War of the Classes(阶级斗争)

War of the Classes
War of the Classes
Jack London
War of the Classes
When I was a youngster I was looked upon as a weird sort of creature,
because, forsooth, I was a socialist. Reporters from local papers
interviewed me, and the interviews, when published, were pathological
studies of a strange and abnormal specimen of man. At that time (nine or
ten years ago), because I made a stand in my native town for municipal
ownership of public utilities, I was branded a "red-shirt," a "dynamiter,"
and an "anarchist"; and really decent fellows, who liked me very well,
drew the line at my appearing in public with their sisters.
But the times changed. There came a day when I heard, in my native
town, a Republican mayor publicly proclaim that "municipal ownership
was a fixed American policy." And in that day I found myself picking up
in the world. No longer did the pathologist study me, while the really
decent fellows did not mind in the least the propinquity of myself and their
sisters in the public eye. My political and sociological ideas were ascribed
to the vagaries of youth, and good-natured elderly men patronized me and
told me that I would grow up some day and become an unusually
intelligent member of the community. Also they told me that my views
were biassed by my empty pockets, and that some day, when I had
gathered to me a few dollars, my views would be wholly different,--in
short, that my views would be their views.
And then came the day when my socialism grew respectable,--still a
vagary of youth, it was held, but romantically respectable. Romance, to
the bourgeois mind, was respectable because it was not dangerous. As a
"red-shirt," with bombs in all his pockets, I was dangerous. As a youth
with nothing more menacing than a few philosophical ideas, Germanic in
their origin, I was an interesting and pleasing personality.
Through all this experience I noted one thing. It was not I that changed,
but the community. In fact, my socialistic views grew solider and more
pronounced. I repeat, it was the community that changed, and to my
chagrin I discovered that the community changed to such purpose that it
was not above stealing my thunder. The community branded me a "red-

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shirt" because I stood for municipal ownership; a little later it applauded
its mayor when he proclaimed municipal ownership to be a fixed
American policy. He stole my thunder, and the community applauded the
theft. And today the community is able to come around and give me points
on municipal ownership.
What happened to me has been in no wise different from what has
happened to the socialist movement as a whole in the United States. In the
bourgeois mind socialism has changed from a terrible disease to a youthful
vagary, and later on had its thunder stolen by the two old parties,--
socialism, like a meek and thrifty workingman, being exploited became
Only dangerous things are abhorrent. The thing that is not dangerous is
always respectable. And so with socialism in the United States. For several
years it has been very respectable,--a sweet and beautiful Utopian dream,
in the bourgeois mind, yet a dream, only a dream. During this period,
which has just ended, socialism was tolerated because it was impossible
and non-menacing. Much of its thunder had been stolen, and the
workingmen had been made happy with full dinner-pails. There was
nothing to fear. The kind old world spun on, coupons were clipped, and
larger profits than ever were extracted from the toilers. Coupon-clipping
and profit-extracting would continue to the end of time. These were
functions divine in origin and held by divine right. The newspapers, the
preachers, and the college presidents said so, and what they say, of course,
is so--to the bourgeois mind.
Then came the presidential election of 1904. Like a bolt out of a clear
sky was the socialist vote of 435,000,--an increase of nearly 400 per cent
in four years, the largest third-party vote, with one exception, since the
Civil War. Socialism had shown that it was a very live and growing
revolutionary force, and all its old menace revived. I am afraid that neither
it nor I are any longer respectable. The capitalist press of the country
confirms me in my opinion, and herewith I give a few post-election
utterances of the capitalist press:-
"The Democratic party of the constitution is dead. The SocialDemocratic party of continental Europe, preaching discontent and class

War of the Classes
hatred, assailing law, property, and personal rights, and insinuating
confiscation and plunder, is here."--Chicago Chronicle.
"That over forty thousand votes should have been cast in this city to
make such a person as Eugene V. Debs the President of the United States
is about the worst kind of advertising that Chicago could receive."--
Chicago Inter-Ocean.
"We cannot blink the fact that socialism is making rapid growth in this
country, where, of all others, there would seem to be less inspiration for
it."--Brooklyn Daily Eagle.
"Upon the hands of the Republican party an awful responsibility was
placed last Tuesday. . . It knows that reforms--great, far-sweeping reforms-
-are necessary, and it has the power to make them. God help our
civilization if it does not! . . . It must repress the trusts or stand before the
world responsible for our system of government being changed into a
social republic. The arbitrary cutting down of wages must cease, or
socialism will seize another lever to lift itself into power."--The Chicago
New World.
"Scarcely any phase of the election is more sinisterly interesting than
the increase in the socialist vote. Before election we said that we could not
afford to give aid and comfort to the socialists in any manner. . . It
(socialism) must be fought in all its phases, in its every manifestation."--
San Francisco Argonaut.
And far be it from me to deny that socialism is a menace. It is its
purpose to wipe out, root and branch, all capitalistic institutions of
present-day society. It is distinctly revolutionary, and in scope and depth is
vastly more tremendous than any revolution that has ever occurred in the
history of the world. It presents a new spectacle to the astonished world,--
MOVEMENT. In the bourgeois mind a class struggle is a terrible and
hateful thing, and yet that is precisely what socialism is,--a world-wide
class struggle between the propertyless workers and the propertied masters
of workers. It is the prime preachment of socialism that the struggle is a
class struggle. The working class, in the process of social evolution, (in
the very nature of things), is bound to revolt from the sway of the

