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THE VOICE th. PEOPLE
(Formerly "The Lumberjack.")
Education * I * Freedom in
Published Weekly by National Industrial Union of PoIest "ad Lanber
Workers. Southern District.
Office of Publicatine:
520 Poydras Street, New Orleans, La.
COVINGTON HALL, Editor.
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Entered as Second-class Matter July 5. 1913. at the Post Olfie at New
Orleans. La.. under the act of August 24, 1912.
DECENTRALIZATION OR CO-OPERATION, WHICH?
There is much that is written about decentralization that is not
historically true and that is not emphasized as it should be. For in
stance, one writer-Hickey--cites the Roman Empire and the
Catholic Church of the middle ages, to prove the breakdown of cen.
tralization. The argument would be convincing, if we forgot the
modern British Empire and German Empire, each of which is a
greater world-power ti an was old Rome, and imperialistic, that is,
centralistic, to the core. Or if we forgot the modern Catholic
Church, with its strangle-hold on all progressive as well u resc
tionary countries; a centralistic power, such as did not and could
not exist in feudal times. Or, finally, if we forgot the United States
and the Civil War, in which decentralization was trampled in th'
dust. As a historian, Hickey might begin nearer home and never
mind old Rome! Centralization is not the weakling he makes it out
Nor is decentralization tFe strong principle its advocates pro
claim it to be. It is admittedly associated in their mind (see corre
spondence by "Onlooker" in a recent Voice of The People) with de
struction. And its one practical working, in the case of the Indus
trial Worker boycott, has proven it a destructive instead of a con
structive force. Decentralization means a breaking up. Its advo
cates speak of "local autonomy" and "the militant minority" in one
and the same breath. Why stop with this progreassion; why not
since in "local autonomy" the militant group is the tl ing, exalt the
militant individual in the militant group? Wi y not state honestly
and candidly that decentralization is, in its last analysis, anarchism
and disorganization ? That is the obvious logic and tendency of de
centralization. Its anarchism pure and simple, and not industrial
The main argument of decentralization-the militant minority
is a thing of beauty, if not a joy forever! It calls upon us, in the
name of logic, to submit to the peecadilos of a non-elected group
while rebelling against a centralized board of our own choosing'
And this is done to the tune of "non-authoritarianism," "down with
Popes and Dictators!" Let us be honest! Let us stop talking about
tie working class, industrial unionism and industrial democracy!
Let us say frankly, "the working class is stupid. It cannot form an
organization co-extensive with modern industry. It must be led and
directed by Supermen in all matters affecting its interests, on a lo
cal basis. We, the militant minority, are the Supermen. Vie La La
bor, via the Superman route!" Let's say that; and we will be honest,
if not industrial unionistic !
The writer does not believe in either centralization or decentrali
zation. Both are dogmatic extremes, which, if insisted upon lead to
dangerous conditions for the workers-despotism on one hand; dis
organization on the other. There is a medium, whicht can be found
in the co-operation of the two principles, and which is dictated by
the facts of modern life. In government, we see federalism and
State rights working together. In science, we behold individual
combhncca with organized research and development of mknowledge.
In mudustlry, we have concentration and specialization of the high
ect develoted types . -TL e I. W. W. cannot afford to be an exception z
to the ge, oral rule. Its existence is determined, not by theory, but
by its etvironment. In this environment any over-emphasis of lo
cal autonomy is going to prove fatal; the history of State rights
and craft 1t..i;ony, is proof enough of that. They were attempts
at specialization that took no heed of the need of co-operation and
ci ncentration on a modern scale; and they failed, as decentraliza- e
tion will fail, for the very same reason. In fact, decentralization, as
practiced in the : W.W. is already a failure. It's a case of biting tl
off your own nose to .!rit your face. As long as the I. W. W., with o
all its beautiful claims of ,uperiority, keeps up such antics, the cap- d
italiht class anl d the labor fakirs will laugh and rejoce. And well
they may; feor Its death t the egg aihe; th h uIry lwor thi
Out n oentraH ies sadd 1 re-hsat-n!s t Let's haes ee.p-ea
tion and the indutlar dear;set
. ýa s agaTI .
