The IWW and the Profintern

The exchange between the USSR directed Red International of Labour Unions (a.k.a. the Profintern) and the IWW.

The Communist Internationale to the I.W.W. - an appeal of the Executive Committee of the Third Internationale at Moscow

Source: To the I.W.W., A Special Message from the Communist International
First Published: by Guido Baracchi and Percy Laidler, Proletarian Publishing Association, Melbourne, 1920;

Foreword by Tom Glynn (September 15, 1920):

The following manifesto, issued by the Central Executive Committee of the Third International to the American I.W.W. in January of this year, should receive the careful attention of all ex-I.W.W. men and Industrial Unionists in Australia. It will be noticed that the view of those who hold that the industrial organisation is all-sufficient to accomplish a social and economic revolution is not shared by the Third International. Certainly the experience of Russia would indicate the necessity of something more than the industrial weapon for combating the internal and external machinations of the capitalist class during the transition period towards a Communist social order; but the view that the Industrial Union shall ultimately be the unit of administration in the Communist State remains unchallenged. Perhaps the one proposition in the manifesto which all will endorse is that which embraces the idea that the capitalist system is marching so rapidly towards utter collapse that the old idea, held by the I.W.W., of “building the new society within the shell of the old,” can no longer be maintained.

This however by no means implies that the Industrial Union with a revolutionary objective is of secondary importance; the manifesto emphasises its absolute necessity. Whether or not we endorse all the views put forward in this document, none will deny that it contains some “meat” worthy of careful mastication and digestion, by all students of the World Revolution.

The appeal, by G. Zinoviev, President of the Central Executive Committee, January 1920:

COMRADES AND FELLOW-WORKERS! – The Executive Committee of the Communist Internationale in session at Moscow, the heart of the Russian Revolution, greets the revolutionary American proletariat in the ranks of the Industrial Workers of the World.

Capitalism, ruined by the World War, unable any longer to contain within itself the tremendous forces it has created, is breaking down.

The hour of the working class has struck. The Social Revolution has begun, and here, on the Russian plain, the first vanguard battle is being fought.

History does not ask whether we like it or not, whether the workers are ready or not. Here is the opportunity. Take it – and the world will belong to the workers; leave it – there may not be another for generations.


An article in “THE ONE BIG UNION MONTHLY.” your official organ, asks: “Why should we follow the Bolsheviks?” According to the writer, all that the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia has done is “to give the Russian people the vote.”

That is, of course, untrue. The Bolshevik Revolution has taken the factories, mills, mines, land and financial institutions out of the hands of the capitalists and transferred them to the WHOLE WORKING CLASS.

We understand, and share with you, your disgust for the principles and tactics of the “yellow” Socialist politicians, who, all over the world, have discredited the very name of Socialism. Our aim is the same as yours – a commonwealth without State, without Government, without classes, in which the workers shall administer the means of production and distribution for the common benefit of all.

We address this letter to you, fellow-workers of the I.W.W in recognition of your long and heroic service in the class war, of which you have borne the brunt in your own country, so that you may clearly understand our Communist principles and programme.

We appeal to you, as revolutionists, to rally to the Communist Internationale, born in the dawn of the World Social Revolution.

We call you to take the place to which your courage and revolutionary experience entitles you, in the front ranks of the proletarian Red Army, fighting under the banner of Communism.

The American capitalist class is revealing itself in its true colours.

The constantly rising cost of living, the growing unemployment, the savage repression of all efforts of the workers to better their condition, the deportation and imprisonment of “Bolsheviks,” the series of anti-strike laws, “criminal syndicalist” laws, “red flag” laws, and laws against propaganda advocating the “forcible overthrow of government and the unlawful destruction of property” – all these measures can have but one meaning for every intelligent worker.

Industrial slavery is as old as capitalism itself, and before that there were other forms of slavery for the workers.


Either this, or the dictatorship of the working class – there is no other alternative. And the workers must choose NOW.

Capitalism is making desperate efforts to reconstruct its shattered world. The workers must seize by force the power of the State and reconstruct society in their own interests.

Before the American Civil War the negro slaves of the South were bound to the land. The industrial capitalists of the North, who needed a floating population to operate their factories, declared slavery to be an outrage, and abolished it by force. Now the industrial capitalists are attempting to bind the workers to the factories.

In every country during the World War it was practically forbidden for the workers to strike, or even to stop work. You will remember the “Work, or Fight'’ laws in your own country.

And now that the war is over, what has happened? The cost of living has gone up and up, while the capitalists have actually tried to reduce wages. And when the workers, faced by starvation, are forced to strike, the whole power of the State is mobilised to drive them back to the machines. When the railway shopmen walked out the United States Marshal of California threatened to bring in Federal troops to force them to work. When the Railroad Brotherhoods demanded higher wages or the rationalisation of the railways, the President of the United States menaced them with the full-armed power of the Government. When the United Mine Workers laid down their tools, thousands of soldiers occupied the mines, and the Court issued the most sweeping injunction in history, forbidding the Union leaders from sending out the strike order or in any way assisting in conducting the strike, and forcibly the payment of strike benefits. And, finally, the Attorney-General of the United States declared officially that the Government would not permit strikes in “industries necessary to the community.”

Judge Gary, head of the Steel Trust, can refuse the demand of the President of the United States to meet a committee of his steel workers, but when the workers dare to go on a strike for a living wage and the elementary right to join a union, they are called Bolsheviks and shot down in the streets by the Pennsylvania Cossacks.

And you, fellow-workers of the I.W.W with your bitter memories of Everett, of Tulsa, of Wheatland, of Centralia, in which your comrades were butchered, with your thousands in prison – you who nevertheless must do the “dirty work” in the harvest fields, on the docks, in the forests – you must see plainly the process by which the capitalists, by means of their weapon, the State, are trying to inaugurate the Slave Society.

Everywhere the capitalists cry: “More production! More production!'’ In other words, the workers must do more work for less wages, so that their blood and sweat may be turned into gold to pay the war debts of the ruined capitalist world.

In order to accomplish this the workers must no longer have the right to leave their jobs; they must be forbidden to organise so that they may be able to wring concessions from the bosses, or profit by capitalist competition. At all costs the Labour Movement must be halted and broken.

