The One Big Union Monthly

Partial archive of the regular publication of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) revolutionary union in the US, the One Big Union Monthly, which was produced from 1919.


The One Big Union Monthly (March 1919)

March 1919 issue of The One Big Union Monthly, an early publication of the IWW.


-The Vanguard of Capitalism
-Our Immediate Demands
-The Red Tidal Wave
-A New Program
-Lest We Forget
-The Chinese and the IWW
-The Wave of Persecution
-Who is Guilty of Starting the War
-Parcelling Out
-Why the Silent Defense
-The Sacred Illusion is Broken
-Deportation of IWW Members
-The Standard Oil Gold Brick
-Who Has Profited by the War?
-A Study in Reconstruction by H.P. Herzberg
-The Big Task Before Us
-How the IWW Men Brought About the 8-Hour Day in the Lumber Industry by A.H. Price
-In Memoriam Carl Liebknecht by Covington Ami
-Is Wage Slavery Abolished in Russia
-Triumphant Industrial Democracy by Covington Ami
-The Life of Democracy by Harold Lord Varney
-The Most Important Question by Justus Ebert
-What is the IWW and What Does it Want?
-Was Butte a Defeat? by Harold Lord Varney
-Poisoning the Springs of Knowledge: A Study in Thought Control
-Life in Modern Russia by N. Bucharin
-The Progress of the One Big Union Idea
-As Other People See Us
-A Direct Appeal to the American People: A Statement of the Sacramento Case by a Silent Defense Prisoner
-The Great Unrest
-Butte in the Hands of the IWW by Harold Lord Varney
-The General Strike in Seattle
-The Sacramento "Trial" by Amy Oliver
-International News
-Some Items from the Butte Strike
-The Story of the IWW by Harold Lord Varney
-An International Conference of Marine Transport Workers
-Railroad Workers Industrial Union No. 600
-Agricultural Workers Industrial Union No. 400
-Metal and Machinery Workers Bulletin
-IWW Headquarters Bulletin

obu1.pdf8.96 MB

The One Big Union Monthly (September 1919)

The September 1919 issue of The One Big Union Monthly

-Our prisoners and defense work
-Add your protest by C.W. Anderson
-A letter from our attorney on the Wichita case
-General strike in behalf od all class war prisoners
-AF of L coal miners rush to the aid of IWW prisoners
-The merits of legal defense by Forrest Edwards
-Courts and direct action by William Clark
-Canadian workers in death grapple of capitalism
-Supplemental report of bail matters
-An explanation to contributers
-Two secret letters
-The exodus from Egypt, Moses and the IWW by John Sandgreen
-Reconstruction: a working class presentation of some of its problems by Justus Ebert
-The construction of the world on the basis of industrial democracy by J.L. and F.B.
-The industrial age by Covington Ami
-An open letter to construction workers
-The coal mining industry by Delegates M-120 and M-659
-A vision of the future by Robert G. Ingersoll
-The realism of the Bolsheviki by John Gabriel Soltis
-Compromising with the left wing by PH. Kurinsky
-The story of the IWW by Harold Lord Varney
-Southern conditions by Covington Ami.
-An appeal to the membership by George Adlercrants
-Craft unionism must go! by Frederick A. Blossom
-The story of No. 400 by Mat K. Fox
-Agricultural Workers Industrial Union No. 400, IWW by D.N. Simpson and Mat K. Fox
-Financial statement, AWIU No. 400, IWW, for month of July 1919
-Metal and Machinery Workers IU No. 300, IWW by Harold Lord Varney
-Construction Workers Industrial Union No. 573, IWW
-Marine Transport Workers Industrial Union No. 8, IWW financial statement
-Hotel, Restuarant and Domestic Workers IU No. 1100, IWW financial statement
-Railroad Workers Industrial Union No. 600, IWW report and financial statement
-Shipbuilding Workers Industrial Union No. 325, IWW financial statement
-Industrial Workers of the World: general office bulletin

Taken from CDs of JPG scans created by San Francisco General Membership Branch of the IWW
CDs provided courtesy of Nate Hawthorne/Twin Cities IWW Archives

The One Big Union Monthly (October 1919)

The October 1919 issue of The One Big Union Monthly, a publication of the Industrial Workers of the World.

-With drops of blood: the history of the Industrial Workers of the World has been written
-Civilization by Jack Gaveel
-A voice from the Idaho prisons by Charles Anderson
-A voice from the stockade by Fred Mann, Card No. 251734
-The case of Louise Olivereau by Anne Gallagher
-Communism in Hungary
-The necessity of raising dues in the IWW
-Paterson textile workers in new quarters
-The high cost of living
-The Socialist and Communist conventions by Charles Mundell
-The passing of the Socialist Party by Donald M. Crocker
-The meditation of a wage slave by Henry Van Dorn
-The "patriotic" terrorists caught with the goods by John Sandgren
-Educating the immigrant or the public balks at "patriotism" by XXX
-Why the doom of predatory civilization cannot be averted by Quasimodo Von Belvedore
-The orthdox Wobbly and the borer from within by Jacob Margolis
-Our program in the steel district by Harold Lord Varney
-Industrial evolution in Mexico
-A break for liberty by J.M. Kerr
-It cannot by Covington Ami
-Industrial democracy by Covington Ami
-Three-cornered definitions by Robin of Podunk
-The bourgeois by Ray Markhom
-I Hear by Covington Ami
-Thus always? by Convington Ami
-To all the imprisoned Industrial Workers of the World by Matilda Robbins
-Song of the profiteers by Seldom Good
-The story of the IWW by Harold Lord Varney
-The objects of the IWW by Justus Ebert
-Lumber workers taking control of their industry by D.S. Dietz of IWIU No. 500
-Job talks by D.S. Dietz
-Some observations by Delegate E 369
-Conditions in the restuarant industry by Charles Mundell
-The curse of piece work by Frederick A. Blossom
-Asia throttled by Surrendra Karr
-Our minimum demands by Frederick A. Blossom
-Ox and man
-I, the kept press by Covington Ami
-What's in the basket
-The General Executive Board Meets
-New IWW papers
-Industrial union reports

Taken from CDs of JPG scans created by San Francisco General Membership Branch of the IWW
CDs provided courtesy of Nate Hawthorne/Twin Cities IWW Archives

OBUMoct1919pt1.pdf12.97 MB
OBUMoct1919pt2.pdf13.04 MB
OBUMoct1919pt3.pdf10.2 MB

The One Big Union Monthly (November 1919)

The November 1919 issue of The One Big Union Monthly, a publication of the Industrial Workers of the World.

-$1,000,000 for bond, $100,000 for defense
-Riots and race wars, lynching and massacres, military law, terrorism and giant strikes
-The collapse of capitalism
-Industrial franchise, industrial representation, industrial administration are the elements of industrial democracy and industrial communism
-Politics by B.E. Nilsson
-Time by Harry Lloyd
-Twelve thousand miles away by Covington Ami
-In 'no man's land' by Covington Ami.
-Freedom by Raymond Corder
-The truth about the steel strike by Harold Lord Varney
-The signifigance of Gary by Anne Gallagher
-The war against Gompersism in Mexico by Linn A.E. Gale
-The League of Nations and the Treaty of Peace by W.J. Lemon
-The metal miner----copper by Delegate M659
-The Railroad Workers Union by Card No. 301479, No. 600
-The life of a railroad trackman by A Trackman
-When Earth's last conflict is ended by Douglas Robson
-The cellmate by Raymond Corder
-The fundamental principles of the IWW by C.E. Payne
-The importation of ideas in the labor movement by John Sandgren
-The IWW needs an industrial encyclopedia by John Sandgren
-The story of the IWW by Harold Lord Varney
-The lumberjack by D.S. Diets
-The traffic flags by O.A. Kennedy
-A letter to the editor
-IWW in Mexico
-The German IWW paper
-Raising of the dues: the stand of Minneapolis
-Industrial union reports

Taken from CDs of JPG scans created by San Francisco General Membership Branch of the IWW
CDs provided courtesy of Nate Hawthorne/Twin Cities IWW Archives

OBUMnov1919pt1.pdf11.61 MB
OBUMnov1919pt2.pdf11.64 MB


The One Big Union Monthly (June 1920)

Articles from the June 1920 issue of The One Big Union Monthly.