War of the Classes
capitalist class and to overthrow the capitalist class. This is the menace of
socialism, and in affirming it and in tallying myself an adherent of it, I
accept my own consequent unrespectability.
As yet, to the average bourgeois mind, socialism is merely a menace,
vague and formless. The average member of the capitalist class, when he
discusses socialism, is condemned an ignoramus out of his own mouth. He
does not know the literature of socialism, its philosophy, nor its politics.
He wags his head sagely and rattles the dry bones of dead and buried ideas.
His lips mumble mouldy phrases, such as, "Men are not born equal and
never can be;" "It is Utopian and impossible;" "Abstinence should be
rewarded;" "Man will first have to be born again;" "Cooperative colonies
have always failed;" and "What if we do divide up? in ten years there
would be rich and poor men such as there are today."
It surely is time that the capitalists knew something about this
socialism that they feel menaces them. And it is the hope of the writer that
the socialistic studies in this volume may in some slight degree enlighten a
few capitalistic minds. The capitalist must learn, first and for always, that
socialism is based, not upon the equality, but upon the inequality, of men.
Next, he must learn that no new birth into spiritual purity is necessary
before socialism becomes possible. He must learn that socialism deals
with what is, not with what ought to be; and that the material with which it
deals is the "clay of the common road," the warm human, fallible and frail,
sordid and petty, absurd and contradictory, even grotesque, and yet, withal,
shot through with flashes and glimmerings of something finer and Godlike, with here and there sweetnesses of service and unselfishness, desires
for goodness, for renunciation and sacrifice, and with conscience, stern
and awful, at times blazingly imperious, demanding the right,--the right,
nothing more nor less than the right.

War of the Classes
Unfortunately or otherwise, people are prone to believe in the reality
of the things they think ought to be so. This comes of the cheery optimism
which is innate with life itself; and, while it may sometimes be deplored, it
must never be censured, for, as a rule, it is productive of more good than
harm, and of about all the achievement there is in the world. There are
cases where this optimism has been disastrous, as with the people who
lived in Pompeii during its last quivering days; or with the aristocrats of
the time of Louis XVI, who confidently expected the Deluge to
overwhelm their children, or their children's children, but never
themselves. But there is small likelihood that the case of perverse
optimism here to be considered will end in such disaster, while there is
every reason to believe that the great change now manifesting itself in
society will be as peaceful and orderly in its culmination as it is in its
present development.
Out of their constitutional optimism, and because a class struggle is an
abhorred and dangerous thing, the great American people are unanimous
in asserting that there is no class struggle. And by "American people" is
meant the recognized and authoritative mouth- pieces of the American
people, which are the press, the pulpit, and the university. The journalists,
the preachers, and the professors are practically of one voice in declaring
that there is no such thing as a class struggle now going on, much less that
a class struggle will ever go on, in the United States. And this declaration
they continually make in the face of a multitude of facts which impeach,
not so much their sincerity, as affirm, rather, their optimism.
There are two ways of approaching the subject of the class struggle.
The existence of this struggle can be shown theoretically, and it can be
shown actually. For a class struggle to exist in society there must be, first,
a class inequality, a superior class and an inferior class (as measured by
power); and, second, the outlets must be closed whereby the strength and
ferment of the inferior class have been permitted to escape.
That there are even classes in the United States is vigorously denied by

War of the Classes
many; but it is incontrovertible, when a group of individuals is formed,
wherein the members are bound together by common interests which are
peculiarly their interests and not the interests of individuals outside the
group, that such a group is a class. The owners of capital, with their
dependents, form a class of this nature in the United States; the working
people form a similar class. The interest of the capitalist class, say, in the
matter of income tax, is quite contrary to the interest of the laboring class;
and, VICE VERSA, in the matter of poll-tax.
If between these two classes there be a clear and vital conflict of
interest, all the factors are present which make a class struggle; but this
struggle will lie dormant if the strong and capable members of the inferior
class be permitted to leave that class and join the ranks of the superior
class. The capitalist class and the working class have existed side by side
and for a long time in the United States; but hitherto all the strong,
energetic members of the working class have been able to rise out of their
class and become owners of capital. They were enabled to do this because
an undeveloped country with an expanding frontier gave equality of
opportunity to all. In the almost lottery-like scramble for the ownership of
vast unowned natural resources, and in the exploitation of which there was
little or no competition of capital, (the capital itself rising out of the
exploitation), the capable, intelligent member of the working class found a
field in which to use his brains to his own advancement. Instead of being
discontented in direct ratio with his intelligence and ambitions, and of
radiating amongst his fellows a spirit of revolt as capable as he was
capable, he left them to their fate and carved his own way to a place in the
superior class.
But the day of an expanding frontier, of a lottery-like scramble for the
ownership of natural resources, and of the upbuilding of new industries, is
past. Farthest West has been reached, and an immense volume of surplus
capital roams for investment and nips in the bud the patient efforts of the
embryo capitalist to rise through slow increment from small beginnings.
The gateway of opportunity after opportunity has been closed, and closed
for all time. Rockefeller has shut the door on oil, the American Tobacco
Company on tobacco, and Carnegie on steel. After Carnegie came Morgan,