To save the old system of exploitation the capitalists must unite and chain the workers to the machines of industry.

Will the capitalists be able to do this?

They will, unless the workers declare war on the whole capitalist system, overthrow the capitalist Governments and set up a Government of the working class, which shall destroy the institution of capitalist private property and make all wealth the property of all the workers in common.

This is what the Russian workers have done, and this is the ONLY WAY for the workers of other countries to free themselves from industrial slavery, and to make over the world so that the worker shall get ALL HE PRODUCES, and nobody shall be able to make money out of the labour of other men.

But unless the workers of other countries rise against their own capitalists the Russian Revolution cannot last. The capitalists of the entire world, realising the danger of the example of Soviet Russia, have united to crush it. The Allies have quickly forgotten their hatred for Germany and have invited the German capitalists to join them in the common cause.

And the workers of other countries are beginning to understand. In Italy, Germany, France and England the tide of revolution is rising. In America, too, even the Conservative members of the A.F. of L. are realising that strikes for higher wages and better conditions don’t mean anything, because the cost of living is always higher and higher. They have proposed all sorts of remedies, reforms, such as the Plumb Plan, nationalisation of mines, etc. They have founded a so-called “Labour Party,” which works for municipal and Government ownership of industry, more democratic electoral machinery, etc.


The social revolution has begun, and the first battle is on in Russia. It will not wait for the workers to experiment with reforms. The capitalists have already destroyed the Hungarian Soviet Republic. If they can dominate and break the Labour movement in other countries, then will follow the industrial Slave State.

BEFORE IT IS TOO LATE the class-conscious workers of the world must prepare to meet the shock of the capitalist assault, to attack and destroy capitalism and root it out of the world.

The war and its aftermath have revealed with startling clearness the real function of the capitalist State – with its legislatures, courts of justice, police, armies and bureaucrats.

The State is used to defend and strengthen the power of the capitalists and to oppress the workers. This is particularly true in the United States, whose constitution was framed by the great merchants, speculators and land-owners, with the deliberate purpose of protecting their class interests against the majority of the people.


The I.W.W. should realise this more clearly than any other body of workers, for it has been savagely persecuted by the Government – its leaders imprisoned, its papers suppressed, its members deported, jailed on false charge., refused bail, tortured, its headquarters closed and its propaganda made illegal in many states.

Any worker can see this fact with his own eyes. All the people vote for governors, mayors, judges and sheriffs, but in time of strike the governor calls in the militia to protect the scabs, the mayor orders the police to beat up and arrest pickets, the judge imprisons the workers for “rioting,” or “disturbing the peace,” and the sheriff hires THUGS AS DEPUTIES, to break the strike.

Capitalist society all together presents a solid front against the worker. The priest tells the worker to be contented; the Press curses him for a “Bolshevik”; the policeman arrests him; the court sentences him to jail; the sheriff seizes his furniture for debt; and the poorhouse takes his wife and children.

In order to destroy capitalism the workers must first wrest the State power out of the hands of the capitalist class. They must not only SEIZE this power, but ABOLISH THE OLD CAPITALIST STATE APPARATUS ENTIRELY.

For the experience of revolutions has shown that the workers cannot take hold of the State machine and use it for their own purposes – such as the Yellow Socialist politicians propose to do. The capitalist State is built to serve capitalism, and that is all it can do, no matter who is running it.

And in place of the capitalist State the workers must build their own WORKERS’ STATE, the Dictatorship of the Proletariat.

Many members of the I.W.W. do not agree with this. They are against “the State in general.” They propose to overthrow the capitalist State and to establish in its place immediately the Industrial Commonwealth.

The Communists are also opposed to the “State.” They also wish to abolish it – to substitute for the government of men the administration of things.

But unfortunately this cannot be done immediately. The destruction of the capitalist State does not mean that capitalism automatically and immediately disappears. The capitalists still have arms, which must be taken away from them; they are still supported by hordes of loyal bureaucrats, managers, superintendents, foremen and trained men of all sorts, who will sabotage industry – and these must be persuaded or compelled to serve the working class; they still have army officers who can betray the revolution, preachers who can raise superstitious fears against it, teachers and orators who can misrepresent it to the ignorant thugs can be hired to discredit it by evil behaviour, newspaper editors who can deceive the people with floods lies and “yellow” Socialists and Labour fakers prefer capitalist “democracy” to the revolution. All these people must be sternly repressed.

To break down the capitalist State, to crush capitalist resistance and disarm the capitalist class, to confiscate capitalist property and turn it over to the WHOLE WORKING CLASS IN COMMON – for all these tasks a Government is necessary – a State, the Dictatorship of the Proletariat, in which the workers, through their Soviets, can uproot the capitalist system with an iron hand.

This is exactly what exists in Soviet Russia to-day.

BUT THIS DICTATORSHIP OF THE PROLETARIAT IS ONLY TEMPORARY. We Communists also want to abolish the State. The State can only exist as long as there is class struggle. The function of the Proletarian Dictatorship is to abolish the capitalist class as a class; in fact, to do away with all class divisions of every kind, And when this condition is reached, then the PROLETARIAN DICTATORSHIP, THE STATE, AUTOMATICALLY DISAPPEARS – to make way for an industrial administrative body, which will be something like the General Executive Board of the I.W.W.

In a recent leaflet Mary Marcy argues that although the I.W.W. does not theoretically recognise the necessity for the Dictatorship of the Proletariat, it will be forced to do so IN FACT at the time of the revolution, in order to suppress the capitalist counter revolution.

This is true, but unless the I.W.W. acknowledges beforehand the necessity of the Workers’ State, and prepares for it, there will he confusion and weakness at a time when firmness and swift action are imperative.

What will be the form of the Workers’ State?

We have before us the example of the Russian Soviet Republic, whose structure, in view of the conflicting reports printed in other countries, it may be useful to describe briefly here.

The unit of government is the local Soviet, or Council, of Workers’, Red Army and Peasants’ Deputies.

The city Workers’ Soviet is made up as follows:

Each factory elects one delegate for a certain number of workers, and each local union elects delegates. These delegates are elected according to political parties – or, if the workers wish it, as individual candidates.

