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THE VOICE ,' PEOPLE
(Formerly "The Lumberjack.")
Education Freedom in
Organization ¶V VRS Industrial
Published Weekly by National Industrial Union of Forest and Lumber
Workers. Southern District.
Office of Publication:
335 Carendelet Street, New Orleans, La.
COVINGTON HALL, Editor.
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latered as Second-class Matter July f, 1913. at the Post Office at New
Orleans, La., under the act of August 24, 1912.
THE QUESTION OF DE('CEN TRA IZATION.
Many in revolt against centralization Iropose that the buisi
ness of the I. W. W. be transacted lby referelidunl. 'They would
abolish the convention.
The referendum, while probalbly superior to centralization, or
dinarily has many serious disadvantages that precltide its extenl
sive use. A fundamental one is that, usually, only a fraction of
the membership votes on referendums. ('onsider the rid culously
small vote on the recent referendum for the election of general of
ficers, etc. How much smaller would the vote have leen had the
referendum been on matters ,f less implortance? 'I las lethargy is
due to lack of interest. In strike votes, however, the referen(lum
is practicable, the interest of the workers being sulfficiently aruosed
to bring out a large vote. (in any but patently vital issues the
rank and file pay little attention to referentlums. This is the ex
perience of every labor union.
A fatal objection to a general use of the referendum in local
and technical matters, as is proposed, is the impossibility of suf
ficiently acluainting the rank and file withl the details of such mat
ters as to render them competent to make intelligent decisions.
Consider the absurdity of having the Tampa locals vote on 0who
shall be editor of the "Worker," or the textile locals dtcide whether
the western locals shall be allowed to foI', a district organization
or not. How can these loc:1ls possibl)y In' sul'iciently informed
as to enable them to render conml)etenlt decisions in these matters ?
To submit financial questions (such as per capita tax) to tlv rank
and file is unscientific to say tl:he least. Such prollemrns shoul be
solved by experts, not oily lby ill informed majorities.
The strike vote is one of the very few matters the nationlal
referendum has been found practicablh on. In strike votes the
rank and file are so vitally nterestedl and well informnd that they
almost always take the right course. ()n almost (ve'ry other qllues
tion the national referendum is a most decided failure.
Decentralization the Solution.
Some believe that the remedy for the abovel, lassitudtle and in
competence lies in a wide and thorough discussion of tl (e qlUestions
at issue. They overlook that these defects are inherent in the ref
erendum and are not to he eradicated from it. It is simly imlos
sible to educate the timlber workers to the point where they can
intelligently dictate to the textile workers on tchnical matcrs con
cerning the latter alone. The ireal remedy is to decentralize the
organization's business. Ti efoolish policy of all tlhe locals looking
after all the other locals Ibusiness must ibe ablandoned. Each hocal
must be permitted to attend to its own aff'airs. L.et the western
locals elect the editor of the "W'orke1r ." let the eastern locals de
cide on their own organization form, etc. The farnili,rity and in
terest in their own afl'airs will enable the locals to \vigorously and
intelligently settle them.
With each lochal attending to its own affairs there would re
main but little business (U.ave propaganda) of a national nature.
This could ordinarily be settled by the convention. in national
financial matters, for instance, the convention becomes Ibetter ac
quainted with the details than the rank and file can po.sihld' he.
It is competent to make a decision. ''The same is true in regard,
to the selection of national officers. IThis shouild be a function of
the convention as the delegates become thoroughly acqluainted with
the various candidates. l)ecentralizatlion placets the settling of af
fairs in the hands of the "man on the job" who is alone competent
Let the local unions sett', local taffairs, and the convention dispose
of national matters, save pIossibly strike decisions. And in ti c in
terpretation of what are local and what are national matters, let
the decision be generally in favor of the local unions.
The above is the niethod in thile ('. (;. T. which has no genleral
referendum. The system has worked well.
Other Referendum Weaknesses.
