The IWW and the failure of revolutionary syndicalism in the USA, part ii

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In the first part of this article (published in International Review n°124), we examined the historical context within which the IWW was founded, at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries, in the watershed between capitalism’s ascendancy and decadence. Based on its theory of “industrial unionism”, the Industrial Workers of the World tried to find an answer to the problems posed by the increasing inability of “parliamentary cretinism” and the reformist union of Samuel Gompers’ American Federation of Labor (AFL) to confront the evolution of both capitalism and the class struggle. Contrary to the federalist vision of the anarchists and anarcho-syndicalists, the IWW’s founders set out to build a centralised, unified class-struggle organization which would be able to bring together the whole proletariat for the seizure of power, and to offer a framework for the exercise of proletarian power after the revolution.

In this article, we will see how far the IWW’s theory and practice allowed it to live up to its own goals, and to the greatest challenge yet faced by the workers’ movement world wide: the outbreak of history’s first great inter-imperialist conflict in 1914.

For or against “politics”?

The IWW preamble adopted at the founding convention was clear in its commitment to the revolutionary destruction of capitalism. “The working class and the employing class have nothing in common. There can be no peace so long as hunger and want are found among millions of working people and the few, who make up the employing class, have all the good things of life (…) Between these two classes a struggle must go on until the workers of the world organize as a class, take possession of the earth and the machinery of production, and abolish the wage system (…) It is the historic mission of the working class to do away with capitalism.” The organization was not clear, however, on the nature of this revolution or how it would made. It was not even clear whether the revolution would be a political or an economic act. So while the IWW permitted and even welcomed the participation of political organizations and activists within its ranks and its members supported socialist candidates at the poll, even from the outset it harbored considerable confusions on the nature of political action for the proletariat.

In 1905, Socialist Party members present at the founding convention assumed that the IWW would endorse the Socialist Party.[1] Their DeLeonist rivals hoped that the IWW’s allegiance could be won by the Socialist Labor Party. Such naive expectations seriously underestimated the political skepticism that would prevail at the founding convention. Despite their Marxist sympathies, the dominant view amongst the IWW’s founders held that for the workers the political struggle was subordinate to the economic. For example, prior to the convention the Western Federation of Miners (WFM) had written, “Experience has taught us that the economic organization and the political organization must be distinct and apart from each other (…) To our mind it becomes necessary to unite the workers upon the industrial domain, before it is possible to unite them in the political arena.”[2]

Despite the sharply divergent views on politics, in the interests of unity, the convention formulated a convolutedly worded concession to socialists from both parties, by agreeing to the insertion of a political paragraph in the preamble to the IWW constitution, which read as follows: “Between these two classes a struggle must go on until all the toilers come together on the political, as well as the industrial field, and take hold of that which they produce by their labor, through an economic organization of the working class, without affiliation with any political party.” For most delegates this concessionary reference to politics was incomprehensible. One delegate complained, “I cannot afford to have brother DeLeon along with me every time I meet a man to explain what this paragraph means.” [3]

The opposition to politics derived from a theoretical misunderstanding of the nature of the class struggle and the proletarian revolution and of the proletariat’s political tasks. For the IWW,  “political” had a very narrow meaning: it meant parliamentarism, the participation in bourgeois elections. According to this perspective political action, i.e., participation in elections, offered only propagandistic value in demonstrating the futility of electoralism, as exemplified in this statement: “The only value that political activity has to the working class is from the standpoint of agitation and education. Its educational merit consists solely in proving to the workers its utter inefficacy to curb the power of the ruling class and therefore forcing the workers to rely on the organization of their class in the industries of the world.