War of the Classes
who triple- locked the door. These doors will not open again, and before
them pause thousands of ambitious young men to read the placard: NO
And day by day more doors are shut, while the ambitious young men
continue to be born. It is they, denied the opportunity to rise from the
working class, who preach revolt to the working class. Had he been born
fifty years later, Andrew Carnegie, the poor Scotch boy, might have risen
to be president of his union, or of a federation of unions; but that he would
never have become the builder of Homestead and the founder of
multitudinous libraries, is as certain as it is certain that some other man
would have developed the steel industry had Andrew Carnegie never been
Theoretically, then, there exist in the United States all the factors
which go to make a class struggle. There are the capitalists and working
classes, the interests of which conflict, while the working class is no
longer being emasculated to the extent it was in the past by having drawn
off from it its best blood and brains. Its more capable members are no
longer able to rise out of it and leave the great mass leaderless and helpless.
They remain to be its leaders.
But the optimistic mouthpieces of the great American people, who are
themselves deft theoreticians, are not to be convinced by mere theoretics.
So it remains to demonstrate the existence of the class struggle by a
marshalling of the facts.
When nearly two millions of men, finding themselves knit together by
certain interests peculiarly their own, band together in a strong
organization for the aggressive pursuit of those interests, it is evident that
society has within it a hostile and warring class. But when the interests
which this class aggressively pursues conflict sharply and vitally with the
interests of another class, class antagonism arises and a class struggle is
the inevitable result. One great organization of labor alone has a
membership of 1,700,000 in the United States. This is the American
Federation of Labor, and outside of it are many other large organizations.
All these men are banded together for the frank purpose of bettering their
condition, regardless of the harm worked thereby upon all other classes.

War of the Classes
They are in open antagonism with the capitalist class, while the manifestos
of their leaders state that the struggle is one which can never end until the
capitalist class is exterminated.
Their leaders will largely deny this last statement, but an examination
of their utterances, their actions, and the situation will forestall such denial.
In the first place, the conflict between labor and capital is over the division
of the join product. Capital and labor apply themselves to raw material and
make it into a finished product. The difference between the value of the
raw material and the value of the finished product is the value they have
added to it by their joint effort. This added value is, therefore, their joint
product, and it is over the division of this joint product that the struggle
between labor and capital takes place. Labor takes its share in wages;
capital takes its share in profits. It is patent, if capital took in profits the
whole joint product, that labor would perish. And it is equally patent, if
labor took in wages the whole joint product, that capital would perish. Yet
this last is the very thing labor aspires to do, and that it will never be
content with anything less than the whole joint product is evidenced by the
words of its leaders.
Mr. Samuel Gompers, president of the American Federation of Labor,
has said: "The workers want more wages; more of the comforts of life;
more leisure; more chance for self-improvement as men, as trade-unionists,
assume new forms, but the issue is the immemorial one,--an effort of the
producers to obtain an increasing measure of the wealth that flows from
their production."
Mr. Henry White, secretary of the United Garment Workers of
America and a member of the Industrial Committee of the National Civic
Federation, speaking of the National Civic Federation soon after its
inception, said: "To fall into one another's arms, to avow friendship, to
express regret at the injury which has been done, would not alter the facts
of the situation. Workingmen will continue to demand more pay, and the
employer will naturally oppose them. The readiness and ability of the

War of the Classes
workmen to fight will, as usual, largely determine the amount of their
wages or their share in the product. . . But when it comes to dividing the
proceeds, there is the rub. We can also agree that the larger the product
through the employment of labor-saving methods the better, as there will
be more to be divided, but again the question of the division. . . . A
Conciliation Committee, having the confidence of the community, and
composed of men possessing practical knowledge of industrial affairs, can
therefore aid in mitigating this antagonism, in preventing avoidable
conflicts, in bringing about a TRUCE; I use the word 'truce' because
understandings can only be temporary."
Here is a man who might have owned cattle on a thousand hills, been a
lumber baron or a railroad king, had he been born a few years sooner. As it
is, he remains in his class, is secretary of the United Garment Workers of
America, and is so thoroughly saturated with the class struggle that he
speaks of the dispute between capital and labor in terms of war,--workmen
FIGHT with employers; it is possible to avoid some CONFLICTS; in
certain cases TRUCES may be, for the time being, effected.
Man being man and a great deal short of the angels, the quarrel over
the division of the joint product is irreconcilable. For the last twenty years
in the United States, there has been an average of over a thousand strikes
per year; and year by year these strikes increase in magnitude, and the
front of the labor army grows more imposing. And it is a class struggle,
pure and simple. Labor as a class is fighting with capital as a class.
Workingmen will continue to demand more pay, and employers will
continue to oppose them. This is the key-note to LAISSEZ FAIRE,--
everybody for himself and devil take the hindmost. It is upon this that the
rampant individualist bases his individualism. It is the let-alone policy, the
struggle for existence, which strengthens the strong, destroys the weak,
and makes a finer and more capable breed of men. But the individual has
passed away and the group has come, for better or worse, and the struggle
has become, not a struggle between individuals, but a struggle between
groups. So the query rises: Has the individualist never speculated upon the
labor group becoming strong enough to destroy the capitalist group, and
take to itself and run for itself the machinery of industry? And, further, has

