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Labor Education


H. H. Broach

An address given before a central
labor union.

To most of you the labor struggle is pretty much an old story. Again and again you have had the evils of our industrial system related to you; how we are surrounded by abuse and injustice on all sides; how our people are tricked, gulled and deceived by the fake cries of the politicians; of the treason of the judiciary; of the inside weaknesses of our own organizations -all of this has been told you again and again. And as a remedy practically every speaker has insisted that we organize more and more; that we stick together more; that we refuse to betray one another; and that we register and vote correctly. Now all of this is true, quite true; but to many of you it has become a rather tiresome story.

So on this occasion I shall take the liberty to talk to you about what seems to me to be the most fundamental issue of them all, and that is education, labor, social and industrial education not the kind that will teach correct grammar merely, and technical education is out of the question, but the kind which is not and cannot be taught in childhood, and which can be taught only to mature minds—the kind that the ordinary school does not and will not teach, and the kind which is just as important for the worker as a medical education is for a practicing physician.

I say it is the most fundamental of all the issues, because there can be no real hope; there can be no complete solution of anything until there is correct understanding. To merely organize is not enough; this is not the end. If we make no effort to go farther, we simply confirm ourselves to the commodity and wage status. And while organization is power, it means nothing unless we are equipped to use it intelligently and effectively, for with power come great responsibilities. I have seen some of our strongest and most powerful organizations crumble and go to pieces almost over night, all because those in them did not know how properly to use the power that was theirs. So education, labor education, is the very basis of permanent, worthwhile and responsible organization. And if I had my way, every man who enters the labor movement, every one who is a candidate for office would be required first to stand a certain examination to determine his qualifications. Some day we will come to that. It is already being done in two national organizations, and, I understand, works out that way in all labor organizations in England.

And is it now quite clear to all of us that the workers have too long, too sadly, depended entirely on their sheer mass strength and bare hands to bring them results? You know that all too many of them have failed to use their heads for anything except as cushions for the clubs of policemen, armed guards and militiamen. We must be broad enough to admit that there is a vast amount of ignorance in our ranks-ignorance of the every day problems with which the organizations are constantly grappling, ignorance of the desperate struggle we are in and how to deal with it in an intelligent and practical way. This ignorance among ourselves positively must be fought before we can hope successfully to combat the ignorance and selfishness of unscrupulous employers and their agents.

In our youth, we receive, as you know, very little education. What we do receive is but elementary, like reading, writing, arithmetic and a bit of history-history that is poisonous and very often untrue. Only one-third of our children receive the grammar school course, according to figures approved by the government. Only 10 per cent finish high school, and over 75 per cent are forced to leave school before they reach the seventh grade. Army tests revealed that 29 per cent of all men called in the draft could not read nor write, and that more than 70 out of every 100 possessed the mental equipment of only a twelve year old child. Only 14 out of 1,000 get a college education; and these 14 are taught to be very astute, with the result that they take considerable advantage of the other 986. They fill our pulpits, edit our daily papers and magazines, occupy our executive positions, fill our law making bodies, and because of training and environment are, with few exceptions, opposed to the interests of labor.

But we must make the best of the situation; we must educate ourselves; we must take education to the workers, for the farther we go, the more our conditions improve, the more serious our problems become. It is out of our very progress that our problems arise. If there were no progress there would be no labor problem any more than there is a horse or an ox problem. Every step we advance, the greater our discontent becomes with the wrongs that exist, and the greater our responsibities become. So we must make workers' education an integral part of our union movement. Our self-preservation demands it. We must learn more about the forces at play that caused the formation of the labor movement, just what we are driving for and where we expect to land; we must understand that it deals not only with theories but mainly with facts and conditions as they are conditions and problems that it, and it alone, must solve.

We must study the industrial spy business; labor history; some social and industrial history, and the labor problem as it is today. We must study the co-operative movement, boycotts and strikes; politics, local, state and national government; the science of government; the use of injunction in labor disputes; the question of free speech, free press and free assembly; and the cause, the effect and the remedy of the corruption of public officials and their big capacity for absorbing public funds, those things they do which are specifically denied them in the statutes and the constitution. And above all we must study how to express ourselves clearly, distinctly, and forcefully. It is up to your central body, up to you leaders, to organize little study classes; to hold good lectures and get the workers out. Better still, get to every union in the city and arouse the workers to the need of education. See that they devote at least 30 minutes of each meeting to the subject. Pass out good, live reading matter. Get them interested; encourage them to get material and get off to themselves and they will do the rest. The live ones will find their way; the dead ones you cannot help.