 It is impossible for any one to be a part of the capitalist state and to use the machinery of the state in the interest of the workers. All they can do is to make the attempt, and be impeached – as they will be—and furnish object lessons to the workers, of the class character of the state.” [4]

These statements are rife with confusion. It is ironic that although the anti-politicals detested DeLeon they shared many of his theoretical conceptions, such as:

  • the primacy of the economic over the political struggle;
  • the equation of politics with the ballot box;
  • the rejection of the dictatorship of the proletariat;
  • the failure to understand that under the conditions of an historically progressive capitalism, it was indeed possible to participate in parliament to wrest reforms from the bourgeoisie;
  • the failure to differentiate between reforms (like the 8-hour day, restrictions on child labor, etc) won in the course of class struggle from the counter revolutionary doctrine of reformism that held that socialism could be achieved peaceably through the ballot box.

When Wobblies railed against politics because it was impossible to use the capitalist state for working class revolutionary purposes they revealed an ignorance of one fundamental lesson that Marx drew from the experience of the Paris Commune: the recognition that the proletariat must destroy the capitalist state. What could be more political than the destruction of the capitalist state, the seizure of the means of production, and the imposition of the proletarian revolutionary perspective over the whole of society? The proletarian revolution will be the most audacious and thoroughgoing social and political act in all of human history – a revolution in which the exploited and oppressed masses rise up, destroy the state power of the exploiting class, and impose their own revolutionary class dictatorship over society in order to achieve the transition to communism. From the correct realization that the workers could not take hold of the bourgeois state and wield it to advance their revolutionary program, the anti-politicals wrongly concluded that the proletarian revolution was an economic, not a political act. Like the anarchists, the anti-politicals in the IWW ended up by concluding that they could ignore, not just parliament but the power of the bourgeois state itself. They believed this in spite of their own experience in the free speech fights which took place not at the point of production, but in the streets as an act of political confrontation with the state.[5] Nor, despite these bitter clashes in which the ruling class frequently rode roughshod over its own laws, did the IWW have any inkling that the time was fast approaching when the bourgeois parliament and law would be nothing but a mask for the most ruthless exercise of power against the proletarian threat. This was to have catastrophic consequences, as we shall see, and it is a tragedy of historical proportions that so many dedicated and courageous militants were to enter the coming struggles bereft of such fundamental aspects of the Marxist perspective.

The political compromise embodied in the arcane wording of the political paragraph in the 1905 preamble was not sufficient to maintain the unity of the organization. By the 1908 convention, the anti-political perspective triumphed. DeLeon was barred from attending the convention on a credentials technicality, and he and his followers split to form their own IWW based in Detroit that was subordinate to the SLP, and doomed to as inauspicious an existence as the Socialist Trade and Labor Alliance before it. Debs, along with many other Socialist Party members, permitted their membership to lapse and withdrew from IWW activities. Even the WFM, which had played such a vital role in the founding of the IWW, withdrew from the organization. Haywood remained in the organization and in 1911 served simultaneously as a leading member of the IWW and a board member of the Socialist Party, until he was removed from the latter after membership in the IWW was deemed incompatible by the Socialists because of the IWW’s stance on sabotage and opposition to political action.

Revolutionary party or unitary organization?

For the IWW the industrial union was an all-in-one organizational form. The union would not simply be a unitary organization that would serve as a mechanism for working class self defense and the form for proletarian rule after the revolution, but would also be an organization of revolutionary militants and agitators. According to its 1908 constitution, the IWW believed that “the army of production must be organized, not only for the every-day struggle with the capitalists, but also to carry on production when capitalism shall have been overthrown. By organizing industrially we are forming the structure of the new society within the shell of the old.”  As we have pointed out earlier in this series, this syndicalist vision that sees the possibility to form “the structure of the new society within the shell of the old (…) springs from a profound incomprehension of the degree of antagonism between capitalism, the last exploiting society, and the classless society which must replace it. This serious error leads to underestimating the depth of social transformation necessary to carry out the transition between these two social forms, and it also underestimated the resistance of the ruling class to the seizure of power by the working-class.” [6]

Moreover, the conception that the same organization could simultaneously be a revolutionary organization of class conscious workers and agitators and an organization open to all workers in the class struggle within capitalism revealed a double confusion characteristic of revolutionary syndicalism.