The Red Army delegates are chosen by military units.

For the peasants, each village has its local Soviet, which sends delegates to the township Soviet, which in turn elects to the county Soviet, and this to the provincial Soviet.

Nobody who employs labor for profit can vote.

Every six months the city and provincial Soviets elect delegates to the All-Russia Congress of Soviets, which is the supreme governing body of the country. This Congress decides upon the policies which are to govern the country for six months and then elects a Central Executive Committee of two hundred, which is to carry out these policies. The Congress also elects the Cabinet, the Council of People’s Commissars, who are heads of Government departments – or People’s Commissariats.

The People’s Commissars can be recalled at any time by the Central Executive Committee. The members of all Soviets can be recalled very easily, and at any time, by their constituents.

These Soviets are not only LEGISLATIVE bodies, but also EXECUTIVE organs. Unlike your Congress, they do not make the laws and leave them to the president to carry out, but the members carry out the laws themselves; and there is no Supreme Court to say whether or not these laws are “constitutional.”

Between the All-Russia Congresses of Soviets the Central Executive Committee is the SUPREME POWER in Russia. It meets at least every two months, and in the meanwhile the Council of People’s Commissars directs the country, while the members of the Central Executive Committee go to work in the various Government departments.

In Russia the workers are organised in industrial unions, all the workers in each industry belonging to one union. For example, in a factory making metal products, even the carpenters and painters are members of the Metal Workers’ Union. Each factory is a Local Union, and the Shop Committee elected by the workers is its Executive Committee.

The All-Russia Central Executive Committee of the federated Unions is elected by the annual Trade Union Convention. A Scale Committee elected by the Convention fixes the wages of all categories of workers, With very few exceptions, all important factories in Russia have been nationalised and are now the property of all the workers in common. The business of the Unions is therefore no longer to fight the capitalist, but to RUN INDUSTRY.

Hand in hand with the Unions works the Department of Labour of the Soviet Government, whose chief is the People’s Commissar of Labour, elected by the Soviet Congress. with the approval of the Unions.

In charge of the economic life of the country is the elected Supreme Council of People’s Economy, divided into departments, such as metal department, chemical department, etc., each one headed by experts and workers, appointed with the approval of the ‘Union. by the Supreme Council of People’s Economy.

In each factory production is carried on by a committee consisting of three members: a representative of the Shop Committee, a representative of the Central Executive Committee of the Unions, and a representative of the Supreme Council of People’s Economy.


It is also the most democratic government in history. For all the organs of government are in constant touch with the worker masses and constantly sensitive to their will. Moreover, the local Soviet – all over Russia have complete autonomy to manage their own local affairs, provided they carry out the national policies laid down by the Soviet Congress. Also, the Soviet Government represents ONLY THE WORKERS, and cannot help but act in the workers’ interest.

Many members of the I.W.W. are opposed to centralisation, because they do not think it can be democratic. But where there are great masses of people it is impossible to register the will of individuals; only the will of majorities can be registered, and in Soviet Russia the government is administered only for the common good of the working class.

The private property of the capitalist class, in order to become the SOCIAL property of the workers, cannot be turned over to individuals or groups of individuals. It must become the property of ALL IN COMMON, and a centralised authority is necessary to accomplish this change.

The industries, too, which supply the needs of all the people, are not the CONCERN only OF the worker., in each industry, but of ALL IN COMMON, and must be administered for the benefit of all. Moreover, modern industry is so complicated and interdependent that in order to operate most economically and with the greatest production it must be subject to one, general scheme and one central management.

The Revolution must be defended against the formidable assaults of the combined forces: of capitalism. Vast armies must be raised, drilled, equipped and directed. This means, centralisation, Soviet Russia has for two years almost alone fought off the attacks of the capitalist world. How could the Red Army, more than two million strong, have been formed without central directing authority?

The capitalist class has a strongly centralised organisation, which permits its full strength to be hurled against the scattered and divided sections of the working class. The war is war. To overthrow capitalism the workers must be a military force, with its General Staff – but this General Staff elected and controlled by the workers.

In time of strike every worker knows that there must be a Strike Committee – a centralised organ to conduct the strike, whose orders must be obeyed – although this committee is elected and controlled by the rank and file. SOVIET RUSSIA IS ON STRIKE AGAINST THE WHOLE CAPITALIST WORLD. THE SOCIAL REVOLUTION IS A GENERAL STRIKE AGAINST THE WHOLE CAPITALIST SYSTEM. THE DICTATORSHIP OF THE PROLETARIAT IS THE STRIKE COMMITTEE OF THE SOCIAL REVOLUTION.

Probably the coming proletarian revolutions in America and other countries will develop new forms of organisation. The Bolsheviki do not pretend that they have said the final word in the Social Revolution. Put the experience of two years of workers’ government in Russia is naturally of the greatest importance, and should be closely studied by the workers of other countries.

The word “politics” is to many members of the I.WW. like a red flag to a bull – or a capitalist. Politics, to them, means simply politicians – usually “yellow” Socialist candidates trying to catch votes to elect them to some comfortable office, where they can comfortably forget all about the workers.

These “anti-political” fellow-workers oppose the Communists because they call themselves a “political party,” and sometimes take part in political campaigns.

This is using the word “politics” in too narrow a sense. One of the principles upon which the I.W.W. was founded is expressed in the saying of Karl Marx: “EVERY CLASS STRUGGLE IS A POLITICAL STRUGGLE.” That is to say, every struggle of the workers against the capitalists is a struggle of the workers for the POLITICAL power – the State power.

This is the sense in which we Communists also use the word “politics.”

The “yellow” Socialists believe that they can gradually gain this political power by using the political machinery of the capitalist State to win reforms, and when they have elected a majority of the members of Congress and the Legislatures, and the president, governors, mayors and sheriffs, they can proceed to use the State power to legislate capitalism peacefully out and the Industrial Commonwealth in.

This leads the “yellow” Socialists to preach all sorts of reforms of the capitalist system, draws to their ranks small capitalists – and political adventurers of all kinds, and finally causes them to make deals and compromises with the capitalist class.

The I.W.W. does not believe in this and NEITHER DO THE COMMUNISTS.

