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THE VOICE ot PEOPLE
(Formerly "The Lumberjack.")
ducation Freedom in
Organization VER Industrial
Io'. I..I .1\\' t..rl) t, \alsittal I.lndustrl Inlon of Forest and I.umnber
%'al0k1 teI Southille. n I lhat.li
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'TIlE QITESTION )1OF DEC(ENTRALIZATIOIN.
A World Wide Movement.
In "''e 1i:iin i'l.g" Ihie d('lce?',tralist ;aitat;iol in the I. W. W., tit"
, ' t,' ,'i ;t ': "1ry il ct':ililr it ":;c"t1i, :Ili.nl." "a \r;i :w r i' st c(,t a;li
,: 1,l lh.,1<" "'a Plre'ly we,.;tvr', l-1 t.hnll:le inl," "t1'he work of di1'rll
, s," t11c , t hey re all : tgr el' i, tI.,\'vt'"r, thiat it is of a tr;ansitory ii;
lre al dlooniledll to an early decease. Liille d,1 they' realize that it
is t malnifestat ll on- of the great wave of antlti-autllhoritarianism that
is sw'ee'liillg throullgh every fieldhi of human endeavor, and wl ich im
ports nothing less th;lanl a; In'w soci;al conllception.
Ir1lulstry, sc.iencec, governllment, art, litera;l tre, music, medicine.
rleli)g;onl, ,tc(., are all at lre ;t'nllt unridergoing a pIrofouind revolutiorn.
'iThe, rule of inldllstrial despots, scie'ltific ";lauthorities," collgresses,
lhi min:tlsters, j:r';at writers, nlglsici:iiis, Ilopes, doctors, etc., is; Ising
oV r'llihrliwil ill tlieir vX;lriolls fields of illllunli.'Ice. 'The huil;ln rtcl(l, l :
irri\i''g a;t lthe sEIIlIl c'onlc(llsionl th;it to clothil, a maIln o(r an idl;'
witlh aulhll'1r1tVy oir :i;llclidy thlix, s icot IctIc'ssa;lily lendiow it witl illrf;il
llhility, \vigor, hFlInesty ir rolil-grIssvtJleess; Illt tFhat, oil tile conltr;
ry, it ;tlii.ost alw;ys hllakis fo r stIuIl idty, I;lassitulh, c('orrulition andl
conserv;tiism. Illiiil inlitf is IFirlg succeede' d Iy.skclpticis.m ani.
personal investlig;ltio "n unq Ijll.Esti(lli itigF oa lience is IFwing succeeded(
Fy rellllion aril intlivideial ililstativi'. Ihtro worship is decitledly oir
the want'L. The lay is at FlanIl whenI m'Jl ;m1and ideas will ,l,,rive th,,ir
intliit',ce fromr thltir inltrilisic v;iltit, inistea:l of thirougIh tice authori
ty of force, rel'ut;ititn, .it suIll,'ostl ilntellectlal stllleriority, divilne
righlt, etc., lls has |,Fee hlereil ofr, li', so largely tlhe, c;ase. Tl'his is the
mli' g illloltif thi' wIhlrki-wihh reaollt against authloritarialism in all its
forms that is Iow t;akillg llace.
'Thoutgh not as far ;al\;vaicel to;wardis dcl('centr;llization s som,.
movemetnts (fr instnce, sc(ience, in mai;ny lbranlches of which, au
thoritari;anism has beel ;lni almost coniletely eradicated), the labor
movement is neverthleless ,everywhlere shlowing miost pronounced
decentralist tl'ndcncies. In every country goes on the s;ame corn
flict,:more or Icss ;accelitultatedl, as is now ragling in the I. W. W.
i:verywhere tl e wc;akening a;uthoritari;ans or centralists are hnt
tling ;against the growinlg ;inti-lthoit;ritarians or dccentralists.
In France the conflict is classic. Thler, thie bttle ihas gone on for
forty years- since the days of thle old Irntenrl;ational -and daily
grows more intensre. The whole labor movement takes sides on tile
qluestion. The issue lhas ieconie cl;earcut and unmistakable. All th(.
Syndicalists are dhcei;tr;alists.. All the Socialists are centralists.
