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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.

The Everett Massacre: A History of the Class Struggle in the Lumber Industry (Walker C Smith)

By Walker C. Smith - IWW, 1917

This book is dedicated to those loyal soldiers of the great class war who were murdered on the steamer Verona at Everett, Washington, in the struggle for free speech and free assembly and the right to organize:

FELIX BARAN,
HUGO GERLOT,
GUSTAV JOHNSON,
JOHN LOONEY,
ABRAHAM RABINOWITZ,
and those unknown martyrs whose bodies were swept out to unmarked ocean graves on Sunday, November Fifth, 1916.

Preface

By C. E. PAYNE.

In ten minutes of seething, roaring hell at the Everett dock on the afternoon of Sunday, November 5, 1916, there was more of the age-old superstition regarding the identity of interests between capital and labor torn from the minds of the working people of the Pacific Northwest than could have been cleared away by a thousand lecturers in a year. It is with regret that we view the untimely passing of the seven or more Fellow Workers who were foully murdered on that fateful day, but if the working class of the world can view beyond their mangled forms the hideous brutality that was the cause of their deaths, they will not have died in vain.

This book is published with the hope that the tragedy at Everett may serve to set before the working class so clear a view of capitalism in all its ruthless greed that another such affair will be impossible.

Sabotage (Elizabeth Gurley-Flynn)

Originally published as SABOTAGE, THE CONSCIOUS WITHDRAWAL OF THE WORKERS' INDUSTRIAL EFFICIENCY, in October, 1916, by the IWW publishing bureau, in Cleveland, Ohio. It was later withdrawn from the IWW's official litearture. The pampahlet originally sold for 10 cents.

Elizabeth Gurley-Flynn's Introduction:

The interest in sabotage in the United States has developed lately on account of the case of Frederick Sumner Boyd in the state of New Jersey as an aftermath of the Paterson strike. Before his arrest and conviction for advocating sabotage, little or nothing was known of this particular form of labor tactic in the United States. Now there has developed a two-fold necessity to advocate it: not only to explain what it means to the worker in his fight for better conditions, but also to justify our fellow-worker Boyd in everything that he said. So I am desirous primarily to explain sabotage, to explain it in this two-fold significance, first as to its utility and second as to its legality.

Voice of the People (periodical, 1914)

Voice of the People was the new name of the Lumberjack the Wobbly Weekly covering New Orleans and the surrounding area.

Centralization in Industry

By Paul Dupres - The Voice of the People, October 30, 1913; republished on libcom.org by Scott Nappalos, March 30, 2015

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s.

From the series The Question of Decentralization [part 6 out of 7]

This article was published by the newspaper of the Southern District of the IWW's IU 120 the industrial union of timber workers. It was part of a series on decentralization in the early 1910s that featured back and forth around questions of the vision of the union, structure, and capitalism of its day.

The centralists, when beaten at all other points, make what they consider conclusive argument in the following: The IWW is building up the structure of the new society, and as modern industry is highly centralized the IWW must be highly centralized also.

This argument is sound save for two details, 1st, the IWW is not building up the structure of the new society (as this is generally understood), 2nd, modern industry is not centralized (as centralists understand and use this term). Let us consider the first of the shocking propositions in this altogether shocking rejoinder.

Summed up, the current theory is that the labor unions will in the new society, take charge of and oversee production. As our noted theoretician WE Trautmann says; they will "legislate the industries". How unnecessary will be the interference of the labor unions is readily apparent when one considers the existing producing, or shop organization of modern industry. The shop organizations are the totality of workers of all kinds in the various industries. They have been called into being solely for the purpose of carrying on production. They are the social producing organism. They are the embodiment of the best thought and experience that humanity has been able to apply to production. These shop organizations are not capitalistic in nature, but economic. They will not perish with the fall of capitalism. On the contrary, the revolution will give a strong stimulus to their still higher development. They will not need the assistance, as producing organizations, from any government, be it political or labor union in character.

Compared to the shop organizations the labor unions would be ridiculous as producing organizations. The labor unions are only fighting organizations; they know nothing about carrying on production. Their chief function is to overthrow capitalism. If they have any function to perform in the new society it will doubtless be to serve as employment agencies. It is worthy of note that even under capitalism the labor unions so strongly sees the need for a distributive shop organization for the workers that they are universally trying to serve as employment agencies. This is equally true of both the reddest and yellowest unions. Though unions may have nothing else in common, not even the strike, they will all be found functioning as employment agencies as best they can.

Sabotage: Its History, Philosophy & Function (Walker C Smith)

By Walker C Smith - IWW, 1913

This little work is the essence of all available material collected on the subject of Sabotage for a period of more than two years. Thanks are due to the many rebels who gave assistance, and especially to Albin Braida, who made for me what I think to be the first English translation of Pouget's work on Sabotage. From this last pamphlet extracts have been taken and adaptations made to suit American conditions.

The object of this work is to awaken the producers to a consciousness of their industrial power. It is dedicated, not to those who advocate but to those who use sabotage.

