THE LABOR MOVEMENT
[By VWBUX.I INTERNATIONAL LABOR ORGANISATIONS It is now just over 50 years since the first attempt waa made to establish an m* tcmational organisation of Labor. The question was hrst seriously discussed during tho London International Exhibition ot 1862. In that year a large number ol French and German workers came to s«o the Exhibition, and wore entertained by various societies of worlonen. At these meetings the condition of the workers in the various countries was discussed, ana It was considered desirable to form an international organisation, so that the ■workers in every country should be Kept* ■in touch with each other. This was specially necessary in times when tne workers in any one country were fighting lor better conditions, and strikes and lock-outs were taking place. In the past employers had been able to bring over foreign workmen, but thla could be prevented by means of tho suggested organisation, by which could be sent to the workers of other countries. It must bo remembered that in those days news travelled slowlv. There was no Labor or halfpenny Press, and the newspapers did not concern themselves with the condition of the workers. Nothing practical was effected at the time, but .two years later, when somo foreign workmen were imported into England to smash a strike, the London unionists were roused to action. On September 28, 1364, a meeting was held in St. Martin s Hall, London, and ” The International Working Men’s Association ” was formed. The principal trade union leaders took part in the proces dings, and jeoama its managing commitUv?. The late Sir W ilHam Randall Cremor was its first secretary, and Ocljjer, Alien, Howell, and Applegarth were its most active advocates. Applegarth is still an active politician, and a few years ago ho attempted to form a league for technical education. Mi- G. B. Clark, writing in tho ‘ Socialist Review, 1 say.-: “Like the Labor party, the Inteflistional was formed of Socialists, Radicals, and trade unionists, but they all combined to lessen the hours of labor and to secuiv better wages and a higher standard of comfort for the worker. It was undoubted!' - English in its origin, and among its feuropean founders the influence of Mazzini was greater than that of Marx. The British members derived most of their political and economic ideas from Adam Smith, Robert Owen, Thompson, Mill. CarIvle. and Ruskin, and not, as is sometimes asserted, from a German source. Adam .Smith taught that ‘ the produce of labor is the natural recompense or wage of labor.' and fthat the laborer was robbed of this natural recompense by the artificial deductions of rent and profit. The economic philosophy ot Smith, Given, nod Mill inspired most of the leaders, and they desired, as soon as possible, to bring about a condition of society under which tho full results of the value of labor should 1.0 secured for the laborer. Hence they proposed the nationalisation of land and capital. Mill had shown that increase of production owing to machinery had not improved the lot of the laborer, and that the great problem to be solved was 1 how to unite the greatest individual liberty of action with a common ownership in the raw material of the globe, and an equal participation of all in tho benefits of combined labor.’ This problem, stated by Mill, is the one which tho founders of the International had to solve. Then, as now, tho lords of land and money monopolised tho Government and the Legislature, and used their influence to maintain the natural monopoly of land and the artificial monopoly of capital, by means of which the laborer is deprived of the full and just reward of his toil. Tho required reforms could bo obtained principally by political action, and they demanded adult suffrage in all countries. The workers were urged to unite themselves together in their trades, and thus to exert pressure to bring about minor reforms. Congresses were held in London in 1865, in Geneva in 1866, in Lausanne in 1867, in Brussels in 1868, in Berne in 1869, and in j The Hague in 1872, when resolutions were j passed regarding the aims and objects of j the movement and on the methods of ob- I taining them. The question of war came : up at the Brussels Congress, and it was . resolved to co-operate with the peace so- j cieties in preventing wars. Should wars be proposed the workers were advised to start a national strike. Delegates were also elected to represent the International at the Peace Congress in Berne.” At first the British trade union leaders dominated the movement, and. until the 1 end, they were the moat influential element | in it. As the movement grow, lenders ; from other countries came in. with different ideas for attaining the end they had in view—i.e., the destruction of tho present land and capitalist systems. Ultimately, three groups or parties developed, based to a largo extent on racial lines. Thoeo wore tho British group, the Teutonic group, led hy Marx, and the combined Latin and Slavonic group, led by Bakounin. The poliev oi the British group was a. purely opportunist one Their principal object was to obtain an increase, of wages, ami a lessening of hours of labor. They wanted political and economic reforms, indeed, tt. reconstitution of society, but knowing the conservative character of tho British people thev proposed reform step by step, as public opinion for tho time being would permit. Marx and tho Teutonic group had different ideas. They hold that a social revolution was inevitable. They consideied that it would be brought about by one oi the economic crises which necessarily result from our present industrial system, that these crises would become worse, :-o that tho people, driven by ifKscrv, would take possession of the Government- by- force. The Teutonic group, consequently, wanted to prepare for the oncoming Social Revolution and to organ i.=o a centralised Go-operative Commonweaith. Tho Latin and Slavonic group were Anarchists, and were opposed to the usof political weapons. They wanted t» bring about the Social Revolution by means of a genctal strike, a.nit they were as much opp.isf.rl to the new centralised | Government, which the Marxists proposed to set up. as tlvy were to the existing Governments. I he diversity of aims and the hostility ovolo 1 by attempts to capture the organisation t'nnlly catired its destruction. The movement, spread whir great- rapidity in most of th.