The first of these confusions was the failure to distinguish between the two types of organization that have historically been secreted by the working class: revolutionary organizations and unitary organizations. The IWW failed to appreciate that a revolutionary organization regrouping militants on the basis of a shared agreement on, and commitment to, revolutionary principles and a revolutionary program, is in essence a political organization, a class party in fact if not in name. Such an organization can only, by definition, regroup a minority of the working class: its most politically conscious and dedicated members who, in the words of the 1848 Communist Manifestoare on the one hand, practically, the most advanced and resolute section of the working-class parties of every country, that section which pushes forward all others; on the other hand, theoretically, they have over the great mass of the proletariat the advantage of clearly understanding the line of march, the conditions, and the ultimate general results of the proletarian movement”. The failure to appreciate this difference condemned the IWW to an unstable existence. The open door to membership that the organization maintained was literally a revolving door, through which perhaps as many as a million workers entered and just as quickly exited between 1905 and 1917. Newly chartered local union branches were created, only to quickly disappear without a trace as soon as the struggle which had brought them into being came to an end.

The tension resulting from the contradictory conception of being a revolutionary organization and a mass membership organization open to all workers would ultimately contribute to the historic failure of the IWW during the revolutionary wave that followed World War I. The IWW’s view of itself as a mass membership union that regrouped all workers increasingly led union-building concerns to predominate over revolutionary principle.

The second confusion sprang from the IWW’s failure to understand that, as fervently as they sought to defend the interests of their class, the battle waged by the industrial unionists against craft and business unionism was increasingly anachronistic. The historic period changed in the early 20th century with the completion and saturation of the world market, which ushered in the onset of capitalist decadence and brought to an end the period when it was possible to fight for durable reforms. Under these changed conditions, the trade union form of organization itself, whether industrial or craft, became irrelevant to the class struggle and was doomed either to disappear, or to be absorbed into the capitalist state apparatus as a mechanism for controlling the working class. The experience of the mass strike in Russia in 1905 and the discovery of soviets, or workers councils, by the proletariat in that country was an historical watershed for the world proletariat. The lessons of these developments and their impact on class struggle were the focus of theoretical work by Rosa Luxemburg, Leon Trotsky, Anton Pannekoek, and others in the leftwing of the Second International. In the real struggle of the proletariat, as opposed to the theory of revolutionary syndicalism, workers’ councils displaced the trade unions as the unitary organization of the working class. This new type of organization united workers from all industries in a given territorial area for the revolutionary confrontation with the ruling class and constituted the “historically discovered form of the dictatorship of the proletariat” (to use Lenin’s expression).  Equally importantly, the experience of 1905 showed that the mass unitary organization of the working class in its struggle for power could not maintain itself as a permanent organization within capitalism once that struggle had been – temporarily – defeated. While the founding IWW convention expressed its solidarity with the 1905 struggle of the Russian proletariat, the theoretical work elaborating the significance of the Russian experience was completely lost on the IWW, which never recognized the significance of the changed period or of the workers councils, and continued to laud “industrial unionism [as] the road to freedom.”[7] 

The failure to learn from the real, concrete experience of 1905, or even to take any notice of the theoretical developments taking place within the left wing of the Social Democracy (which would later become the backbone of the Communist International), was only a particularly damaging aspect of the fact that, in general, the theoretical work of the IWW was extremely weak. The theoretical aspects of the propaganda published by the IWW for the most part repeated basic Marxist conceptions pertaining to surplus value, the conflict between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie, but failed to take account of the deepening and further elaboration of Marxist theory undertaken by the leftwing of Social-Democracy. On the historic level the IWW added little or nothing to the theory of Marxism or even to the theory of syndicalism. As historian Melvyn Dubofsky has noted, the IWW “offered no genuinely original ideas, no sweeping explanations of social change, no fundamental theories of revolution.”[8] Its critique of capitalism never transcended a visceral hatred of the system’s exploitation and oppression, and never attempted to examine the nuances and intricacies of capitalist development and understand the significance of the consequent changing conditions under which the working class waged its struggles.