No theory, no philosophy, no line of action is so good as claimed by its advocates nor so bad as painted by its critics. Sabotage is no exception to this rule. Sabotage, according to the capitalists and the political socialists, is synonymous with murder, rapine, arson, theft; is illogical, vile, unethical, reactionary, destructive of society itself. To many anarchist theorists it is the main weapon of industrial warfare, overshadowing mass solidarity, industrial formation and disciplined action. Some even go so far as to claim that sabotage can usher in the new social order. Somewhere between these two extreme views can he found the truth about sabotage.

Three versions are given of the source of the word. The one best known is that a striking French weaver cast his wooden shoe—called a sabot—into the delicate mechanism of the loom upon leaving the mill. The confusion that resulted, acting to the workers' benefit, brought to the front a line of tactics that took the name of SABOTAGE. Slow work is also said to be at the basis of the word, the idea being that wooden shoes are clumsy and so prevent quick action on the part of the workers. The third idea is that Sabotage is coined from the slang term that means "putting the boots" to the employers by striking directly at their profits without leaving the job. The derivation, however, is unimportant. It is the thing itself that causes commotion among employers and politicians alike. What then is Sabotage?

Sabotage is the destruction of profits to gain a definite, revolutionary, economic end. It has many forms. It may mean the damaging of raw materials destined for a scab factory or shop. It may mean the spoiling of a finished product. It may mean the displacement of parts of machinery or the disarrangement 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.

Note this important point, however. Sabotage does not seek nor desire to take human life. Neither is it directed against the consumer except where wide publicity has been given to the fact that the sabotaged product is under the ban. A boycotted product is at all times a fit subject for sabotage. The aim is to hit the employer in his vital spot, his heart and soul, in other words, his pocketbook. The consumer is struck only when he interposes himself between the two combatants.

On the other hand, sabotage is simply one of the many weapons in labor's arsenal. It is by no means the greatest one. Solidaric action is mightier than the courageous acts of a few. Industrial class formation gives a strength not to be obtained by mere tactics. Self discipline and cooperative action are necessary if we are to build a new social order as well as destroy the old. Sabotage is merely a means to an end; a means that under certain conditions might be dispensed with and the end still be gained.

Sabotage will sometimes be misused, flagrantly so; the same is true of every one of the weapons of labor. The main concern to revolutionists is whether the use of sabotage destroy the power of the masters in such a manner as to give the workers a greater measure of industrial control. On that point depends its usefulness to the working class.

The Lumberjack (periodical, 1913-14)

The Lumberjack was founded in January 1913 in the midst of a protracted labor strike by the Brotherhood of Timber Workers (B.T.W.) in Merryville, Louisiana. Published by the Southern District of the National Industrial Union of Forest and Lumber Workers, the weekly paper was edited by Covington Hall (1871-1952), a member of the radical wing of the Socialist Party in New Orleans.

Fields, Factories and Workshops:or Industry Combined with Agriculture and Brain Work with Manual Work (Peter Kropotkin)

By Peter Kropotkin - (second edition) 1912

Under the name of profits, rent, interest upon capital, surplus value, and the like, economists have eagerly discussed the benefits which the owners of land or capital, or some privileged nations, can derive, either from the under-paid work of the wage-labourer, or from the inferior position of one class of the community toward another class, or from the inferior economical development of one nation towards another nation. These profits being shared in a very unequal proportion between the different individuals, classes and nations engaged in production, considerable pains were taken to study the present apportionment of the benefits, and its economical and moral consequences, as well as the changes in the present economical organisation of society which might bring about a more equitable distribution of a rapidly accumulating wealth. It is upon questions relating to the right to that increment of wealth that the hottest battles are now fought between economists of different schools.

In the meantime the great question “What have we to produce, and how?” necessarily remained in the background. Political economy, as it gradually emerges from its semi-scientific stage, tends more and more to become a science devoted to the study of the needs of men and of the means of satisfying them with the least possible waste of energy, — that is, a sort of physiology of society. But few economists, as yet, have recognised that this is the proper domain of economics, and have attempted to treat their science from this point of view. The main subject of social economy — that is, the economy of energy required for the satisfaction of human needs — is consequently the last subject which one expects to find treated in a concrete form in economical treatises.

The following pages are a contribution to a portion of this vast subject. They contain a discussion of the advantages which civilised societies could derive from a combination of industrial pursuits with intensive agriculture, and of brain work with manual work.

The importance of such a combination has not escaped the attention of a number of students of social science. It was eagerly discussed some fifty years ago under the names of “harmonised labour,” “integral education,” and so on. It was pointed out at that time that the greatest sum total of well-being can be obtained when a variety of agricultural, industrial and intellectual pursuits are combined in each community; and that man shows his best when he is in a position to apply his usually-varied capacities to several pursuits in the farm, the workshop, the factory, the study or the studio, instead of being riveted for life to one of these pursuits only.

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