Daniel De Leon editorial : Industrialism

by Daniel De Leon
from The Daily People, January 23, 1906

It is curious to watch how the gospel of Socialist Industrial Unionism - the movement of which it was prophesied that it would be launched still-born, and concerning which one hears the occasional remark that it is actually dead -- is being seized upon by its very foes and the very element whose doom the movement sounds.

Is this an instance of that highest form of adulation that one can bestow upon another - IMITATION? Does the manifestation, perchance, go deeper, does it imply CONVERSION, and is it, as such, a symptom for cheers? Far from that! It is a siren song intended to lure to destruction.

An instance in point is the language that is held by the "Journal" of the United Mine Workers, the Civic Federation decoy duck for the working miners. The "Journal" declares that the United Mine Workers believes in Industrialism, and that it is organized upon that principle. This is a false statement.

"Industrialism," no more than "capitalism," no more than "Socialism," no more, in short, than any other institution, consists of any one thing, nor yet of an aggregation of things. "Industrialism," like "capitalism," like "Socialism," etc., is a whole, the essence of which is a principle, and all the external appearances of which are manifestations of that one central principle, to which all the external manifestations are subservient and all of which jointly illustrate it.

Capitalism, for instance, does not consist merely in the private ownership of the necessaries for production. If such ownership were the determining feature and quality of capitalism, then capitalism reigned in the days of serfdom. The serf owned his tools, the feudal lord owned the land -- two necessaries for production. Yet that was not capitalism. Capitalism is that social system under which the tool of production (capital) has grown to such mammoth size that the class that owns it rules land and sea like a despot, inaccessible and undethronable by economic competition, and steadily swelling the number of its slaves, the wage slaves, thereby itself recruiting the forces that will overthrow it, and push civilization onward to the Socialist Republic. -- That is capitalism, not any one or set of seemingly capitalist manifestations.

So with Socialism. It does not consist merely in the overthrow of private ownership in any or all of the necessaries of life. If such overthrow of private ownership were Socialism, then the overthrow of the one-time private ownership of military forces, and the present State-ownership of the same, would be Socialism. Obviously, that is not Socialism. A limb of a human being is not a human being. Socialism is that social system under which the necessaries of production are owned, controlled, and administered by the people, for the people, and under which, accordingly, the cause of political and economic despotism having been abolished, class rule is at end. -- That is Socialism, nothing short of that.

So, again, with "Industrialism." It does not consist of the clubbing together of a few closely kindred trades into one industry.

If that were "Industrialism," then, indeed, Mitchell's organization, which holds together several, not even all the crafts, that work immediately in and around the mines, but which is an autonomous body; which is a body that has its hands at the throats of all other crafts and industries, leaving them all in the lurch every time they are under capitalist fire; which is a body that holds that the capitalist plunderer and the plundered wage slave are brothers with reciprocal interests; and which, as a result of its inherent principles, is a body that aims at the preposterous task of establishing "harmonious relations" between the Baers and their victims, the miners - then, indeed, would such a monstrosity as Mitchell's organization, with its capitalist mine-holders as secretary-treasurers for the Union, be a sample of Industrialism.

That, certainly, is not Industrialism.

Industrialism is that system of economic organization of the working class that denies that labor and the capitalist class are brothers; that recognizes the irrepressible nature of the conflict between the two; that perceives that struggle will not, because it can not, end until the capitalist class is thrown off labor's back; that recognizes that an injury to one workingman is an injury to all; and that, consequently, and with this end in view, organizes the WHOLE WORKING CLASS into ONE UNION, the same subdivided only into such bodies as their respective craft-tools demand, in order to wrestle as ONE BODY for the immediate amelioration of its membership, and for their eventual emancipation by the total overthrow of the Capitalist Class, its economic and political rule.

A being in a bonnet is not therefore a woman, a being with a beard is not therefore a man, nor yet is a wolf in sheepskin a lamb.

The Socialist Industrial Union respectfully declines kinship with Belmont's labor lieutenant Mitchell's concern.