A New York State Senate committee set up to investigate “seditious activities” filed a report in on Revolutionary Radicalism: Its History, Purpose and Tactics, with an Exposition and Discussion of the Steps Being Taken and Required to Curb It.
In an appendix, the report noted that “despite the effective work carried on by the prosecuting agencies of the Federal and State Governments, isolated anarchist groups continue to spread their propaganda in fairly substantial volume” and included the following handbill transcript as an example:
Why You Should Not Vote At All!
The country, just now, is artificially ablaze with the coming elections. The politicians of the Democratic, Republican, Farmer-Labor and Socialist parties are shouting with all their cunning strength and ability to get you enthusiastic enough to vote for one of them.
Each of the parties’ politicians not yet in power assures you that all you have to do is to give one of them the chance to become the ruling power, and all the evils of which we suffer will be eliminated, whereas the Democrats now in power appeal for the continuance of it.
So that all the issues of these parties really mean one thing, as far as they are concerned — a change of the personnel of the government officials.
But is this the real issue?
No! but we shall soon realize what it really is. If you happen to belong to a union affiliated with the American Federation of Labor, you have probably heard your local’s secretary read at a meeting during , an appeal sent out to every local union, by Samuel Gompers, Frank Morrison and James O’Connell, which states:
“Regardless of whatever artificial issue politicians may seek to inject into the present campaign, one of the great issues about which the masses of the American people are thinking most seriously is the cost of living. The cost of living is a wage issue.
“If there would be publicity for profits it would be possible to present such an array of figures as would stagger the imagination. But statistics are not necessary to prove that the cost of living is a paramount issue with the American people.
“They who scorned the people when the power was theirs to render justice to them should be driven from their places of authority by the votes of a betrayed electorate.”
We believe it of the utmost importance for all the workers, organized or unorganized, affiliated with the A.F.L. or not, to discuss this statement cited above. It contains great truths, but also great lies, and worst of all, it forgets to tell the truths which are so well known to these three signers of the appeal.
It is true that the high cost of living is in reality a wage question — and this is the great cause of our suffering. But Messrs. Gompers, Morrison, and O’Connell, are not young men who had just arrived on the labor scene of America. They have lived in this country for scores of years. They have witnessed quite a few presidential elections.
Can they tell us, if there was, in any presidential election in the history of their activity any other real issue than the wage question, but that it was always intentionally suppressed and ignored by most of these politicians? If the cost of living was lower in , in , or in any other year in comparison to what it is to-day — were not the wages, at that time, comparatively lower and proportionally about the same as they are to-day?
Is this trio of labor, ignorant of the every day economics which show us, that the whole present system of society has been, and is based upon the exploitation by the few of the many?
Are they not aware of the facts, statistical facts by the government, that labor, which produces everything, has on an average, always received in wages one-fourth of the value that labor has produced?
Do they not know, then, that Capitalism in the form of manufacturers have always been and still receive the other three-fourths of the value, which we, the workers, produce?
The policy of this trio — is an old one, they always went begging at every election of this and that party to put “planks” in their platform for the “benefit” of labor, and we ask them to be honest and answer truly:
Was there any party that came into power with their help of “swinging the labor vote” towards that party — that didn’t betray their promises?
Did they not find themselves at every election appealing to labor to turn out the elected traitors, only to put new ones in? We challenge this trio to prove to us workers, if the laboring masses of this country has ever received any direct or indirect benefit from any government as a whole or a part, that was in power, or is — unless — by the threat of our real direct action weapon — the General Strike. We forced them, or rather scared them into putting on their statute books, such laws as we have already enforced by our economical power as producers on the economical field! Can this trio or any labor politician deny this great truth? How did the Railwaymen get the eight hour day? By the Adamson law, or Supreme Court, or by their economical strength which forced the Supreme Court to declare “constitutional” that which the railwaymen themselves were just about to declare “constitutional” by the General Strike?
When this trio appeals to the workers to throw out the betrayers, we question their sincerity and honesty in doing so, for, none know it better than they do, that Governments exist for the purpose of helping capitalism to cleanse us workers of ¾ of our produced commodities, and no matter which of them gets in — things will continue as they always have been, or, if the Socialists get in, we shall have to give away all of our produced commodities to the State (Government). We have a particular right to question the honesty of Mr. Gompers when only on , he said at the Montreal convention:
“There never has yet existed any government, no matter how idealistic, but that it soon became a power of tyranny.”
No greater truth has ever been uttered by him, but if he believes this to be the truth, then how can he as an honest man, go day in and day out, to beg and barter with Government officials, or ask Labor to participate in the election of any government official — when he considers every form of government, nothing else but what it actually is, a “Power of tyranny?”
Does not such action show a far worse hypocrisy and betrayal of Gompers and Co., who are supposed to be “our representatives” than of all the politicians of capitalism put together?
The politicians are in the pay and service of capitalism, so we cannot expect anything else from them, than to fool and betray us, as long as we allow them to do it.
But — what right has this trio of labor “officialdom” to betray us still more at every election by telling us to turn out the old traitors, only to replace them with new ones? How evident, then, that it is not ignorance, but plain dishonesty that prompted them.
We, as Anarchists, appeal to you, men and women of America, to stop, Reason and Think, about all this. It is not a question of a change of new traitors in place of the old; that is the “paramount issue” of this or any other election, neither is it a question of wages or the cost of living, that is the issue.
But — it is a question of the whole present system of society that is based on wages and profits, supported by the force of Government, which is the only real issue of which no political candidate has ever dared or will ever dare to speak!
We, the workers of the country, actually keep the life of the country going. Let us stop producing, and the life of the country stops. We, workers, have never gained nor ever will, a single beneficial thing by the participation of electing any “power of tyranny” — government officials.
The General Strike which has been the workers weapon hitherto — has now proved to be only of seeming value, since no actual benefits were ever really derived from it. For, no matter what gains we have achieved by our strikes, they were always brought down to no value, by the continued rise of Government taxations, and the increased cost of living. This should make us realize that something more essential must be done, if we are ever to materially change our conditions for the better.
The capitalist system is so well organized, that no matter whom you elect, or what we gain by strikes it amounts to nil. We remain in the same destitute condition as before.
The only way in which we can make an effective change is not by replacing old traitors with new ones, or by strikes, but by eliminating both institutions that make way for traitors, — capitalism and governments! These are the foundations of the present system that must be crushed, destroyed and annihilated forever!
It is a long, hard struggle, we know, but everything of real value in the history of mankind has ever been difficult to attain. Was the emancipation of the black slaves an easy task? Or was our freedom from English domination easily gained? For real Freedom everything is worth while.
When at your union meetings, A.F.L., I.W.W. or any other labor organization, discuss the ways and means, not of how to “elect” traitors, but of how to abolish our economic and political slavery.
We Anarchists propose, that the only way in which we can ever change our present system, is by Arising in a Social Revolution, and overthrowing the entire present state of society.
How shall we do it? First of all, stop participating in any elections of government officials. Refuse to pay any taxes to them, and through and with our united revolutionary action — we should go and take possession of all warehouses, food and clothing stores in the country. If we can supply, with our labor, all the food and clothing stores for capitalism and governments, we shall surely be able to run them for the use of all those who will participate in the new society, the Anarchist Commune Society, based on Equality, Freedom, mutual cooperation, and the pursuits of happiness that is the right of every human being.
Think about this workers! Let us all get ready for the great battle — the battle of the Social Revolution!
Meanwhile: Refuse to vote! Refuse to pay taxes! Refuse to listen to labor leaders.
Revolt instead of vote!
Issued by Anarchist Groups