We Communists do not think that it is possible to capture the State power by using the political machinery of the capitalist State. The State being the particular weapon of the capitalist class, its machinery is naturally constructed so as to defend and strengthen the power of capitalism. Capitalist control of all agencies moulding public opinion – Press, schools, churches and LABOUR FAKERS, capitalist control of the ‘workers’ political conduct through control of their means of living, make it extremely improbable that the workers under the present capitalist “democracy” could ever legally elect a government devoted to their interests.

And at this time, when the capitalist class the world over is launching a desperate campaign of repression against all conscious working-class organisation, it is unthinkable.

But even if it were possible for the workers to win the State power by means of the political machinery, the capitalist State could never be used to introduce the Industrial Commonwealth. The real source of capitalist power lies in CAPITALIST OWNERSHIP AND CONTROL OF THE MEANS OF PRODUCTION. The capitalist State exists for the purpose of protecting and extending this ownership and control – it cannot therefore be used to destroy it.

So far the Communists and the I.W.W. are in accord. The capitalist State must be attacked by DIRECT ACTION. This, in the correct meaning of the word, is also POLITICAL action, for it has a POLITICAL aim – the seizure of State power.

The I.W.W. proposes to attain this end by the General Strike. The Communists go farther. History indicates clearly that the General Strike is not enough. The capitalists have arms – and the experience with White Guards in Russia, Finland and Germany proves that they have sufficient organisation and training to use these arms against the workers. Moreover, the capitalists possess stores of food, which enable them to hold out longer than the workers, ALWAYS ON THE VERGE OF ACTUAL WANT.

The Communists also advocate the General Strike, but they add that it must turn into ARMED INSURRECTION. Both the General Strike and the insurrection are forms of POLITICAL ACTION.

If this is so, if the Communists do not believe in capturing State power by means of the ballot-box, why do the Communist parties participate in elections, and nominate candidates for office?

The question of whether or not Communists should participate in elections is of secondary importance. Some Communist organisations do, others do not. But those who do act on the political field do so only for propaganda. Political campaigns give an opportunity for revolutionists to speak to the working class, pointing out the class character of the State and THEIR class interests as workers. They enable them to show the futility of reforms, to demonstrate the real interests which dominate the capitalist – and “yellow” Socialist – political parties, and to point out why the entire capitalist system must be overthrown.

Communists elected to Congress or the legislatures have as their function to make propaganda; to ceaselessly expose the real nature of the capitalist State, to obstruct the operations of capitalist government and show their class character, to explain the futility of all capitalist reform measures, etc. In the halls of the legislative assembly, against the soundingboard of the nation, the Communist can show up capitalist brutality and call the workers to revolt.

Karl Liebknecht showed what a Communist in the Parliament can do. His words, spoken in the German Reichstag, were heard around the world.

Others in Russia, in Sweden (Hoglund), and in other countries have done the same things.

The most common objection to electing candidates to capitalist legislatures is that, no matter how good revolutionists they are, they will invariably be corrupted by their environment and will betray the workers.

This belief is born of long experience, chiefly with Socialist politicians and LABOUR FAKERS. But we Communists say that a REALLY REVOLUTIONARY PARTY WILL ELECT REAL REVOLUTIONISTS, AND WILL KNOW HOW TO KEEP THEM UNDER ITS CONTROL.

Many members of the I.W.W. are bitterly opposed to making ANY use of legislatures and other Government institutions for purposes of propaganda. But the I.W.W. as an organisation has often used them. In the Lawrence Strike of 1912 the I.W.W. made good use EVEN OF VICTOR BERGER, THE SOCIALIST CONGRESSMAN, who advertised the strike and the I.W.W. on the floor of the House of Representatives,. William D. Haywood, Vincent St. John and many other I.W.W. leaders voluntarily testified before the Industrial Relations Commission of the United States Government, ‘using this method to make propaganda for their organisation. But the most striking example of using the political machinery of the State for purposes of propaganda occurred in 1918, when the Federal Court in Chicago was turned into a three-months-long I.W.W. agitation meeting – extremely valuable for us – by the one hundred I.W.W. leaders on trial there.

These are all cases of using the political machinery of the capitalist State to make revolutionary propaganda among the masses. This method of propaganda should be used as circumstances dictate – as should parliamentary action. NO weapon should be totally condemned.

The special and particular business of the I.W.W. is to train the workers for the seizure and management of industry. The special function of the Communist political party is to train the workers for the capture of political power and the administration of the Proletarian Dictatorship. All workers should at the same time be of the revolutionary industrial union of their industry, and of the political party which advocates Communism.

The aim or the I.W.W. is “to build the new society within the shell of the old.” means, to organise the workers so thoroughly, that at a given time the capitalist system be burst asunder and the Industrial Commonwealth, fully developed, shall take its place.

Such an act requires the organisation and discipline of the great majority of the workers. Before the war there was reason to believe that this might be feasible – although in the fourteen years of its history the I.W.W. had been able to organise comparatively only a small fraction of the American workers.

But at the present time such a plan is Utopian. Capitalism is breaking down, the Social Revolution is upon us and HISTORY WILL NOT WAIT UNTIL THE MAJORITY OF THE WORKERS ARE ORGANISED 100 PER CENT. ACCORDING TO THE PLAN OF THE I.W.W. OR ANY OTHER ORGANISATION. There is no longer before us the prospect of normal industrial development which would alone allow the carrying out of such a plan. The war has hurled the peoples of the world into the great cataclysm and they must plan for IMMEDIATE ACTION – not for the working out of schemes which would take years to accomplish.

The new society is not to be built.. as we thought, within shell of the capitalist system. We cannot wait for that. THE SOCIAL REVOLUTION IS HERE. And when the workers have overthrown capitalism and have crushed all attempts to re-establish it, then, at their leisure, through their Soviet, State, they can build the new society in freedom.

In the face of the social-revolution, what is the immediate important work of the Industrial Workers of the World?

