The Industrial Form of Government

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The idea of Industrial Union Government is Daniel De Leon's crowning contribution to social science, and specifically to Socialism. He projected and developed the third "great plan of government," the Socialist Industrial Republic, which will replace the outmoded political State (government over men through territorial constituencies), and establish the Marxian "administration of things." This is the non-political government of democratic, industrial representation and administration.

It is important to note that the Industrial Union Government is an entirely new concept of social administration. It implies an entirely new concept of social administration. Instead of Senators and Representatives from states and congressional areas, it is based on industrial constituencies and functional representatives from the industries and social services. The qualifications of these representatives elected to the All-Industrial Congress will be a knowledge and understanding of the processes of production and distribution, ability to coordinate and direct those processes, and a dedication to the duties and responsibilities with which they are charged.

The workers who operate the industries today under capitalism will, of course, operate them under Socialism. Voting in the plants and shops, they will elect their supervisors, administrative committees and representtives to local, departmental and national industrial councils, and, finally, to the All-Industrial Union Congress, representation, accordingly, being on an ascending scale, and not from the top down.

from "Socialist Industrial Unionism", publisher's appendix to Daniel De Leon, Socialism Versus Anarchism, 1962 edition, page 76

The victory of the working class in the United States, and similarly highly developed capitalaist countries, is predicated upon the destruction of the Political State and the establishment of the Industrial Union Government wherein the central government agency is composed of representatives from the industrial divisions of the working class throughout the land. As Marx so succinctly put it, "Where its organizing activity begins, and its proper aim, its soul, emerges, there Socialism casts away the political hull."

Arnold Petersen, March 6, 1934 introduction to Karl Marx, The Paris Commune, 1965 edition, page viii

Industrial Government is an entirely new conception of administration. It implies an entirely new basis of representation. Instead of Senators and Representatives from States and Congressional areas, it requires industrial constituencies and functional representatives. For example, instead of Senators from New York, Ohio, Nebraska, etc., we shall elect to an Industrial Congress representatives from the steel industry, automobile industry, textile industry, and all the other industries of the land.

The qualifications of the representatives elected to the Industrial Congress will be vastly different from the "qualifications" of the present rhetoricians in Congress. The greatest asset of these politicians is their "lie-ability." Wretched though the pun is, it expresses a truth only too palpable. The qualifications of those who will serve in the Socialist Industrial Union Congress, on the other hand, will be (aside from a devotion to duty) a knowledge and understanding of the processes of production and distribution and an ability to coordinate and direct these processes. On the basis of reports from local and national industrial councils, they will decide such questions as: how many pairs of shoes will we, the people, need next year; how many tons of coal; how many ton-miles of railroad transportation. They will ascertain the existing capacity to produce these things, and, if necessary, they will see that the capacity is increased. They will coordinate research and facilitate the adoption of new techniques as these are developed, especially the techniques of automation which, under Socialism will be a blessing instead of a curse. The questions are, of course, many and varied, but they are infinitely simpler than the questions which arise in a class-divided society.

We have referred to industrial representation. It is more correct to say Industrial Union representation, for the Socialist Industrial Union forms the basis of the Industrial Union Administration. The workers who operate the industries today under capitalism are the workers who will operate them tomorrow under Socialism plus, of course, those millions who are ruthlessly thrown upon the capitalist industrial scrap heap, that is, the unemployed and so-called "unemployables." They will vote in their union, elect their foremen, administrative committees and representatives to local, departmental and national councils, and finally to the All-Industrial Union Congress. They, the organized workers in the factories, mills, mines, stores, farms, ships and railroads of the land, will constitute the basis of a Workers' Democracy -- the most complete democracy ever achieved since the dissolution of the primitive gens.

Eric Hass, Socialist Industrial Unionism - The Workers' Power, 1964

Diagrams and accompanying text in the pamphlet Eric Hass, Socialist Industrial Unionism - The Workers' Power, 1964

Diagrams from the foldout, accompanied by the text transcribed to the left.





