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Regarding Strikes and the Drift Towards Socialism

Written by Louis Even on Monday, 01 June 1959. Posted in Social Credit

The Union of Electors and its French-language counterpart, Vers Demain, are read by people from every class. Among their readers are a large number of workers who depend upon their wages for a living. Many of these belong to unions and some of them have not always agreed with our attitude concerning the problems of workers especially where strikes are concerned. They, perhaps, conclude that these papers are against workers unions or that Social Credit is for the bosses and against the worker.

An ill-founded accusation

Such an accusation can only come from an ignorance or a misunderstanding of Social Credit. Social Credit is above and beyond any class rivalry. Social Credit condemns any exploitation of man by man. The realization and application of Social Credit principles would liberate all those who today are oppressed whether the oppressor be the employer, the cartels, the local petty dictator or the dictatorship of a federal government.

Under a Social Credit financial regime, the automatic financing of production to meet all our needs would permit workers to rise from their status of the mere employed to become their own employers, alone or in association with others; or to pass from the ranks of the salaried to become associates in the enterprise in which they are working.

Informed Crediters those who belong to unions as well as those who don't, understand this very well. And it is from among the workers that our Social Credit movement recruits its most active members. It is in the workers centers — Montreal, Three Rivers, Quebec, Levis, Hull, Sherbrooke, Shawinigan, Asbestos, Thetford, Victoriaville, Drummondville, St. Hyacinthe, Chicoutimi, Arvida, Jonquiere, Kenogami, etc. — that we find the most active teams of subscription takers, going out to work each weekend.

The Union of Electors is a Social Credit paper. Now Social Credit which is based upon the principle of the increment of association (all benefit from the fact of mens' association together in a society) cannot possibly be against any association of individuals, freely and legitimately entered into, for the purpose of pursuing a common ideal or common interests. But any such association must not seek its own interests to the detriment of the legitimate interests of others. Also, the liberty to enter an association and to leave it or refrain from entering it must be scrupulously respected.

Concerning strikes

The Union of Electors has always taken the greatest care to avoid condemning workers' unions as such. And even when it condemns the errancy of unions, their decisions which the paper judges to be harmful to the welfare of the community, it directs its condemnation at the leaders of the unions rather than at the members. Such is the case with those articles appearing in the Union of Electors and Vers Demain with regard to strikes.

It seems fairly obvious that the inspiration, the spirit motivating a strike comes from those directing unions rather than from the members themselves. True enough, a strike is never unleashed without a majority vote of the membership being in favor of such a move; but before such a vote, the groundwork and atmosphere favoring a strike vote is well prepared; such as the drawing up of contracts utterly unacceptable, the taking of positions from which there is no backing away, the fanning of emotions to a white-hot pitch in the assemblies.

It is true that the strike is a legitimate weapon. But more and more, today, the strike is taking on the aspects of a war; the harm they do outweighs the rather dubious advantages the strikers count on winning. And the evils consequent upon a strike affect not only the striker, not only his family, but the community in which he lives and sometimes even the country. The district of Saguenay has not yet recovered from the effects of a four month strike by the Arvida union which took place less than two years ago. Today the district is hard hit by unemployment, total or partial, affecting a great number; and the results are felt in more than a quarter of its families. This latter scourge — unemployment — would certainly have been a great enough evil in itself without having to have been preceded by that first evil, the strike.

Ontario was recently afflicted by a three month strike on the part of the nickel miners in Sudbury. Who wanted this strike? As at Arvivda, the strike was decided on by a majority vote of the miners themselves. But these miners had been tricked by their directors, as had been those at Arvida. A spontaneous revolt by the miners forced the directors to put an end to the strike when the directors began to talk of retalliation against those miners who spoke of going back to work. So you see that the executives of the union who presided over the strike vote, were pushed aside without hesitation by the miners who were outraged at having been made to suffer for nothing.

The district of Sudbury is still suffering the deep and widespread effects of this last strike; and yet there are agitators pushing for another strike in another industry of that same community. Is it possible to be more contemptuous of the welfare of the community?