Shop Organization the base of the IWW - George Hardy

An 1920 article by George Hardy, advocating some structural changes for the IWW.

Transcriber’s Introduction

This article appeared in the June issue of The One Big Union Monthly, during a time of growth and turmoil for the I.W.W. Thousands of Wobblies, including the most experienced organizers and best administrators, were in prison or under indictment for "criminal syndicalism" or alleged violations of the Sedition and Espionage Acts. Under the stress of relentless government persecution, internal conflicts of personality, ideology, and practical strategy would soon cause a split in the union from which it has not yet recovered. The union’s membership saw a clear need for structural change, as well as for a change in rhetoric and tactics. The following article is one example of the proposals for change that circulated at the time. For the existing structure of the I.W.W. in those days, see the 1919 Constitution. Many of Hardy’s recommendations were later adopted.

This article is presented here for its historical interest, and also as a basis for discussion towards the I.W.W.’s reconstruction—though much of it will certainly be unacceptable to a generation of workers who know the history of the Russian experiment with Communism, and consequently know the dangers of centralized bureaucratic administration.*

George Hardy joined the I.W.W. in Vancouver, B.C. in about 1909. He served as General Secretary-Treasurer in 1921. In 1925 he was in England as a representative of the Comintern, and in the 1930s he represented that organization in South Africa. His autobiography is Those Stormy Years. Memories of the Fight for Freedom on Five Continents (1956).

In the following transcript from The One Big Union Monthly I have corrected obvious misprints but left Hardy’s ideosyncratic punctuation and spelling unchanged.

Shop Organization the Base of the I. W. W.

British Shop-Stewards

Much discussion is going on in the ranks of labor, as to what is the best form of organization to give power to the workers in industry. This is an indication of discontent with the American Federation of Labor, and all other craft forms of unionism, which in reality is not unionism at all. The primary cause for discussion can be attributed to the advent of the Shopsteward Movement in Great Britain, which was brought about during the war, because the officials of the great trade unions pledged labor’s support to the Government, and who afterwards were prevented from participation in strikes, by the Defense of the Realms Act and the Munitions Act, thereby forcing into existence the unofficial movement, due to the abnormal conditions prevailing.

There has been a desperate attempt to make this shopstewards’ system fit American conditions by all and sundry. Especially is this true of some of the bourgeois and semi-bourgeois minded people, who claim to be revolutionary; while on the other hand, the members of the Shopstewards’ Movement in Great Britain state frankly, they would be in the I. W. W. if resident in U. S. However, the Shopsteward Movement does fit British conditions, because of tradition etc.

Reason for Continuity

The above position of the British militants is absolutely correct, because the "Industrial Workers of the World" is thoroughly in harmony with capitalist development and the labor conditions prevailing in America. There are less than ten per cent of the workers organized in this country, as against fifty per cent in the British Isles; with considerably weaker unions existing amongst the American workers, than those of the British workers. The I. W. W. has stood the battle for fifteen years—this alone proves its continuity inevitable and in conformity to Economic Evolution. The I. W. W. admits of changes necessary to prevent the organization from becoming obsolete, as the craft unions have. This is because its constitution is an elastic one—it has changed many times.

Necessary to Change

Today again we are confronted with the necessity of changing our form and tactics, due largely to the fact, that rapid changes are taking place in the economic world, and the apparent blood-thirsty tactics of the masters of industry. Therefore I submit the following program for consideration—not as "my" program—but as a program evolved out of the accumulated knowledge of the past; gathered by reading and discussion with my fellow workers, and an analysis of the position of the proletariat to the economic necessity of abolishing the system of private ownership, together with the avaricious, trustified masters—the capitalist class.

During the last two years many plans have been submitted. Some members are willing to stay by the "Old Ship"’ (the I. W. W.) without applying modern machinery to run it. Others want to change its name. To the thinking portion of the members both plans are equally disastrous—you cannot fool the ruling class! What is necessary now is new machinery to run it. We must abolish that part which has served its purpose, and install the most uptodate equipment the modern mind can conceive of, or we will be operating at a loss of prestige—a loss of membership—the crew will become too small to run the big ship, and we will land in some future storm on the rocks. This is financially evident today. We can, however, insure the future by installing new, modern, efficient and uptodate machinery of ad ministration, to discharge the rotting cargo—capita1ism. Let us do it today.

Efficiency calls first for an organization with its basis on the job, with rank and file control from the bottom up to the highest office; second, that administrative councils be created to admit of joint action from the job to the whole of the organization; third, that a regional council should exist to execute business that interests the whole working class community; fourth, that a defense council shall be maintained for the purpose of caring for members who have temporarily ceased to be industrial workers, because of their incarceration by the capitalist class; fifth, that at all times the prerogative shall be in the hands of the members on the job; sixth, instead of District Offices for each industrial union, supply stations should be opened jointly.

The above can only be gained by having a Union formed along the lines indicated in the chart. I do not, however, claim its application should be hard and rigid; but, I do claim the principle with slight variations can be applied to all industries which we seek to organize.

Job Branches and Committees

The job branches as set out are the base of all action, whether, legislative or administrative—the executive power lies always with the workers at that base. The workers first organize the job—a mine, mill, camp or factory—immediately they have seven members they constitute themselves a Job Branch; hold meetings; elect a job committee, one of whom may be elected delegate for that job. This would move the avenue of communication from the delegate to the job. When a delegate leaves a job, immediately one is elected in his place, and supplies given him which were left behind by the retiring delegate. It will be seen here, the supplies become the property of the job committee, instead of the delegate. It will also be noticed, there will always be a delegate on the job, and one who expresses the wishes of the group so organized, for they elected him. They have the power to remove him if not satisfactory. With this system in operation there can never be more than one delegate on one job, and all jobs organized will have a delegate.

The job committee is the administrative committee, and attends to all matters arising on the job between meetings; such as grievances that may arise; differences prevailing amongst the members etc., and have power to call special meetings by a majority vote of the members of the committee. The meetings then take up the matters on the agenda and decide what action shall be taken.

Organized in this way the territorial divisions, prevalent in the craft unions disappear, for all workers meet together who work together; thus, as the workers gain power, so they are gaining control, and will form the basis of the future administration of industry under the Co-operative Commonwealth—Industrial Communism.

There are many workers who work in separate factories and jobs, who will be found to be working for the same master in a given piece of territory or a large city. We also know, that modern industrial capitalists are all organized industrially and territorially, so we must look on them as a class—the exploiting class—with the above divisions for efficiency amongst themselves; so, we must, therefore, unite our forces on the jobs to be able to meet them in open combat.

Central Branch Council

The Central Branch Council is fitted for meeting the opposition, and taking the aggression against the locally organized industrial groups of capitalists. The central branch council is made up of delegates from the job branches, who will meet as often as the job branches represented on the council decide, consistent with urgency, distance and expense, etc. They could meet oftener in highly centralized communities than where distance is an obstacle. A council ought to be formed as soon as seven job branches have been organized. If the job branches were large in membership, one could be formed with a less number. Representation could be had on a pro-rata basis, say, one delegate for every one hundred or any part thereof. The Central Branch Council’s function is legislative. It is to enable the workers to come in contact with each other through their duly elected representatives, who would receive instructions from their job branches, and deliberate, with their fellow workers in relation to the issues under discussion. Here we find that one delegate would bring up a question never thought of by some of the other delegates, so without instruction they would use their best judgment and vote accordingly. The decisions would be ratified by the members of the job branch. We must also concede that large bodies of men become unwieldy and cannot make the best decisions. They can also be played upon by eloquent popular orators. The central branch council would deal with facts alone, and members would act [here a line is missing in the original] from the council by the rank and file.

Industrial District Council

Several central branch councils could exist in an industrial district like some of the large mining districts, lumber districts, coastal districts of marine transport workers and agricultural districts, etc. This would necessitate an Industrial District Council being organized, to co-ordinate all the activities of a district within a given industry. The industrial district council would be made up of delegates from the central branch council, with a delegate for every 500 members affiliated or less. Again we must bear in mind the job branches would ratify the election of any delegate to the district council which would meet as often as conditions demanded, say every six months, and consistent with finance, urgency, etc.