Csmmrrt by Cvwlsts na nlateuer w bo~w e lh Nb
rect in citing the Rowanm Ieu asd teo Cathes Chasrh at the
Middle Age to pewo the besk dms t the theory a.f
tion, or o overnment from in hi. iteriodl wet iik ljn
Worker Ebert infoamet la itinge the moder l B g what.
ever the German may be (and we an essental llhtg the soi
man ides) ass illahstratio i favwr of eatradlehm, ffrt, .< c$ p
idhsts governments, the BrMtiik rrpre Is the delnt eppsel ad
that he uaerts it to be, L e, "eSenralts to the ele---.t is i hfa
the most highly deoetralsed ga vermm t earth, as Caada and
i.ll its self-governng divisems bear 1vbig witness to The ~--d-r
a- such, dares not interfe ain the least with the affairs Its sub.
divisions, and we are speaking of theBritis Empire and not of itt
conquered territories. But, even to conquered territory, the A
pire is quick to grant "home rle" f said territory puts up a steag
enough demand therefor, as witness the Unlms of South Afra and
the coming of "home rule" to Ireland Ts lesson in deentrallh
tion was taught the Empire by the lon of the United States, and its
statesmen have never forgotten the lesson.
Again, the eedern Cathele Church has no such "strangleheld"
as appears on the surface. The power of the Cateolls Chmurchk
to-day mainly that given it by ages dead and gone, by fears that
still linger in the minds of men from the days when priests and
preachers ruled the world with erms and faggt. Nor is the Church
within itself the highly centralzed instition its opponents would
e ave us believe, and this regardless of the rulership exser d ed
the sheep by the shepherds, for its different Orders act almost en
tirely independent of each other within the spheres of their work.
Then, too, Shepherdship is one of the very things we deentralidts
Agalin, the cheiee of the Civi War in the United States to show
how "decentralisation was trampled in the dust" Is also unfortu
nate for his argument, for it is written in the blood and tears of our
people of the South, that tho trampled in the dust, we at no time
surrendered the old Saxon principle of home rule and inally that
we rose and through the Ku Kluck Klan did show centralisation to
be the "weakling" it was, is and always will be.
As for deemtrallmties being merely a "destructive" frce, that
we do not admit, and "Onlooker," iimself a deoetralist, merely
cited this to show that the decentralists went into the Convention
without a program and so lost everything when they had a oe op
portunity to win much, and this is said without at all agreeing that
all the ideas advanced on the floor of the Convention were, at their
base, decentralist in principle. "Onlooker" nimself condemns his
fellow-decentralists for .asuming or allowing themselves to be
forced into, a purely destructive force. Whioe as for the destre
tion of "The Industrial Worker," the theory of dcoontralatiHon is
only indirectly responsible therefer, for the truth of that unfortu
aate matter is that the paper, .o : est plies of property, went
down in a struggle between the Western Loals and the General
officers for the control of it, but still its fate stands as a witness to
the general impotency of bureamocraces.
Again, decetralzaties does not mean a "breaking-up" of any
thing except the right of administrative ofloer to rule the Union
instead of serving it, and rebellion against ths exercise of arbitra
ry power by Union officers is by no means coned to the L W. W.,
for the whole British Labor Movement is in revolt against it and it
is beginning to break out even in the A. F. of L. Deentratniatios
nas already become a world-wide issue within the Labor Movement
and is sweeping officialdom from its thrones in all the lands.
As for "lecal autenemy" the decentralists have always coupled
this with the statement tfat nothing therein should be held as
against the great law of the solidarity of the working class and
rave ever insisted that SOIJIDARITY must come from BELOW
that it never could be enforced from on high, and I believe this is in
line with all the teacshings of the L W. W. from the very hour of
its birth down to to-day.
As to the "Mllitaut Miurity," its functions are more clearly
stated by Gronlund than by any other writer and, whether it fits
the theories of Bebelized Socialism or not, still the "Militant Mi
nority" is a fact no one can deny. As Paul Dupres has shown, it is
automatic in its functions and is always at war with buresocra
cies. And it is another FACT that within a group of militants the
most militant of the group, call him "SuWperman" or what you win,
will be "exalted," will become by cormman consent the leader there
of, and this natural selection of leaders, chosen as the Clan Cheif
tains were chosen in the days before Property, is prevented by be
No, we will net admit that we are "dishonest," nor will we admit
that decentralizsation is "anarchism and disorganization," nor will
we even admit that Anarciism is disorganization, for we have long
ago past tie stage in life where one could be scared by a word, but
we will admit that "in it last analysis" Decentralization is SYNDI
CALISM as opposed to Bebelism.
It is msmewhat stranuge, too, after having been assured all these
years that the L W. W. was in America what Syndicalism was in
Europe for us Decentralists to be now attacked on the grounds that
we are Syndicalists and therefore Anarchists.
And the great difereus between the "no-eleeted" militant ml.
nority and any "centrahlized board of our own cloortng," or a Con
vention's is in this fact-no one is either forced to obey or to fol.
low the militant minority. It has often been allowed to go to the
prison and gallows all by itself. It has no rank and fle on which to
lay its blunders, and it is only our blunders we try to layi on oth
r's shoulders, our triumphs we gather unto ourselves.
