Wobbly, the Rough-And-Tumble Story of An American Radical

By Ralph Chaplin | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 26. THE CENTRALIA TRAGEDY.
BILL HAYWOOD "ESCAPES" TO MOSCOW

DISSENSION in I.W.W. ranks on the subject of communism was growing. Charles Ashleigh, George Hardy, and Harrison George had switched over to the Moscow point of view. Well supplied with funds and literature, they were presenting a strong case for co-operation between the "fighting I.W.W." and the Communist International. "It's a demonstration of the international solidarity of labor," declared Bill with enthusiasm. "It's out-and-out bribery," growled General Executive Board members at the general office with alarm. But they accepted the invitation to send an emissary to Moscow for the purpose of finding out if any strings were attached to the liberal "labor defense" donation which had been offered. George Williams eventually made the trip—like everybody else—on a forged passport. His recommendation was unfavorable. Bill was indignant when the G.E.B. backed away from the deal.

"The Russian revolution is the greatest event in our lives,"
he insisted. "It represents all that we have been dreaming of and fighting for all our lives. It is the dawn of freedom and industrial democracy. If we can't trust Lenin, we can't trust anybody."

"Does that mean you have made your choice?" I asked.

"It means," replied Bill, "that there is only one choice to make. The world revolution is bigger than the I.W.W." That is how Haywood looked at it. But not the G.E.B. or the I.W.W. rank and file. To them the Communists were "just another bunch of politicians."

I remember wondering at the time if Bill had already joined the party. Somehow I couldn't imagine him accepting the military discipline of the Comintern and taking orders from some of

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