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the individualist never speculated upon this being still a triumphant
expression of individualism,--of group individualism,--if the confusion of
terms may be permitted?
But the facts of the class struggle are deeper and more significant than
have so far been presented. A million or so of workmen may organize for
the pursuit of interests which engender class antagonism and strife, and at
the same time be unconscious of what is engendered. But when a million
or so of workmen show unmistakable signs of being conscious of their
class,--of being, in short, class conscious,--then the situation grows serious.
The uncompromising and terrible hatred of the trade-unionist for a scab is
the hatred of a class for a traitor to that class,--while the hatred of a tradeunionist for the militia is the hatred of a class for a weapon wielded by the
class with which it is fighting. No workman can be true to his class and at
the same time be a member of the militia: this is the dictum of the labor
In the town of the writer, the good citizens, when they get up a Fourth
of July parade and invite the labor unions to participate, are informed by
the unions that they will not march in the parade if the militia marches.
Article 8 of the constitution of the Painters' and Decorators' Union of
Schenectady provides that a member must not be a "militiaman, special
police officer, or deputy marshal in the employ of corporations or
individuals during strikes, lockouts, or other labor difficulties, and any
member occupying any of the above positions will be debarred from
membership." Mr. William Potter was a member of this union and a
member of the National Guard. As a result, because he obeyed the order of
the Governor when his company was ordered out to suppress rioting, he
was expelled from his union. Also his union demanded his employers,
Shafer & Barry, to discharge him from their service. This they complied
with, rather than face the threatened strike.
Mr. Robert L. Walker, first lieutenant of the Light Guards, a New
Haven militia company, recently resigned. His reason was, that he was a
member of the Car Builders' Union, and that the two organizations were
antagonistic to each other. During a New Orleans street-car strike not long
ago, a whole company of militia, called out to protect non-union men,

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resigned in a body. Mr. John Mulholland, president of the International
Association of Allied Metal Mechanics, has stated that he does not want
the members to join the militia. The Local Trades' Assembly of Syracuse,
New York, has passed a resolution, by unanimous vote, requiring union
men who are members of the National Guard to resign, under pain of
expulsion, from the unions. The Amalgamated Sheet Metal Workers'
Association has incorporated in its constitution an amendment excluding
from membership in its organization "any person a member of the regular
army, or of the State militia or naval reserve." The Illinois State Federation
of Labor, at a recent convention, passed without a dissenting vote a
resolution declaring that membership in military organizations is a
violation of labor union obligations, and requesting all union men to
withdraw from the militia. The president of the Federation, Mr. Albert
Young, declared that the militia was a menace not only to unions, but to all
workers throughout the country.
These instances may be multiplied a thousand fold. The union
workmen are becoming conscious of their class, and of the struggle their
class is waging with the capitalist class. To be a member of the militia is to
be a traitor to the union, for the militia is a weapon wielded by the
employers to crush the workers in the struggle between the warring
Another interesting, and even more pregnant, phase of the class
struggle is the political aspect of it as displayed by the socialists. Five men,
standing together, may perform prodigies; 500 men, marching as marched
the historic Five Hundred of Marseilles, may sack a palace and destroy a
king; while 500,000 men, passionately preaching the propaganda of a class
struggle, waging a class struggle along political lines, and backed by the
moral and intellectual support of 10,000,000 more men of like convictions
throughout the world, may come pretty close to realizing a class struggle
in these United States of ours.
In 1900 these men cast 150,000 votes; two years later, in 1902, they
cast 300,000 votes; and in 1904 they cast 450,000. They have behind them
a most imposing philosophic and scientific literature; they own illustrated
magazines and reviews, high in quality, dignity, and restraint; they possess