This is absolutely necessary for drawing up uniform demands in a district where natural industrial divisions exist, such as in the logging industry where different machinery is used to get out the logs. These districts should not exist with territorial divisions where these natural divisions exist—the uniform methods of industry in the district would demand common council with each other—besides unity of action compels the workers to adopt modern ways of accomplishing Solidarity. Instead of striking separately, the workers would carry their grievances—if not settled locally—to the industrial district council. This would produce efficiency and a stability which would give ECONOMIC POWER to the WORKERS’ ONE BIG UNION.

Today we know that our interests are identical, that is, if we are workers. We also believe, that an organization which still maintains that the workers have interests in common with their employers—the parasites—is serving the masters’ interests, as opposed to the workers’ interests. Yes, the above is generally true. The workers almost without exception nowadays, admit they are fleeced daily by the profiteer, which means, they are subconscious of the wolves in sheep’s clothing—the Industrial Kings of the World, who rob us daily at the point of production.

General Industrial District Council

In so far as the workers have interests in common, they must organize into a General Industrial District Council. This would be done as soon as two or more industrial district councils existed in a district. It would not be necessary for this body to meet very often; say, once a year, if nothing of a critical nature came up appertaining to the interest of the whole district. Representatives or delegates from the central branch councils would meet, and comprise the general industrial district council, on the same pro-rata basis as the central branch council—thus we create co-hesion within a district—District Solidarity.

There will not be any permanent offices attached to the above councils, as they are purely creative or legislative. They must be so because they come from the job, and only workers who work on the job either by hand or brain are entitled to legislate or create machinery to govern their affairs. They know best! This does not mean that if some specialized work needs to be done, they must place a worker from the job to do it. No, they will hire the most efficient man to do the work.

Executives of Councils

The above councils, central branch, district and general, will all have their executives, who will attend to all matters as they arise during the intervals between conferences or meetings, and call into session—with permission of the job branches—emergency conferences, if a critical condition arises which demands immediate and important action that only a conference can settle. The office force of the clearing house or supply station, will be under the jurisdiction of the executive of the general industrial district council, who will go over books from time to time and see that efficiency is maintained, and render a report to the job branches.

Supply Stations

In districts which are a long way from the head quarters of the industrial unions, and where two or more industrial unions are operating, supply stations should be opened where delegates elected on the jobs can obtain supplies. All that would be necessary for the maintenance of this supply house would be a supply book and delegates’ credentials etc., with a Report Sheet for the daily supplies sent out and money received, which should be sent to the industrial union headquarters every day. Of course a duplicate of the work done would be kept on file for comparison, should a mistake arise. In this fashion, there would be no need for Index Cards, etc., together with the unnecessary work caused by duplicating the work at this office. The up-keep of this office would be maintained by those using it on a proportionate basis.

Form Union on Job

We are inevitably, always forced back to the ground work of organization, which always leads to the job. So we find, to form an industrial union is, not to open an office, but to go to the job and form a job branch—this is the foundation. It becomes unnecessary to open an office to do organization work for a particular industry, since there is in existence a general headquarters of all the industrial unions already organized. The job branch once formed could get its supplies from general headquarters temporarily, where a set of books could be kept under the jurisdiction of the G. E. B. When several small industrial unions exist, one bookkeeper and stenographer could be hired at headquarters to do the work, until they grow large enough to warrant the existence of separate offices with machinery. Then industrial charters should be issued. We come now to the Industrial Union.

Industrial Union

After 5,000 members have been attained, Industrial Union Headquarters could be opened. Remember, by the time a union reached a membership of 5,000, there would be in existence many central branch and district councils, therefore, not only would the work warrant the opening of a headquarters, but would be necessary to bring the workers together for common action nationally. The Industrial Union would then do business direct with the general office, distributing supplies to supply stations and job branches, and receiving the finance and paying its debts. A solid front would be forming like an army division, but under no circumstances should that division go to battle before enough recruits have made its strength almost impregnable. Never let the enemy choose the battle ground, especially while we are still weak.

Bureau of Industry

The General Headquarters of the Industrial Workers, organized into their respective industrial unions, now becomes the center of the whole working class as far as their economic interests are concerned. It is a central active bureau of industry. Each year a conference is held and officials elected. The most important executive of all is brought into being thru a ballot of the membership—the General Executive Board.

Under the jurisdiction of the G. E. B. comes the General Office, with all its subsidiaries, such as the publishing house, etc. They also supervise all unorganized fields where no industrial union exists to take care of it. They assist weak industrial unions, which come under their care because of not having attained a membership large enough to get a charter. This does not mean the G. E. B. would be the dictators to a newly formed union, but would work in conjunction with the rank and file in districts where job branches exist. Under no circumstances would the G. E. B., or the Industrial Union executives, operate contrary to the wishes of the membership of a district, providing they were not violating the principles laid down in the general constitution. Always the job branches, through their central branch councils, would decide who would be the organizer. The general office would finance this organizer until the district had sufficient funds in general headquarters to pay their own way.

Regional Council

To organize industrially is not enough for a revolutionary industrial organization to accomplish. There are other interests, which are communal in character. It is the working class community that will benefit by class-consciousness; not only the industrial part, but the mothers of the rising generation—the producers of the producers—producers par excellence. Therefore, on regional or territorial lines, we must form a city central council.

The City Central Council is therefore made up of delegates from the job branches, augmented by allowing membership to the wives of the fellow workers, providing they agree with the principles of the organization. This ought to be done, as a mother and companion’s interests are bound up with the conditions of her husband’s, and vice versa.

Social Center

This city central council would carry on propaganda meetings and finance itself thereby. This would relieve the industrial units from direct participation, which would only be connected by their delegate on the City Central Council. This would allow the industrial units to put in all their energies organizing the workers on the jobs. The council will also be the Social Center, where all the units in the industrial arena can find an outlet for their talents; a study could be maintained with a scientific labor library, economic classes and industrial history classes held, concerts and dances, giving an outlet for the musicians and singers; social dramas would be staged for those with artistic tendencies, and a multitude of things done in this direction.

The greatest inspiration of sincerity would be injected into the members of the City Central Council by the recognition that they are participating in a social council, which may be the council that will care for the community interests when capitalism is abolished. A beginning can be made into this work by organizing a system of food stations, also milk stations for the babies and the sick, to be brought into existence during real strikes. They would also during strikes set up a vigilance council to see that no acts of violence or vandalism were committed, and if any such acts were committed, to be in a position to place the responsibility. This may be the nucleus of a functioning body for the future—a Protective Council.

General Defense Council

Attached to the general office is the General Defense’ Council, which could be made up of the G. E. B. members, and those actively engaged in the responsible positions within accessible distance to the meeting place. A secretary-treasurer would be appointed through the committee. The office is a transitionary one, for, as soon as we gain power in industry the masters of bread who now are so urgent in their demands for blood and prison bars would then have to meet our representatives and would be forced to look at a condition unfavorable to themselves—the withdrawal of our Labor Power—which would solve the defense question.

There are several important items that come under the control of this transient office, and as long as we are forced into the capitalist courts—their battle ground—we must have funds to defend our members who choose to take legal defense. The raising of these funds, therefore, comes under control of the defense council. Under the direct charge of this council comes the hiring of all the legal talent necessary for adequate defense. It will be the duty of the council to observe closely all cases that are brought to their attention, and to decide whether the victim’s case is an organization matter. None but those arrested for doing organization work, or for being a member of the Union should receive defense. We should, however, always keep in mind the tactics pursued by the masters and not allow their camouflage to deter defense of a sincere fellow worker.

Defense Publicity and Relief

Publicity is a part of the general defense councils’ work. They should, through the secretary, get out publicity matter, nationally and internationally, and show the world how capitalism—the white terror—operates to our detriment. Also, the speakers for the defense are controlled by the council, who will devote their attention to the injustices of the capitalist class—imprisoning or killing our members.

Another important item is the caring for the wives and families of those in the dungeons. The assistance of those needing relief should be in proportion to their obligations and necessity for relief; sickness, number in a family and any reasonable obligation; but, in no case, should a self-sustaining person receive assistance. We must, however, avoid driving our dependents to the brink of injurious poverty. We should look upon the sons and daughters of our imprisoned comrades, at least, as an intelligent farmer looks upon his pure-bred stock—perpetuation of the class-conscious— which will assume some responsibility in the future.

