Includes extracts from Ragnar Redbeard's "Might is Right."
The Industrial Union Bulletin, Volume 1 Issue 7, Chicago April 13, 1907
A noted railway president contributed a notable article to last Sunday’s press entitled, “No Brotherly Love in Business,” from which we quote a few passages:
“In these later days, as in all the ages which have passed, there are people who believe that rewards of industry could be divided more equitably by brotherly love or by legislation.
Brotherly love in economical affairs is a dream for the ‘sweet by and bye.’”
My judgement throws to the wind all the theories of equitable distribution by brotherly love or legislation. I believe that in economic affairs the only way to get a fair share is to be prepared always to fight, and when necessary to fight for it.”
Here we have, briefly set forth, the Logic of today, the Gospel of Capitalism—that is to say, the Gospel of the Strong. There is scarcely room for doubt that it is accepted and acted upon by the class throughout the world that is enriched by surplus-value, the class that owns the productive capital of society which the collective labor of the producing class brought into existence. The idea advanced is not new, but its adherents are more numerous than ever. For years it has been familiar to us in a subversion of the “golden rule.” “Do others, or they’ll do you.” Again it has been elaborated to read. “That they shall take who have the power and they shall keep who can.” Compare these with the more recent utterance of last Sunday, the newest restatement of the Logic of today and the Gospel of the Strong, and you have clearly before you the doctrine that “Might is Right.” It is the doctrine that we should put not our trust in books of law or golden rules, in Christ’s ethics or constitutions, in “rights of man” or “forceless votes:” but that we must have the POWER to TAKE and to HOLD—what? That for which all the world contends: The surplus values that remain to fight for after the producers of all economic values have had passed to them a meager portion, sufficient only to enable them to eke out a bare existence and leave other slaves behind. There is nothing else to fight for. The bottom cause of all strife and warfare is the fact of the appropriation, by the plunderers of the world, of the wealth created by the workers of the world.
The plunderers say that “in economic affairs the only way to get a fair share is to be prepared always to tight, and when necessary to tight for it.” What say the producers? Speaking for them, and with the warrant of a rapidly extending organization based on a true conception of the struggle, the Industrial Workers of the World says the workers cannot win out by reliance upon golden rules and books of law; that so long as they depend on Christ’s ethics or sentimental mouthing’s about the “Rights of Man,” so long will they remain the beaten straw on the threshing floor of a ravaged and exploited world: so long as our class is a dreamer of dreams and puts its faith wholly in “forceless votes,” so long will they be objects of the scorn and contempt of those who wield “Cain’s knotted club” and ride the “Conqueror’s Car.” The “advance” to a realization of the “brotherhood” is measured by the backward march from Christ to Roosevelt. The latter, occupying the most exalted position in the nation, serves the interests of the economically strenuous by prejudicing the case of Wm. D. Haywood in advance of his trial. And we have no business to whine about it. It is in accord with the Logic of today, the Gospel of the Strong. The tyranny of the Strong can be overcome only by the working class powerfully enough organized on the field of industry to do what the plunder-patriots have done: TAKE AND HOLD THE MEANS WHEREBY WE LIVE, which means are the work of our hands and brains supplementing the work of our class through all the bloody centuries of the past.
Are the workers brow-beaten and brutalized? Petition has failed to relieve them.
Do they ask for justice? The response is the laugh of the cynic and a “diet of lead.”
Do they appeal to the books of law? Constitutions are trodden under foot.
Do they look towards the church? Its heart is dead.
The knotted club is the scepter still; it is the club in the hands of those who control and exploit the productive and distributive agencies of the civilization we have made and maintain. It is the control of our industries that puts power into their hands. To get possession of the industries is the mission of the workers. To wrest from the grasp of the gluttonous predatory class is our supreme task. If we organize not for this, our organizing is futile, it will prove abortive. Farcical is the dreaming of dreams of a millennium to be gained by forceless votes or an emasculated pure-and-simple trade’s unionism that stands for the identity of interests of capital and labor, the at-one-ness of the workers who toil in the fiery flames of industrial hells and their economic master’s revel in luxury as a result of their toil.
“They shalt take who have the power and they shall keep who can.” The power to take can be generated in the industrial form of working class organization. The workers, so organized, can achieve the freedom of their class. The Industrial Workers of the World, rejecting no instrumentality that may be needed to carry out its purposes, is the embryonic structure of an Industrial Commonwealth. It appeals to the workers to organize and prepare to accomplish the transfer to their own hands of the power now held by the Strong—the power which, being acquired, will be used not to brutalize and enslave but to ennoble and set free the millions of earth who sweat and moan under the iron heel of industrial despots.
Stay with your tin gods of labor leaders, you fellow-workers of ours who are pawns in the iron game of your industrial masters; go on counting your forceless votes—forceless because unsupported by the industrial organization whose function cannot be ignored or dispensed with if you are to achieve the Industrial Commonwealth; we call upon the workers everywhere to lend a hand on the near-end, close-at-hand job of building up the economic organization for Socialism and freedom. The other fellow has done us long enough; now let us organize to do him, to get our own and be the arbiters of our own destiny.
RAGNAR REDBEARD "MIGHT IS RIGHT."