The referendum is hopelessly cumbersgme. To get anything
like a thorough discussion of a question by means of it is impossi
ble. Tons of ink are spilled fruitlessly trying to clear up proposi
tions that sould be swiftly disposed of by a convention. Anyone
who has ever attended a convention has observed the remarkable
standardization of ideas that takes place at such gatherings-a re
sult that endless referendum couldn't bring about.
The referendum is also easily manipulated, the machine al
ways being able to "bring out the vote." It is a much more difli
cult l,toposition to control a convention, especially when there is
no national macline and the local unions have developed a strong
spirit of indepedence.
Of course the abuse that gave two men at the seventh conven
tion 182 votes, the control of the convention, will have to be abol
ished. Thie C. (. T. system is to give each local union one vote.
D)elegates may vote five proxies. Industrial unions, district couu
cils and general officers have a voice but no vote. This system
throws the control of the convention into the hands of the local
unions, which are recognized as the basis of the labor movement.
('rooked officials use the referendum to hide behind. It re
lieves them of responsibility. They blame everything on the rank
and file, whose sanction a well oiled machine enables them to se
clre on almost any proposition.
A peculiarity of the referendum is that the mass almost al
ways vote "Yes." As a result the most conflicting propositions car
ry on the same referendum. This breeds hopeless confusion.
From whatever angle it is regarded the referendum is im
practical, as compared to the system of decentralization outlined
above. It is a species of centralism. The orthodox centralists
would coerce the locals into being revolutionary by means of the
;. B.B . The "referendumists" would use the referendum to per
form tie same needless task. They may both rest their labors as
the locals are in no need of such assistance. On the contrary they
are well capllable of being the determining factor in the 1. W. W.
a iosition they will arrive at in the 1. W. W. as surely as they have
in all other revolutionary unions.
Lets throw the referendum in the garret along with political
action and the other working class delusions.
1'AI "L, I)'PI:'h.S, Ottawa, Can., Sept. 6, 1913
By Ruby Idom.
Man knows less of solidarity than any other living creature.
I)id you warring workers ever stop to think that even the wolves
of the forest know emntoglt to get together in huge packs and fight
their comon enemyy? Even the bees get together, build hives and
store up honey for lhe wirier. In fact, all animals have incarnated
III them the spirit of solidarity, the love for preservation of their
ispecies. Man alone, the boasted king of organic life is divided into
:;cts and light each other. When, Oh ! When, will you workers real
mzce your folly ? The time will come when you MUST realize; to be
liberatedl you MI'S'I' unite in one solid band and strike tlhe blow.
Can you imagine any living thing on earth starving in the midst
of plenty, except man ? Are the laws of nature responsible for the
present condition of the working class? We KNOW that they are
,o,t. Nature has furnished plenty on earth for all. Nor is it fate
that eachi day the struggle for existence assumes a more and more
savage form. Mai, :lone, is responsible for these economic ills.
IToday every le r.on who belongs to tl.e wage earning class is ab
solutely delpenlent upon his employer for life, liberty nad pursuit
of hialppiness. At best he can know but little of life, less of liberty,
and haapp,iness is a joke. lie looks forward to the time when he
will bIcome too old to work, then lie will be thrown aside for a
young and :tronlg('r slave; thrown upon charity, at last to go down
to ia plaur's girave. Now isn't there something terribly wrong
when sucl" conditionsj as these exist? YO()I KN()W TIllERE IS,
and so do 1. W\'hat are Y1'() doing to right these wrongs? Agita
tion makes the world more forward. ('Carry the message of the
)NI: lil(. UNION to the toiling millions from sea to sea! When
the sleeping giant, Labor, is once awakened and learns an injury
to one is an injury to all, then the masters of bread will be put on
the run and the world capltured for the workers.
(;ET IWSY! YO'!!
'I'EIRIIILE TEXAS AND) TIRE SUNNY SOU;TH.