Diagrams from page 3 and 7:

 

A GUIDE FOR ORGANIZATION

In this centerfold the form of the Socialist Industrial Union on the local and national levels is depicted, with the automobile industry used as an example. Note that within each plant union (Ford's River Rouge plant is one, Oldsmobile another, Plymouth a third, etc.) there are shop units. On page 43 it is explained how the tool used determines the line of demarcation between these subdivisions, also why the tool must, be the determining factor. Under, this twentieth century form of democratic organization each shop unit is represented in the Plant Union Council; and each plant union in a single locality (such as Detroitain(a environs) is represented in the Local Industrial Union of Automobile Workers.

The council of the National Industrial Union of Automobile Workers is composed of representatives elected by the auto workers in all the automobile plants in each locality. The duties of the National Industrial Union are (before the Socialist revolution) to direct organization of the industry, and (after the Industrial Republic has been formed) to administer and correlate national production of automobiles and parts.

The workers in each industry will also elect their representatives to the respective Department into which their industry is integrated, as well as their representatives to the Socialist Industrial Union Congress -- the body that will supplant the present political Congress. Departments integrate industries more or less closely related, such as railroads, air transportation, shipping, etc., in the Transportation Department; bakeries, canneries, flour mills, etc., in the Food Processing Department; etc. Substitute your own industry for the automobile industry, and you can easily visualize how your industry will organize locally and nationally.

Note: These charts are intended graphically to present the principle of correct organization, of organization, that is, whereby the workers may realize maximum poWer to abolish capitalism, maximum democracy and security from bureaucratic usurpation, and maximum efficiency in administering production under Socialism.

The Local Industrial Union, which organizes the plants turning out the same line of products in each community, unites the workers to perform a dual mission. First, it unites them to back up the Socialist ballot by "taking over." Being on the job, and therefore in de facto possession of the plants and tools, they are in a perfect strategic position to do this. Organized along industrial lines and united by their determination to build Socialism, the workers are invincible. No power on earth can stop them. But the Local Industrial Union also unites the workers to carry on production and distribution without serious interruption. Thus we may avoid the chaos that would ensue if, instead of a general lockout of the capitalist class, the workers attempted a general walkout. Once the job of "taking over" is completed, the Socialist Industrial Union will assume its permanent duties, which are those of organizing and administering social production for the benefit of all the people. Here is the logical form of democracy in an industrial age.

Socialist Industrial Unionism is the only certain safeguard against the danger of bureaucratic usurpation. In the Socialist Industrial Republic all final authority will be vested, not in leaders, but in the rank and file of workers. The rank and file will elect administrators and representatives on all levels, and these will have the privilege to serve, but never the power to rule.

Not only will the rank and file have the power to elect, they will also have the power to recall and remove representatives who, in their judgment, fail to measure up to their office. This will insure that all power remains in the only safe place for power to be -- with the rank and file of workers.

There can be no bureaucrats in the Socialist Industrial Union Government. This will be a social organization in which the people who do the work will have complete democratic control of their tools and products. Thus production will be for the benefit of all.