Industrial Departments

The Industrial Departments have been omitted from this chart because of the desire to avoid confusion by extra complications. All that is necessary is to show that which is absolutely necessary today. The industrial departments may be a factor in the future, as there are many related industries which could not run on any anarchical scheme. For example, the tanneries and shoe factories, iron ore mining and the steel mills, and a number of other industries would be found closely related, if we had time and space to go into them. However, this is a matter for the future, as related to our immediate needs for organizing with efficient machinery under capitalism. As we develop our union, probably a need will arise for departments. This need is not here now; so let us deal with the immediate.

A Real International

With a program such as this being put into a tangible form of unionism in every country, we are reorganizing society to carry on production in a Free Society. The Workers’ International is in the embryo stage. At the present time messages are received daily from all parts of the globe of a shifting of the industrial scenery. The masters of gold have left the world the ruins of that of which they have always been the beneficiaries; they refuse in all cases to give assistance unless they may still continue to exploit. Their war did this—their greed for gold. The hope of the world’s workers lies in their ability to organize this prostrate world. Great hope and sincerity is shown now, for there are the great revolutionary syndicalist movements in Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Holland, Italy, Spain, France, Portugal and other small countries; there are the revolutionary unions in Germany with civil war reigning; also, the workers of Austria and Hungary, making desperate plans to recuperate since the allied white terror has been introduced; the workers of the South American countries have endorsed the I. W. W. and become a part of the I. W. W. in Chile; the One Big Union movement to our north in Canada, and in Australia, due chiefly to the influence of the I. W. W. propaganda; and, the Shop Stewards’ and Workers’ Committees movement of Great Britain has voted in conference nationally to link up with the I. W. W. Our Russian fellows have sent out a call. Shall we answer and form an Industrial International? — International Solidarity of Labor—yes, a thousand times yes!!!

A Social Institution

This edifice of human affairs is a revolutionary one, because its very structure, outlined by the chart, leads through all the avenues of industry for taking care of the industrial and communal life, when capitalism shall have ceased to exist. It is rank and file; that will give them a lever to their own emancipation, and, by so doing, insure the future by the avoidance of chaos. Every member of the revolutionary union; every unit of the Army of Labor, so organized, will become a steadying factor in the transitory period; it embodies the forces necessary in the creation of food, clothing and shelter—the maintenance of life itself as well as giving an outlet to all esthetic qualities. There is the nucleus of protection, which, if extended nationally, can become the guardian of the workers occupied in peaceful production, which will be absolutely necessary, for, Lo and Behold the brutal outlook of today!

Constitutional or Capitalist Right?

An attempt has been made by trustified capital to outlaw any organization that challenges its power to own and control industry. This is all done in spite of the principles embodied in the Constitution of the United States, that all one hundred per centers should learn and adhere to. Article One of the first Amendment clearly states that no law should be made "Abridging the Freedom of Speech, or the Press, or of the right of the People Peaceably to Assemble." The fourth Amendment protects persons in their homes and renders inviolate the invasion of homes by any who may take it into their heads to invade—they must state specifically in a warrant the "persons or things to be seized"—this the so-called "law enforcers" hardly ever do. That great freedom-loving statesman, Abraham Lincoln, speaking of the people of America on March 4th, 1861, said, "Whenever they shall grow weary of the existing government they can exercise their constitutional right of amendment, or their revolutionary right to dismember or overthrow it." This is a part of the Declaration of Independence.

Violence and Chaos?

We propose to make the changes according to the above well-defined principles—by peacefully organizing the workers and the jobs. We have a legal right to do this. Judge Landis said in the great Chicago trial we had a right to revolution, "providing we could put it over." Whether the change will be by violence is a matter entirely in the hands of the capitalist class. They are committing violence on every hand! We want no violence and no chaos! The Constitution provides for these changes, and facilities to bring it about, if the Constitution is inviolate. We do not bother about Congress, for it expresses the economic interests of those in control. It will make laws to prevent our representatives getting there; so we must organize to control economically and choose our own institution of political expression—this will be done.

The Russian Conquerors

The inspiring devotion of our Russian fellow workers to their revolution has given an example to the world’s workers. The greatest statesman of the day—Lloyd George, says, "You cannot crush Bolshevism by the sword." This is an admission of defeat by the physical force advocates amongst the international gang of thieves. The same is admitted by Italian statesmen, with an added rider by the British premier that, "the Bolshevist Army is the largest and best disciplined army in Europe." All this with practically no organization on the industrial field when the collapse came—when the workers found the ruins of capitalism’s great war at their feet. The Russian Proletariat was forced into the building of the new society with chaos reigning on every hand. Yet they have succeeded marvelously. We must learn a lesson from them. If they have succeeded against a world of vengeance in spite of the apathy of the labor movement of the world, how much quicker could they have succeeded with a scientific industrial structure and a trained industrial army? Let us learn our lessons from the past and never repeat a failure.

NOTE— In this article a statement is made that the writer does not want to claim he alone is responsible for this work. Therefore, he names Roy Brown, with whom be was cellmates while incarcerated in Leavenworth Penitentiary, as one whom he accredits with having a great deal of knowledge along the lines indicated in this article. [Roy Brown was Chairman of the General Executive Board in 1921.—Tr.]

Originally posted: 2004 at Marxists Internet Archive

The One Big Union Monthly (August 1920)

August 1920 issue of The One Big Union Monthly, an early publication of the IWW.


-Political Stew for 1920, Cartoon by Dust
-IWW Preamble
-Sunrise over the Harvest Fields, Cartoon by Dust
-The Agricultural Workers' Campaign
-The Leaning Tower of Capitalism is Swaying
-The IWW and Politics
-Poland and Italy
-City Central Councils
-Stools and Fools
-The Stool Pigeon and his Sphere
-Fear. Poem by Pacific Red
-Money Madness by WC Weber
-The General Defense by William D. Haywood
-The Harvest Stiff of Ancient Days: a chapter from the Agricultural Workers Handbook. With 8 illustrations by Ralph Chaplin
-The Skookum Boy. Poem by D.S. Dietz
-Renunciation. Poem by Joachim Raucher
-After the War. Poem
-The IWW in California by a Stanford University student
-Solidarity: A Rural Drama of Today by Mary Katherine Reely with two illustrations by Dust
-As A Doctor Sees It. Brief notes by Dr. B. Liber
-Future of the American Working Class by Henry van Dorn
-Instinct and Better Organization by Ralph Winstead
-Conditions on the Pacific Coast by a Wandering Wobbly
-Give Us a Photo Play of Life. Poem by Raymond Corder
-A Near Industrial Plan by Matilda Robbins
-Strike on the Job by Frederick A. Blossom
-The Germans and the IWW. Translation by Wm. Weyh
-The Labor Movement in Argentina
-One Big Union in Japan
-The IWW in Sweden. With photo.
-Mexican IWW Permanently Organized by Jose Refugio Rodriguez
-Philadelphia Strike Over
-One Dollar Per Month After First of August
-The Modern Agricultural Slave: Harvesting in Kansas by E.W. Latchem
-Who Does Not Work, Neither Shall He Eat by C. Devlin
-The Spendthrift Workers by Mary E. Marey
-Loaded for Bear
-Book Advertisements
-IWW Publications
-IWW Literature List
-The IWW in Theory and Practice: Book Announcement

The_One_big_union_monthly.pdf5.95 MB

The One Big Union Monthly (December 1920)

Articles from the December 1920 issue of The One Big Union Monthly.

The One Big Union of Canada

A 1920 article describing conflict within the One Big Union in Canada over industrial vs. regional organization.

Two hostile camps have developed in the Canadian One Big Union. The one is fighting for a militant industrial form of an organization, the other for a geographical (district) beans and soup association.

The former is advocated by the lumber (migratory) workers, and the later by the city "home" guard element.

The migratory workers have acquired their knowledge and class-consciousness in the bitter school of actual life, but the city slaves got their training in the A. F. of L. and in other yellow institutions that served to build up the capitalist system and now function to brace and patch it up.

From their numerous articles of polemique and their recent convention we gather the following points (they are contradicting one an other) which in their opinion would justify their form of an organization:

"That the workers would have more in common geographically than industrially.

"That the industrial form of organization endangered the success of the Russian revolution and that the Lumber Workers are having, or at least advocating a dangerous form of an organization, anarcho-syndicalist like the I. W. W.

