Jack Houston’s Editorials in the OBU Bulletin: 1 November 1919
New Kinds of Unions
Man’s native endowment is a bundle of wants and certain capacities. The wants are stable, practicably unchangeable; the capacities by means of which he satisfies his wants or needs are subject to reflection and consideration; are, therefore, in constant flux and change and are dynamic.
As man’s technology improved production increased until a surplus was both a possibility and a fact. Then the egotistic of the “I” feelings came uppermost. Force and fraud were enthroned and the unsocial units of society became ruling classes; the worthy and useful units became slaves. The state became an institution, through which by force and fraud, the workers were ruled and governed and compelled to labor that their masters might enjoy, in dignified ease. The state being a class state and therefore, the political state, all political struggles and all class struggles have been for control of the state, or have been in resistance to the state.
Not so very long ago Prof. Veblen spoke of the possibility and the probability of a union of skilled technologists in the near future. In this issue mention is made of a federation of intellectuals now being attempted in France. Prof. Giddings of Columbia was interviewed a short time on the subject of middle class unions. Arthur Meighen is worried over occupational political action and over all the world hovers the horrible spectre of Bolshevism.
Dr. Veblen appears to have a few sane ideas on the union of the intellectual technicians. The union would be all right because it would be a job trust in which there were but a limited number of eligibles. It would be able to make the boss come across because there would be no one to replace them on strike. In time the specialized skill and efficiency could be acquired by those who are slightly less skilled, but to forestall this [the] union would make common cause with ordinary labor and the hold-up of the bosses would be effectual. Veblen thinks the results would be an overturning state.
Giddings, who is the Moses of the Sociologists, says that the American people are individualistic and that they could not agree, and says that no proletarian effort to establish class rule could succeed. Giddings also appears to believe in the state as some kind of a magical entity endowed with purpose and capable of forming designs.
The state as an institution which exists as a going concern. When it loses its character as an instrument to serve the particular interests of a class, it will no more be the state. In the meantime, classes with peculiar interest are going to form democratic parties and combinations to get control of the state so as to use it to serve their own ends.
The recent elections have seen the farmers take such action, with such an object in view. The Industrial Revolution has brought into play new forces and new parties and new fields for the display of political activities. The representatives in the legislature now stand for industrial interests rather than for the geographical constituencies that elected them. One man is a C.P.R. follower, another protects the German nickel interests, another takes the banks under his wing, while the grain speculators have a man Friday to watch over their special interests.
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