This division is strictly logical; the Syndicalists are direct ;action
ists, fence they give the mai;n on the job the altori:my that is ;i)
solutely essential to the 1se o(if direct action tactics. The Socialists;
are political actionists, therefore thley insist on the mass delegating
their powcr--whether in th I,,politica;l party or the labor unions- to
a handful of representat ivI.. It's ;a war hbetlwt',n the,;i advocates of
"I am going to save myself" ;a(d those of "Let me s;ave you." Need
less to add that tho, decentr;alist are rapidly gaining strength as ar.
their count parts in the I. W: W.
The French test of a manl'k direct ;(ct ion lIrinciples is wlether or
not he is a decentralist; not siiiply whether or not he believes in
parliamentarism. And it is a true test; for centralization in labor
unions is nothing less than government by representation, or polit
ical action. The advocates of centralization in the I. W. W. are So.
cialists, in fact, if not in profession. They have never gotten free
of the mass of Socialist principles inflicted on the organization by
its founders. Only when they repudate labor union governmental
ism will they become real direct actionists
In Germany the war is. also on between the centralists and the
decentralists. It is ever taking on greater proportions. So much de
the German Syndicalists value and practice autonomy in their or
ganizations that they are generally referred to as "localists"---a
name that they accept willingly.
In the vast Socialist unions the decentralist leaven is at work
also. These unions, insofar as their centralization is concerned, ap
proach the ideals of many I. W. W. centralists. In them the officials
and the rank and file are things apart. The officials are a self-per
petuating clique of dictators; the rank and file simply a rich mass,
to be ordered about and exploited as the officials see fit. In popular
parlance, their chief functions are to "bezahlen und schweigen,"
i. e., to pay and to keep silent. So complete is the rule of the offi
cials tl at local unions are unable to elect their own local officials.
T'Ihese are practically appointed by the official clique.
The result of this centralization is that the whole movement is
being arbitrarily forced to go the way the dictators want it to go,
instead of the way the needs of the mass would make it go were
their demands hearkened to. Consequently, a great under-current
of revolt against centralitstion is developing. At any time this is
liable to break forth in a veritable storm and produce profound
changes in ti e labor movement. Karl Kautsky fears this revolt,
and recently advocated the inauguration of a remarkable institu
tion in the unions. It was to be a sort of consultation or concilia
tion board, to stand between the widely separated officialdom and
rank and file. Both the officials and the rank and file were to send
delegates to this intermediate body, which was to be only advisory
in character. Thus, it was hoped, the officials would be brought in
to direct contact with the rank and file and would learn someti ing
of their needs.
Needless to say, the proect was not adopted. The German author-.
itarians, like their similars everywhere, refuse to make even the
slightest concession to the rebellious rank and file. They are drunk
en with power. They hang on until it is too late to even check the
revolt. Tl.e German union revolt against centralization will be one
of the next world events in the labor movement.
England, too, is in the throes of a great revolt of the rank and
file. For years the union officials treated them as so much cattle,
ignoring their demands. Consequently, if they were to get any ben
efit from their unions they had to break the power of the union offi
cials; they had to literally conquor from tl em the right to strike.
A couple of years ago they took this job in hand and the recent se
ries of great strikes book place. Most of these strikes were in direct
violation of the contracts, agreements, dictums, etc., of the o!ffi
cials, who watched the revolt with dismay.
This revolt is still in progress. However under the guidance of
experienced Syndicalists, who understand the principles of decen
tralization, its course I as become more orderly and effective. Thl'
revolt has tbeen developed from a wild uprising against machine
rule into a constructive movement for decentralization. A pro
nlounced feature of this is the strong movement for more vigorous
district councils--a movement that naturally has as its basis thUe
autonomy of the local unions.
Even th,, A. F. of L. is not altogether free from the decentralist
movement. For an illustration let it suffice to recall the hubbub the
western local central bodlies raised on being forced to accept tht
McNulty faction of electricians under pain of expulsion.
In Italy, Spain, Portugal, Ilolland, the Scandinavian countries
Argentina, everywhere, tl e war goes on between the centralist;
and the decentralists, with the former always standing for conser
vative, and the latter for revolutionary unionism.