"That industrial organizations such as the Lumber Workers etc., are A. F. L. unions.

"That decentralization of our organization and devolution shall take place". (group organization their slogan)

"That above five points are the basis wherefrom they intend to institute a "class organization" based on small geographical districts and crown it "one big union".

"And that industrial organizations creates unnecessary officialdom", (such as the Lumber Workers)

Winnipeg (Canada) is the gem of the district form of organization, since the inception. of the O. B. U. and their officialdom outnumbers that of the Lumber Workers 3 to 1. The Carpenters alone has 4 officials; the 17 Unions, each of them has its separate set of officials and three of them are separate Railwaymen's Units. Toronto, the home of the famous "class" organization shows on the books 2 Carpenters' Units, each with a set of officials.

There may be arguments as to why there are so many small crafts and trade divisions divided by geographical and other lines with sets of separate officials, but there are no arguments that would justify the agitation for further separation with a view towards the elimination of officialdom. You can get all the Philadelphia lawyers together and none of them will be in a position, to show you how that elimination is done in one big mulligan of district and decentralized group organization.

We agree to their sentimental expression in point [one] just so far as sentiment may go, "the workers have everything in common", not alone in a given locality, but the world over. But then we must remember that organizations are not advanced by sentiment, but by material conditions.

The method of production and distribution in a given industry are best known to the workers in that industry, and it is they who have the knowledge of the productive capacity of that industry, they are the ones to determine the form of government in that industry.

The industrial method of production determines the sphere of every individual in industry. We are bound to this law with unbreakable steel chains, chains that link us together with our fellow-workers in a given industry, in America, Europe, or Asia, whether we like it or not. No geographical organization can alter this fact. We must then, organize along the lines that the industrial method of production determines, according to industry, in the strata in which industry placed us going forward with the current of social evolution to the establishment of industrial democracy.

The talk of having more in common as workers of all or some industries in a given locality, serves only as a weapon to political adventurers and labor lieutenants, enabling them to form parliamentary and other machines, for the purpose of negotiation and compromise, thereby serving the master class. Therefore the militant working-class movement has just as much in common with that kind of individuals as they have with the master class, as a matter of fact those opportunists are more dangerous than the master-class.

Any school boy can tell you who the miners of Great Britain have more in common with, and in this connection there is the probability that the miners of all Europe join hands and by the strength of their industrial organizations, compel the masters to come to terms. On the other hand who cries out, "negotiate, compromise"? Who but the politico-geographical opportunists. (Same thing happened during the British railway strike). It was no mulligan of a fancy "class" organization, but the industrial workers of the metal industries who expropriated those factories in Italy just recently. Therefore the workers have more in common in a given industry the world over, than they would en masse in a geographical economic organization in the industrial field, such as the O. B. U. of Canada now proposes. Mass and class organizations have entirely different functions to perform. We have none in Canada that are worthy considering from a revolutionary political standpoint. If there is need of one, then it must be started outside of the O. B. U.

Transcribed by J. D. Crutchfield.

Originally appeared in The One Big Union Monthly (December 1920)


The One Big Union Monthly (January 1937)

Articles from the January 1937 issue of The One Big Union Monthly.

Aw, sit down!: notes on a new era of direct action - Melvin W. Jackson

An article by Melvin W. Jackson about the wave of sitdown strikes across Europe and North America during the 1930s.

“A fantastic situation!” exclaims one weekly voice of American employers about sit-down strikes.

“We are tired of having to get passes to enter our own factories,” many French capitalists protest.

Employers become powerless in the face of stay-in or sit-down strikes. The iron hand that holds the economic life of thousands becomes putty when confronted by these aroused workers.

The sacred property rights of the industrial tyrant are being questioned, and the absentee owner trembles lest sit-down strikes become more popular.

A new era of working-class solidarity is dawning. The slumbering giant is stirring and testing his chains.

Orthodox unionism is finding itself swept on in the rising tide of solidarity. Workers are spontaneously realizing they have a weapon more powerful than any ever dreamed.

Totally unorganized workers are arising in protest against deplorable conditions and are awakening to the advantages of industrial unionism. The stay-in strikes in June in France were spontaneous and took the trade unions by surprise. French trade unions are said to be enjoying an unprecedented growth due to the overwhelming success of these strikes. One observer writes, “It can be said roughly that the number of trade unionists has gone up from 600,000 to 4,400,000 since June. Some instances: The number of office employees passed from 25,000 to 825,000, the food workers’ union from 20,000 to 50,000, the Galleries La Fayette, which had not one single organized worker, now numbers 2,000 of them. Even the employees of the Banque de France begin to draw up their demands.”

Two thousand British and Welsh coal miners recently preferred to remain underground in the mines until their demands were met.

Miners at Pecs, Hungary, likewise declared a “stay-down” strike to wring concessions from the owners.

Poland, Czechoslovakia, Silesia, India, Argentina, Brazil, Mexico — all of these countries have witnessed within the past year the solidarity of workers united in economic direct action. Sit-down strikes, stay-in strikes, hunger strikes — all these echo a grim determination of militant workers. Workers who refuse to leave underground mines or who remain at their factory benches or in their stores and restaurants and offices while striking — this is the new type of class struggle confronting capitalism.

Even in Fascist Germany, police and Nazi Storm Troops become powerless in the face of sit-down strikes, which have occurred in protest against further wage cuts. The D. K. W. Motor Works at Spandau, and the Motor Works of Bauer and Schauberte in the Rhineland both witnessed successful stay-in strikes recently.

American rubber and tire companies, Bendix Aviation, General Electric, R.C.A., WPA workers in New York, Pennsylvania, Illinois, and elsewhere, Reading Maid Hosiery, Aluminum Co. of America, New York Shipbuilding Co., and many other corporations can testify to the efficiency of sit-down strikes by their lessened profits — and the workers of many of these places can hold up fatter pay envelopes as mute testimony of their success.

Violence, rioting, and bloodshed: for years and years these have been the pet bogeys of union haters. “Terrorism, destruction, and gore” meant the same thing as “strike” to labor baiters. They dragged these skeletons out to dangle before the horrified eyes of scissorbills whenever anyone even whispered “strike” or “solidarity”. “See what will happen,” employers have exclaimed as they reached for the telephone to call their tin soldiers or “private detectives” to come and do some rioting and terrorising for them.

Now, alas and alack, these myths which were so conveniently used by the bosses are being dispelled.

“Business Week” complains, “Sit-downs were so frequent that the union set up a system that placed the striking workers in charge of the plant during disturbances. Men were told off beforehand to guard doors, round up supervisors ‘for safekeeping in case of trouble’ and generally take over the plant.”

Order, self-discipline, and responsibility have universally characterized all sit-down strikes. The employers alone have been directly responsible for any bloodshed or destruction of property — because the workers realized that it is not by these tactics that their strikes are won.

In the recent French sit-down strikes which involved so many industries it is said the machines were preciously taken care of. The furnaces which must never go out were kept going; in the tan-yards the skins remained bathed, and every morning the masons wet the stones of the houses they were building. In short all work that could not be stopped without actual damage to valuable materials or machines was kept going by the strikers.

The workers here demonstrated they can take over and run industries without the parasitic control by a master-class, and that they can run them in an orderly and intelligent fashion. This is one thing capitalism has found itself unable to do: run industry in an orderly and intelligent fashion.

Where workers have not given politicians control of their strike, the sit-down strike has been uniformly and universally successful since the first one — the IWW strike of 3,000 General Electric employees in 1906.

The fact that the ownership of an industry belongs to the workers in that industry, just as the toothbrush he uses should belong to him; the fact that a worker has just as definite a right to the job upon which his economic life depends as he has upon his hair; the fact that the rights of the parasitic class should not include the ownership of tools they never use but upon which others’ lives depends — these facts are all understood by a sit-down striker, though he may not recognize them as such.

The worker at his machine which he refuses either to leave or to operate until his demands are granted, and the factory which continues to be operated by strikers, declare the worker’s right to his machine, and his ability to run it when the shackles of capitalist ownership are shaken off, though at the time it be only temporary.

Where economic direct action and working class solidarity are used in struggles against the master class, the workers will never lose.

“Freedom cannot be gained through intermediaries.”