One disastrous exception to the avoidance of theoretical elaboration was the IWW’s effort to explain more deeply its conception of “direct action”, which led to a naïve theoretical advocacy and defense of “sabotage” in the class struggle, a term which made it vulnerable to charges of terrorism. The IWW’s definition of sabotage excluded the taking of human life, but it confounded a broad range of activities that could be considered routine tactics in the daily class struggle, such as mass work-to-rule slowdowns or “open mouth sabotage” in which workers make public embarrassing company secrets, with purely individual actions that had more in common with the anarchists’ petty bourgeois notion of “propaganda by the deed” than with working class methods of mass struggle. For example, the IWW defended an incident in a Chicago theatre, in which someone “simply dropped some vile smelling chemicals upon the floor during the performance and then made a quiet and speedy exit.”[9] Some IWW soap box orators demagogically advocated the use of bombs and dynamite. Finding it difficult to reconcile the glorification of sabotage by individual or small groups of workers with its commitment to mass struggle, the IWW resolved the contradiction by declaring it did not exist: “Individual acts of sabotage, performed to the end that class benefit be derived, can in no way militate against solidarity. Rather they promote unity. The saboteur involves no one but himself and is impelled to take the risk by reason of his strong class desires.” [10]   

Hesitation in the face of war

Moments of war and revolution are historically determinant for organizations that claim to defend proletarian class interests, a litmus test revealing their true class nature. In this sense, the outbreak of World War I in August 1914 revealed the betrayal of the major parties of the Social Democracy in Europe who rallied to the side of their respective bourgeoisies, supported the global imperialist war, turned their backs on the principles of proletarian internationalism and opposition to imperialist war, participated in the mobilization of the proletariat for the slaughter, and in so doing crossed the class line to the camp of the bourgeoisie.

For its part, the IWW had nothing but contempt for patriotism. In their words, “of all the idiotic and perverted ideas accepted by the workers from that class who live upon their misery, patriotism is the worst.” The Wobblies adhered formally to principles of proletarian internationalism, and opposed the war. In 1914, shortly after war erupted in Europe, the IWW convention adopted a resolution that stated, “…the industrial movement will wipe out all boundaries and establish an international relationship between all races engaged in  industry…We, as members of the industrial army, will refuse to fight for any purpose except for the realization of industrial freedom.” In 1916, the 10th Annual Convention adopted a resolution that committed the organization to a program advocating “anti-militarist propaganda in time of peace, thus promoting Class Solidarity among the workers of the entire world, and, in time of war, the General Strike in all industries.[11]  

But when US imperialism entered the war on the side of the Allies in April 1917, the IWW failed miserably to put its internationalism and anti-militarism into practice. Instead the organization lapsed into a centrist hesitancy, characterized by caution and inaction. Unlike the AFL, the IWW never endorsed the war or participated in mobilizing the proletariat for the slaughter. But neither did it take up an active opposition to the war. Unlike the socialists, it never even adopted a resolution denouncing the war. Instead, antiwar pamphlets like The Deadly Parallel were withdrawn from circulation. IWW soapbox speakers stopped agitating against war. Representing the views of a majority of the General Executive Board, Haywood regarded the war as a distraction from the class struggle and the more important work of building the union and feared that active opposition to the war would open the IWW up to repression.[12] Solidarity editor Ben Williams lashed out at what he termed “meaningless” anti-war gestures. “In the case of war,” wrote Williams, “we want the One Big Union (…) to come out of the conflict stronger and with more industrial control than previously. Why should we sacrifice working class interests for the sake of a few noisy and impotent parades or antiwar demonstrations? Let us rather get on with the job of organizing the working class to take over the industries, war or no war, and stop all future capitalist aggression that leads to war and other forms of barbarism.[13]  Here was the fruit of accumulated confusions: the IWW did not understand the significance of the world war, the dawn of the age of war or revolution and the changed conditions of class struggle that accompanied it; nor did the organization understand its tasks as a revolutionary organization (a party in fact) but instead focused on its outdated role as a mass membership union with the perspective of growth in a business as usual framework.

