Page:Historical Catechism of American Unionism.pdf/20

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

isted two schools even in that day—the labor politician and those who believed in direct economic action.

68. What particular results followed from the movement?
A labor press was one result of this movement. A recognition of class divisions in society, though not at all clear, is noticeable. It implied the division of the population into "the rich" and "the poor" rather than into the employing and the employed classes. There was a widespread belief that the control of the state by "the rich" was responsible for the evils under which the wage working population suffered. From this there followed a conviction that the wage earners and "common people", who were numerically in the great majority, could remedy their grievances through political action. There was complete failure to recognize the true character of the state—a failure that persists up to this date—and, with the mistaken idea that their ballots would affect their deliverance, the workers were inveigled by their leaders to essay the political role which seemed to have the virtues of being easy and sure.
69. Could not the workers see that their greatest reliance was in their economic organizations?
Why, they do not see that yet. The arguments that won the workers of 1828, and the following years, are as potent to win them today as they were then.
There were many things in the infancy of the labor movement that appeared to be essentially political in their origin, and it was deemed that these would respond to political treatment. That these were basically economic did not occur to the early unionist. Such were (1) the obligatory militia service, (2) imprisonment for debt, (3) denial of educational facilities. The workers of those days sought relief from these very grave matters in the way that appeared easiest and best to them—politically.
70. Well, why did they go to the trouble of organizing unions?
The instinctive promptings that their power lay in the control over their labor power, urged the economic organization. We must remember that the bulk of these workers did not understand the social relationship