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countless daily and weekly papers which circulate throughout the land,
and single papers which have subscribers by the hundreds of thousands;
and they literally swamp the working classes in a vast sea of tracts and
pamphlets. No political party in the United States, no church organization
nor mission effort, has as indefatigable workers as has the socialist party.
They multiply themselves, know of no effort nor sacrifice too great to
make for the Cause; and "Cause," with them, is spelled out in capitals.
They work for it with a religious zeal, and would die for it with a
willingness similar to that of the Christian martyrs.
These men are preaching an uncompromising and deadly class
struggle. In fact, they are organized upon the basis of a class struggle.
"The history of society," they say, "is a history of class struggles. Patrician
struggled with plebeian in early Rome; the king and the burghers, with the
nobles in the Middle Ages; later on, the king and the nobles with the
bourgeoisie; and today the struggle is on between the triumphant
bourgeoisie and the rising proletariat. By 'proletariat' is meant the class of
people without capital which sells its labor for a living.
"That the proletariat shall conquer," (mark the note of fatalism), "is as
certain as the rising sun. Just as the bourgeoisie of the eighteenth century
wanted democracy applied to politics, so the proletariat of the twentieth
century wants democracy applied to industry. As the bourgeoisie
complained against the government being run by and for the nobles, so the
proletariat complains against the government and industry being run by
and for the bourgeoisie; and so, following in the footsteps of its
predecessor, the proletariat will possess itself of the government, apply
democracy to industry, abolish wages, which are merely legalized robbery,
and run the business of the country in its own interest."
"Their aim," they say, "is to organize the working class, and those in
sympathy with it, into a political party, with the object of conquering the
powers of government and of using them for the purpose of transforming
the present system of private ownership of the means of production and
distribution into collective ownership by the entire people."
Briefly stated, this is the battle plan of these 450,000 men who call
themselves "socialists." And, in the face of the existence of such an

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aggressive group of men, a class struggle cannot very well be denied by
the optimistic Americans who say: "A class struggle is monstrous. Sir,
there is no class struggle." The class struggle is here, and the optimistic
American had better gird himself for the fray and put a stop to it, rather
than sit idly declaiming that what ought not to be is not, and never will be.
But the socialists, fanatics and dreamers though they may well be,
betray a foresight and insight, and a genius for organization, which put to
shame the class with which they are openly at war. Failing of rapid success
in waging a sheer political propaganda, and finding that they were
alienating the most intelligent and most easily organized portion of the
voters, the socialists lessoned from the experience and turned their
energies upon the trade-union movement. To win the trade unions was
well-nigh to win the war, and recent events show that they have done far
more winning in this direction than have the capitalists.
Instead of antagonizing the unions, which had been their previous
policy, the socialists proceeded to conciliate the unions. "Let every good
socialist join the union of his trade," the edict went forth. "Bore from
within and capture the trade-union movement." And this policy, only
several years old, has reaped fruits far beyond their fondest expectations.
Today the great labor unions are honeycombed with socialists, "boring
from within," as they picturesquely term their undermining labor. At work
and at play, at business meeting and council, their insidious propaganda
goes on. At the shoulder of the trade-unionist is the socialist, sympathizing
with him, aiding him with head and hand, suggesting--perpetually
suggesting--the necessity for political action. As the JOURNAL, of
Lansing, Michigan, a republican paper, has remarked: "The socialists in
the labor unions are tireless workers. They are sincere, energetic, and selfsacrificing. . . . They stick to the union and work all the while, thus
making a showing which, reckoned by ordinary standards, is out of all
proportion to their numbers. Their cause is growing among union laborers,
and their long fight, intended to turn the Federation into a political
organization, is likely to win."
They miss no opportunity of driving home the necessity for political
action, the necessity for capturing the political machinery of society

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whereby they may master society. As an instance of this is the avidity with
which the American socialists seized upon the famous Taft-Vale Decision
in England, which was to the effect that an unincorporated union could be
sued and its treasury rifled by process of law. Throughout the United
States, the socialists pointed the moral in similar fashion to the way it was
pointed by the Social-Democratic Herald, which advised the tradeunionists, in view of the decision, to stop trying to fight capital with
money, which they lacked, and to begin fighting with the ballot, which
was their strongest weapon.
Night and day, tireless and unrelenting, they labor at their selfimposed task of undermining society. Mr. M. G. Cunniff, who lately made
an intimate study of trade-unionism, says: "All through the unions
socialism filters. Almost every other man is a socialist, preaching that
unionism is but a makeshift." "Malthus be damned," they told him, "for
the good time was coming when every man should be able to rear his
family in comfort." In one union, with two thousand members, Mr.
Cunniff found every man a socialist, and from his experiences Mr. Cunniff
was forced to confess, "I lived in a world that showed our industrial life atremble from beneath with a never-ceasing ferment."
The socialists have already captured the Western Federation of Miners,
the Western Hotel and Restaurant Employees' Union, and the
Patternmakers' National Association. The Western Federation of Miners, at
a recent convention, declared: "The strike has failed to secure to the
working classes their liberty; we therefore call upon the workers to strike
as one man for their liberties at the ballot box. . . . We put ourselves on
record as committed to the programme of independent political action. . . .
We indorse the platform of the socialist party, and accept it as the
declaration of principles of our organization. We call upon our members as
individuals to commence immediately the organization of the socialist
movement in their respective towns and states, and to cooperate in every
way for the furtherance of the principles of socialism and of the socialist
party. In states where the socialist party has not perfected its organization,
we advise that every assistance be given by our members to that end. . . .
We therefore call for organizers, capable and well-versed in the whole

