Organize or Perish: America's Independent Progressives, 1913-1933

By Eugene M. Tobin | Go to book overview

obtain additional revenue through income and inheritance taxes rather than resorting to "heavier taxes upon the necessities and comforts of the workers, such as sugar, tea, coffee, tobacco, and the like, nor by bond issues which are a continuing burden upon the producers."52

The conflict over preparedness and war was inextricably linked in most progressives' minds with the struggle against special privilege and economic concentration. Progressives contended that preparedness would redirect reform energies away from the desperate problems of mass poverty, unemployment, class hatred, and industrial violence. Militarism would destroy democracy. Gains already made would be jeopardized, while insurmountable barriers would block future reform. The men and women who gathered in the various antipreparedness and antiwar societies in 1915 and 1916 shared common experiences as social workers, government ownership advocates, defenders of labor rights, and veterans of the Bull Moose and New Freedom movements. Many had assisted strikers at Lawrence and Paterson; some had lobbied for labor legislation while others had fought for the creation of the CIR.

It is clear, however, that most progressives were more comfortable espousing workers' rights than contemplating a strong union movement. Liberals remained patronizing, arrogant, and condescending in their attitudes toward organized labor. Accustomed to exercising influence within the system, they were temperamentally unsuited to challenge the established structure. Because they valued constancy and consistency, progressives saw no need to compartmentalize their lives or beliefs. This holistic and symbiotic view of the world was emotionally comforting but politically naive. It left no room for ambiguity. Progressives rejected the possibility of an atomistic, segmented society but also refused to participate with any group who did not accept their views. Thus, progressives would come to see the struggle for labor rights as inseparable from their related fights for open diplomacy, preservation of civil liberties, and a "pay-as-you-go" program of war finance. But the mutual cooperation necessary for the success of such efforts required a liberal-labor coalition. Most progressives were incapable of accepting the notion of a partnership between equals.


NOTES
1.
Allen F. Davis, "The Campaign for the Industrial Relations Commission, 1911-1913," Mid-America 45 ( Oct. 1963), 211-228. See also the form letter, Feb. 8, 1912, box 239, W. Jett Lauck Papers, University of Virginia, hereinafter cited as Lauck Papers.
2.
Graham Adams Jr., Age of Industrial Violence, 1910-1915: The Activities and Findings of the United States Commission on Industrial Relations ( New York: Columbia Univ. Press, 1966), 40-41. See also Vincent P. Carosso, "The Wall StreetMoney Trust from Pujo through Medina,"

-61-

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Organize or Perish: America's Independent Progressives, 1913-1933
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Recent Titles in Contributions in American History ii
  • Title Page iii
  • Copyright Acknowledgments v
  • Contents ix
  • I- Introduction 3
  • Notes 11
  • II- Amos R. E. Pinchot And George L. Record: The Radical Progressive Alternative, 1912-1916 13
  • Notes 37
  • III- Liberal-Labor Relations Before the War 43
  • Notes 61
  • IV- The Road From Henry Street To Wall Street 67
  • Notes 89
  • V- Liberals And The Postwar Reconstruction, 1919-1920 97
  • Notes 124
  • VI- Independent Progressives, 1921-1924 131
  • Notes 160
  • VII- The Wilderness Years, 1925-1928 167
  • Notes 197
  • VIII- Rehearsal for Reform 203
  • Notes 237
  • IX- Conclusion 245
  • Note 250
  • Bibliographic Essay 251
  • Index 261
  • About the Author 281
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