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THE VOICE heof PEOPLE
(Formerly "The Lumberjack.")
Education Freedom in
Organization 4 E Industria
Published Weekly by National Industrial Union of Forest and Lumber
Workers. Southern District.
Office of Publication:
335 Carondelet Street, New Orleans, La.
COVINGTON HALL, Editer.
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NATIONAL INDUSTRIAL UNION OF FORESI' AND LUMBER WORKERS
Distrlect Headquarters .............1194 Gould Avenue. Alexandria, Loulslana
Jay Smith ....................................Secretary Southern District
EXECUTIVE BOARD-SOUTHIERN DISTRICT.
J. N. Philips. W. E. lHollingsworth, D. R. Gordon, E. L. Ashworth,
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Entered as Second-class Matter July 65, 1913, at the Post Office at New
Orleans, La., under the act of August 24, 1912.
By Covington Hall.
Empires into dust have moulded, kingdoms crumbled to decay,
But, unwearied, mankind marches on to conquest every day;
Over gods, kings, and bishops, over temples, thrones and shrines,
Moves the race forever forward where the star of freedom
Every day a sword is taken from the eunuchs 'round the throne;
Every day some son of science leaves the priesthoo'is power
Every day some God is buried; every day some terror dies;
Every day the soul awakens with a braver pair of eyes.
Every day the right advances; every day old wrongs retreat;
Every day some lie is trampled 'neath an outraged people's
Every day sees superstition gr owing peaked and pale and small,
Sees another dead Jehovah from the thrones of heaven fall.
Every day our knowledge widens; every day some mind is freed;
Every day truth rings a death knell over some slave-making
Every day love's wings grow stronger; every day sees man arise
Every day the soul awakens withl a clearer pair of eyes.
THE QUIESTION OF DE('ENTRAILIZATION.
The Failure of ('entralization.
Since the inceltion the 1. W. W. . has been centralist, both offic
ially and, with the excepltion of the western wing, inll sentiment al
so. The general conception has been that the workers should be or
ganized simi!ar to an army -a few ipo\werf'ul officials at the top to
think for the mass of workers at the bottom and to force them to
act together. A typical application of this idea is the wide spread
notion that if one category of workers strike the rest will be forced
by the (. E. B. to strike, willy nilly, in support of them.
This militarist conception is so well known and generally ac
cepted that it were a waste of time to further enlarge on it. Our
literature fairly reeks with it. l)issenters from it are flatly called
"sore heads" and "disrupters." ('onsistently our constitution gives
the (;. E. B. power rarely equalled in conservative unions
and unknown in other revolutionary unions. And the (. E. B.
qluick to take advatnage of the centralist sentiment, has usurped
many other functions, such as the controlling and muzzling of the
press, etc., not given it by the constitution.
This centralism, whlich sharply differentiates the I. W .W.
from all other revolutionary unions--wl-ich are ALL strictly de
centralized, is due to the fact that the bulk of the founders of the
I. W. W. were Socialists. lI:clieving in the usual Socialist theory of
emancipation by proxy, or representation, they naturally favored
centralization. This tendency was strengthened by the mistaken
conclusion of early Industrial Unionists that the lack of solidarity
between the craft unions was due to their autonomy. C(entraliza
tion was proplosed as the only remedy, Autonomy and solidarity
were considered mutually exclusive princilles in tl.e labor move
Results of ('entralization.
However glittering the military analogy may be, the centralist
theory is not applicable in the labor movement, as experience has
shown. The inherent incompetence of bureaucracies would alone
be sufficient to condemn it. However sincere or able a bureaucracy
may be it cannot be competent to direct the worker's fight. This
dirction must come from the mass. The factors involved in this
tight are so many and complex that no bureaucracy can possibly un
derstand and respond to them correctly. Such important factors
as the degree of exasperation of the, workers, their powers of re
sistence, etc., are not to be ascrtained by statistics or theory--and
it is upon statistics and theory that bureauocracies must rely. As a
result of beaurocracies habitually either force premature revolts
that the workers psychology won't sustain, or that suppress those
The mass of workers, however, being directly exposed to the
stimula of Capitalism, if organized autonomously, react "chemically
correct," in response to them though this is often done unconcious
ly :t,. I without theory. Like water seeking a lower level they hab
itc:,!,I take the right course-that is, the only course open to them:
'T'hey revolt when the proper factors are present and then only.