Despite the promise of their 1916 resolution to “extend assurances of both moral and material support to all workers who suffer at the hands of the capitalist class for their adherence to these [anti-war] principles”, individual militants who faced a choice of submitting to conscription into the imperialist war or resisting were told that it was an individual decision, and received no organizational support. Many IWW leaders were correctly opposed to interclassist anti-war demonstrations and organizations and accurately argued that the IWW did not have sufficient influence within the proletariat to organize a successful antiwar general strike. However, they appeared equally unwilling to seek ways in which they could find a way to oppose the imperialist war on the working class terrain. In a letter to Frank Little, a leader of the anti-war faction on the General Executive Board, Haywood counseled, “Keep a cool head; do not talk. A good many feel as you do but the world war is of small importance compared to the great class war (…) .I am at a loss as to definite steps to be taken against the war.[14] This advice (which represented the majority view in the GEB) expressed a complete underestimation of the significance of the historic period ushered in by the world war and left the IWW totally disarmed in the face of the coming state repression.

James Slovick, secretary of the IWW’s Maritime Transport Union wrote to Haywood in February 1917 before the US entered the war and recommended preparations for a general strike against the coming war, even if it meant risking the destruction of the organization. Presciently, Slovick was convinced that the bourgeoisie would use the war as a pretext for an all out attack on the IWW whether it took action against the war or not. He contended that an antiwar general strike would have historical importance and demonstrate that the IWW was the only workers’ organization in the world to fight to end the butchery, urging that an emergency IWW convention be convened to decide the matter. Haywood deflected the request: “Of course, it is impossible for this office (…) to take action on your individual initiative. However, I place your communication on the file for future reference.”  In the face of the bourgeoisie’s preparations for entry into the global imperialist slaughter, a request for an emergency convention of the Continental Congress of the working class to discuss an appropriate proletarian response was filed for future reference! By none other than the firebrand Big Bill Haywood!  All because opposing the imperialist butchery would might disrupt the work of building the union!

 For his part, Frank Little regarded the imperialist war as capitalism’s gravest crime against the world working class and advocated a campaign against conscription. He argued, The IWW is opposed to all wars and we must use all our power to prevent the workers from joining the army.” Against those who warned that opposition to conscription would provoke state repression and doom the IWW, Little responded, “Better to go out in a blaze of glory than give in.[15] Little’s voice in the internal IWW debate was silenced when he was murdered by management thugs during a miners’ strike in Montana in the summer of 1917. But even this view, while it had the merit of a steadfast defense of proletarian internationalism, suffered from political naivety in its fatalistic acceptance of repression.

Instead of attacking the war, and preparing its leadership and militants for clandestine activity, the IWW focused on union building efforts, organizing struggles in industries deemed vulnerable to pressure, apparently determined that if they were to be attacked by the government it would be for something important like fighting for better wages, rather than against the war. In an irony of history, it was the IWW, which consciously chose not to actively fight against the war once the US had entered the conflict, and not the socialist parties that opposed the war, that was targeted for repression. While individual socialists, like Eugene Debs who had spoken openly against conscription, were arrested and imprisoned, only the IWW, as an organization, faced indictment for conspiracy to sabotage the war effort. In this sense the war provided a pretext for the bourgeoisie to take revenge on the IWW for its past activities and for the fear it inspired. Indeed, we can perhaps say that the American bourgeoisie was more aware than the IWW’s leaders themselves of the danger that the organization represented. One hundred and sixty-five IWW leaders were indicted on September 28, 1917 on charges of obstructing the war effort and conscription, and conspiring to sabotage and interfere with the normal contractual economic functioning in society. The government was so intent on exploiting this opportunity to decapitate the IWW, that it even indicted people who were already dead or had left the organization long before the US entered the war. For example, among the indicted Wobblies were:

  • Frank Little, who had been murdered in August 1917;
  • Gurley Flynn and Joseph Ettor who had been expelled from the organization in 1916, long before the US entered the war;
  • Vincent St. John, who had resigned from the organization, left politics, and gone off to prospect in the New Mexico desert in 1914.

