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Chapter 10 - The Bankruptcy of "Law and Order"

The facts in this case speak pretty well for themselves. To draw conclusions at length would be an impertinence. He who runs may read the signs of decay of Capitalism, the crumbling of a social system based upon the slavery and degradation of the vast majority of mankind. And from the lips of the prosecution counsel—the Voice of the State—we have the open and frank acknowledgement of the bankruptcy of law and order, the failure of government as it is now administered.

It is no part of this work to attack The Law. The Law is august, majestic in its impartial findings and the equality of its judgements, always however with due allowance for those subtle distinctions so incomprehensible to the masses which exist between high finance, kleptomania and theft. The Law strips no one of his possessions; under its beneficent reign the rich retain their wealth and the poor keep their poverty. Founded on dogma and moulded by tradition, The Law stands as a mighty monument to Justice. It is ever in this way that we show our respect and reverence for the dead. Being an outgrowth of precedent it gains added sanctity with each fresh proof of antiquity, differing in this regard from automobiles, eggs, women, hats, the six best sellers, and the commoner things of life. Surrounded by mysticism, surcharged with the language of the dead, and sustained by force, who is there would have the temerity to question the sanctity of The Law?

It remained for Attorneys Black and Cooley—and not for the outcast industrial unionists, socialists or anarchists—to charge that The Law is a bankrupt institution, and it was for the citizen-deputies—and not for the despised workers—to prove the truth of the indictment. Truly Society moves in a mysterious way its blunders to reform!

With the true logic of the counting-house Cooley admitted that the mill owners had formed a mob to protect themselves from the rabble, they had pursued illegal methods to prevent the breaking of The Law, they had jailed men in order to preserve Liberty, they had even blacklisted union men in order to give to every man the right to work where, when and for whom he pleased. There is no escaping such logic if one owns property. Of course those who possess no property are the natural enemies of property, and law being based upon property, they are defiers of The Law, and Society being upheld only by observance of The Law, they are the foes of Society. It is not best to kill them in too large numbers for they are useful in doing the work of the world, but they must be kept in fear and trembling of The Law and made to respect it as sacred and inviolable, even if we do not. So argued Black and Cooley.

But the whine of Black, the snarl of Cooley, the moody silence of Veitch, alike served as a confession that "law and order" was a failure. The plea of the State was that all law is the creature of property and when the power of the law proves inadequate in its function of protecting the accumulations of wealth the possessors of property are justified in supplementing The Law with such additional physical or brute force as they can muster, or in casting aside The Law altogether, as it suits their convenience. To the workers The Law must remain sacred while to the leisure class Property is the thing to worship, for however much robbery is to be condemned, the proceeds of robbery are always to be respected.

Their further contention was that the streets are for traffic, for maintaining commerce, in other words to aid in the gathering of property and to enhance the property values already cleared. Out of the graciousness of their hearts the business men and employers allow the pedestrians to use the streets incidental to the purchase of goods or to journey to and from their tasks in the factories, mines, mills and workshops. That the streets might be used for social, religious, political or educational purposes does not enter their calculations, their ledgers carry no place for such entries on the profit side. Free speech is tolerated at times provided nothing of importance is said.

Two trials were going on in the court room at the same time; that of Thomas H. Tracy and the I. W. W. before a property-qualified jury, and that of the existing system of law enforcement before the great jury of the working class. And just as surely as was the verdict that of acquittal for Tracy and his union, was there a most decided judgment of Guilty upon "law and order." For Tracy was not freed by the law but by the common sense of the jury who refused to consider him guilty and viewed him as a class rather than as an individual. Under the existing conspiracy laws he might well have been considered technically guilty. But "law and order" technically and otherwise was proven guilty, and the charge that Capitalism is guilty of first degree murder, and a host of other crimes, was clearly proven.

Why? Why all the brutality depicted herein? Why?

The answer is that we are living in an insane social system in which money ranks higher than manhood.

To be more specific the outrages at Everett had their roots in the belief that the men who labor, and especially the migratory and the unskilled element, form an inferior caste or class to those who exploit them. The dominant class viewed any attempt to claim even the same civil rights as an assault upon their supremacy and integrity,—this to them being synonymous with social order and civilization. This is always more evident where a single industry dominates, as evidenced by the occurrences at Ludlow, in the coal district, Mesaba in the iron ore section, and Bisbee where copper is the main product. Everett controlled by the lumber interests clinches the argument.

A community dominated by an industry, impelled by a desire for high profits; or under the spell of fear or passion, whether justified or not, cannot be restrained by law from a summary satisfaction of its desires or a quieting of its apprehensions. Before such a condition the fabric of local government crumbles and lynch law is substituted for the more orderly processes designed to attain the same end. The Everett outrages were no example of the rough and ready justice of primitive communities. The outlaws were in full possession of local government, legislative, judicial, and executive, yet they fell back upon brute force and personal violence and attempted to protect the lumber trust profits by tactics of terrorism.

Insofar as the law can be wielded for their immediate purpose a capitalistic mob, such as these at Everett, will clothe their violence in the form of ostensible legal process, yet often the letter and the spirit of their own class-influenced laws will be ruthlessly thrust aside. They want law and order, efficacious, impartial, august, in the eyes of the general citizenry, but they want exemption of their class from the rule of the law on certain occasions. Strongly would they deny that all law is class law, made, interpreted and administered in behalf of a privileged property-owning class, yet the facts bear out this contention.

The conception of impersonal and impartial legalism has been generally accepted along with traditional moral opinion and the naive belief in the excellence of competitive, individualistic, and unrestrained business. But this historical case has proven, as nothing else could prove, that these bonds are relaxing and the faith and formulas underlying the whole legal establishment are the subject of attack by an increasingly large and uncompromising army of dissenters.

From the developments of the Everett situation one can sense the rising tide of industrial solidarity. It was the unity of the workers that won the great case. It will be the unity of Labor that will win the world for the workers, just as the embryonic democracy of the toilers in its blind groupings has already cracked the shell of the industrial autocracy of the present day.

At present we are at the parting of the ways. There is not sufficient faith in the Law to hold the dying wage system together and there is not a sufficiently clear conception of the solidaric ideal of a new society to bind the rebellious elements to a definite program. So chaos reigns in society and events like those at Everett may be expected to arise until the struggle of the exploited takes on a more constructive form and develops the necessary power to overthrow capitalism and all its attendant institutions.

Industrial unionism is the only hope of the disinherited and dispossessed proletariat. It is the voice of the future. It spells at once Evolution and Revolution. Its assured success means an end to classes and class rule and the rearing of a race of free individuals.

The strength of the workers is in industry. Every worker, man, woman or child, has economic power. The control of industry means the control of the world.

He who strives to bring the workers closer together so that their allied forces in an industrial organization may overthrow the wage system and rear in its place an Industrial Republic in which slavery will be unknown and where joy will form the mainspring of human activity, pays the highest homage to those who, in order that the spirit of Liberty might not perish from the land, gave their lives at Everett, Washington, on Sunday, November 5th, 1917:









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