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The Pittsburgh manifesto became the most important landmark in the history of American anarchism, for, long after the organisation perfected at Pittsburgh had ceased to exist, it continued to be generally accepted by anarchists as the clearest statement of their creed.
The national federation established at Pittsburgh under the name of the International Working People's Association, or Black International, for short, became for a time, particularly after the Haymarket catastrophe, a veritable "bugaboo" of the terrified public. It took for its basis the autonomous group with a national information bureau as the connecting link. The Chicago pattern of local organisation was fully indorsed. Chicago was also authorised to elect the Information Bureau, which it did three weeks afterwards, naming August Spies as the English secretary, and Paul Grottkau, William Medon, and J. Micalonda as the German, French, and Bohemian secretaries respectively. The movement radiating from New York City, where Johann Most lived, was generally considered to express the official doctrines of the Black International. Chicago, however, was the largest centre of the Black International, and also the place where, as pointed out above, the blending of anarchism and trade unionism produced a kind of a "syndicalism" which was not dissimilar from the French "syndicalism" of to-day. Its principles can best be seen in its representatives, August Spies and Albert R. Parsons, who, from 1883 to 1886, propagated in the Vorbote and The Alarm 79 the views which they had reached in 1883 of ideal society, trade union action (or direct action), political action, and the use of violence in strikes. Their ideal of future society was voluntary association. "No constitutions, laws or regulations are necessary to unite the people. Nor were unions ever produced by such things, they are brought in after the union is effected to pre
79 The first issue of The Alarm appeared on Oct. 4, 1884. Prior to 1884 a very prominent position in the Chicago movement was occupied by Paul Grottkau, an extremely radical refugee from the German anti-socialist law. He was an influential speaker at meetings and a prominent contributor to the Arbeiter-Zeitung, where he advocated abstention from politics and energetic trade union action. However, he parted company with Spies
and Parsons after the Pittsburgh congress, when they changed from collectivis tic socialism into communistic anarchism. After a brief struggle he left for Milwau kee, where he became editor of a German paper, and managed in May, 1886, to become arrested as one of the authors of the notorious Bay View riot. He was declared guilty by the jury, but was let off by the judge with a mere nominal penalty.
vent disuniting, or to operate the union for other purposes. Do away with all contrivances for perpetuating unions and men will unite more readily and enthusiastically and accomplish infinitely more. We believe all rules and regulations only interfere with natural law to the disadvantage of mankind. We do not believe in State Socialism." 80
What, however, made Spies' and Parson's anarchistic philosophy distinctly "syndicalistic" was their theory of the importance of trade unions. "The International recognises in the trade union the embryonic group of the future 'free society.' Every Trade Union is, nolens volens, an autonomous commune in process of incubation. The Trades Union is a necessity of capitalistic production, and will yet take its place by superseding it under the system of universal free co-operation. No, friends, it is not the unions but the methods which some of them employ with which the International finds fault, and as indifferently as it may be considered by some, the development of capitalism is hastening the day when all Trades Unions and Anarchists will of necessity become one and the same." 81
A model trade union, in accordance with the "Chicago Idea " reached in 1883, was the Metal Workers' Federation Union of America, which was organised in 1885. It said in its Declaration of Principles as follows: "The Emancipation of Labor cannot be brought about whether by the regulation of the hours of labor or by the schedule of wages. The demands and struggles for higher wages or shorter hours, if granted, would only better the conditions of the wage-workers for a short time." The form of organisation of most of the trade unions as organised to-day is defective because they "are controlled by a few persons called an executive committee, who, however honest, are unable to see clearly, much less to instruct others as to the true position of the laboring masses." But, instead of the opportunism of the trade unions, the maxim should be adopted by the labour movement that "the entire abolition of the present system of society can alone emancipate the workers; being replaced by a new system, based upon co-operative organisation
80 The Alarm, Nov. 22, 1884. Precisely the same view was expressed by
Spies in the Chicago Vorbote, Mar. 25, 1885.
81 The Alarm, April 4, 1885.
of production in a free society." To this end the trade union should be so organised that "every member should be enabled to do his part in the work of progress; the management not centralising in the few, but resting with the whole body of workers." And further, "our organisation should be a school to educate its members for the new condition of society, when the workers will regulate their own affairs without any interference by the few, who are always more capable to betray their cause." At the same time" our organisation aims to secure for its members such remunerations as will enable them to live as human beings should live." But under no consideration should they resort to politics. "Since the emancipation of the productive classes must come by their own efforts, it is unwise to meddle in present politics." On the other hand, On the other hand, "all direct struggles of the laboring masses have our fullest sympathy." 82
Thus we find practically all the earmarks of present day syndicalism in this call of the metal workers' union issued in 1885; a craving for a "free society" of which the trade union is to be the formative cell, a distrust of centralised authority and of leadership, a condemnation of political action, and an advocacy of direct action instead. Add to this the idea of the
general strike," which at that time had not yet been theoretically developed, and of "sabotage," 83 and the Declaration of Principles might pass for a syndicalist programme of the twentieth century.
