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Voice of the People

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 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.

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