> European countries, ind in several of them national fcdcra-iic-no tver-e established. Until 1370, the General Council, which held iln meetings in London, controlled British affairs. In tltatvcor, as a result of the growth of t!r* movement, eectbns were formed in most of | tho largo towns, and as many trade unions i had been affiliated, a British Federation | wm also formed. In July, 1872, a national congress was held in Nottingham to consider the politi cal position and to adopt a definite programme for tho federation- The first resolution passed enjoined tho formation of a. new political party, by means of which the workers could solve the social problem and work out their own salvation. A committee was appointed to draft a programme. The following were tho loading plants in the platform when finally adopted:—Adult Suffrage; Proportional Representation; Free, Compulsory, and Secular Education—-primary, secondary, technical, and university; the Nationalisation of Lands. Mines, and the Means of Production; and the Establishment of a State Bank with a monopoly of note issue. Such was the programme of the Congress held 42 years ago. The last Congress of the Old International Federation was held in The Hague in September, 1872, and Mr dark credits Karl Marx with being the causa of its destruction by packing tho congress with his supperters, who secured a majority on the Credential Committee. There was no correctly defined bails of representation at the ewngress, and all sorts «f credentials were a—opted. lOwja of Marx's supporters wore faomd, while thoeo of many of his opponents were refused. with the result that he had a majority in tho congress. It was determined to remove tho council to Now York, as tho British members were opposed to Marx’s policy. The British baden had sot only organised ths„
movement, but they had also financed it. The greater part of tho money spent cm Ike work had been found in England. There were no men in New York able to carry on the organisation! or to find tho necessary funds to maintain tho movement. Nothing was done in America. Thus passed away the “ Old International. Seventeen years later! 400 de-le-gates met at Paris to inaugurate tne New International. Great Britain was represented by about 20 delegates, including William Morris, the poet, Cunninghams Grahame, Keir Hardie, and (the Rignt Hon.) John Burns. It hae wisely limited its membership to (genuine Socialist and trade union organisations that are united both in object and method of attaining it. It meets as a rulo triennially, ami has a permanent (secretariat at Brussels. -Some measure of tho success of the new movement, which represents the modern spirit- which is rousing the workers of the world, must bo attributed to tho inspiration and preparation of its forerunner the “ Old International.” THE EDUCATION QUESTION AND LABOR. There has never been any doubt as to the attitude of tho Labor party on the Education Question. Forty-two years ago Free, Compulsory, and Secular Education was one of the loading features of the British Labor party’s platform. In the first platform of the Dunedin Workers’ Political Committee free and secular education from the primary school to the university, to he compulsory up to the ago of 14, etc., had a prominent place. In the Victorian State election last- month the -Scripture Campaign League declared that they would support only candidates in favor of tho introduction of Scripture lessons in the State school curriculum. On the other hand, the Catholic Federation declared that their members must support only those candidates, irrespective of party, who arc in favor of a separate grant for Catholic schools. Mr Geo. Elraslie, Leader of the Labor party in Victoria, speaking of the attitude of his party to this question, just before tho elections said : “We are Opposed to, and will, if returned, refuse to vote cither in favor of the referendum or the giving of a, separate grant. We intend to stand, as we have always stood, for the dcors of our State schools open to all, without distinction, the instruction imparted founded on tho cardinal principle of our Education Act —viz,, free, secular, and compulsory. To the threats that have been made—the statements that all other great political questions will bo as nought—that the public interest in its many and varied aspects shall be cast aside, and the questions mentioned be the only point on which Parliament ie to bo elected, we turn a deaf ear, being fully convinced that the attitude referred to is inimical to wholesome, good, and national I government, and that the great bulk of the people, whether Catholic or Protestant, will not tolerate such tactics, and will, in no uncertain way, express its abhorrence. The present system is open to all, is free to all, is compulsory to alllb denies to no one in any way its advantages, encourages friendship and esteem and all that is good by its freedom. It- recognises no'denomination. It places no bar on religion, prevents no man or woman from exercising tho .greatest of liberty as to how he shall worship his Maker. Summed up, hands off the Education Act. The following are the proposed amendments to our education system : —That free, secondary, technical, agricultural, and domestic education bo provided for all primary school children who pass the necessary qualifying examination, and that higher university education be free to all students who qualify by passing the prescribed examination; that tho management of tho university bo incorporated with tho Department of Public Instruction under the responsible Minister.” There are many supporters of the. Bible in State schools amongst tho organised workers. There are also many Prohibitionists amongst the workers, but tho chances are that they will in most cases place the question of Labor before either of the other questions when they cast their votes for candidates on the ICth inst. In doing so they will show their wisdom, for, after all, the others are only side issues, which, if entertained at all, are likely to cause dissensions in the ranks of Labor.
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THE LABOR MOVEMENT, Evening Star, Issue 15668, 5 December 1914
THE LABOR MOVEMENT Evening Star, Issue 15668, 5 December 1914
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