William E. Trautmann was born on this day in
Celebrate by reading this:
Direct Action and Sabotage
Published in 1912
Awful! An Awful Thing!
A street speaker, once being asked by a bystander, was pressed to answer whether the socialists approved of direct action and sabotage. “Oh no, no, they are opposed to it, they are denouncing it, it is an anarchist doctrine.” Again the persistent bystander put the question. “What then is direct action, what is sabotage? It should be explained if so repulsive as a weapon of the workers in the warfare against the capitalist class.” — “Destruction of human life by dynamite, of property with powder and other explosives, repetitions of McNamara outrages,” was the cocksure reply. The crowd yelled approval, the craft unionists in that crowd nodded their heads as an impressive demonstration that the trades union principals were not to be held responsible for the McNamaras. A labor fakir or two yelled themselves hoarse exclaiming: “Gompers and the American Federation of Labor disapprove such methods as direct action and sabotage, it’s the illegitimate organization, the Industrial Workers of the World, that preaches the use of direct action and sabotage, they ought to be outlawed.” And a lonely member of the Socialist Labor Party added to it: “It’s Haywood and his gang of anarchists who advocate ‘Direct Action,’ and other uncivilized methods, and therefore we of the Detroit Socialist Labor Party have repudiated them.”
And these assurances by the “intellectual” fountain heads of the labor movement are passed unchallenged, and travel all over the country as indisputable facts. They form the basis for discussions and resolutions, and in the official records of many a body of workers these terms of “direct action” and “sabotage” are inscribed as meaning something that must be tabooed.
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