The One Big Union Monthly (July 1937)

July 1937 of The One Big Union Monthly

-The construction worker by Peo Monoldi
-Papa Schaefer is a man again: a short story by S.I. Stephens
-Industrial unionism in the IWW: the job branch by Raymond Corder
-The future of Spain: industrial democracy or ? by Con Dogan
-Sarah plants a garden by A Ventura Working Woman
-The strait and narrow: a short story by Walter Pfieffer
-In the name of the working class! by Bert Russell
-Songs of the struggle by Con Dogan
-Workers war to stop fascism: reports on the events in Spain by the Secretariat of the International Workingmens Association (Translated by Joseph Wagner)
-Book reviews

Taken from CDs of JPG scans created by San Francisco General Membership Branch of the IWW
CDs provided courtesy of Nate Hawthorne/Twin Cities IWW Archives

OBUMjuly1937.pdf9.31 MB

The One Big Union Monthly (August 1937)

Part of the August 1937 issue of IWW journal The One Big Union Monthly.

Class collaboration - old and new, and Open letter to the CNT, 1937

"Class collaboration - old and new", a timely reminder of working class political experience by Joseph Wagner, and A. Shapiro’s Open letter to the CNT which criticised its actions during the Spanish Civil War.

Published in the IWW's One Big Union Monthly, August, 1937

Alone, or in coalition with more or less "liberal" bourgeois political parties, the socialists today are in control of the government machinery in a number of countries while yet in other countries they stand in line awaiting in their turn the call of the economic masters to take over the government and to carry on and administer the collective affairs of the capitalists in the respective countries.

The conclusion of the long and destructive World War brought capitalism to bankruptcy, the bourgeois regime stood everywhere discredited physically and morally and in a state of collapse ; everywhere the working class was in open revolt. The only organized force that yet retained some moral prestige was the socialist movement and its trade unions, who, in one country after another gallantly rushed to the rescue of the moribund regime, until recently their professed enemy.

Naturally, the capitalists very graciously allowed the socialists to resurrect and reconstruct the capitalist regime. They were allowed and even invited to form "socialist governments." Times without number these "socialist governments" proved to the master class that they are in the best of positions to save capitalism and to safeguard all their interests not only by the use of brutal military and police forces, but also by their moral prestige over the working class acquired by nearly a century of socialist party and trade union connection within the working class.

To be sure the master class never was conspicuous by its gratitude, as soon as it imagined itself strong enough to rule without the aid of socialists these were discarded, and their governments turned over to the underworld characters, to gangsters parading in differently colored shirts. A few years of experience with the gangsterdom has, however, taught world capitalism the lesson that the socialists make the more efficient and loyal servants of capitalism after all, and at the present time the pendulum is rapidly swinging away from fascism to "socialist" or "Popular Front" governments.

Socialists the world over are proud of the role their parties are playing nowadays, and they look upon their present, internationally approved policy as the acme of "Marxism." Yet, this was not always so.

Before the end of the last century, socialists of all shades were violently and unalterably opposed to the very idea of party members participating in bourgeois (capitalist) governments, thereby making the socialist movement at least indirectly responsible for the acts of their respective capitalist governments. Even the acceptance by a party member of a minor, non-elective government job, was frowned upon as not kosher from a social-democratic standpoint.

When, in 1900, Alexander Millerand, who with Jean Jaures, was heading one of the four or five socialist parties existing then in France, entered into the Waldeck-Rousseau cabinet, a storm of protests was raised in the socialist world. National and World Congresses debated and argued the propriety of the action and in all instances the act was condemned as treason to the international socialist movement. "Millerandism" and "Ministerialism" was synonymous with treason. The arguments lasted for fourteen years, until the outbreak of the World War, when the entire socialist world suddenly became "ministerialists" and governmentalists. And so it has remained to this day.
The foregoing is all old history, but it does no harm to recall it once in a while, the more so as in our days we are suddenly confronted with a new "ministerialism" from an unexpected source. This time the anarchist world is stirred with that same old question in the anti-fascist war now going on in Spain.

It would appear that with the post-war experiences, with the experiences of Bolshevism, Fascism, Nazism, we have learned enough to avoid the old and settled disputes. But we must have been mistaken, for it seems that we have to overcome the same difficulties and misunderstandings at every instance of serious fight that we, the working class, are confronted with.

The old forgotten "Millerandism" or "Ministerialism" is and has been a burning issue in Spain ever since the present war was precipitated by the uniformed bandits of Spain. The only real revolutionary force in the present Spanish war was the CNT and its ideological reflex, the F.A.I. It would have appeared an absurdity for anyone a year ago to state that the old issue of "ministerialism" could bob up—of all things—in this anarchist and anarcho-syndicalist movement, in the time of the acutest crisis that ever confronted not only these two Spanish movements (that are really one), but the anarchist fraternity the world over.

Perseus, of mythological fame, wore a magic cap so that the monsters he hunted down might not see him. I would like to have pulled such a magic cap over my own ears so that I may not see the internal fight in the revolutionary forces of the present Spanish fight. Unfortunately, I can read many languages and am in touch with revolutionary literature of many lands, and no magic cap can prevent me from seeing things I would not like to see. I am giving below a translation of an open letter of A. Shapiro to the CNT I read similar open letters months ago, whose authors have fallen since, either fighting on the bloody battlefields, or through cowardly assassination by the Spanish Branch of the Russian Cheka. Shapiro is not dead yet, he is one of the outstanding figures of the anarchist movement of the world. He was for a number of years one of the Secretariat of the International Workingmens Association. Therefore, whatever the readers of the "One Big Union" may think of his statements, I assure them that Shapiro is sincere and means what he says.

Open letter to the CNT
We read with more surprise than interest the minimal program of the CNT "for the realization of a real war policy." The reading of the program raised an entire series of questions and problems, some of which should be called to your attention.

Certainly none of us was simple enough to believe that a war can be carried on with resolutions and by anti-militarist theories. Many of us believed, long before July 19 (1936) that the anti-militarist propaganda, so dear to our Dutch comrades of the International Anti-militarist Bureau and which found, in the past, a sympathetic enough echo in the columns of your press in Spain, was in contradiction with the organization of the revolution.

Many of us knew that the putsches, that were so dear to our Spanish comrades, such as those of December 8 and January 8, 1934, were far from helping this organization of the revolution, it helped rather to disorganize it.

July 19 opened your eyes. It made you realize the mistake you had committed in the past, when, in a revolutionary period, you neglected Seriously organizing the necessary frame-work for the struggle that you knew would be inevitable on the day of the settlement of accounts. Yet, today you are shutting your eyes on another important fact. You seem to think that a civil war brought about by the circumstance of a fascist putsch does not necessarily obligate you to examine the possibilities of modifying and altering the character of that civil war.

A "minimal" program is not something to startle us ; but a particular minimal program (such as yours) cannot have any value unless it creates the opportunity for the preparation of a maximal program.

But, your "real war policy," after all, is nothing but a program for entering the Council of Ministry (government) ; with it you act merely as a political party desirous of participation in an existing government ; setting forth your conditions of participation, and these conditions are so bureaucratic in character that they are far from weakening in the least the bourgeois capitalist regime, on the contrary they are tending to strengthen capitalism and stabilize it.

The surprising part of your program is that you do not consider it as a means for the attainment of some well defined goal, but consider your "real war policy" program as an aim in itself. That is the main danger in your program. It presupposes a permanent participation in the government—not merely circumstantial—which is to extend over a number of years, even if the war itself, with its brutal, daily manifestations would cease in the meanwhile. A monopoly of the Foreign Commerce (have the communists whispered this to you ?), customs policy, new legislations, a new penal code—all of this takes a long time. In order to realize these tasks, your program proposes a very close collaboration on all fields with the bourgeoisie (republican block) and with the communists (marxist block), while almost at the same time you state in your appeal of June 14 that you are sure of triumphing not only against Franco, but also against a stupidly backward bourgeoisie ("the republican block") and against the tricky and dishonest politicians ("marxist block").

You see, therefore, that even your minimal program is beset with flagrant contradictions ; its realization is dependent on the aid of the very sectors against which that program is aimed. Even the freedom with which you state these two mutually excluding programs : collaboration with the bourgeoisie and "marxism" on the one hand and fight to finish against this same bourgeoisie and "marxism" on the other, situates your minimal program as the aim, and your declaration of June 14 becomes a mere verbiage. We would have, naturally, liked to see things the other way.
The problem of Spain’s economic reconstruction does not form a part of your program. And yet, you cannot help but know that a civil war, like the one you are going through, cannot bring the people to its aid unless the victories on the fronts will assure at the same time their own victories in the rear.