Let not the decentralists in the I. W. W. be discouraged by thi
explanations, disparagements, and sneers of their opponents. How
ever weak they may be, or however crudely they may understand
and state their decentralist principles they are nevertheless in line
with the most progressive elements in tl e labor movement of the
entire woHd as well as with social evolution in general. Their ideat
must prevail if we are ever to have an effective revolutionary move
ment, as it has universally been found impossible to have such a
movement where centralization prevails.
What the I. W. W. decentralists need more than anything else is
a better understanding of the principles of decentralization. Then
they should draw up a progrmn ; unite upon it, and finally make a
concerted effort to plut it into force. let tl em but do this and they
will soon purge the I. W. W. of the last remnant of its Socialist
origin and put it upon a clear cut rvolutionary basis.
I'AUL 1)I1 i:tS,
Winnipeg, C:an., Oct. 2nd, 19l1:.
hie (Clash of the New and the Old, at the ,8th Annual ('onvent;on of
the I. WV. W.
By (;. (;abriel Soltes.
The greatest lesson of the 8th Annnal Convention of the I. W.
W., appears as an affirmation, of an ancient human fact, namely,
that entrenched power becomes dlogmatic; becomes irtolerant, arnd
impatient to ti e reception of new ideas, and broader views. Tlhis
fact has been responsible for many a savage conflict, during th(e
snail-like strides of humanity toward a realization of life- freedom.
T''hat this truth should persist even among radicals, is not strange,
considering the tremendous influence that bourgeois ethics exert
among mankind from which it is pretty hard for many proletarian.
to completely free themselves.
At the (Cnvention just held, the clash although wagled along
personal lines, nevertheless, was, a stolid struggle between the new
idea supported by revolutionary experience arising out of the prac
tical struggle in wagedom, demanding the eradication of central au
thority, and on the other hand, the old idea--a fine replica of th;·
state -of governing from a central sanctum sanctorium. The cn
tralists. some months previous to the r',nvoetion. caused to be cir
culated throughout the nation, "pro bono imperio," such nauseous
t'r`rns as "i)isrtptrrs," "stools." etc. They r-ven made official not,
of threso terms in the report of th.- G. E. i. lHence the personal war
a:t the Connvention.
The decentralists represented the aggressive camps, at the Con
vention. For two long, and tedious weeks, they presented their
ideas on the floor, albeit in a jangled manner, and the centralists
slaughtered them, by the brute force of voting power.
Had the personal element been absent, which muddled the clear
ness and directness of the decentralists arguments, there is little
doubt but that their ideas would have prevailed, as most of the del
egates expressed themselves against centralization.
The G. E. B. being a mighty power to do, or not to do, had a his
tory, which the decentralists used in their attack upon it. Not
only, as it is popularly believed, was the West against the retention
of the C. E. B., but such strong districts as New York, Pittsburg,
and Akron, were unalterably opposed, also.
The debate against the G. E. B. lingered upon the arbitrary pow
ers of that board. The board it was shown, could use that power to
the detriment of the rank and file. Furti-ermore, the G. E. B. could
not point out a lonely instance where, through its efforts, some
thing had been done, that could not have been accomplished by the
respective districts, although it could and was shown, that where
the G. E. B. tried to aright tLings whether consciously or uncon
sciously, the rank and file was trampled upon.
'therefore, argued the decentralists, let us dispense with this
board, which is invested with meddlesome and injurious power.
In answer to these arguments, the centralists declared that if the
G. E. B. did not function as it was intended it should, the fault did
not lay with it, but with the membership, that refused to lend a
hand of co-operation to the various members of the board. Further.
they could not comprehend, how, without the C. E. B., unorga.~bed
districts-could be organized. As to their actions which were in
question, they wildly maintained that they were in thorough accord
with the policy of the I. W. W. Therefore, the board should be re
tained, as with its abolition, the organizatioh could not move.
The decentralists, therefore, demanded the abolition of the G. E.
B. upon two grounds: 1st, because being clothed with arbitrary
power, it could wield that power, to the injury of a local or district.
