour's bums must eat ;
Burn the peasants' cottages, orphans leave bereft ;
In Jehovan's holy name wreak ruin right and left.
Onward, Christian soldiers ! Drench the land with gore ;
Mercy is a weakness all the gods abhor.
Bayonet the babies, jab the mothers, too ;
Hoist the cross of Calvary .to hallow all you do.
File your bullets' noses flat, poison every well ;
God decrees your enemies must all go plumb to helL
Onward, Christian soldiers ! Blighting all you meet,
Trampling human freedom under pious feet
Praise the Lord whose dollar-sign dupes his favored race !
Make the foreign trash respect your bullion brand of grace,
Trust in mock salvation, serve as pirates' tools ;
History will say of you : ' That pack of G d fools.' "
The Government has placed this doggerel in evidence, and with substantial supporting testimony to show that it was one of the widely circulated publications which members purchased by the tens of thousands.
The membership of the I. W. W. and the methods used in recruiting have in themselves made an interesting part of the evidence in the case. The chief executive officer is William D.T or " Big Bill," Haywood, who has the title of secretary-treasurer. There is a general executive committee of five members, elected at the annual conventions. Then there are various tributary organizations, such as the Agricultural Workers' Industrial Union, the Lumber Workers' Industrial Union, Marine Transport Workers, etc. These unions were chartered by the main body. They elect their own secretaries and send delegates to the annual conventions. In addition, there are numerous delegates who are empowered to travel about the country seeking any place where there seems to be a situation ripe for the development of trouble. If they discover a body of foreigners employed in an industry, they communicate with headquarters, suggesting that some organizer of that nationality be sent to foment discord. These traveling delegates are in many instances paid by the branch unions or receive their salaries direct from general headquarters. The admission fee to the I. W. W. was $2,
and the monthly dues 50 cents. In addition, there were asee* ment stamps, issued frequently for the defense of members in ^ail in various parts of the country charged with crime. Accordmg to the estimates of the Government accountants who examined the books, there have been issued altogether perhaps some three hundred thousand membership cards. It is a. fluctuating ambulatory membership, however, and probably amounts at the present time to something in the neighborhood of fifty thousand.
Prior to the entry of the United States into the war, when it became evident that this step was being forced upon us, the organization increased by leaps and bounds. In Alarch, 1917, William D. Haywood wrote to one of the officers : *" \\re are crowding on steam this year. We want to get a real start before the authorities begin to put their clamps on us. When we have every other industry as well organized as the lumber workers of western Washington and Idaho, then we won't care what the lawmakers do. If we make the wheels go around. ' the Ship of State ' will te sailing to our breeze." The I. W. W. papers were filled with the most virulent attacks upon war and militarism, and the speakers were traveling about the country arousing similar sentiments. When the Selective Draft Act was forecast, the I. W. W. papers indulged in lengthy diatribes against it A typical example is the following, which was published on May 5, under the caption " Organize or Perish :"
The newspaper-made war hysteria is dragging its slimy_ length over all the land, leaving behind it a trail of horror, insanity, and suicide. And, in spite of the fact that the war is anything but popular with the American working class, the shortsighted and money-mad henchmen of big business seem to be determined to go a step further in an idiotic effort to foist forcible conscription upon us also. As far as the middle and upper classes are concerned, they may be able to " make it stick, but to every thinking member of the working class the whole thing appears in the light of a stupendous and ghastly conspiracy to undo all that labor has ever done to save itself from the clutches of industrial exploitation—a conspiracy of such far-reaching and disastrous effects upon organization that every class-conscious working man and woman in America feels called upon to defeat it at aO costs.
In the same paper there appeared a violent attack on the patriotic stand made by the American Federation of Labor in regard to the war. The boldness of the I. W. W. stand encouraged those who desired to escape their duties as American citizens. They joined by the thousands. In five months $271,000 was collected for memberships, dues, and sales of I. W. W. literature.
The organization passed a resolution that no member would be permitted to retain membership who enlisted or was drafted into the military or naval service of the United States.
It seemed to be the understanding that there would be a general strike called in all industries in which they had a sufficient number of members to make it at all effective. It was the hope, apparently, of no small proportion of the membership that this would be of sufficient proportions to prevent the entry of the United States into the war. Strikes were called, but the workers of the country as a whole were more patriotic than these revolutionists had believed. The light broke upon them slowly that their dream of seizing the country's industries and proclaiming an industrial state was for the time being impossible. Then came the heavy hand of the Government ana the gathering of the officers who are now on trial. The question for the jury to decide in this case -is whether the defendants knowingly conspired to interfere with the production of munitions and supplies for the Government, and whether they knowingly conspired to prevent certain persons from the exercise of their Constitutional rights and to use the mails to defraud employers of labor generally. These questions the jury will consider in the light of the full evidence as presented.
Regardless of their verdict, it has been made clear during the course of this trial that we have in the United States a full-fledged revolutionary organization under a leadership as radical as any that existed in Russia prior to the overthrow of the autocracy. L. H.