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Manitoba History No. 89
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Jack Houston’s Editorials in the OBU Bulletin: 20 March 1920

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English Labor and Direct Action

A London dispatch, dated March 11th, tells us that the Labor Congress specially called on that day to decide on the means to be followed in regard to bringing about nationalization of the mines, had decided against the principle of Direct Action. The matter is made to read as if labor had rejected direct action as a principle in all its entirety. This is not so. Labor will use direct action when it is compelled to do so. Direct action, however, on the part of labor, when labor is fully organized, carries with it consequences so dire and destructive that it must not be played with as children play with a toy. Direct action involves the complete stoppage, of the present economic system and as a consequence, when labor reports in direct action, labor must be so trained and disciplined through actual experience in doing things that they have the organization to carry on, all ready to hand. All the direct actionists in the world, who adjure all other tactics, could succeed in nothing except in causing confusion and failure. If they were not prepared with the substitute organization. The future of direct action will lie in the direction of a short time strike as a demonstration of solidarity and determination. Even then, the necessity must be grave which would call into being the use of such a powerful weapon. Direct action is in the nature of sabotage and the evil effects of sabotage can be fully understood when we see the results of the evil things as used day by day by the present owners of capital.

There should be no necessity for direct action on the part of labor fully organized and organized on the basis of understanding the economic system as it is. Capitalism is day by day revealing its weakness. Capital must expand or die. The limits for its expansion have been reached in many directions and soon all avenues will be clogged. Then nothing remains but self-destruction through conflict and wars. The human race will soon see the impossibility of capitalism and an economic system will be evolved where all must work so hard as to render social service, where all will be equal, where all will participate in the enjoyment of the social product because everyone will be compelled to do his bit. It is the job for labor to make the change. The change only awaits the growth of understanding that is the growth of pervasive culture. When that comes into being the final push to the house of cards may come through direct action or it may come from an insurgent militarized or it may come through parliamentary action. Any old way will be a good way.

Page revised: 3 August 2013

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