T'l.is tendency of the workers to act correctly is the sole hope for
the revolution. Were it inexistent the labor movement might be
indefinitely misled. It is the force that makes for all union prog
Thus even from an ideal standpoint bureauocracies are inferior
to the mass as the directive body. And bureauocracies are by no
means ideal. On the contrary, they are universally afflicted with
either a deadening conservatism or a genuine parasitism--general
ly the latter. Either their timid fears or their cupidity leads them
to suppress the natural movements of the workers. In the latter,
the ordinary instance, they vigorously combat individuals, groups,
ideas and movements that conflict with their petty interests as par
asites, however detrimental this may be to the interests of the rank
Examine the history of the craft unions for proof. These un
ions, instead of being autonomous, as commonly supposed, are usu
ally highly centralized. In many of them the local unions, on pain
of expulsion, are forbidden to strike or even to communicate with
each other except with the permission of the national office. Here
in lies the principal cause of their mutual scabbery. Time and
again we've seen them join forces and act together only to have
their natural solidarity destroyed by a Stone, Lynch, or other med
dling bureaucrat. What imports it whether this destructive in
terference arises from false theories, timidity, or crookedness? In
t ny case it would be impossible without centralization.
Some of the "religious" faithfully believe that the I. W. W. can
never fall into the control of cowards or crooks. But what guaran
tee can they offer that will justify us in further building up a cen
tralized officialdom, when we see other unions cursed by such bu
reauocracies? And, indeed, with the I. W. W. in control of tried
revolutionists has centralization been.satisfactory ? Let the pres
ent widespread agitation answer.
Another factor against centralization is that in labor unions,
where the rank and file are accustomed to blindly obey their offi
cials, strike or other movements are easily demoralized by the bri
bery or arrest of these officials. But where the spirit of autonomy
and independence prevails movements initiate from the mass and
are almost impossible to demoralize. Crops of leaders may be
bribed or arrested yet the movement goes on.
It may be further added that centralization is flatly at variance
with the direct action, self-help or decentralizing tendencies of our
times. A growing intelligence is repudiating the long tried and
much found wanting "saviors" of all types. The workers are in
terpreting literally the axiom that the emancipation of the work
ers must be wrought by the workers themselves. They healthily
refuse to be longer dictated to.
Unlike the military general, the labor leader cannot be entrust
ed with power. The general's problem is comparitively simple. Its
factors are understandable. The labor leader's problem is unfath
omably complex. The general is held true to his task by powerful
patriotic and financial considerations. The labor leader is con
stantly exposed to great temptation. How this temptation is met
is a matter of painful record. Labor traitors are not uncommon.
what your boss calls you when he is referring to you while in con
To sum up our hasty examination: centralization is a failure be
cause (I) bureauocracies are constitutionally incompetent as com
pared to the rank and file, (2) the innate conservatism of bureauo
cracies, bred of a sense of responsibility, prevents vigorous action,
(3) centralized strikes or other movements are easily demoralized
by the bribing or arresting of its leaders. In short, bureaucracies
have neither the intelligence, initiative or honesty to be entrusted
with the dlirection of the worker's war. These qualities reside only
in the rank and file. Consequently the most effective type of or
ganization is that which gives the mass the fullest expression. This
type will be sketched in the next of this series of artcles.
SMontreal, Can., Sept. 1, 1913.
TO THE "PO' WHITE TRASH."
By Phineas Eastman.
The reason I am addressing you, who do not belong to the For
est and Lumber Workers of the South, as above, is because that is
ihe oft-cited military analogy does not apply to the labor move
versation with another Boss or cock-roach capitalist. I had a chat
with a woods superintendent on the train between Monroe, La. and
Shreveport, while returning from Chicago last July. He did not
know I was one of the i ated I. W. W.'s or he would not have been
so frank with me. Among other things he said, "we do not fear
the class of cattle in our employ called "po' white trash," because
they are a lot of low down yellow curs who are satisfied with cone
pone and sow belly; give them a job at a dollar a day, and then
work Hell out of them, and they are satisfied. They are just like
their parents were before the Civil War, servile, cringing and cow
ardly to a dgree, so much so that I feel like kicking one every time
he comes near me."
He went on to say that what the Bosses feared was the sturdy
common stock which formed the back-bone of the Union. He said
that such fellows were not allowed on his job a minute after he got
a; line on them. How do you cowards like this line of talk from the
big fat, lazy slob who works Hell out of you and allows you just
enough meat and bread to keep you in working condition ? Allows
you about $1.40 out of the $10 a day you earn for him. Fine isn't
it? For your wives, mothers and sisters sakes, don't join the Un
ion of your class, because if you do you might help to bring about
an EIGHT HOUR DAY in the woods and mills of the United
States, and much higher wages; think what a calamity that would
be? instead of that damn dollar alarm clock, or 4 o'clock A. M.
whistle, hustling your poor tired wife or mother out of bed before
she can see to dress herself, both you and she could get up with the
Sun, just as your Boss does now. You would then have time to
improve your minds, and go to a moving picture show occasionally
without bemoaning the expense, and feeling all broke up the morn
ing after. But I forgot! this Boss I talked to said all you wanted
was sow belly and a Hell of a lot of grinding toil, and judging you
by your cowardly apathy and devotion to his interests, I guess he
has you sized up right; but I'll be, damned if I think your women
folks are satisfied! When you go home to-night ask them if they
are ? I'll beta dollar to a "sinker" that they will tell you a lot, also
just what they think of you.