Ily ('ovington iall.
l'ellwworker Tililany sends us a cllpping from the San Francis
o "iHulltein" givingl an acount of the "trial" of convict guards,
Wheeler, lain and Stewart, at Itichmond, which is in the exceed
ingly "(;od fearing" state of Texas. The fiends were being "tried"
for i.-i'g jammnicl twelve men into a hole without a breathing
snpace, when the tilermomnltecr s!ood at over 100i degrees in the
s. ade oltsidel, ; a coii.cequence of which eight men diedl in the
most fightful agony. 'le human hyena laiin said, "Yes, I heard
tlheir cries gro\wing lower all through tihe night, but considered it
Tillany ask.; if we noticed the report of the horror? We did,
and wer.e waiting to see the results of thie "trial" before comnment
ing. T'ie results of the "trial" is, as we expected, however,-"cx
onerated." Wheni it is known, though, that Texas is very religious
and that lle Honorablle John Henry Kirby is its political and in
dustrial l:oss, to onie will be surprised a this "exoneration" of
ti!i(.ds tilie good ol0 devil would not allow in his Presbcrterian hel
Yes, we are "civilized" in the South. Also "we are the most
chlivalrous people on eartl'." The Kirbys all say -o, and the Kir
bys never lie. The Texans are especially plroud of being a "( hris
tian peop 'le." This verdict Ipo'.oves it. ()ther things do, t(oo). For
instanc('e, a boy about twenty 3,*ars old was killed in l)alla: about
two years ago Iy a railroad watchman who said he caught him
stealing twenty pounds of ol0 brass. Watchman "exoneratedl."
About the same time a Mexican boy twelve years ol( was lynched
in Texas for killing a man :.5 years old in a personal figh t. Mob
"exoner'ated." Then came the exposures in the I'nit(ed States ('ourt
at San Antonio, Texas, of the frightful atrocities committed
on prisoners at the Koplpe convict farm, to which infernal I)lace
men and boys haid been sent for thei terrible crime of stealing rides
o, railroail traies, being drunk, etc., in punishment of which there
was inflicted upon them tortures that would revolt an Apache In
dian. Men stood u!p in the court and oared th(ir back on which
there was not a square inch of skin that did not bear a sctar from
a blacksnaki le wip. One loY, WII ITE, tad tben bastinadoed on
his feet until the flesh fell off and the tendons showed through and,
IN THAT CONDITION, HE HAD BEEN FORCED TO WORK
BAREFOOTED IN THE FIELDS. The United States District
Atorney had had the fiends in charge of this "farm" arrested for
"peonage;" they made no atempt to deny the atrocities, because
they could not, but escaped prison; by pleading that the outraged
men "had been sentenced by a duly constituted court of the State
of Texas and were in charge of the State's authorities at the time,
so tl:ey could not be held for peonage." On this plea the
Federal Government lost the case, and the State of Texas "exon
erated" its fiends, as usual.
This is the hellish system the I. W. W.'s in the "Sunny South
are fighting and, if you rebels in the West and North will help to
keep us going, THIS is the system THE VOICE means to cause
a revolution against, or land in the penitentiary or on the gallows
THE MA('HINE AND THE WORKER.
The manufacturer figures the worth of a machine by its out
.ut. Each and every cog and w.heel must do its part or the ma
chiine is of no value. The machine is set at a certain speed to get
certain results, and should it fal short of these results then the
nachine is relegated to the scrap pile. It's the law of capitalism.
In the operation of a machine the most minute detail is cared for,
cost of motive power, wear and tear, depreciation in value and
1 robable life of the machine. The machine costs money and its
exact value in dollars and cents must be figured out.