They, as the most important organisation based on revolutionary industrial unionism in America, should take the initiative in trying to establish a basis for the uniting in one organisation of all unions which have a class-conscious revolutionary character, of all workers who accept the class struggle, such as the W.I.I.U., the One Big Union and certain insurgent Unions in the A.F. of L. This is no time to quibble about a name, or minor questions of organisation. The essential task is to draw together all workers capable of revolutionary mass action in time of crisis.

They, as revolutionists, should not repel the attempts of the American Communists to come to an agreement with them, for common revolutionary action. The political party and the economic organisation must go forward – shoulder-to-shoulder toward the common goal – the abolition of capitalism by means of the Dictatorship of the Proletariat and the formation of Soviets and the disappearance of classes and the State.

The Communist Internationale holds out to the I.W.W. the hand of brotherhood.

The IWW Reply to the Red Trade Union International

Executive Committee, R.I.L.U., Moscow, Russia.

Fellow Workers:

We are in receipt of a communication from Fellow Worker Krebe, in Berlin, Germany, with which was enclosed an "Appeal to the Rank and File of the I.W.W." This "appeal," which we have been requested to publish in our official organs, is signed by Lozovsky, on behalf of the Executive Committee of the R.I.L.U.

The reasons advanced why this statement ought to be given space in the official publications of the I.W.W. do not coincide with our knowledge of facts in connection with events and happenings relative to the intercourse between the I.W.W. and the R.I.L.U. If, as is alleged in the appeal, you desire to "state our views clearly and honestly," much that is only innuendo would be so "clearly and honestly" advanced and supported that sufficient evidence would be furnished, upon which the rank and file of the I.W.W. could base a clear and honest judgment.

We Want Proof, Not Assertions

The appeal to the rank and file of the I.W.W., to be really informative upon matters in controversy between Williams' report, as our delegate to the R.I.L.U. Congress, and you, cannot be covered clearly or satisfactorly by asserting, as you do, that "we have searched in vain for one correct statement in the report of Joe (George) Williams on the Red International of Labor Congress"; and "It is so full of lies that a complete reply to it would be useless." This latter statement seems to us to be significant of a peculiar state of mind, for, if a "complete reply to it would be useless," anything less than a complete reply is not only useless but extremely foolish as well. You offer the rank and file of the I.W.W. an alternative of selection between Williams' report and your statement, which, in the absence of full and complete knowledge, must be made entirely on faith. We, of the I.W.W., are much more thorough than you appear to regard us.

Then, again, when you undertake to disprove one statement by Williams, the result is not a happy one for your side of the contention. For instance, your "appeal" charges that "Williams asserts that we intend to force our theories and methods upon the American masses. Nothing of the kind." In this connection it is not out of place to quote from an article by Lozovsky, published in the International Communist No. 21, in which he states the R. I. L. D. position upon the relationship of the international to its national affiliations. Considering his position -- secretary of the R.I.L.U. -- and the medium through which his views are expressed, the International Communist, official organ of the R.I.L.U., it is logical to assume that this pronouncement is authoritative:

Real R.I.L.U. Intention

The Federalist International, of which these comrades (the French syndicalists) are dreaming, must not direct the sctivities of the individual organizations. It may only register whatevelo they may find to do. This dream reminds us of the past, for we have seen such internationals at work at the beginning of the war. The social revolution will not be advanced, even one step nearer to victory, if we put up one more letter box and paste upon it the label 'Federalist International.' The revolution will be successful, only when the International shall llecome a real, active force; when it shall unite all the growing movements of the masses, coordinate their actions; when it shall be able to set in motion the international movement; when the workers of one and the same calling shall be able to act simultaneously, in accord with one slogan. He who sets up a Federalist International, as opposed to such a real international, in fact rejects every kind of international, throws the labor movement back and closes his eyes to the real aims and problems of the labor movement.

We do not quote this to take issue with this conception of an international. We do so only to show that the policy of non-interference, as proclaimed in the appeal to the I.W.W. rank and file is not the real attitude of the R.I.L.U., as put forth by one of its foremost and most capable spokesmen, Lozovsky. Is it by accident or design that he assumes one attitude toward the European syndicalists and another, directly opposite, in the appeal to the I.W.W.? Why vote "Yes" in Europe and "No" in America upon the same proposition?

Our conception is also an international of action, proletarian action, and our concern is not allout coordination or national movements for international objectives, but about the domination of the proletarian (economic) forces by non-proletarian (political) ideology. Williams, in his report, points out the intention of the Communist politicians to dominate the economic movement. That Williams' report did not overstate is proven when, in the course of the same article which we have previously quoted from, we find Lozovsky saying, "But when they speak about independence from Communism our disagreement begins."

Unintentional Support of Williams

But, without quoting from Lozovsky's article in the International Communist, the "appeal," within itself, carries not one, but several propositions which support Williams' statement. With strange shortsightedness and incomprehensible inconsistency you corroborate the charge you would refute, or Lozovsky in his appeal does so in your name, by declaring":

(1) We only ask that the I.W.W. avoid the splitting of other organizations where they are well established, by starting a parallel organization of its own;
(2) that it confine itself to industries where it is already dominant, and
(3) that it cooperate with other revolutionary bodies towards the building of a united front against one of its most bloodthirsty opponents -- American Capitalism."

The Devil In Cowl and Cassock

With an assumption of frankness you are here imputing to us a purely destructive intention and purpose -­ the splitting of unions -- when you cannot help but be aware that our effects are constructive in aim and character. In these proposals, ingeniously intertwined, you submit to us the liquidation of the I.W.W. by asking it to forego every principle upon which it is founded and every policy to which its experience has taught it to commit itself.

Again, you assert that:

(4) "If the I.W.W. is to be a real factor in the Labor Movement, it must change its attitude towards other Labor Unions."

This is equivalent to saying that the I.W.W. must cease to be the I.W.W.

Evidently you have been misinformed about the I.W.W's "attitude" toward other organized workers, which is winning for it the respect of the rank and file of American Labor.

For your enlightenment we are enclosing clippings from our official English­ language paper, Industrial Solidarity, on

(A) The recent miners' strike
(B) and The I.W.W. in the R. R. and Other Strikes

We are likewise enclosing

(C) A circular letter addressed by the Agricultural Workers' Union No. 110 of the I.W.W. to the striking railroad shopmen; and a copy of the resolution adopted by the Spring Conference of the A.W.I.U. No. 110, held in Omaha, Neb., May 1, 1922, which makes provision for preferential treatment for striking coal miners in the grain harvest.