It is net we who have derided the working class as "stupid," even
though we have refused to bow down and worship the Social Dem
cratic theory of the "holy majority," but leaders of the centralists
lid stand up on the floor and assert that the working culass was in
-apable of selif-government, which at pteent it undoubtedly is and
M m. whetmd er authe M
,lead rn - ba -la
e e hua er had auat n g v e
dDame wiorh s ods a*L h
wms tao a i'Bo - atre a0
-eo t m ea hsenh And O deabi weit ahen t n
wm, dr r set demay yer oe argm mad ir agnh 3 )
sthe ba.a oM yre arMt.lt wan ts 'es ie i ys. .
and stae tights workins yu e r Mw, i ar
!sl, the cAemmal ight,- eal antmmr i heatebl 'lh r
w, m eset tb always aukowedge d pretsted t r as Wu.r
s I etm wIu r ~ea Aw gee WhenI the rthi hkded aa
T1b Wehm a wi dthe t L . W.I d ive thus ami Ihe
etaern District a tihe Fag t and linher WeeN i a t e ssr .sa
wiae two bual proetlams a rwhis it teak its sb-d - -- -m
lam i rtd , is T' o raninl to b 9 .mllik d is mo io
we are granted comfplete entel s our local a*is ad we win a.
give up the worklgr amers who are members of - ea .il .
tiom." Beth u theean ppealatiuw weun apMw T by Lt e W. W
do that i the stand I have taken a the ques tm eT D temse a.
tion I am but epaeadlag the will of my Uanl, I bdlIwa
To thi I will add that sines I have brn stiad g the dorylm I
elise the Southern DimUstr was ight i its stan ad I ian One
neove that the following Changs sheld be m ls in the L W, N.
if it is ever to grow, vi.: th. Convenao to erheah ed as th
res of the Italian dahdlealist Union, that is ONE I)ILGATE to
each a many members of the iCAL UNION, ONE VOT t im
elegate, and no delegate to hold over, say, ive presles; thn, th
A ral oleers, members of the G. . B., Natieeal Iadblstv ID.
os, cQty Central C. O .mtte s and Distric Counels to e adewed a
VOICE but ae VOTE In the Convention, whi h should be beta. mar
only aoes every IWO years. This would bring abeat as n
ke Industrial Democracy, for, with the Convention orgised "a
whose hines, al power would be ttrown into the Local Uia, whim
, for one, believe it properly belongs; then, ea- ept the Ieuls .
Aigratory Workers in the West, abolsh al soresaled Mlaed a!,
.-r rorganise teem into strictly kropaganda langue, whikh is rie
true piece in the L W. W. is I ubmit as part of DeeatraltaM
I wuMl see L W. W., the aightiet fe e an eartth
THE END OF TSE ROAD.
To the average worker, the bloedy and are at hea
etween the captalist class and their wageelavs coame as a atter
of course. To the unthinian they com as but an ensdea t i the
natural course of events. To all but the close observers of arm
and past industrial history, theae struggles regarded as am
peasant, but unavoidable features of a system that "always has
.ea and always will be."
How utterly absurd th view really is becomes apparent at oa
when we clearly compreheI d a few facts of history.
The capitalist factory or machine system is cmpeeafvprsy e
S-ince the dawa of cvilisation thee has been a class strugg but
the system or tia s of gratting upon the wraking das changed as
ehe woraers revolted ad threw ol the fetters fastened upon tems
sy the industrial masters of the ditfferent epochoe.
Upward through white and black chattel slavery, feudalism and
the early forms of capitalism, the workers have struld ntil aew
they again fa a cr sis in the tfairs of men.
In the evalution of things we can now clearly pereivet hort
baricade between the worahlgcas and complete ldustrial an
cpataon. It is the private weranship of the means oaf preductio.
ihe people must get joes working at the machin o pr oducto
and upon the vast transoontihnent las doft tnaptrmd.
But these vat utilities are rhapidly cocentrati r t fewer and
The interest of manploe and employed ar sharply opposed.
Common ownersaup and control of co on auttas wvi unlc
the secret of the age--the mysery of why the komest werkers
ave always beesn poor, nducated, uIcultured, while the nnin
shirkers have been we fed, educated and cultuep
Bight now we are bhamed in in the blind alley of capitalsm
We cannot go besIc and the bearer of private control of eamply
miat las squarely across our pathway. Whether we like the tick or
aot, we must remove tLe obstruction.
Upon the workers of this generation has fallen the tremendous
duty and privilege of striking from humanity the last indusrial
hacle tht oppoes and bwnd humanity. The power o wealth and
reed ai cruinie befoe the mAght of ht; and usetul labor alone
Rial procure the means of ife.---"2. and I Star."
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