It is true—and many of us outside of Spain have known it long before July 19—the Social Revolution cannot be attained in 24 hours, and that a libertarian regime cannot be erected by the turn of the hand. Nevertheless, neither the CNT nor the F.A.I. cared anything about pre-revolutionary organization and about preparing in advance the framework for the social and economic reconstruction. We claim that there is a bridge leading from the downfall of the old regime to the erection of the new regime erected on the ashes and the ruins of the old regime. This bridge is all the more full of dangerous traps and pitfalls as the new regime differs from the old. And it was precisely this period of transition that you have misunderstood in the past and that you continue to misunderstand today. For if you had recognized that the social and economic reconstruction on a libertarian basis is the indispensable condition to victory over fascism, you would have elaborated (having in view the aim to be attained) a minimal revolutionary program that would have given the city and country proletariat of Spain the necessary will and enthusiasm to continue the war to its logical conclusion.

But such a program you failed to proclaim. The few timid allusions contained in your "war program" are far from having a revolutionary character : the elaboration of a plan for the economic reconstruction that would be accepted by the three blocks could only be a naive illusion, if it would not be so dangerous ; the municipalization of land is an anti-revolutionary project since it legalizes something that a coming revolution will have to abolish, since the municipalities are, after all, but cogs in the wheel of the State as long as the State will exist.

Naturally, the elaboration of an economic program for the transition period presupposes a final aim. Does the CNT consider that libertarian communism is an unattainable "Utopia" that should be relegated to the museum ?

If you still think (as you did before July 19) that libertarian communism forms part of the program of the CNT it is your duty—it was really your duty since July 1936—to elaborate your economic program of transition, without regard to the bourgeois and marxist blocks, who can but sabotage any program of libertarian tendency and inspiration.

To be sure, such a program will place you in conflict with these blocks, but on the other hand, it will unite with you the large majority of the workers, who want but one thing, the victory of the Revolution. It is necessary, therefore to choose between these two eventualities.

Such a program will, naturally, nullify your "war program" which is nothing but the expression of a "true" desire for a permanent cabinet collaboration. But this proposition, this "war program" of yours is diametrically contrary to the traditionally revolutionary attitude of the CNT, which this organization has not denied yet. It is therefore necessary to choose.

The CNT should not allow—as it has unfortunately done since July 19—the acceptance of the tactics of the "line of least resistance," which cannot but lead to a slow but sure liquidation of the libertarian revolution.

The ministerial collaboration policy has certainly pushed back to the rear the program of revolutionary economy. You are on the wrong track and you can see that yourselves.

Do you not think that you should stop following this road, that leads you to certain downfall ?

Text taken from

Class collaboration - old and new, and Open letter to the CNT, 1937.pdf211.75 KB

The One Big Union Monthly (September 1937)

The September 1937 issue of IWW journal The One Big Union Monthly.

-The right to work
-Noise: an intolerable working condition by John Sershon
-I decide to become a Wobbly by A. Seaman
-Ain't it so! by Covami
-Production for use by Covington Hall
-Another letter from Apeland by Card No. 141738
-Migrating workers by B.R.
-They are fine people: the odyssey of a farm hand by Card No. x302661
-Schools peddle dope by A.B. Cobbs
-What is a scab? by Eli Hill
-School days at Work Peoples College by Fred Thompson
-A soldier returns
-The Spanish Civil War by Joseph Wagner
-Catastrophic revolution by Brandt,Editor Cultura Proletaria (Translated by Joseph Wagner)
-Answer to "Catastrophic revolution" by Pierre Besnard, General Secretary of the IWMA (Translated by Joseph Wagner)
-The CNT and reformism: a reply to "Class collaborationism: old and new" by Onofre Dallas
-Factful fables by Covington Hall
-Book reviews
-'Tis only they by Covami

Taken from CDs of JPG scans created by San Francisco General Membership Branch of the IWW
CDs provided courtesy of Nate Hawthorne/Twin Cities IWW Archives

OBUMseptember1937.pdf12 MB

A soldier returns - letter from an American fighter in the Durruti Column

A letter from an American trade unionist and member of the revolutionary union the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) about his experiences as a fighter in the Spanish Civil War and Revolution of 1936-9 in the International section of the anarchist Durruti Column.

The following letter was published in the paper of the American IWW's paper, One Big Union Monthly in 1937.

Original introduction
The One Big Union Monthly and the Industrial Workers of the World are heart and soul for the success of the anti-fascist fight going on in Spain but we see no reason why we should stick our heads in the sand and pretend not to be aware of the capitalist class element within the Spanish United Front government that is trying to rob the Spanish revolutionary unionists of victory.

No matter what our opinion may be as to the wisdom of the syndicalists' policy of co-operation with political government, the information and arguments contained in this letter from a rank and file fighter in the cause of working class freedom, and in other articles appearing in this magazine, cannot but be valuable reminders that there are still working class enemies among those who favour "democracy" as opposed to fascism - Editor.

A soldier returns
Marseilles, France
Fellow Worker:-

Received your letter the other day in Barcelona. I typed three pages in reply but could not smuggle it out of the country, so I tore it up.

I am out of Spain. The reasons are numerous. I was not wanted by the government as I was in the Durruti International Shock Battalion. The government sabotaged us since we were formed in May and made it impossible for us to stay at the front. No tobacco unless you had money. All of the time I was in the militia I received no money. I had to beg money for postage stamps, etc. I was sent back from the front slightly shell-shocked and put in a hospital in Barcelona. when we registered at the hospital I told them I was from the Durruti International Battalion and they wouldn't register me. In fact they told me to go and ask my friends for money for a place to sleep. I explained to them that I was from Canada and had no friends in Barcelona, then they tried to make me a prisoner in the hospital. I called them all the lousy -- I could think of. Anyway, I ran away from the hospital one day to the English section of the CNT-FAI and the people there insisted that I see the British consul for a permit to leave Spain, which I did, though I hated to leave.

Spain is a wonderful country. At present it reminds me of the stories I have read of the O.G.P.U. [secret police] in Russia. The jails of loyalist Spain are full of volunteers who have more than a single-track mind. I know one of them from Toronto, a member of the L.R.W.P. I wonder if they will bump him off. The Stalinists do not hesitate to kill any of those who do not blindly accept Stalin as a second Christ. One of the refugees who came over with me from Spain was a member of the O.G.P.U. in Spain, which, by the way, is controlled by Russia. Every volunteer in the Communist International Brigade is considered a potential enemy of Stalin. He is checked and double-checked, every damn one. If he utters a word other than commy phrases he is taken "for a ride." This chap (ex- O.G.P.U.) is like all the other commies coming out of Spain, absolutely anti-Stalin and anti-communist. He skipped the country by flashing his O.G.P.U. badge on the trains etc.

I believe that the I.W.W. has lost some members here, as I doubt if they would keep quiet at the front in view of what is taking place.

It was only through sabotage that the government succeeded in disbanding the International Battalion of Anarchists. Four of our bunch died of starvation in one day. Our arms were rotten, even though the Valencia government has plenty of arms and planes. They know enough not to give arms to the thousands of anarchists on the Aragon front. We could have driven the fascists out of Huesca and Saragossa had we had the aid of the aviation. But the Anarchists form collectives where ever they advance, and these comrades would rather let Franco have those cities that the CNT-FAI.

Fenner Brockway, prominent labour leader in England, exposed the way the communists were treating those boys (volunteers) in the International Brigade. They will not let any of them come back unless they are racketeers of the Sam Scarlett type who will say anything they are told as long as the pork chops are coming in.

The CNT-FAI seems to have lost all the power they had in the army. There is a good fort on the top of a hill overlooking Barcelona which the anarchists captured from the fascists. When I left for the front it was still in the hands of the FAI but when I came back the communists had it. The workers of Spain are against the communists, but the latter don't care. They are making a play for the support of the bourgeoisie and other racketeers. As far as the industries are concerned the CNT has a lot of power, far more than any other organization.