Budding Dictatorship.

If there is no truth in Williams' report, and if the R.I.L.U., as it professes, has no intention to dominate the I.W.W., why command that

(5) "it (the I.W.W.) must agree upon uniting with the Lumber Workers' Union of Canada"?

Frankly this mandatory suggestion savors of American rather than Russian origin; it sounds more like Fosterian propaganda than an unbiased and uninfluenced statement by an international body, which "understand(s) that methods and measures are determined by social and economic circumstances obtaining in each separate country"; and which has no ambition to dominate the affairs of workers in America -- "Nothing of the kind."

Would it be regarded as impertinent to inquire, whether the repudiation of Cascadden by the Canadian O. B. U. Lumber Workers; the affiliation of what remains of that body with the R.I.L.U. and its known inclination toward the Fosterian policy had any influence in the issuance of this ultimatum to the I.W.W.?

Still further along you admonish the I.W.W. with an imperative "must" that

(6) "you (the I.W.W.) must come in contact with other independent unions, and the various revolutionary minorities in the American­ Federation of Labor."

Why Whip Only One Horse?

Why not advise these independent labor unions and militant minorities in the A. F. of L., if they are amenable to suasion by the R.I.L.U., to come in contact with the I.W.W.?

As a statement of fact, and for your information, the contacts of the I.W.W. within the old, yellow unions of the craft system are far more numerous than you are aware, and much more effective than you have been permitted to learn. The militant minorities in the A. F. of L. consist, to a greater degree than is generally believed, of capable and active I.W.W. members. They are not so concerned about advertising as they are about results.

The Political "Negro In the Wood­pile"

When you offer such advice to the I.W.W. membership as is diplomatically and very adroitly given, where you say,

(7) "this is why we, too, want a united political and economical front with the workers' political party, the Workers' Party of America,"

you certainly and effectively disprove Williams' assertion that you "leave nothing to imagination," for, in this instance, everything is left to imagination. Even outside of the I.W.W., where American workers take political action with some seriousness, the "workers'" party is not known sufficiently well to be mentioned without explanation; and in those circles where people are aware of its existence it is regarded more or less as political light comedy -- the Holy Rollers of American "labor politics."

Moreover, upon the question of political action, and affiliation with political parties, or with anti-political bodies, the I.W.W. is definitely and unequivocally recorded as refusing alliance with one or the other. So important has this matter been deemed, that the resolution which committed the I.W.W. to this decision is inscribed in the written Constitution and By-Laws of the organization as a continual reminder to the membership. You will find it on page 59 of that document, which reads as follows:

Political Parties and Discipline: Whereas, The primary object of the Industrial Workers of the World is to unite the workers on the industrial battlefield; and

Whereas, Organization in any sense implies discipline through the subordination of parts to the whole, and of the individual member to the body of which he is a part; therefore, be it

RESOLVED, That to the end of promoting industrial unity and of securing necessary discipline within the organization, the I.W.W. refuses all alliances, direct and indirect, with existing political parties or anti-political sects, and disclaims responsibility for any individual opinion or act which may he at variance with the purposes here­in expressed.

Political action, to which the I.W.W. originally was committed, as one function of a working class union, was disposed of in the Fourth Annual Convention (1908) ,when it was decided to confine the activities of the organization to economic functions -- put it upon a strictly proletarian basis.

Since that time it has found its most unscrupulous slanderers and relentless enemies in the socialist parties, and amongst the socialist politicians.

Why Not Consult "Bill" Haywood?

William D. Haywood is in a position to inform you about the virulence and vindictiveness with which the Socialist and Socialist Labor parties pursued the I.W.W. as an organization, and its members as revolutionists and workmates. He will recount for your information the tactics and propaganda which culminated in the adoption of Article 2, Section 6, of the Socialist Party Constitution, that expelled him and the entire industrial socialist element from the party.

A cardinal tenet of I.W.W. policy is that politics be kept entirely out of the deliberations of the unions, and out of the columns of the official publications as well. This provision, of itself, would prevent our publishing your appeal, if there were no other reasons. But there are other reasons.

The circular which you request us to publish bears all the earmarks of a joint production by the Workers' Party and Trade Union Educational League, written in New York or Chicago, and mailed to the I.W.W. via Moscow and Berlin. The arguments and charges are those to which we have grown accustomed -- without deviation, diminution or addition.

Official Responsibility

As officials of the I.W.W., we would, indeed, be blind to the interests of the membership, and careless about our own responsibilities, if we were to assist the "borers from within" to "liquidate the I.W.W.", or permit them to create dissension in its ranks, and thus to distract it from the task upon which it is making gratifying headway.

Permit us to express the opinion of your request (to publish this appeal) that it is, outside of every other consideration, not only presumptuous, but inconsistent, coming, as it does, from Russia, where the government exercises its power to prevent open and free discussion, by those whom it regards as counter-revolutionists, as right, and requisite to the dictatorship. Why should the I.W.W., any more than the government of Russia, be expected to open its columns for the propagation of ideas that would imperil it, or impair its usefulness as an instrument of the revolutionary proletariat? Might we inquire, as seems to us pertinent, why you did not elect to use the organs of that party -- the Workers' Party, through which you expect "to rebuke President Harding" -- to carry your message to the rank and file of the I.W.W., and other American workers?

Haywood, and others now in Russia, will inform you that not even the prestige of the R.I.L.U. would suffice to excuse us for opening up the columns of our publications to Foster's boring and the W. P's. political propaganda. This attempt to furnish Foster's auger with a Russian handle will deceive no one in the I.W.W.

Face The Facts

The differences of opinion among the American schools of Labor thought are the logical fruit of American industrial development. Social, racial, and various other factors, as well as industrial influences, have played a part in shaping these opinions. These differences should not be regretted, though we are all prone to be dissatisfied with and about them. We may as well face the fact that they are deep-rooted and stubborn. They cannot be wished away, -- they must be fought out. They involve principles of philosophy, methods and strategy, and the merits and demerits of the various schools will only be proven by economic tests. But for us to deprive ourselves of the advantage that organization confers, and this is, in effect, what your communication suggests, would be to render ourselves helpless, and, as we see it, to betray the working class of the United States and the world.

