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ADVOCATE Bop DffiECT LEGISLATION AND (JOVEBNMENT OWNEBSHID OF MONOPOLIES.
Bb Al A. / 1 / VOLUME IX, No. 20. WHOLE NO. 436. MINNEAPOLIS, MINN., THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 28, 1901. '4l A YEAR IN ADVANCE PRESS CENSORSHIP. Freedom of the Press Is Being Abol ished by a Servile Tool of Plutoc racy at Washington. A Czar at Our National Capital. International Socialist Review. Recent actions of the postmaster general in regal'd to the second class mail have aroused a suspicion, that is rapidly becom ing a "certainty, that the periodical press of the United States is now subject to one of the most arbitrary and irresponsible press :ensorships in the world. A short time ago the postoffice officials announced their in ention of abolishing the deficit which has lways existed in the postal finances. There aave always been two notorious leaks in these finances and it would naturally be supposed that any move toward economy would give these first attention. But up to the present time nothing has been said about the fact that the railroads are receiv ing from five to ten times as much for carrying the mails as they are receiving for sitUiflor sty vice Tram the- «sprcs» companies, Nether has there been any suggestion of limiting the franking privilege by which tons of campaign documents are annually sent out at the expense of the postal reve nues, and for the benefit of the capitalist parties. It was announced that the pro posed economy would be effected by re stricting the amount of mail which would be carried as second class at the rate of one cent per pound. One of the special objects against which it was stated the postoffice would proceed was the great “mail order monthlies.” These papers have immense circulations, reaching into the hundreds of thousands and even millions of copies of each issue. Their main source of income is their advertising, and hence they send out large numbers of sample copies to lists of probable buyers of goods such as are advertised. This was declared to be a ter rible “abuse of the second class privilege,’* and it was claimed that these papers would be the first point of attack. But if economy is to be the motive this method looks a little suspicious for the main source of profitable postoffice income is the revenue derived from the “mail order business” which it is the special work of these publications to de velop. Notorious wastes are thus over looked and the economies proposed are apt to prove losing investments rather than lines of retrenchment. This suspicion grows still stronger when it is rumored that there are good reasons to believe that with the increase of business in the mail together with the settling up of the West, which abolishes the most ex pensive “long haulfc” of mail, it is probable that it will take but a few years for normal development to wipe out the deficit, and the main excuse for economy disappears. The first impression gained on an ex amination of the rulings and regulations which have been promulgated concerning the second class matter is one of wonder at their intricacy and contradictory char acter. The popular and universal idea of a periodical is fairly well summed up in the general definition of the original law on the subject, which reads as follows: “Mailable matter of the second class shall embrace all newspapers and other periodical publica tions which are issued at stated intervals, and as frequently as four times a year.” Soon the postoffice began to explain and define the terms used in this definition. First, a limit was placed upon the number UNCLE SAM WILL DEAL WITH THE ANARCHISTS. The above cut is borrowed from the little book, “Bond and Industrial Slavery.” Send Six 2-cent stamps to this office and get a c6py. of sample copies that could be mailed. Then the publisher was forbidden to print, for any purpose whatever, more than twice as many copies as he had actual subscribers. This instantly created a dilemma. Every prominent daily in the country would have been shut out of the mails on a strict ap plication of‘this rule. So there began to be a series of fearfully and wonderfully made definitions of what constitutes a subscriber. The following quotation is taken from a recent document of the Chicago postoffice, which says: “In making up the ‘legitimate list of subscribers,’ the following may be included: Direct subscriptions to publish ers, copies regularly sold by newsboys, cop ies regularly sold over the publisher’s coun ter to purchasers of individual copies, regu lar sales of copies of consecutive issues by news agencies, bona fide bulk purchases of consecutive issues by news agencies for sale in the usual way without the return privi lege. One copy to each advertiser to prove advertisement, bona fide exchanges (one copy for another) with existing second class publications within reasonable limits.” The contradictory character of these regulations is apparent at first sight. Copies regularly sold by newsboys are to count, but not those purchased by newsdealers with the return privilege. This notwithstanding the fact that the return privilege is almost