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class struggle

The Lumber Industry and Its Workers (James Kennedy)

This lengthy text was published by the Industrial Workers of the World in 1922. While by now some of the information is considerably dated, this study is still thoroughly exhaustive for its time. The breadth of knowledge possessed by the workers in the Lumber Industry is demonstrated here, and it shows that, even in 1922, control of the industry by the workers was entirely possible. So while technology and conditions have changed, the song remains the same. The working class and the employing class have nothing in common.

The IWW in the Lumber Industry (James Rowan)

By James Rowan, Lumber Workers Industrial Union #500 - IWW; Seattle, Washington - 1920

About the author:

James Rowan began organizing in the Lumber Industry for the IWW as early as 1916, witnessed the Everett Massacre, and became involved in the great IWW LWIU organizing campaigns from 1917-23. During this time he became to be known as the "Jesus of the Lumberjacks".

Unfortunately, post World War I defeats and factional disputes led to James Rowan leading a splinter faction called the "Emergency Program" (or "E.P.") which ultimately failed. The "E.P." died out around 1930. James Rowan was quite possibly its last remaining member.

Before this disastrous split, however, Fellow Worker Rowan's efforts contributed to and documented the success of the LWIU 120 (then known as LWIU 500).

The following represents the complete, unabridged edition of James Rowan's Sixty-One Page account of the (then) short but colorful history of the IWW in the Lumber Industry of the American Pacific Northwest from 1907-20. 

The Centralia Conspiracy (Ralph Chaplin)

By Ralph Chaplin - 1919

Note to readers:  the web version of this document omits the many images (due to the images' poor contrast and resolution) and their descriptive captions, which--although informative--are also covered in the general narrative.  For the complete document, including images and captions, please download this PDF Version of the document.

This document has been subdivided to allow for quicker load times and more digestable reading.  The following divisions are not part of the original document.

Lord Byrons Speech in Defense of the Luddites

Orginially published at The Luddites at 200

This speech was given by Lord Byron in the debate in the House of Lords on the 1812 Frame Breaking Act. A week later, in a letter to a friend Byron wrote, “I spoke very violent sentences with a sort of modest impudence, abused everything and everybody, put the Lord Chancellor very much out of humour, and if I may believe what I hear, have not lost any character in the experiment”.

My Lords, The subject now submitted to your Lordships, for the first time, though new to the House, is, by no means, new to the country. I believe it had occupied the serious thoughts of all descriptions of persons long before its introduction to the notice of that Legislature whose interference alone could be of real service. As a person in some degree connected with the suffering county, though a stranger, not only to this House in general, but to almost every individual whose attention I presume to solicit, I must claim some portion of your Lordships' indulgence, whilst I offer a few observations on a question in which I confess myself deeply interested.

To enter into any detail of these riots would be superfluous; the House is already aware that every outrage short of actual bloodshed has been perpetrated, and that the proprietors of the frames obnoxious to the rioters, and all persons supposed to be connected with them, have been liable to insult and violence. During the short time I recently passed in Notts, not twelve hours elapsed without some fresh act of violence; and, on the day I left the county, I was informed that forty frames had been broken the preceding evening as usual, without resistance and without detection.

Such was then the state of that county, and such I have reason to believe it to be at this moment. But whilst these outrages must be admitted to exist to an alarming extent, it cannot be denied that they have arisen from circumstances of the most unparalelled distress. The perseverance of these miserable men in their proceedings, tends to prove that nothing but absolute want could have driven a large and once honest and industrious body of the people into the commission of excesses so hazardous to themselves, their families, and the community. At the time to which I allude, the town and county were burdened with large detachments of the military; the police was in motion, the magistrates assembled, yet all these movements, civil and military had led to—nothing. Not a single instance had occurred of the apprehension of any real delinquent actually taken in the fact, against whom there existed legal evidence sufficient for conviction. But the police, however useless, were by no means idle: several notorious delinquents had been detected; men liable to conviction, on the clearest evidence, of the capital crime of poverty; men, who had been nefariously guilty of lawfully begetting several children, whom, thanks to the times!—they were unable to maintain.