We Are Open To Reason

It is not impossible to convince the I.W.W., if it can be proven, that its position is unsound economically, philosophically, tactically or otherwise. We are wide open for constructive criticism, helpful suggestions and education, but we cannot regard the repetition of old, worn out and refuted fallacies as having educational value.

As labor organizations go, the I. W, W. has survived over a longer-than-­usual period and has won for itself a definite place in the labor movement of America. It would seem to have passed, or at least to be approaching the end of its experimental period. It is getting itself accepted. A fact that is being demonstrated to the regret of its enemies and the discomfiture of those who have slandered it and are, even now, vilifying and misrepresenting it at home and abroad.

There is not in the history of labor organizations another union that has encountered and withstood a tithe of the persecution that has been visited upon the I.W.W. Its dead are numbered by hundreds -- fallen in the front rank of the class war fighting; its ranks are generously sprinkled with maimed and bruised and battered victims of the class struggle; it has met every challenge of the American ruling class and given of its best that the spirit of labor be kept alive; it has aggressively defended established rights of the workers and is leading in the fight to conquer new rights for them. The jails have overflowed with its membership -- undaunted victims of the class war. Its ringing challenge to American capitalist property has sent the sluggish blood of thousands of American workers coursing through their veins and fired them with the aspiration to be free men and women. At such times it has succeeded in riveting the attention of millions upon industrial conditions that victimize the manhood, womanhood, and childhood that labor in the mills and factories of this country.

Do Not Know The I.W.W.

Yet, you intimate that the I.W.W. exists in vain, and "unless it changes its attitude to other labor unions" that it will cease to be a factor in the labor movement. How little, after all, you know about the I.W.W. You predict a blank future for it unless, forsooth; it consents to be guided by your council.

For seventeen years its demise has been predicted annually, and at shorter intervals; and its obituary is written and ready in the "morgues" of every reactionary sheet in the United States, including those who speak in the name of a communism to which they are strangers. But, like the report of Mark Twain's death, these predictions have always proved to be "greatly exaggerated" -- and premature. The I.W.W. has persistently refused to die and establish reputations for the dilettante labor generals who have the progress of the revolution mapped and charted, and who alone are "competent" to lead the proletariat to victory. They are especially endowed and (self) selected to thrust salvation upon the working class. They will tell you that themselves. We have listened to them for, lo, these many years. However, we seem to have an inherent preference for organizing and depending upon ourselves. The I.W.W., for seventeen bitter and bloody years, has struggled to teach organization to us. It has made mistakes, and it has learned from its mistakes. Perhaps it is still making mistakes, but it can be depended upon to remedy them. If not today, then tomorrow, or when experience qualifies it.

Two Questions

Now, fellow workers, we ask these questions in all seriousness: Do you believe that the R.I.L.U. has so great an experience, more particularly an American experience, as has the I.W.W.? Do you consider yourselves better qualified to deal with, or less liable to be fallible in your judgment about American labor affairs than the I.W.W.?

You see the American labor movement from afar off, and you base your opinions about the I. W. W's. part in it from information furnished by observers. whose partisanship disqualifies them for reporting impartially. Upon such information, and superinduced perhaps by resentment over Williams' report, you justify your "appeal to the rank and file of the I.W.W."

We do not question your sincerity at all. However, we are satisfied that this appeal, based upon misinformation, would not serve the end at which you aim; nor would it be of assistance in mollifying the antagonism that exists between the element whose doctrine it carries, and the I.W.W.

General Defense Committee, An Achievement

Your reference to the sphere and activities of the General Defense Committee as "political" can only be founded upon a conception that anything which is intended to influence opinion about a governmental act is political in character. Our conception of the G.D.C. and its work is that both are devoted to publicity and propaganda, in an effort to surround the I.W.W. and its membership with such protection as a general opinion will provide.

Through the G.D.C., the membership of many labor organizations outside of the I.W.W., has been aroused to the danger of a growing evil which selects militant and talented labor personalities for its victims. Besides arousing the working people, this agency has been instrumental in enlisting liberals of all kinds, even including church organizations. It is thus functioning to bring to new and hitherto hostile or indifferent elements a knowledge of the I.W.W., its membership, program and methods; and interest in the problem of the workers is thus created. With whether this committee and its work, or the results of that work are designated political, or otherwise, we are not in the least concerned. To us the General Defense Committee is an extra-functioning body, designed for a particular work and operating in a sphere -- outside of the work places -- where the I.W.W., by its very nature, is not qualified to function.

To others than those who are hostile to the I.W.W. the General Defense Committee is an achievement, typical of the resourcefulness of this organization. It is not evidence of wrong principle, but of a weak condition. Its function is not politics, but publicity as one means of defense.

Of those portions of the "appeal" which dealt with the officials and the press, you will appreciate that these are matters to be dealt with by the general convention, which is scheduled to convene in Chicago, November 13, 1922. Until then, we, very naturally, shall refrain from commenting upon the things you avow and intimate about us and the papers.

There is evident, in your comment upon European syndicalism, a failure to appreciate that the I.W.W. is not a syndicalist organization. It is an economic working-class organization, in which the unit is the industrial union; and in which jurisdiction is industrially determined instead of territorially. It teaches that the power of the working class lies in its ability to control its labor power. This, in turn, depends upon such an organization as the I.W.W. proposes to the workers, and is teaching and assisting them to build up. It places reliance upon ec­onomic action and waits only upon opportunity to demonstrate the correctness of its contention. It is an economically militant organization, which acts upon the theory that the workers learn to fight by fighting. It places no reliance upon political action, nor does it teach reliance upon physical force. It organizes the wage-earners as workers -- the social element upon which, and whose productive efforts, society depends.

Why I.W.W. Is Not Political

The I.W.W. believes that the time devoted to politics is misspent, and that the energy so expended is misdirected and wasted. We believe that the class character of the state will not permit that institution to aid the proletariat in its class struggle. Therefore, we teach the workers that what they really require is not to influence the state favorably toward them, but to put themselves in such position, through an economic class organization, that they will be enabled to pro­tect themselves against the hostility of the capitalist state.