Of course, you will not arouse a great number, because so few are vigorous and serious-minded. But no matter how small the number, it is more than worth the effort, because it is better to have only a handful of thinkers, even slow, clumsy, and deliberate thinkers, than a multitude of believers who only think they are thinking. Those who respond will be worth more than their weight in gold to this movement of struggle and progress.

So my plea is : let us be honest with ourselves and do the thing we know we ought to do; let us strive not only to educate ourselves in our own way, but work unceasingly to have the country's many institutions opened up and used for truly educational purposes, and not stop until the schoolhouse again becomes the symbol of the democratic meeting place of all the people, as well as the training house of their children.

Opinion Manufacturers


H. H. Broach

From an address given before con-
vention of a State Federation of

When we stop to think of it, it really seems inconceivable that people who are bruised and bleeding from deadly propaganda can still be made to support the worst kinds of scoundrels, that they will aid, step by step, in securely binding their own hands and go right on allowing themselves to be led to slaughter without a halter-all by the cheapest kinds of newspaper lying and deception. But they do it; they keep right on swallowing lie after lie and insult after insult and stand idly by while these poisonous, truth-killing sheets owned by their foes go merrily on their way making and breaking men, destroying reputations, lynching and killing innocent victims, trying court cases and making men innocent or guilty, whichever serves their purpose.

And they keep on getting away with it simply because the thinking and acting of the mass of the people have become stereotyped. The ceaseless outpour of lies and half-truths upon plastic minds often causes them to surrender every value for which they stand. Persons are bluffed, coaxed and flattered into imagining that they stand on the very side that their enemies support; they are not permitted to really know nor belong to themselves, but are always held in readiness to wiggle and waggle in whatever direction these deceiving propaganda mills desire.

We must remember this: Most people read, though they do not think at all—they simply repeat what they read as their own opinions. They become banner toters. Their “views” mean nothing but the views of press agents and editorial writers who write what they are told to write by those who pay them. And these clever prostitutes manufacture “public opinion” just as bricks are made and they deliver it as ordered. Always they are eager to serve their "public" which actually represents less than 4 per cent of the people. Truth is at their mercy and they have the mob orator and leader backed off the boards.

Their papers, as Charles Edward Russell has told us, are the most enterprising in the world when it comes to reporting wars between nations; they spend millions to describe every event, no matter how trivial; their correspondents are on every battlefield to follow the movements of each army. The American people are kept remarkably well informed regarding such matters. They know all about every battle, thousands of miles away, almost as soon as it occurs. But bloody wars and battles can be waged almost daily in this country by privately armed guards, mounted police, gunmen and gangsters, against wage workers and their families; armored cars, loaded with Gatling guns, machine guns and sawed-off shot guns, can descend on helpless men, women and babes, shooting up and setting fire to homes and creating the most bloody and revolting scenes, and men can be stripped of their rights in the most brutal fashion, and the public at large is told nothing or next to nothing about such alarming facts.

Whenever these papers do refer to these horrible but common occurrences, the truth is twisted and suppressed, white is made to look black, and black white, and the people are drugged into a state of indifference, or made bitterly to hate the workers and their unions. Newspapers are simply reeling with power. Why, all the combined power ever wielded by the great autocrats of history, by the Alexanders, Caesars, Tamburlaines and Napoleons never came near equalling that now wielded by the Associated Press alone—a great thought-creating engine that causes over 30,000,000 minds to have the same thought at the same time. Who could dream of greater power?

And all this is but a repetition of what has been said over and over again. It's nothing new. Most of the wage workers now know that 90 per cent of the newspapers and magazines in this country are out and out liars, and they have little but contempt for them; they know that they are owned and controlled by the same interests that control the courts and the Government; that wherever possible they are getting possession of those publications that display any liberal tendencies, only to destroy or transform them into organs of reaction. Witness the recent wrecking of four great dailies in New York by Frank Munsey. They know all this, yet they go right on allowing the deadly propaganda of their enemies to enter their homes and poison and shape the minds of their wives and little ones, thus turning them against the very things for which the fathers stand. I say this is just as bad as feeding them poisoned meat.

Then to make matters worse, they fail properly to support their own labor publications that are struggling for their very existence, and many of whose editors are in rags, giving up their lives in an attempt to give the people the truth. Of course, these publications are not dressed up in the latest frills and fashions; they waste no space telling about the doings of Laddie Boy or Spark Plug. But they carry the truth and will be made more attractive and “newsy" whenever they are given enough sup

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