Considerable injury has been done to the proprietors of the improved frames. These machines were to them an advantage, inasmuch as they superseded the necessity of employing a number of workmen, who were left in consequence to starve. By the adoption of one species of frame in particular, one man performed the work of many, and the superfluous labourers were thrown out of employment.

Yet it is to be observed, that the work thus executed was inferior in quality, not marketable at home, and merely hurried over with a view to exportation. It was called, in the cant of the trade, by the name of Spider-work. The rejected workmen, in the blindness of their ignorance, instead of rejoicing at these improvements in arts so beneficial to mankind, conceived themselves to be sacrificed to improvements in mechanism. In the foolishness of their hearts, they imagined that the maintenance and well doing of the industrious poor, were objects of greater consequence than the enrichment of a few individuals by any improvement in the implements of trade which threw the workmen out of employment, and rendered the labourer unworthy of his hire. And, it must be confessed, that although the adoption of the enlarged machinery, in that state of our commerce which the country once boasted, might have been beneficial to the master without being detrimental to the servant; yet, in the present situation of our manufactures, rotting in warehouses without a prospect of exportation, with the demand for work and workmen equally diminished, frames of this construction tend materially to aggravate the distresses and discontents of the disappointed sufferers. But the real cause of these distresses, and consequent disturbances, lies deeper.

A Modest Proposal (For Preventing The Children of Poor People in Ireland From Being Aburden to Their Parents or Country, and For Making Them Beneficial to The Public)

By Jonathan Swift - 1729

Ecology.IWW.ORG web editor's note - The following piece is a satire, written in response to the British aristocracy's claims that the Irish Potato Famine was the fault of the Irish Working Class's simply having too many children (a nonsensical Malthusian dismissal of class warfare) as opposed to the fault of the British ruling class's deliberate policies of imperialism and colonialism. It is reposted here as a reminder of the utter inanity of Malthusian dogma:

It is a melancholy object to those who walk through this great town or travel in the country, when they see the streets, the roads, and cabin doors, crowded with beggars of the female sex, followed by three, four, or six children, all in rags and importuning every passenger for an alms. These mothers, instead of being able to work for their honest livelihood, are forced to employ all their time in strolling to beg sustenance for their helpless infants: who as they grow up either turn thieves for want of work, or leave their dear native country to fight for the Pretender in Spain, or sell themselves to the Barbadoes.

I think it is agreed by all parties that this prodigious number of children in the arms, or on the backs, or at the heels of their mothers, and frequently of their fathers, is in the present deplorable state of the kingdom a very great additional grievance; and, therefore, whoever could find out a fair, cheap, and easy method of making these children sound, useful members of the commonwealth, would deserve so well of the public as to have his statue set up for a preserver of the nation.

But my intention is very far from being confined to provide only for the children of professed beggars; it is of a much greater extent, and shall take in the whole number of infants at a certain age who are born of parents in effect as little able to support them as those who demand our charity in the streets.

As to my own part, having turned my thoughts for many years upon this important subject, and maturely weighed the several schemes of other projectors, I have always found them grossly mistaken in the computation. It is true, a child just dropped from its dam may be supported by her milk for a solar year, with little other nourishment; at most not above the value of 2s., which the mother may certainly get, or the value in scraps, by her lawful occupation of begging; and it is exactly at one year old that I propose to provide for them in such a manner as instead of being a charge upon their parents or the parish, or wanting food and raiment for the rest of their lives, they shall on the contrary contribute to the feeding, and partly to the clothing, of many thousands.

There is likewise another great advantage in my scheme, that it will prevent those voluntary abortions, and that horrid practice of women murdering their bastard children, alas! too frequent among us! sacrificing the poor innocent babes I doubt more to avoid the expense than the shame, which would move tears and pity in the most savage and inhuman breast.

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