War of the Classes
programme of the labor movement, to be sent into each state to preach the
necessity of organization on the political as well as on the economic field."
The capitalist class has a glimmering consciousness of the class
struggle which is shaping itself in the midst of society; but the capitalists,
as a class, seem to lack the ability for organizing, for coming together,
such as is possessed by the working class. No American capitalist ever
aids an English capitalist in the common fight, while workmen have
formed international unions, the socialists a world-wide international
organization, and on all sides space and race are bridged in the effort to
achieve solidarity. Resolutions of sympathy, and, fully as important,
donations of money, pass back and forth across the sea to wherever labor
is fighting its pitched battles.
For divers reasons, the capitalist class lacks this cohesion or solidarity,
chief among which is the optimism bred of past success. And, again, the
capitalist class is divided; it has within itself a class struggle of no mean
proportions, which tends to irritate and harass it and to confuse the
situation. The small capitalist and the large capitalist are grappled with
each other, struggling over what Achille Loria calls the "bi-partition of the
revenues." Such a struggle, though not precisely analogous, was waged
between the landlords and manufacturers of England when the one
brought about the passage of the Factory Acts and the other the abolition
of the Corn Laws.
Here and there, however, certain members of the capitalist class see
clearly the cleavage in society along which the struggle is beginning to
show itself, while the press and magazines are beginning to raise an
occasional and troubled voice. Two leagues of class-conscious capitalists
have been formed for the purpose of carrying on their side of the struggle.
Like the socialists, they do not mince matters, but state boldly and plainly
that they are fighting to subjugate the opposing class. It is the barons
against the commons. One of these leagues, the National Association of
Manufacturers, is stopping short of nothing in what it conceives to be a
life-and-death struggle. Mr. D. M. Parry, who is the president of the league,
as well as president of the National Metal Trades' Association, is leaving
no stone unturned in what he feels to be a desperate effort to organize his

War of the Classes
class. He has issued the call to arms in terms everything but ambiguous:
As he says, the work is for "federating employers in order that we may
meet with a united front all issues that affect us. We must come to this
sooner or later. . . . The work immediately before the National Association
of Manufacturers is, first, KEEP THE VICIOUS EIGHT-HOUR BILL
BILL, which wrests your business from you and places it in the hands of
your employees; third, to secure the PASSAGE OF THE DEPARTMENT
OF COMMERCE AND INDUSTRY BILL; the latter would go through
with a rush were it not for the hectoring opposition of Organized Labor."
By this department, he further says, "business interests would have direct
and sympathetic representation at Washington."
In a later letter, issued broadcast to the capitalists outside the League,
President Parry points out the success which is already beginning to attend
the efforts of the League at Washington. "We have contributed more than
any other influence to the quick passage of the new Department of
Commerce Bill. It is said that the activities of this office are numerous and
satisfactory; but of that I must not say too much--or anything. . . . At
Washington the Association is not represented too much, either directly or
indirectly. Sometimes it is known in a most powerful way that it is
represented vigorously and unitedly. Sometimes it is not known that it is
represented at all."
The second class-conscious capitalist organization is called the
National Economic League. It likewise manifests the frankness of men
who do not dilly-dally with terms, but who say what they mean, and who
mean to settle down to a long, hard fight. Their letter of invitation to
prospective members opens boldly. "We beg to inform you that the
National Economic League will render its services in an impartial
educational movement TO OPPOSE SOCIALISM AND CLASS
HATRED." Among its class-conscious members, men who recognize that
the opening guns of the class struggle have been fired, may be instanced

War of the Classes
the following names: Hon. Lyman J. Gage, Ex-Secretary U. S. Treasury;
Hon. Thomas Jefferson Coolidge, Ex-Minister to France; Rev. Henry C.
Potter, Bishop New York Diocese; Hon. John D. Long, Ex-Secretary U. S.
Navy; Hon. Levi P. Morton, Ex-Vice President United States; Henry
Clews; John F. Dryden, President Prudential Life Insurance Co.; John A.
McCall, President New York Life Insurance Co.; J. L. Greatsinger,
President Brooklyn Rapid Transit Co.; the shipbuilding firm of William
Cramp & Sons, the Southern Railway system, and the Atchison, Topeka,
& Santa Fe Railway Company.
Instances of the troubled editorial voice have not been rare during the
last several years. There were many cries from the press during the last
days of the anthracite coal strike that the mine owners, by their
stubbornness, were sowing the regrettable seeds of socialism. The World's
Work for December, 1902, said: "The next significant fact is the
recommendation by the Illinois State Federation of Labor that all members
of labor unions who are also members of the state militia shall resign from
the militia. This proposition has been favorably regarded by some other
labor organizations. It has done more than any other single recent
declaration or action to cause a public distrust of such unions as favor it.
The OUTLOOK, February 14, 1903, in reference to the rioting at
Waterbury, remarks, "That all this disorder should have occurred in a city
of the character and intelligence of Waterbury indicates that the industrial
war spirit is by no means confined to the immigrant or ignorant working
That President Roosevelt has smelt the smoke from the firing line of
the class struggle is evidenced by his words, "Above all we need to
remember that any kind of CLASS ANIMOSITY IN THE POLITICAL
WORLD is, if possible, even more destructive to national welfare than
sectional, race, or religious animosity." The chief thing to be noted here is
President Roosevelt's tacit recognition of class animosity in the industrial
world, and his fear, which language cannot portray stronger, that this class
animosity may spread to the political world. Yet this is the very policy

