Wednesday, March 29, 2017

The League makes its announcement

Counter Attack on Reaction Organized - Research Group to Aid Labor—Wants Production for Use Not Profit (1922)

"A counter attack on the autocratic forces" which it charges are in control of American industry and "practical work for the socialization of industry" were announced recently by the League for Industrial Democracy, a new organization of engineers, publicists, technicians, economists, lawyers and members of other professions. The League is a successor to the Intercollegiate Socialist Society, which has been in process of reorganization for some months. The officers are Prof. Robert Morss Lovett, of Chicago, president; Charles P. Steinmetz, of Schenectady, Evans Clark, Florence Kelley and Arthur Gleason, of New York, vice presidents; Stuart Chase, treasurer; Harry W. Laidler, secretary and director of research, and Norman Thomas, chairman of the Executive Committee. The executive work of getting the new plan under way is in charge of Roger N. Baldwin.

The League's statement which outlines the new program shows why a reorganization of the Intercollegiate Socialist Society was decided upon after fifteen years of its work in the colleges arousing interest in socialist principles. "Prior to the World War, the form of organization adopted by the Society was admirably fitted in many respects to current intellectual needs. The large majority of American collegians were either utterly ignorant of the existence of socialism and the socialist movement, or regarded socialism as a mere Utopian theory, remote from the practical realm of politics and economics. The war came. Old economic systems collapsed. New social forms developed. The socialist and other movements of labor made and remade history. Even 'educated' men and women in provincial America were compelled to acknowledge the existence and power of these movements; thousands learned to regard them as the one hope of civilization.

"In spite of all their activities our liberals and radicals have had little effect upon our social life. They have left the labor movement untouched. They have created little literature of the new social order. The pamphlet, that instrument of social change, has gone rusty from disuse. The socialists have been so splendidly busy that they haven't worked out a plan of nationalization for the mines. The syndicalists and radicals have been so active that they have not shown the next step in workers' control in factory committees.

"Only one main idea is in sight with driving force and the power to capture the imagination of these groups. The idea concerns itself with changing the basis of civilization. It is the idea of production for use, of work for service. But an idea like that does not descend from heaven and travel on its own momentum. It is hammered out by the faithful in close thinking.

"Our first objective is the technician, the teacher, the social worker, the brain worker generally included in the 'great middle class' - a class which may be counted upon to obstruct social change until an effort is made to bring its need before them in their own language. Our final objective is the worker and the farmer.

"Our job demands that added to its primary educational work, the League shall stimulate the hardest kind of thinking on the concrete problems of social ownership and democratic control of our industrial life. It demands that the League shall do its part to utilize in constructive tasks the hundreds of young idealists who have aligned themselves on the side of the new social order."

Among the immediate aims is the thorough study of industrial disputes in order to arouse the public to the evils of the present system. The two basic industries to get first attention are coalmining and railroad transportation, in which national strikes are threatened in the near future.

Any person is eligible to membership in the League for Industrial Democracy, whose national headquarters are 70 Fifth Avenue, New York City.

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