American Syndicalism: The I. W. W

By John Graham Brooks | Go to book overview

XIII

VIOLENCE

AMONG some of the ablest expositors of I. W. W. principles, there seems to me very little pretence that violence may not be necessary at certain stages and under certain conditions. They are now but just started on their journey. From political Socialism and craft unions they have cut loose. The ordinary strike best illustrates "direct action."1 It begins locally in a mine or mill. It then reaches a higher form in "mass action" (the mass strike), which includes the industry. If those working over a whole industrial area go out together, we have the general strike. The "universal strike" arrives when so many workers go out in any country as to disable the main sources of production. At any point along the route, the "irritation strike," quick and mysterious in action, is a sort of gymnastic exercise to train and educate our coming masters. These irritants meantime are admirably calculated to unnerve the employer and prepare him the sooner for his exit.

From first to last this issue between the I. W. W. and existing society is a trial of main strength, an encounter in which moral concepts, as commonly un

____________________
1
The strike illustrates but does not accurately enough define "direct action" which assumes an unremitting and truceless war on capitalism. The old-fashioned strike with accessories of arbitration, "agreements" recognize the wage system. That recognition is unforgivable to direct actionists.

-158-

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