War of the Classes
which the socialists have announced in their declaration of war against
present-day society--to capture the political machinery of society and by
that machinery destroy present-day society.
The New York Independent for February 12, 1903, recognized without
qualification the class struggle. "It is impossible fairly to pass upon the
methods of labor unions, or to devise plans for remedying their abuses,
until it is recognized, to begin with, that unions are based upon class
antagonism and that their policies are dictated by the necessities of social
warfare. A strike is a rebellion against the owners of property. The rights
of property are protected by government. And a strike, under certain
provocation, may extend as far as did the general strike in Belgium a few
years since, when practically the entire wage-earning population stopped
work in order to force political concessions from the property-owning
classes. This is an extreme case, but it brings out vividly the real nature of
labor organization as a species of warfare whose object is the coercion of
one class by another class."
It has been shown, theoretically and actually, that there is a class
struggle in the United States. The quarrel over the division of the joint
product is irreconcilable. The working class is no longer losing its
strongest and most capable members. These men, denied room for their
ambition in the capitalist ranks, remain to be the leaders of the workers, to
spur them to discontent, to make them conscious of their class, to lead
them to revolt.
This revolt, appearing spontaneously all over the industrial field in the
form of demands for an increased share of the joint product, is being
carefully and shrewdly shaped for a political assault upon society. The
leaders, with the carelessness of fatalists, do not hesitate for an instant to
publish their intentions to the world. They intend to direct the labor revolt
to the capture of the political machinery of society. With the political
machinery once in their hands, which will also give them the control of the
police, the army, the navy, and the courts, they will confiscate, with or
without remuneration, all the possessions of the capitalist class which are
used in the production and distribution of the necessaries and luxuries of
life. By this, they mean to apply the law of eminent domain to the land,

War of the Classes
and to extend the law of eminent domain till it embraces the mines, the
factories, the railroads, and the ocean carriers. In short, they intend to
destroy present-day society, which they contend is run in the interest of
another class, and from the materials to construct a new society, which
will be run in their interest.
On the other hand, the capitalist class is beginning to grow conscious
of itself and of the struggle which is being waged. It is already forming
offensive and defensive leagues, while some of the most prominent figures
in the nation are preparing to lead it in the attack upon socialism.
The question to be solved is not one of Malthusianism, "projected
efficiency," nor ethics. It is a question of might. Whichever class is to win,
will win by virtue of superior strength; for the workers are beginning to
say, as they said to Mr. Cunniff, "Malthus be damned." In their own minds
they find no sanction for continuing the individual struggle for the survival
of the fittest. As Mr. Gompers has said, they want more, and more, and
more. The ethical import of Mr. Kidd's plan of the present generation
putting up with less in order that race efficiency may be projected into a
remote future, has no bearing upon their actions. They refuse to be the
"glad perishers" so glowingly described by Nietzsche.
It remains to be seen how promptly the capitalist class will respond to
the call to arms. Upon its promptness rests its existence, for if it sits idly
by, soothfully proclaiming that what ought not to be cannot be, it will find
the roof beams crashing about its head. The capitalist class is in the
numerical minority, and bids fair to be outvoted if it does not put a stop to
the vast propaganda being waged by its enemy. It is no longer a question
of whether or not there is a class struggle. The question now is, what will
be the outcome of the class struggle?