univer sally extended to newsboys. Incidentally it might be mentioned that when application was made for the entry of a Socialist publi cation at this same Chicago office it was specifically stated by the man in charge of the second class entry (who undoubtedly compiled this very circular) that copies “sold regularly over the publisher’s coun ter” or by Socialist sections'“without the return privilege” must NOT be counted “in making up the ‘legitimate list of subscrib f ff ers. The confusion grows constantly worse. It is announced that subscriptions must not be secured by premiums, prizes, etc. But it is well known that many prominent dailies give their solicitors practically the entire sum received for a first subscription and not infrequently include merchandise to an almost equal amount. Lest these dear dailies might be affected the order was again modified so as to apply only to those papers publicly advertising such offers. This enabled the postoffice to be convenient ly blind to the work of the dailies, while those whom it wished to suppress could be easily reached. Incidentally, while such a howl is being made against periodicals with a nominal subscription, it might be well to call attention to the fact that the great dailies of Chicago announced on raising the retail price to two cents that the one cent which they had been charging for single Have These Birds a String on Madden? copies Was often less than the cost of the white paper. Again, the postoffice ruled that any sub scription for a period of less than three months is no subscription at all, and the publishers of the “Worllers’ Call,” the or gan of the Chicago Socialists, were in formedfhat subscriptionsfor a shorter time not be counted in making up the “legitimate list of subscribers” but that the acceptance of such subscriptions in any manner whatever would cause the paper to be excluded from the mails. But a large proportion of the metropolitan dailies carry at the head of their editorial columns rates for one month, and not infrequently rates for a single week, and it is safe to say that 50 per cent of all the “subscriptions” they ever have are such periods of time. To all this again the postoffice is conveniently blind. By this time it should be evident that it is simply proposed to exclude those publications that happen to displease the postal officials. But these officials, like those of every other department of our present government, are but organs of the present capitalist class. Therefore the above state ment is simply another way of saying that all publications should be suppressed that displease the ruling class of today. Everything was now ready for the next step in “economy.” The postoffice began to make rules concerning the contents of the publication. Knowing the sort of work done in other lines we are not surprised to find a most elastic confusion resulting. Re strictions and regulations concerning the amount and character of permissable adver tising began to appear. It was ruled that only those publications devoted to either “news” or “literature” would be mailable. The postal officials thus became judges of “literature” along with their other duties. In the midst of all this confusion almost anything could be done and defended as be ing in accord with some previously promul gated rule. But when, after months of talk some action was actually taken, the first pa per of any importance to be proceeded against was not even one of the much de nounced “mail order journals” with their sham subscription list. On the contrary it was the “Appeal to Reason” which was no tified that bundles of papers sent to the same address were not mailable at pound rates even if paid for in advance. This, notwithstanding the fact that a large per centage of every issue of the great metro politan dailies are mailed in this way. Then came a notice that the publications is sued by societies must contain no advertise ments aside from those of the organizations publishing them. Incidentally this was di rectly contrary to a previous order intended to suppress ‘“house organs” which provided that any publication not accepting the ad vertisements of others than the publisher would be forbidden the mails. The first ones against whom this new ruling was en forced were the trade union organs. Very many unions publish papers as a means of communication between their members and as a tfieafiS"of propagating the doctiffes of unionism. Lately many of these have be gun to realize that the interests of unionism leads to Socialism. One of the main sources of income of all such papers has al ways been their advertising and the promul gation of this order denying to trades unions what is the privilege of every indi vidual means practically the suppression of many of these publications. Then came the announcement that all “libraries” or periodicals, each number of which was made up of a single article so as to constitute a book or pamphlet should be denied second class entry. This was en forced immediately against several “libra ries” consisting of Socialist pamphlets, al though already a rumor is running through the trade papers of the news companies