Let the smallest spark of a strike spring up somewhere and the bigwigs of our unions set to work with all their skill to fan this spark into a flame. And if the flame is already there they exercise the utmost vigilance to see that it does not die out. A strike of wood cutters broke out in Newfoundland at the end of last December. In less than three months it cost a million and a quarter dollars in salaries lost; which is a staggering loss for a poor island desperately in need of money. And this does not take into consideration the terrible moral harm inflicted by the violence of the strikers which ended in open, armed conflict with the federal police. And when the strike threatened to die out because the Newfoundlanders were finally reaching agreement with the companies, the mighty moguls of Montreal and Toronto raised a tremendous hue and cry; they tried to arouse the entire population of Canada and align the federal government against the provincial government of Newfoundland — which government is completely sovereign in all that concerns the workers within its boundaries.

Again, in these strikes, what consideration is given to personal freedom, to the natural night of each man to work and earn a living for himself and his family? No majority ever has any right to violate the natural rights of a minority. If 65 percent vote for the strike and 35 against, why should the 35 percent which wishes to remain at work, be forced to join the other 65 percent who want to walk out?

Alright – such a majority vote may in effect safeguard the right of the union as the legal bargaining agent of the workers. But that it should prevail as a barrier to bar the road to work to those who place the welfare of their families above a mere additon of votes, is something that we, personally, find quite unjustifiable.

The fact that we have recourse to counting votes in order to decide which among several candidates will have a certain seat in parliament is no worse than drawing straws. But to decide by the same method whether you and I are going to have the right or not to earn the bread that keeps our families alive, is a situation which no amount of casuistry can justify.

Agents of socialism

Another accusation brought against our publications by certain unionists, is that we attack the heads of unions on the grounds that they use their position and influence to further the cause of socialism.

Well, it is a fact that they do and our papers shall continue to brand them as fomenters and cultivators of socialism. We are against socialism. We don't want it; not even the watered down, "social-democrat" type, which is just a means of getting socialism down our throats in doses. Lenin was a social-democrat before he turned bolshevist. It was the social-democrat party which fomented the first revolution in the Spring of 1917 which in turn led to the revolution of October which established Sovietism in Russia.

But, in fact, are our unions, such as, for example, the Catholic Confederation of Workers, really drifting towards socialism?

Here again, we must make the distinction between the leaders and the rank and file; between the leaders of today and those men who founded the unions in the past. There are among these directors, men who do not pertain to the particular type of work represented by the union; they have no craft at all. Yet these particular individuals use the union as a springboard to vault into politics. And these politics very often turn out to be socialistic. The central direction of the Catholic Confederation of Workers has become an office where are prepared the leaders of socialism in French Canada. And across the broad sweep of Canada, we find the powerful Canadian Labor Congress, with its 1,150,000 members, preparing to form a new political party with the CCF. The CCF is the acknowledged socialist party of Canada. Stanley Knowles, former CCF deputy leader is the vice-president of the Canadian Labor Congress under Claude Jodoin. He it is who has been entrusted with the job of laying the foundation for this new party. Recently he reported in Winnipeg: "Forums and seminars are being held all over the country. Support is exceeding our expectations. We aim to be going strong for the next federal election." Can anyone deny that this new party will not veer strongly towards socialism — if it is not out-and-out socialism? But again we must stress this question: what part has the rank and file in this movement; how much voice have they been given in the decision to form this new socialist party?

It is very true that the existing financial economic system does not and cannot give satisfaction. The status quo is only sustained by those who profit from it or by those who, though gaining little, are satisfied to serve as foremen of the slaves for the little satisfaction they get from the office.

So it is quite natural that those who are accustomed to think should turn and search for something else. There are only two alternatives: Socialism or Social Credit. Social Credit breaks financial dictatorship while respecting the liberty and the possessions of each individual; it makes each citizen a shareholder in the country, with dividends coming to him, dividends above and outside of what he might earn by other means.

Social Credit would bring a far-reaching liberation, not only for the worker but for the entire society. With Social Credit there would no longer be any question of crises, of unemployment, of crushing taxes, of exploitation of the have-nots by the haves, of class warfare, of strikes, of spiraling prices. Rather there would be personal liberty, security for all, a security based not on the whims and caprices of financiers but based on the vast productive capacity of the country.

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