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The Everlasting District Attorney
WHILE District Attorney Fickert was in Los Angeles to do some repairing to his frame-up in the case of Tom Mooney, he gave in an interview the following:
"In San Francisco we are up against a shrewd, clever gang of radicals, and they are taxing the ingenuity and resouces of all our legal authorities to cope with them. Some of the best brains in the country are arraignes on the side of crime and violence and it behooves law abiding people to exercise the most stringent methods to cope with them."
Don't you know, Mr. Fickert, that the best brains and hearts of all lands have ever been arraigned on the side of social change? And that the "district attorneys" of all ages have ever crushed and maimed and killed the best of the race? Don't you know that Torquemada in cruel medieval Spain--but you probably don't know anything about that, "not being an educated man," as your assistant, Mr. Brennan, might say--. But to get down to something that you have heard of, don't you know that Jesus was murdered by a "district attorney" of his day in a court of law--and that he was perfectly "legally" executed?
Don't you know that your counterpart--stupid, brutish and corrupt in alliance with property interests--has ALWAYS expressed the lowest in the race, against which all the hopes and the dreams and the brightness of the world have had to struggle?
Yes, the best brains of the world are arraigned on the side of what district attorneys consider "crime and violence." They cannot help being. The mind of every great figure in the world's history has led him on to a dream that in the end clashed with your kind, Fickert, and made him a "convict." Socrates, Michelangelo, Giordano Bruno, Jesus, Emerson, Thoreau, John Brown, Martin Luther and Christopher Columbus--all were convicts, Fickert, at the hands of your kind.
And George Washington and Thomas Jefferson were "wanted by the ditrict attorney" of their day in this America, and it was because they escaped the clutches of "the law" that that flag exists which you now wave before your juries--asking them to murder an innocent boy.
Is Wilson Different?
THE political situation just now presents a rather peculiar phenomenon. Organized labor is mostly for Wilson--Sammie Gompers is stumping for him--and even some Socialists have publicly endorsed Woodrow.
It is peculiar, in the view of the very pertinent fact that Wilson is totally inimical to every basic principle of union labor. He is not only opposed to the closed shop, but to the eight-hour idea as well. At least he was, before he made his debut into politics, and there is nothing to show that he has experiences a change of heart in the White House. As President of Princeton University, Wilson said in the course of a baccalaureate address:
"You know what the usual standard of the employee is in our day. It is to fice as little as he may for his wages. Labot is standardized by the trades union, and this is the standard to which it is made to conform. In some trades and handicrafts no one is suffered to do more that the least skillful of his dellows can fo within the hours allowed to a day's labor, and no one can work out of hours at all or volunteer anything beyond the minimum.
"I need not point out how economically disastrous such a regulation of labor is. It is so unprofitable to the employer that in some trades it will presently not be worth his while to attempt anything at all. he had better stop altogether than to operate at an inevitable and invariable loss. The labor of America is rapidly becoming unprofitable under its present regulation by those who have determined to reduce it to a minimum. Out economic supremacy may be lost because the country grows more and more full of unprofitable servants."
Thu Wilson, as college president, "dissertationed" on the open shop. He looked on the producers of the country's wealth as servants, and his only thought was how to make them more profitable to the employer. The tendency of unionism to standardize labor and thus protect the weakest member (theoretically, at least) Wilson considered disastrous (to whom, I wonder).
There is no record that Wilson had changed his attitude in this matter. Of course, it is one of the prerogatives of politicians to tailor their "deepest convictions" accotgin to the exigencies of politics. But there is no reason to assume that the change from Princeton to Washington involved a change in Wilson's attitude toward organized labor, except as election needs might prompt. Why, then, is union labor in favor of Wilson? Is it merelt a choice of the lesser evil, as between Hughes and Wilson? If so, let us say so frankly.
"But the eight-hour law!" some one exclaims. "Does it not prove Wilson's change of attitude?"
Decidedly not. In the first place, it does not give anybody an wight-hour day who has been working more than eight hours. Any railroad trainman will tell you that. The so-called eight-hour law is not an eight-hour law at all. It is a wage increase measure: it gives ten hours' pay for eight hours' work, and overtime pay at the same rate for the hours in excess of eight. Incidentally, this 25 per cent wage increase applies only to the highest paid railroad employees. The lesser paid employees, who need an increase more, are not benefited by this law. Moreover, it is very questionable whether this much-made-of labor legislation will remain on the statute books very long. Several railroads have already announced that they will ignore the law. They feel assured, they say, that the Supreme Courts of their respective states will nullify the law on constitutional grounds. And the railroad magnates surely ought to know what their Supreme Courts will do for them.
Aside from that, however, the passage of the so-called eight-hour law does not prove in the least that Wilson has changed his Princeton attitude. The threat of a general railroad strike forced him to some action. To allow the strike would have been disastrous to Business, and Business is the Most Supreme Deity of our life. Wilson knew that he must prevent such a disaster, at any cost. He had no alternative but to do what he did, his own convictions notwithstanding. he did what Weakness always does in time of stress: Pass a law! No doubt he knew it to be a very opportune casting of bread on the political waters. Many suckers would bite, Wilson figured. Labor did. And even some Socialists.
Even some Socialists! Surely they know that, superficial personal idiosyncracies discounted, there is no essential difference between Wilson and Hughes. Both stand for capitalism and wage slavery. Both serve Mammon, for all their humanitarian and nationalistic bunk. If Wilson "kept us out of war," it is only because the Big Interests find it more profitable to do business with the warring nations that to engage in the actual slaughter. let it not be forgotten that it was President Wilson who signed bills appropriating hundreds of millions for military purposes. It was Wilson again who approved the law authorizing the President to draft citizens into the army, thus practically establishing conscription in this country. It is President Wilson's Postmaster General who has strangled more labor and radical publications that any former administration.
Wilson more progressive? Credulous stupidity!
Let politicians play at politics. It is too indecent a game for honest men and women. And the sooner the workers concentrate their attention on the real issue--the fight in the shop, factory and mill--the nearer they will come to the actual solution of their problem.