Well, Fellow Worker, one day has elapsed since I wrote the above. Last night I had a head ache and I had to postpone finishing the letter. I am eating good since coming to France.

I believe the British consul is going to send me to England or to Canada. If I wasn't such a wreck I would ship on a British ship for Spain. Wages are double on the Spanish run, and ships are tied up because of a shortage of men. I have been on English ships and none of the crew would speak English.
I met two more men from the International Brigade this morning. They say many Canadians are in prison in Spain.

With best wished for the I.W.W.,

I remain Bill Wood

from One Big Union Monthly, September 1937.

This text taken and slightly edited for spelling by libcom from the Revolt collection.
Originally from the bulletin of the Kate Sharpley Library.

A soldier returns - letter from an American fighter in the Durruti Column.pdf223.74 KB

The One Big Union Monthly (October 1937)

The October 1937 issue of The One Big Union Monthly.

-The source of strength
-Power of folded arms by W.E. Trautmann
-The slave by James Oppenheim
-Factful fables by Covington Hall
-A challenge to organized labor by John Sershon
-If only: a story by Gefion
-Our educational system by A.B. Cobb
-The General Defense Committee: 20 years of activity
-Counter-revolution in Spain by R. Louzon (Introduction and translation by Joseph Wagner)
-West coast chaos: the CIO-AFL inter-union war by Card No. x13068
-A little economics for the home by Walter Pfeffer
-The IWW in theory and practice: a book review
-The march of progress by A Tannery Worker

Taken from CDs of JPG scans created by San Francisco General Membership Branch of the IWW
CDs provided courtesy of Nate Hawthorne/Twin Cities IWW Archives

OBUMoctober1937.pdf11.73 MB

The One Big Union Monthly (November 1937)

The November 1937 issue of The One Big Union Monthly.

-Working class unity
-November 11 fifty years ago by Lucy Parsons
-"The life abundant": a short story by Walter Pfeffer
-Industrial unionism: its power and promise by Covington Hall
-Fordism's sacrifices by Johan Korpi
-The end of a epoch by A.B.C.
-Truth vs humbug by A.B. Cobb
-The power of folded arms by W.E. Trautmann
-The right kind of education by "A Pal"
-On with the fight! by Cov Ami
-Hijacking the revolution (Translation and introduction by Joseph Wagner)
-Fifty years after Haymarket by Art Hopkins
-Book reviews: the 'hero' of Kronstadt writes history by Paul Mattick

Taken from CDs of JPG scans created by San Francisco General Membership Branch of the IWW
CDs provided courtesy of Nate Hawthorne/Twin Cities IWW Archives

OBUMnovember1937.pdf12.15 MB

The One Big Union Monthly (December 1937)

The December 1937 issue of The One Big Union Monthly.

-Christmas in prison
-Sacrifice of the Asturian miners
-"Resistance against fascism depends on us" from Bulletin de Information (FAI)
-The IWW on high seas and waterfront: a history and tradition of action that presages great things for the future by John S. Morgan
-Royalty is out of a job by Bert Russell
-To those who preach passivity
-Soybeans: the story of a worker's education in economics by Ralph Verlaine, x229442, IU 620
-To a hard working lumberjack by Carl Madsen, Card No. x193962
-What will labor's men in jail think this Christmas?
-Who will make an end of war?: labor can stop capitalist's wars and lanor's interests demand that it do so by Card No. x226183
-The growth of wage slavery: development of the process of wage slave exploitation from the beginning of the capitalist system by John Sershon
-The CIO in Lawrence by A Lawrence Worker
-Book reviews: Poor Henry Ford! The bad capitalist did him dirt by Justus Ebert
-The modern stegosaurus: defender of private property by A.B. Cobb
-Education and "humanistic" approach by Chas. J. Miller

Taken from CDs of JPG scans created by San Francisco General Membership Branch of the IWW
CDs provided courtesy of Nate Hawthorne/Twin Cities IWW Archives

OBUMdecember1937.pdf12.14 MB


The One Big Union Monthly (February 1938)

The February 1938 issue of The One Big Union Monthly.

-The four-hour day
-Unionism at the crossroads by A Former Coal Miner
-The sun goes down by Covington Hall
-Maritime merry-go-round by C. Weed
-A radical is made by Beetee
-Modern murder (Dedicated to Sacco and Vanzetti) by Gussie Perlman
-For his master's sake: dedicated to Fellow Worker Harry Owens and other members of the IWW who fought and fell in the Spanish Civil War by Bob Trochet
-Factful fables: all about sitting in the game by Covington Hall
-Everybody's candidate by Card No. x22063
-On boring from within: in which it is clearly shown that we cannout build a new union by working inside an old one by Bert Russell
-The "uncontrollables" in Spain by Sophia Fagin
-Wet bulb - dry bulb by Jay Effie
-The Industrial Workers of the World
-Heave ho!
-Book reviews: Assignment in Utopia - Wobblies one meets there by Justus Ebert

Taken from CDs of JPG scans created by San Francisco General Membership Branch of the IWW
CDs provided courtesy of Nate Hawthorne/Twin Cities IWW Archives

OBUMfebruary1938.pdf12.01 MB

The One Big Union Monthly (March 1938)

The March 1938 issue of The One Big Union Monthly

Fighting for Spanish freedom by Fellow Worker Raymond Galstad
Murk by The Gadfly
The historic mission of the IWW by Mortiner Downing
All honor to the communards!
Syndicalism will triumph in France by Joseph Wagner
Get a better boat, boys by T-Bone Slim
Revolutionary syndicalism in Britain by Ethel McDonald
Factful fables by Covington Hall
Meat for supper by Gefion
We... by Gefion
World war to create markets by IWW delegate 46-s-8
"Streamlined justice"... by John Lind
Birth of a song hit: a bit of history dug up at Work Peoples College
Rank-and-file rule: what it is, and what it isn't by Fred Thompson
Fan the flames of discontent by Gussie Perlman
Book reviews: Capital and labor in Italy by V.I.K.
Mr. Stockholder will be looking for a job when the world's workers organize right!

Taken from CDs of JPGs made by San Francisco Bay Area General Membership Branch of the IWW
CDs provided by Nate Hawthorne

OBUMmarch1938.pdf11.94 MB

The One Big Union Monthly (May 1938)

The May 1938 issue of The One Big Union Monthly.

-Editorial: strikes
-Straws in the wind by Gefion
-Banker's island: a dramatization of the IWW leaflet "An instructive fable", prepared by Work Peoples College Drama Department
-Capitalism must go: an indictment of the present order prepared jointly by one of the classes at Work Peoples College
-Goetterdaemmerung by John Hunter
-Two poems by Covington Hall
-What is Americanism by Ida Richards
-The lost international by Joseph Wagner
-Workers are staked out cattle by Mortimer Downing
-A world of shams by A.B. Cobbs
-The feeble strength of one by The Gadfly
-The growth of fascism in Russia by Chas J. Miller
-The IWW shows the way

Taken from CDs of JPGs made by San Francisco Bay Area General Membership Branch of the IWW
CDs provided by Nate Hawthorne

OBUMmay1938.pdf11.46 MB

The One Big Union Monthly (June 1938)

June 1938 issue of The One Big Union Monthly.

-On the right track
-Victory for Spain: a message to the proletarian and anti-fascist world from the union men and woman of Spain (CNT-FAI Bulletin)
-Judas was a piker by A.B. Cobbs
-Unskilled workers doomed by Covington Hall
-Farm workers and farm jobs by Card No. x372561
-The government of tomorrow by Art Hopkins
-Fellow Workers, hear me! by Covington Hall
-Jobites by Jane Street
-The growth of fascism in America by Chas. J. Miller
-Industrial Organization: an editorial from the Industrial Worker of June 26, 1926 by the late George Speed by George Speed
-Nut house news: a skit prepared by Work Peoples College Drama Department
-The end of leadership by ACMA
-Merry England by A. Martin
-Advice to the boys by Uncle Covamy
-Wage workers united by Mortimer Downing
-Letter: Butte again
-IWW: non-political labor union by A WPA Worker
-An ode to youth by Gussie Perlman

Taken from CDs of JPG scans created by San Francisco General Membership Branch of the IWW
CDs provided courtesy of Nate Hawthorne/Twin Cities IWW Archives

OBUMjune1938.pdf11.49 MB