Is the human machine given this consideration? Most em
i-hatically NO. Just one thought is given to the human machine,
WHAT IS ITS SPEED? Motive power (food), wear and tear, de
,lieciation in value, length of life, have no place in the mind of an
employer in sizing up the possible value of a worker. How fast
can he go while he lasts? How or when you eat, does not concern
the employer. The wear and tear of your body in no care of the
naster. The depreciation of your labor is of no moment to the cap
italist. There is always a surplus of labor waiting to fill in where
you drop out. Eight million of unemployed stand as a con
stant menace to your bread and butter. Knowing this the em
ployer says sped up and you obey. You shorten your life one-half
by the speed route. Yet like a stluare head, you never stop and
l',iik, is there no way out of this )nad game? Is there no way for
the worker to have rest of both mind and body You do not rest
wvhen you have a job and you do uiot rest when out of one, for you
are " Eernally speeding from place to place looking for another.
'i'herv is no rest for the worker this side of the grave as long as
apiitalism holds the power of life and death over you. When you
realize that the power of the world lies in the hands of the work
,er's and when you become intelligent enough to combine with your
.dhss a'id break the power of the master class, your day or freedom
will ave arrived.-"The Wooden Shoe."
IT COULDN'T BE DONE.
Somelbody said that it couldn't be done,
But he with a chuckle replied:
That "maybe it couldnt," but he would be one
Who wouldn't say so till he'd tried.
Somebody sco'led: "Oh, you'll never do that
At least no one ever has done it;"
But he took off his.coat and he took off his hat,
And the first thing we knew he'd begun it,
With a lift of his chin and a bit of a grin,
Without any doubting or quiddit.
lie started to sing as he tackled the thing
That couldn't be done-- and he did it.
E);AR A. GUEST.
"THE TERROR" IN IRELAND.
A few weeks ago we were expressing our disgust and horror
at the astounding stories of the massacre of workers on the Rand.
We were confident that such sceners as were there enacted could
not possibly have occurred in this Kingdom. We demanded an
impartial and complete inquiry into ti e affairs which caused-or
At any rate which should have caused.----every decent Britisher to
,lush with shame at the deedls perpetrated under the British flag.
And lo,! now we have to bluht still more deeply that similar deeds
have occurred almost on our own dcoorst,:ps. For except the fact
Ihat firearms were not used, the l)ublin police attacks are as se
rious and deplorable as tlose of the IRand forces. Let us just
)riefly summarize the events: Jim'Larkin, a picturesque and en
rgetic firebrand, with a vigor, courage--and perhaps recklessness
-which would be hailed as heroic if he were a military campaign
r, succeeded in organizing the irishi transport workers. It is gen
rally admitted that these men are badly paid. When it was felt
hat they had some sort of chance against the emjloyers they
truck. Iarkin used some strong language, was arrested, and the
.olice proclaimedl that a meeting which should have been held last
,unday would not be allowed. Such autocratic conduct naturally
ncensed the strikers, and on tihe Saturday night trouble com
iencedl. Who struck the first blow we cannot say, but we can say
rtmm tie pul)lishled accounts, from all sources, that the police im
iicdiately acted as if they were there to repress, with the most
irutal and cowardly measures at their comnmanrd, every citizen
.vho came their way. lBy ten o'clock on the Saturday night over
wvo hundred injuired weref admitt,.d to the city hoslitals. The
ollowing d(lay, Funday, nmatters were even worse, anld on Monday
he riots continued. .louses were wrecked, by the police. , lun
reds of people were injured ,by the police, and one man died as
result of injuries received. Women returning from Mass with
'rayer looks in their I ands were grossly assaulted, by the police.
,ittle children were thrashed, by the police. One girl in her teens
,'as draggedl through the streets by the hair of her head and
caten. by the police. Women were d(ragged out of their beds and
eaten while lying n.arly na:ked, by the police. All these ct arges
tave been mnade andl repcateld ,by reliable people.
From "Iteynold's Newspaper" of September 7th.
(':O().MMENT:-('urst be the police of all lands, races, creeds,
'ountries and nations. All workers tf all landls and all races, wake
p! (;et in ONE I1c; 1'NION and put the capitalists and their
'iends in human form incarnate off the map'
DAMNEI) BE TIlE ('APITAJilST! DIEATH TO HIS (;I'N