The I.W.W. is cognizant of the fact that it is trying to destroy a social relationship, and that the accomplishment of this aim will involve strikes and demand agitational, edu­cational and organizing efforts with all that this implies in a capitalist state, jealous of its power and fearful of economic action by the workers. We are not unaware, as you seem to infer, that as the organization grows, and the workers -- impelled by a growing consciousness of power -- become more and more assertive that clashes will occur between the workers and the forces of the state. Our perspective shows us that such conflicts are inevitable, and we are satisfied that our economic preparation will enable us to deal with these phenomena when we are confronted with them. These probable occurrences are not outside our calculations, we assure you.

The capitalist class relies upon the state as its agency and instrument for holding the workers in subjection, and to preserve its rights to exploit their labor-power. The workers must provide themselves with an instrument more powerful than the repressive forces of the state -- an organization for the control of their labor-power. The workers must make use of the every day struggle to provide the material out, of which this agency is to be fashioned. Progress is naturally slow and tedious, as is the evolutionary process. As the idea of industrial unionism takes root and is nourished by the workings of the capitalist system existing nuclei in the industries develop, gradually, but surely and significantly.

Keeping Abreast Of The Revolution

To us the revolution is primarily a process rather than an event. With capitalist development driving the workers every day in a revolutionary direction, and at an ever-increasing pace, our concern is to take step with the revolution and keep abreast of it. The final act of the revolution, to us, means the birth of a new society. With this viewpoint, our conception of the labor movement is necessarily monistic. To us the workers are producers; and industry is the social function in which the labor-power of the workers is expended. It is in this capacity that the workers are aggrieved, and it is in this capacity that they are qualified to exert the maximum of social influence -- as economic factors. Moreover, as this recognition spreads among the workers the industrial unions will become the expression of it -- the workers will construct the organism of the new society within the shell of the old society. We design to organize the consciousness of the workers, as capitalism has arranged them in the industries and, being thus enabled to control their labor-power, the workers will be irresistible, and competent to carry on the social functions.

I.W.W. Born Of American Labor Experience

This theory, of which the I.W.W. is the only tangible expression in the world, is being accepted by ever-in­creasing numbers of the consciously revolutionary workers in the American proletariat. The I.W.W., by its tactics, is consciously constructing the revolutionary organism which will overthrow and replace the capitalist system. Such an idea has nothing in common with political socialism or communism. Neither has it anything in common with syndicalism, as we understand the term. The ultimate objective -- a society free from the wage slavery -- we do share with both of them. Upon the means and methods by which it is to be achieved we are at variance.

The I.W.W. is not a "freak" organization. It is the natural outgrowth of American labor experience with politics, and with the defeatist maneuvering of labor politicians.

The "Black International," of the Eighties, which bore some resemblance to syndicalism, is another influence that directed American workers in the development of a purely economic organization like the I.W.W.

Political labor movements, in America anyhow, can only take root in the labor unions, where they find the machinery ready to hand with which to reach large masses of the people. Union funds are made available for political purposes and the organizing and publicity factors are converted to political functions. Politicians in this country have invariably used the union movement as a stepping stone to influence and power for themselves. It is in the nature of politics that this should be so.

The history of American unionism testifies to the destructive influence of labor politics and labor politicians. Experience has proven that, when politics moves into a union, economic effectiveness moves out, and hope for the workers moves out with it.

The political inclination of European labor we believe to be responsible for the unreadiness of your continental movements to rally to the support of the Russian revolution. Without such support the Russian workers were condemned to realize less than they set out to achieve. From the American labor movement, under reactionary leadership and influences, nothing less than the antagonism which was experienced was to be expected.

Revolutionary Russia has always had a sincere friend in the I.W.W. Unfortunately, those who speak in America for Russia are listed among the most pronounced enemies of the I.W.W. When, with a shortsightedness unworthy an international labor body, and apparently responding to influences hostile to this organization, the R.I.L.U. discriminated against the I.W.W. in the matter of representation at the Moscow congress, a breach was opened out of which has grown an antagonism which the I.W.W. can but regret, and for which responsibilities lies with the R.I.L.U.

Opening The Breach

The delegate from the I.W.W. to the congress represented a real tangible membership, while others seated as American delegates represented nothing but undetermined and undeterminable minorities ideals and hopes, rather than the qualifications generally demanded of delegates to such assemblies.

You will pardon us for remarking that your credentials committee made a bad and a sad mess of things and, in the acceptance of its report -- in that portion covering American representation -- the congress condoned its offense and aligned the R.I.L.U. with the enemies of the I.W.W.

The mistaken policy adopted by your body, dictated no doubt by a misconception derived from misrepresentative and deceitful declarations, we can only regard as your responsibility.

Using R.I.L.U. As Bait

When you, now again, permit yourselves to be used by those who are much more interested in destroying the I.W.W. than they are in overthrowing capitalism we must refuse to aid them by refusing to allow you to use us. We do not believe that you, of the R.I.L.U., conceived this disruptive scheme. We are satisfied that your eagerness to serve labor is being exploited, and your credulity has been imposed upon. You are once again being deceived.

Even before we received your communication we had been informed of its existence by some of our "contacts" in "the militant minorities," and of the use that it was proposed to make of it in this country.

I.W.W. Essentially International

The importance of international connection is well understood. and fully appreciated by the I.W.W. No one who reads its preamble and literature can doubt that the I.W.W. realizes that necessity more than any other existing labor organization. The I.W.W. is an international rather than a national movement. It has often been referred to as "the first real international of the proletariat." Industrial Workers of the World -­ not of the United States, or America.

We have faith in the ultimate realization for a world-wide united front of the proletariat, for which we have worked, and shall continue to. work without ceasing.

Your invitation to the I.W.W. to be represented at the Second Congress will be referred to the Convention.

We remain,
Yours for Industrial Solidarity of the workers of the world, General Executive Board of the Industrial Workers of the World.

Arthur Boose, H. G. Clarke, J.Johnson, Joe Miller, T. C. Smith, Norman Weir, and E. W. Latchem, Chair