War of the Classes
Mr. Francis O'Neil, General Superintendent of Police, Chicago,
speaking of the tramp, says: "Despite the most stringent police regulations,
a great city will have a certain number of homeless vagrants to shelter
through the winter." "Despite,"--mark the word, a confession of organized
helplessness as against unorganized necessity. If police regulations are
stringent and yet fail, then that which makes them fail, namely, the tramp,
must have still more stringent reasons for succeeding. This being so, it
should be of interest to inquire into these reasons, to attempt to discover
why the nameless and homeless vagrant sets at naught the right arm of the
corporate power of our great cities, why all that is weak and worthless is
stronger than all that is strong and of value.
Mr. O'Neil is a man of wide experience on the subject of tramps. He
may be called a specialist. As he says of himself: "As an old-time desk
sergeant and police captain, I have had almost unlimited opportunity to
study and analyze this class of floating population, which seeks the city in
winter and scatters abroad through the country in the spring." He then
continues: "This experience reiterated the lesson that the vast majority of
these wanderers are of the class with whom a life of vagrancy is a chosen
means of living without work." Not only is it to be inferred from this that
there is a large class in society which lives without work, for Mr. O'Neil's
testimony further shows that this class is forced to live without work.
He says: "I have been astonished at the multitude of those who have
unfortunately engaged in occupations which practically force them to
become loafers for at least a third of the year. And it is from this class that
the tramps are largely recruited. I recall a certain winter when it seemed to
me that a large portion of the inhabitants of Chicago belonged to this army
of unfortunates. I was stationed at a police station not far from where an
ice harvest was ready for the cutters. The ice company advertised for
helpers, and the very night this call appeared in the newspapers our station
was packed with homeless men, who asked shelter in order to be at hand
for the morning's work. Every foot of floor space was given over to these

War of the Classes
lodgers and scores were still unaccommodated."
And again: "And it must be confessed that the man who is willing to
do honest labor for food and shelter is a rare specimen in this vast army of
shabby and tattered wanderers who seek the warmth of the city with the
coming of the first snow." Taking into consideration the crowd of honest
laborers that swamped Mr. O'Neil's station-house on the way to the icecutting, it is patent, if all tramps were looking for honest labor instead of a
small minority, that the honest laborers would have a far harder task
finding something honest to do for food and shelter. If the opinion of the
honest laborers who swamped Mr. O'Neil's station-house were asked, one
could rest confident that each and every man would express a preference
for fewer honest laborers on the morrow when he asked the ice foreman
for a job.
And, finally, Mr. O'Neil says: "The humane and generous treatment
which this city has accorded the great army of homeless unfortunates has
made it the victim of wholesale imposition, and this well- intended policy
of kindness has resulted in making Chicago the winter Mecca of a vast and
undesirable floating population." That is to say, because of her kindness,
Chicago had more than her fair share of tramps; because she was humane
and generous she suffered whole-sale imposition. From this we must
conclude that it does not do to be HUMANE and GENEROUS to our
fellow-men--when they are tramps. Mr. O'Neil is right, and that this is no
sophism it is the intention of this article, among other things, to show.
In a general way we may draw the following inferences from the
remarks of Mr. O'Neil: (1) The tramp is stronger than organized society
and cannot be put down; (2) The tramp is "shabby," "tattered," "homeless,"
"unfortunate"; (3) There is a "vast" number of tramps; (4) Very few tramps
are willing to do honest work; (5) Those tramps who are willing to do
honest work have to hunt very hard to find it; (6) The tramp is undesirable.
To this last let the contention be appended that the tramp is only
PERSONALLY undesirable; that he is NEGATIVELY desirable; that the
function he performs in society is a negative function; and that he is the
by-product of economic necessity.
It is very easy to demonstrate that there are more men than there is

War of the Classes
work for men to do. For instance, what would happen tomorrow if one
hundred thousand tramps should become suddenly inspired with an
overmastering desire for work? It is a fair question. "Go to work" is
preached to the tramp every day of his life. The judge on the bench, the
pedestrian in the street, the housewife at the kitchen door, all unite in
advising him to go to work. So what would happen tomorrow if one
hundred thousand tramps acted upon this advice and strenuously and
indomitably sought work? Why, by the end of the week one hundred
thousand workers, their places taken by the tramps, would receive their
time and be "hitting the road" for a job.
Ella Wheeler Wilcox unwittingly and uncomfortably demonstrated the
disparity between men and work. {1} She made a casual reference, in a
newspaper column she conducts, to the difficulty two business men found
in obtaining good employees. The first morning mail brought her seventyfive applications for the position, and at the end of two weeks over two
hundred people had applied.
Still more strikingly was the same proposition recently demonstrated
in San Francisco. A sympathetic strike called out a whole federation of
trades' unions. Thousands of men, in many branches of trade, quit work,--
draymen, sand teamsters, porters and packers, longshoremen, stevedores,
warehousemen, stationary engineers, sailors, marine firemen, stewards,
sea-cooks, and so forth,--an interminable list. It was a strike of large
proportions. Every Pacific coast shipping city was involved, and the entire
coasting service, from San Diego to Puget Sound, was virtually tied up.
The time was considered auspicious. The Philippines and Alaska had
drained the Pacific coast of surplus labor. It was summer-time, when the
agricultural demand for laborers was at its height, and when the cities
were bare of their floating populations. And yet there remained a body of
surplus labor sufficient to take the places of the strikers. No matter what
occupation, sea-cook or stationary engineer, sand teamster or
warehouseman, in every case there was an idle worker ready to do the
work. And not only ready but anxious. They fought for a chance to work.
Men were killed, hundreds of heads were broken, the hospitals were filled
with injured men, and thousands of assaults were committed. And still

War of the Classes
surplus laborers, "scabs," came forward to replace the strikers.&



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