Henry Greorgre on Strikes.
Henry George, m "Progress and Poverty," utters a warning against strikes. In a section of a chapter devoted to a consideration of the possibility of raising wages by combinations of workmen, he admits, that wages m particular occupations can'be advanced by combination; of the workers, but declares that the good that can be accomplished is limited, and can hardly be lasting. " The only way by which wages could be raised to an extent, and with any permanence, by this Method (combination) would be by- a general combination, such as was aimed at by the Internationals, which should include labourers of all kinds. But such a combination may be set down as practioally impossible. . . ." Mr George concludes his remarks on this subject as follows: "And, besides the practical difficulties m the plan of forcing by endurance an increase of wages, there are m such methods inherent disadvantages which working men should not blink. I speak without prejudice, for I am still an honorary member of a union which, while working at my trade, I always loyally supported. But see— the hiethods by which a trade union Gan alone' act are necessarily destructive ; its organisation is necessarily tyrannical, ; A strike, which is the only resource by which a trade union can •nforce its demands, is a destructive contest—just such a contest as that to which an eccentric, called the 'Money King' once, m the early days of San Francisco, challenged a man who had taunted him with meanness, that they should go down to the wharf and alternately t«sa twenty-doJlar ; pieces into the bay until one gave m. TJie struggle for endurance involved iii a strike' is, really, what it has often been cwn-' pared to,—a w»r; and, like a war,
lessens wealth. And the organisation for it must, like the organisation for war, be tyrannical. As even the man who would fight for freedom must, when he enters an army, give up his personal freedom and become a mere part of a great machine, w) must it be with workmen who organise for a strike. These combinations are, therefore, necessarily destructive of the very things which workmen seek to gain through them—wealth and freedom. There is an ancient Hindoo mode of compelling the payment of a just debt, traces of something akin to which Sir Henry Maine has found m the l«ws of the Irish Brehons. It is called 'sitting dharna'—the creditor seeking enforcement of his debt by sitting down at the door of the debtor, and refusing to eat or drink till he is paid. Like this is the method of labour combinations. In their strikes, trade unions 'sit dharna.' But, unlike the Hindoo, they have not the power of superstition to,back them."
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Henry Greorgre on Strikes., Ashburton Guardian, Volume VII, Issue 2504, 29 August 1890
Henry Greorgre on Strikes. Ashburton Guardian, Volume VII, Issue 2504, 29 August 1890
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