Nevertheless, although "syndicalism" as a philosophy had been reached already in 1883, a "syndicalist" movement was still wanting. This came with the general labour upheaval during 1884-1887.84
Entirely distinct from the Black International or the International Working People's Association was the Red International or the "International Workingmen's Association," secret organisation established by Burnette G. Haskell, of San Francisco, in 1881, and composed mostly of native Americans. It derived its name 66 Red" from the red cards which were
82 The Alarm, June 27, 1885. In Chicago there was an "armed section of the Metal Workers' Union." with the object to prepare for the evolution by learning the use of arms." Chicago Vorbote, June 23, 1885.
83 See Pouget. Le Sabotage; Estey, Revolutionary Syndicalism; Levine, Labor Movement in France; and Brooks, American Syndicalism: the I. W. W.
84 See below, II, 384 et seq.
issued to members and also because it advocated socialism instead of anarchism. However, like the Black International, it declared allegiance to the anarchistic International which was re-established at the London Congress in 1881 as the continuation of the old International Workingmen's Association.
The form of organisation was the so-called "closed group system. This meant that each member of an original group of nine organised an additional group of nine; next, that each member of the new group in his turn organised a group of nine, and so forth, so that a member could have knowledge of the personnel of only two groups: the one to which he belonged himself and that which he himself had organised. The officers of a division, however, kept a record of all the members in the division. There were altogether two divisions: the Pacific Coast Division presided over by Haskell and the Rocky Mountain Division established.by Joseph R. Buchanan, of Denver, in 1883. Each division was entirely autonomous so that, to this extent, the International conformed to the anarchistic principle of organisation.85
85 Buchanan, The Story of a Labor Agitator, 254-289.
Haskell was of native parentage, a man with considerable. means, and a lawyer. However, he never practised his profession. In January, 1882, he founded the San Francisco Truth, as a weekly organ of the anti-Chinese "League of Deliverance," and, owing to his great though erratic ability, it immediately became an influential sheet on the coast. Haskell viewed the anti-Chinese issue merely as a preliminary step to a radical overhauling of society, but refused to class himself with any of the existing schools, preferring to keep independent and to work towards the unification of all. While he kept the columns of his paper open alike to members of the Socialist Labor party, to greenbackers, to Black Internationalists, and to others, his own philosophy, as far as he may be said to have had a clearly defined philosophy, was state socialism combined with an opposition to either political action or violence as policies for the present. Instead, he advocated a long campaign of education in preparation for the coming social revolution. In this spirit were framed the programme and the Declaration of the Rights of Man.86
86 Truth, Sept. 15, 1888.
Buchanan, being absorbed as he was in his work for the Knights of Labor,87 took a mere academic interest in the cause of the International, believing that for the present it should be confined to a few choice spirits rather than widely propagated among the working people. The number of such choice spirits, although including some of the prominent labour leaders of the country, hardly ever exceeded a thousand. Still it is true that the somewhat vague aspiration towards a better society, which the International suggests, had its roots directly in the contemporaneous labour movement and sprang from the conviction shared by many leaders of the time, that, though the labouring people might at times appear successful in their struggle, they were nevertheless incapable of securing lasting results.88
Alongside the two Internationals, the Socialist Labor party kept up an inconspicuous existence. After 1880, owing to the inroads made by anarchism, it had dwindled to a corporal's guard. It reached the lowest point in 1883, when there were only 30 sections with a total membership of about 1,500. A slight revival began in 1884. During this year 21 new sections were organised in the East and Middle West. In 1885 61 sections already existed. The centre of the movement was New York, with the daily New Yorker Volkszeitung edited by Alexander Jonas, and with Sergius Schevitsch, a Russian of noble birth, formerly in the diplomatic service of his country, and also for a time editor of the paper. The Socialist Labor party took no part in political campaigns until the political upheaval in New York in 1886.
87 See below, II, 867 et seq.
88 The Red International reached its highest point in 1886 and became amalga
mated with the Socialist Labor party in 1887.