Secondly, no revolutionary labor organization could on principle pay
tribute to a central authority. That since the .unit of the coming
industrial commune, will be the local, are locals representing their
respective industries, it therefore follows that they must enjoy
complete autonomy, which of course is not to deviate, in its exercise
from class solidarity, and consciousness; free from any and all cen
tral imposition ha its struggle to build the "new society within the
shell of ti e old," as the Bourse du Travail of France is doing . No
central machine can construct the new society, for many excellent
reasons. A central bureau may be an iefficient intelligence post, but.
its organic relation to the "shell" of society is the same, as the re
lation between Fata Morgana, and the Sun. It is the local, and the
district, that bear organic relations to the "shell" of society, by vir
tue of the fct that they make part of that "shell," are tl e "shell"
The decentralists made a splendid war against the present meth
od representation, in the Convention. They held, that for one dele
gate to carry more votes than another, smacked of a political na
ture. That a revolutionary movement, does not depend upon votes,
as it does upon the recognition, and execution of the fact, that all
minorities are to t ave an equal voice, in the determination of revo
lutionary principles, with the majorities upon the time honored
principles, that the minority is always morq miltant than the ma
The centralists poked much fun at this idea, evidently ignorant
of the significant fact, that the French Syndicalist movement, thru
experience, has found this practice to be t) e best for a revolution
That the idea of the decentralists will triumph, there is no doubt
F'or the only ideas advocated at the 9th Annual Convention, in line
of improving the I. W. W. for a better, more efficient fighting or
ganization came from the decrntralists. The adherents of the ex
isting regime, had nothing to offer, tl cir vote at the Convention,
was one of defense. Despite their splendid defense, the effect of the
decentralists, in advocating their ideas, has plowed deeply into the
minds of all delegates present.
FROM THE ('APITAIISTS' VIEWPOINT.
IBy W. M. Witt. j
Say, what's ALLI this "kicke,,' 'hout? Times were NEVEi:
more piroslperous, opportunities NEVEiIt so numerous, and the
achievement of any amllbtion so EASILY attained.
Some people, ESi'ECIAII,Y among tilhe working class, seem to be
chronic "KICKERIS." They "KICK" when they they have N() job,
rand "KICK" when they get one, JUST' because they don't get any
thing like what they produce.
MA'Y of the working class claim that they CAN"I' get a home
due to HIl(;!i cost of living, OI,()W wages and the remarkable ad
vance in prices of land. Why we have tl ou!,slands of acres. of cut
over pine lands for sale at from $15 to $20 per acre. True it ONLY
cost us $2 and $3:1 per acre with tlhe tilnbr on it. But, it should IM
rcememlird that we got hIoll of this land when there was little de
mand for it. We got lots of it for NOT()'I'iIN(; by JUS'T' going ahead
and SIMPLY cutting the timber off of it.
Some folks as.y there are TOO'()() many working people. We ;ad!mit
there is, considering AII, our lablr saving machines, coupled with
a regular flow of immigration. But, the workers invented the ma
cl ines, and outr I.ws give the I')OOR of other countries right to AII,
to come over and hellp us builcd up the gr:rl(ndest republic the sun
ever shone on.
While competition on tlhe barttle field btween the workers i,
1 ITITE acute, it s)hould cause a laborer to more F ;I,I,Y alppreciat,
:a jol, when he happens to get one, and STI'IVEI' to excell in effTi
Some declare that a worker should hlave the FPIll, product of his
or her labolr. Why tlat would mean stalgrnation, because they t.h-n
would NO)T work more than 1 or F hours p,'r day. As it i: NOW w:
are able to run our enterprises at their FUIIEST capae'ty.
The WOR)IST element wehrva to crntend with among labor ur,
ions is a clique known as the I. W. W. anrl the helofit is they keenr
growing. Tiey are JI'ST SIMPLY h- ---.... Whenever a majority
of thile workers accept their doctrine, whict in a nutshell means giv
ing; a worker what he produces, thrn we hawve LOST our grip ron th
laIboring class and our name will be "lennkis' in )ox-car letters. O)f
('0)I'RSE the world belongs to the worr-s. But, our mission is to
h(ldwink them into thinking it is ours, anrd that they were born to
serve us. We have AIWAYS before NOW succeeded in this, but