stating that there is a “string” on the law and that it will NOT be enforced against ALL “libraries.” But the most striking incident of this new censorship was the suppression of the “Challenge.” This Socialist paper had at tained a circulation of about 30,000 in a lit tle over nine months. During this time, whatever criticism captious critics may have made on its style of presenting the subject, it had attracted more attention to Socialism than any previous effort had been able tc do. The somewhat peculiar methods of the paper and its owner had succeeded in forc ing more notice from the defenders of capi talism than all the other Socialist papers in the country combined. Suddenly a notice was served on the publishers that the “Chal lenge” was refused access to the second class mails. The excuse given was that the paper was published mainly to “advertise Wilshire's ideas.” Now exactly what a publication not a news organ, is for save to “advertise” the ideas of the editors and con tributors is something which the postoffice literateurs did not attempt to explain. In deed no man with a grain of sense can con sider the reason offered seriously. It is a plain case of the suppression of a paper whose ideas did not suit the Third Assistant Postmaster General, who, God save the mark, received his present position as a sop to the labor vote, he having previously been a locomotive engineer. It thus appears that a definite policy ef press censorship has been the ultimate out come of the cry for “economy.” Neverthe less, we are not among those who believe that this policy will be greatly extended. The suppression of the “Challenge” has been the greatest of all the many free ad vertisements that it, together with its editor and his “ideas,” have received. Notwith standing the fact that any attack upon the postoffice is liable, under the present arbi trary management, to endanger the exist ence of the protesting publications, the So cialist papers, with a few conspicuous ex ceptions, have taken up the battle against this press censorship. If this is done effec tively it will become quickly evident to those who actually control the strings that move the postoffice puppets, that any such methods will but hasten the spread of So cialism and the downfall of exploitation. Forcible suppression- has never permanently checked any movement that was in accord with economic progress. Especially if, as is the case at present with Socialism in the United States, the movement had sufficient strength to take advantage of the sympa thy and indignation which would be aroused, any attempt at arbitrary suppres sion serves but to emphasize the arguments at which the suppression is aimed. Should Belong to the People. The decision of the Railroad and Ware house Commission started a little argu ment among several students of econom ics yesterday. The following is the argu ment of one well known in the city as a careful student of all reform questions: “The decision paves t]he way for the trustifying of the iron-mines of Min nesota: The "United Cor poration, or its constituent companies will eventually have complete control of every mine in St. Louis county. Those now owned by other individuals or companies and for which the steel trust have no immediate use will be obliged to stay undeveloped until such time as they are needed. Who should own these mines? Was this great wealth which they contain placed there for the exclusive bene fit of this corporation, or was it intended as the rightful inheritance of all the peo ple: \ou say that the mines were paid for, that the government gave the land away to settlers. But have you thought how much of this has been secured through perjured evidence? Many acres of it was taken as homesteads by persons who never intended to settle upon the land. The land in the first place belonged to the people (1 he Government) and I have always ques tioned congress’ right to give the mineral rights away with the land. Few other na tions would do this, and we are now reap ing the fruits of our early carelessness. Some day, perhaps in the far off future, the people will ask by what given right can a few individuals enjoy all the natural wealths of this world, when they properly belong to the people. The day of reckoning may be a long ways off, but it is coming, slowly and surely.”—Labor World. San Francisco in Line. San Francisco, Nov. 6.—The complete vote for mayor is: Schmitz, Union Labor, 21,806; Wells, Republican, 17,697; Tobin, Democrat, 12,684. The Union Labor party was organized as a result of the strike of teamsters, stevedores, marine firemen and other water front employees last summer. The labor men voted solid for the head of the ticket, but scattered their votes on can didates for other offices. They may elect three supervisors. The patronage offices were won by the Republicans, and the Democrats will elect nine out of eighteen supervisors. Under the new charter the mayor has great power and appoints the boards of education, public works, police, park and fire commissioners. The complete returns for sheriff are: Lackman, Republican, 26,788. Loughery, Union Labor, 17,488; Wardell, Democrat, 6,180. *