A sharp look, from a radical and libertarian socialist perspective, at the limitations of conservative trade-unionism and business union reformism. The essay first appeared as a three-part serialized review of George Gunton’s book Wealth and Progress, written for the Boston radical newspaper Liberty, . This edition collects the serialized articles together in print for the first time.
“FOR A SHORT TIME IT REALLY SEEMED AS IF THE DAY OF conservative ‘labor reform,’ trades-unionism, strikes, and boycotts, was over, and the emptiness of the talk about ‘fair wage,’ ‘harmony between capital and labor,’ arbitration, profit-sharing, and ‘the American way of adjusting difficulties’ demonstrated beyond a doubt. Today the fact which most impresses every student of the labor movement is that nearly all the able and influential leaders and tribunes of organized labor are, if not professedly Anarchistic or Socialistic, at least very pronounced in their tendencies and inclinations to either one or the other of these schools of radical and revolutionary reform . . . . Little is now heard about ‘fair wages,’ but the propositions that labor is entitled to its full natural reward, that usury must be abolished, and that capital must be dethroned, are everywhere being discussed.”
“SOCIALISTS KNOW THAT THE PRESENT CONFLICT BETWEEN capital and capital and capital and labor, this three-cornered fight, is the inevitable and direct effect of the inherent and fundamental vice of usury, which dooms the capitalistic system to an early
extinction. Because of this knowledge they pronounce all ‘moderate’ measures futile and ridiculous, and regard eight-hours and kindred remedies as about as efficacious as fasting and prayer. Socialists arrive at the conclusion that usury and equity, capitalism and social order, reward of capital and justice to labor, are mutually exclusive. Consequently they do not flatter, delude, or ‘pacify’ the laborer; neither do they waste any efforts on the humanization of capitalists. They declare that the capitalistic order must be wiped out. And all who desire progress without poverty must prepare to bury the whole system of usury forever. And labor, to secure equity, needs freedom, full freedom, and nothing but freedom. . . .”
Victor S. Yarros (1865–1956) was a Russian-American anarchist, one of the most prolific writers and speakers of the American individualist anarchist milieu. Yarros was originally attracted to communist anarchism but later became an individualist, stressing Spencer’s evolutionary theory and ‘law of equal liberty.’ Yarros was a close friend and co-worker of Benjamin Tucker’s, an editor and popularizer of the works
of Lysander Spooner, and sometime co-editor and frequent contributor to the individualist anarchist newspaper Liberty.
Introduced July 2013.