At the Great Trial, the Wobbly defendants argued that they had not tried to interfere with the war effort. They pointed out that of the 521 wartime labor strikes, only three were organized by the IWW, the rest by the AFL. In his testimony, Haywood disowned the views of Frank Little, and pointed out that anti-war literature such as Deadly Parallel and the Sabotage pamphlet had been withdrawn from circulation once the US entered the war.

Despite the fact they were innocent of the charges, the Wobblies were convicted after less than an hour of jury deliberation, and the bulk of the IWW’s leadership were sent off to Leavenworth in chains. The organization fell under the control of decentralizing anarcho-syndicalists and went into decline, despite its involvement in general strikes in Winnipeg, Canada and Seattle, and important struggles in Butte Montana, and Toledo, Ohio.

The failure of the IWW

The romanticized image of the Wobbly organizer persists even today in American culture, an image of a rugged, itinerant revolutionary, who hops freight trains and hoboes from town to town, propagandizing and agitating for the One Big Union – a proletarian knight in shining armor. This model of the revolutionary as an exemplary individual figure, so appealing to the anarchist temperament, is of no interest to the proletariat. The class struggle is not waged by isolated, heroic individuals, but by the collective effort of the working class, a class that is both an exploited and  a revolutionary class, whose strength is not found in the brilliance of individuals but in the capacity of masses of workers to come to consciousness, to discuss and debate, and to take unified action.

Despite the IWW’s well-founded antagonism to political opportunism and parliamentary cretinism, the theoretical inadequacies characteristic of revolutionary syndicalism left it incapable of understanding the political tasks of the proletariat. The IWW militated in an extremely significant period in the history of the class struggle. It was a period in which world capitalism reached its historic apogee, became a fetter on the further development of the productive forces, and entered its decadent phase. No longer a historically progressive system, capitalism became ripe for revolutionary overthrow and replacement by a new mode of production controlled by the world working class. It was a period in which the proletariat, through its experiences in Russia in 1905, discovered the mass strike as a means to wage its struggle and the workers’ councils as the means to organize its revolutionary class dictatorship and to accomplish the transformation of society. It was a period in which decadent capitalism placed the historic choice of war or revolution before humanity, not as an abstract question, but as an immediate practical issue. These events and struggles gave impetus to a tremendous theoretical undertaking by the leftwing of the Social-Democracy to understand the forces in play, to draw the rapidly emerging lessons of class struggle, and to help shape the way forward. But in the midst of this swirl of historic events and theoretical elaboration, the IWW’s vision of class struggle and revolution remained mired in the framework of the trade unionist debate between craft and industrial unionism that characterized ascendant capitalism and which no longer corresponded to the tasks confronting the proletariat under capitalist decadence.

In the face of the first imperialist world war, the global conflagration that forced those who claimed to defend revolutionary principles and proletarian internationalism to reveal their true class nature, the IWW’s much vaunted internationalism collapsed into hesitancy and centrism. The majority of its leadership, including Haywood regarded the imperialist world war and resistance to that butchery not as a defining moment in the class struggle but rather as a distraction from the “real” work of building the union. In a twist of irony, notwithstanding the IWW’s hesitancy to struggle against World War I, the American ruling class seized the moment as an opportunity to use the organization’s past revolutionary rhetoric against it, and unleashed an unprecedented repressive attack against it,  which essentially decapitated it and confined it to the status of an anarcho-syndicalist cult ever after.