Men, men, wake up! or are you really "yellow curs?" Stand up
and demand your rights, by joining the Union and fighting side by
side with the brave boys who have made the Boss come through
with an increase iii wages here and there, a decrease in your living
expenses in the "Robbersaries" and Weekly Pay-Day. Do not you
know you can, by being MEN and swelling the ranks of the Union,
wring more concessions from the grasping Boss? If you are
afraid to join the Local near you, write to Jay Smith, Sec.-Treas.,
Alexandria, La., and he will put you on the Secret Membership
Book, where you will find lots of company, because we have had to
adopt this means in order to beat 'the Bosses black-list. Get busy
right now, and rise in the estimation of your women folks and your
fellow-workers already in the Union, some of whom are toiling
rigl. t by your side in the mills and woods of the South.
"A faint heart never won a fair lady," and neither will such an
organ win a damn thing except kicks, blows and contumely.
Don't be afraid of starving here in the South where you have
mild weather for ten months in the year, and worlds of turnip
greens, sweet potatoes and peas. Ask your women what they
think about your joining the Union ? they will tell you to go ahead,
and promise to give you their support, and that's a big help too.
ARE YOU PO' WHITE TRASH OR MEN ? ANSWER !
*CAPITALISTS have no regard even for their own laws when
these laws stand between them and the workers' pa envelopes.
THE STANDARD OIL CO., so Wall Street announces, will de
clare CASH dividends circling around the $100,000,000 mark this
year, or more th an 100 per cent on its pre-"dissolution" capitaliza
That whole $100,000,000 was stolen from the workers in the
Oil Fields and Refineries of this Continent and you, the workers,
are a bunch of suckers when you don't organize in the ONE BIG
UNION and declare it into food, clothing and shelter for yourselves
"YE ARE MANY, THEY ARE FEW!"
THE "AMERICAN LUMBERMAN," commenting on the strug
gle between the N. I. U. of F. and L. W. and the S. L. O. A., says:
"Victoiy is now conceeded to the mill operators." Whoinhell "con
ceeded" it, sonny ? NOT US BY ,A DAMSITE. And if you were as
thoroughly posted on the history of the I. W. W. as you allege your
self to be, you would know off-hand that statement was a lie, for
victory to the enemy has never been conceeded any time anywhere
by the I. W. W.
That SKIRMISH in western Louisiana is NOTHING to what's
coming when the Lumber Trust's Southern peons next revolt. Put
that in your pipe and smoke it, sonny, for some day SOON even
John Henery Kirby will be taught that pumpguns cannot abrogate
the law of ECONOMIC NECESSITY.
A CHILD'S DEFINITION :--"Monotony is where a person or
a company has everything its own way." Nota Bena: There's no
monotony in the I. W. W.
ART OF EATING.
"Brain and Brawn" says, 1st, "never eat when the stomach is
full of gas." A Bo never will, hg throws tl e gas off trying to eat.
2nd: "Never eat when tired, angry or excited." When in H-I will
a Rebel lo eat ? 3rd: "Never eat more than enough to satisfy real
hunger." A Bo never will. .th: "Eat slowly and chew every
mouthful thoroughly." A Bo will, if it is not raining and he sees
no Bull around the house.
-Los Angeles Shorty.
By Robert ,. Ingersoll.
"On every hand are the enemies of individuality and mental
freedom. Custom meets us at th e cradle and leaves us only at the
tomb. Our first qluestions are answered by ignorance, and our last
by superstition. We are pushed and dragged by countless hands
along the beaten track, and our entire training can be summed up
in the word-SUPPRESSION. Our desire to have a thing or to do
a thing is considered as conclusive evidence that we ought not to
have it, and ought not to do it. At every turn we run up against
cherubim and a flaming sword guarding some entrance to the Eden
of our desire. We are allowed to investigate all subjects in which
we feel no particular interest, and to express the opinion of the ma
jority with the utmost freedom. We are taught that liberty of
speech should never be carried to the extent of contradicting the
dead witnesses of a popular superstition. Society offers continual
rewards for SELF-BETRAYAL, and they are nearly all earned and
claimed, and some are paid. We have all read accounts of Chris
tian gentlemen remarking, when aibout to be hanged, how much
better it would have been for themn if they had only followed a
mother's advice. But after all, hdw fortunate it is for the world
that the maternal advice has not always been followed. How fort
unate for us all that it is somewhat unnatural for a human being to
obey. Universal obedience is universal stagnation, disobedience
is one of the conditions of progress. Se ect any age of the world
and teUll me what would have beebn the effect of implicit obedience.
Suppose the Church had had absolute control of the human mind at
any time, would not the words LIBERTY and PROGRESS have
been blotted from human speech ? In defiance of advice, the world
I believe it was Magellan wh4 said, "The Church says the earth
is flat; but I have seen its shadow on the moon, and I have more
confidence even in a shadow thanj in the Church." On the prow of
his ship were disobedience, defia ce, scorn, and SUCCESS.