Eric Hass, Socialist Industrial Unionism - The Workers' Power, 1964

Political society arose on the ruins of communal society, which perished because equality on the basis of universal poverty inevitably results in stagnation, with eventual reversal to the most primitive way of life. Leisure and affluence are prime requisites for the insuring of social and cultural progress, and if leisure and affluence are not available to all, then they must be assured to the few at the expense of the many. This is the course history took after the dissolution of the ancient commune, a course it had to take if progress were to be served. But that course inescapably spelled slavery, classes, and the rise of the organ to keep the oppressed class down, the Political State. From that time to our present day, government has constituted a force apart from the economic organism as such -- a force superimposed from above, as it were, incapable of integration with the productive functions, and, of course, never intended to be so integrated. The very nature and function of political government precluded anything of the kind. Consequently, political government has always constituted an extra burden, or charge, on the economic or productive organism, a necessary burden, of course, since without political government, in a society resting on an economy of scarcity, retrogression, anarchy and eventual disintegration would inescapably follow. But political government today is no longer needed, for the reason that we now have an economy of amplitude. It is no longer necessary to set aside a small class, in leisure and guaranteed economic security, in order to insure preservation and promotion of the arts and general culture. All can now enjoy leisure and plenty, hence all may be carriers of culture, with no dangers of a relapse into barbarism, and with the danger of social disintegration eliminated. But although political government need no longer be maintained -- indeed, political government has become solely an incubus on society, and an obstruction to social progress -- a governing, or central directing and coordinating, body is required lest society (leisure and affluence notwithstanding) nevertheless suffer disintegration.

Since the primary task is, and ever must remain, that of producing and insuring a constant supply of the things needed to insure life, well-being and happiness for the dwellers in human society, and since a superimposed organ of force is no longer needed, it follows that the government required is simply one that directs the processes of production and distribution of articles for use, and which insures maintenance and replacement of the productive mechanism. The answer is the Industrial administration of things, as Frederick Engels called it, or the Industrial Union Government, as Daniel De Leon called it, and as the Socialist Labor Party today designates it, varying it with the appellations Industrial Republic of Labor, The Industrial Commonwealth of Labor, Industrial Democracy, or simply Socialism.

Industrial Democracy -- Complete Democracy.

Like its forerunner, political democracy, Industrial Democracy will be organized on a representative basis. Having dispensed with the old, worn-out Political State, which derived its representation from geographic units (town, county, state), geographic or territorial demarcations and boundary lines are now discarded. Industrial Democracy, then, derives its representation from industrial units, and from industry generally. It will be organized from the bottom up, that is, in an ascending scale of organization -- single plant or group of plants, Local Industrial Union of a given industry, National Industrial Union of the given industry, and finally the All-Industrial Congress, representing all industries. This All-Industrial Union Congress will be the governing board, or the Industrial Government of the Socialist Republic. Its task would, in the words of De Leon, be "the easy one which can be summed up in the statistics of the wealth needed, the wealth producible, and the work required." In short, how much of this or that article do we need, how much can be produced of that article with present equipment, and how many hours of labor will the workers have to render on the basis of need and capacity? The answers lie close at hand.

The workers, in the ascending scale of industrial organization, will elect their own foremen and managers, their representatives to the local and national unions, and finally to the All-Industrial Union Congress, with the power of recall never surrendered, and complete democracy -- Industrial Democracy -- prevailing.

This democracy -- though necessarily representative -- will be a complete democracy such as the world has never before enjoyed -- one is tempted to say a "pure" or "perfect" democracy, though it may be best not to yield to the temptation by reason of the manner in which defenders of the acquisitive society have misrepresented these terms. Certainly it will be an infinitely purer and vastly more "perfect" democracy than any the human race has ever known. And with its institution the golden age of mankind will begin. "With the institution of political society under Cleisthenes," wrote Morgan, "the gentile organization was laid aside as a portion of the rags of barbarism." In the same spirit, and rendering full tribute to capitalism and preceding acquisitive social systems for the services rendered the cause of civilization, however terrible the cost, civilized man of the (we hope) near future can say: "With the institution of Industrial Union society, as conceived by De Leon, the political society is laid aside as a portion of the rags of primitive civilization."

True democracy, not qualified democracy, nor a democracy cancelled by the limitations inevitably imposed by a class society resting on an economy of scarcity, will be at last enthroned and made secure by that strongest of bonds, the bond of the enlightened material interests of man, united in a common brotherhood made possible by the rendering unnecessary of individual acquisitiveness, and the rendering superfluous of petty motives of personal selfishness.

Arnold Petersen, Democracy: Past, Present and Future, 1942; 6th edition, 1962; pages 36-39


Page revisions: First release July 28, 2007. Petersen added June 9, 2008.