Any organization that clings to theoretical conceptions invalidated by history and by concrete experience is condemned either to disappear or to survive as a sect, incapable of understanding, much less of influencing, the class struggle. A vestigial anarchist sect that still calls itself the IWW celebrated its centenary last year but has no capacity whatever to contribute positively to the revolutionary struggle. The best militants in the IWW were lost to state repression at the end of World War I and to the new communist parties after it. The Russian Revolution held a tremendous attraction for the non-anarchists in the IWW, “drawing adherents like flies.”[16] Prominent Wobblies who moved towards the newly founded Communist Party included Harrison George, George Mink, Elizabeth Gurley Flynn, John Reed, Harold Harvey, George Hardy, Charles Ashleigh, Ray Brown, and Earl Browder – some of whom later became Stalinists. Big Bill Haywood also moved towards communism, even if he remained in the IWW until he fled to exile in Russia in 1922.  Big Bill Haywood had told Ralph Chaplin, ‘the Russian Revolution is the greatest event in our lives. It represents all that we have been dreaming of and fighting for all our lives. It is the dawn of freedom and industrial democracy.”[17] Haywood became disillusioned with the Russian Revolution, in part because he was disappointed that the revolution did not take a syndicalist form, but a comment he made to Max Eastman succinctly summed up the failure of the IWW’s revolutionary syndicalism, of which he was such an important architect: “The IWW reached out and grabbed an armful. It tried to grab the whole world and a part of the world has jumped ahead of it.[18]  

There is no doubt that the revolutionary syndicalists of the IWW were profoundly dedicated to their class, but their response to opportunism, reformism and parliamentary cretinism was completely off the mark. Their industrial unionism and revolutionary syndicalism did not correspond to the historic period. The world had “jumped ahead of it” and left it far behind.

The organizational failure to understand what politics really means for the working class and to realize that their role was fundamentally that of a political party led to the great failure of the IWW faced with the imperialist war. First the organization as a whole failed completely to give a political leadership to the proletariat against the war. Second, the utter failure to understand what the war meant on the historic level in the development of capitalism led the leadership to trust in bourgeois democracy and “due process of law” at the Great IWW Trial. As a result the IWW was essentially smashed, its treasury depleted, its leading militants imprisoned or in exile, and this left it incapable of playing its part in throwing the immense weight of the American proletariat into the balance in support of the revolution in Russia.



[1] Socialist Party of America (SPA). For more details on this and on other organisations and personalities mentioned in this article, see Part 1 in International Review n°124.

[2] Miners’ Magazine, VI (February 23, 1905) p. 3 cited in Dubofsky, Melvyn, We shall be all: a history of the Industrial Workers of the World, Urbana and Chicago, IL: University of Illinois Press, 2nd edition, 1988, p. 83

[3] Dubofsky, pp.  83-85

[4] The IWW and Political Parties by Vincent St John, date unknown, transcribed by J. D. Crutchfield.

[5] See the previous article in International Review n°124.

[6] “What is Revolutionary Syndicalism?” in International Review n°118, p. 23

[7] Ettor, Joseph, Industrial Unionism: The Road to Freedom, 1913.

[8] Dubofsky, Melvyn, p.147

[9] Smith, Walker C. Sabotage: Its History, Philosophy and Function,  1913

[10] ibid.

[11] Proceedings of the Tenth Annual Convention of the IWW, Chicago, 1916, p. 110

[12] Renshaw, Patrick, The Wobblies, Garden City: Doubleday, 1967 p. 217 citing letters, minutes and other IWW documents presented in the US Circuit Court of Appeals, 7th District, October 1919.

[13] Solidarity, Feb. 17, 1917, p. 4, quoted in Dubofsky, p. 353

[14] Haywood to Little, May 6, 1917 quoted in Renshaw, p. 217

[15] Renshaw, p. 212 citing evidence and cross-examination of Haywood in “US v. William D. Haywood”.

[16] Cannon, James P. The IWW: The Great Infatuation, New York: Pioneer Press, 1955 p. 39

[17] Conlin, Bread and Roses Too, p. 146 quoting Ralph Cahplin, Wobbly: the Rough and Tumble Story of an American Radical, University of Chicago University Press, 1948, p. 298

[18] Conlin, Bread and Roses, p. 147, quoting Eastman, Bill Haywood, p. 14



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