Sabotage is objected to on the ground that it destroys the moral fiber of the individual, whatever that is! The moral fibre of the workingman! Here is a poor workingman, works twelve hours a day seven days a week for two dollars a day in the steel mills of Pittsburg. For that man to use sabotage is going to destroy his moral fiber. Well, if it does, then moral fiber is the only thing he has left. In a stage of society where men produce a completed article, for instance if a shoemaker takes a piece of raw leather, cuts it, designs it, plans the shoes, makes every part of the shoes, turns out a finished product, that respresents to him what the piece of sculpturing represents to the artist, there is joy in handicraftsmanship, there is joy in labor. But can anyone believe that a shoe factory worker, one of a hundred men, each doing a small part of the complete whole, standing before a machine for instance and listening to this ticktack all day long -- that such a man has any joy in his work or any pride in the ultimate product? The silk worker for instance may make beautiful things, fine shimmering silk. When it is hung up in the window of Altman's or Macy's or Wanamaker's it looks beautiful. But the silk worker never gets a chance to use a single yard of it. And the producing of the beautiful thing instead of being a pleasure is instead a constant aggravation to the silk worker. They make a beautiful thing in the shop and then they come home to poverty, misery, and hardship. They wear a cotton dress while they are weaving the beautiful silk for some demi monde in New York to wear.
I remember one night we had a meeting of 5,000 kiddies. (We had them there to discuss whether or not there should be a school strike. The teachers were not telling the truth about the strike and we decided that the children were either to hear the truth or it was better for them not to go to school at all.) I said, ``Children, is there any of you here who have a silk dress in your family? Anybody's mother got a silk dress?'' One little ragged urchin in front piped up, ``Shure, me mudder's got a silk dress.''
I said, ``Where did she get it?'' -- perhaps a rather indelicate question, but a natural one.
He said, ``Me fadder spoiled the cloth and had to bring it home.''
The only time they get a silk dress is when they spoil the goods so that nobody else will use it; when the dress is so ruined that nobody else would want it. Then they can have it. The silk worker takes pride in his products! To talk to these people about being proud of their work is just as silly as to talk to the street cleaner about being proud of his work, or to tell the man that scrapes out the sewer to be proud of his work. If they made an article completely or if they made it all together under a democratic association and then they had the disposition of the silk -- they could wear some of it, they could make some of the beautiful salmon-colored and the delicate blues into a dress for themselves -- there would be pleasure in producing silk. But until you eliminate wage slavery and the exploitation of labor it is ridiculous to talk about destroying the moral fiber of the individual by telling him to destroy ``his own product.'' Destroy his own product! He is destroying somebody else's enjoyment, somebody else's chance to use his product created in slavery. There is another argument to the effect that ``If you use this thing called sabotage you are going to develop in yourself a spirit of histility, a spirit of antagonism to everybody else in society, you are going to become sneaking, you are going to become cowardly. It is an underhanded thing to do.'' But the individual who uses sabotage is not benefiting himself alone. If he were looking out for himself only he would never use sabotage. It would be much easier, much safer not to do it. When a man uses sabotage he is usually intending to benefit the whole; doing an individual thing but doing it for the benefit of himself and others together. And it requires courage. It requires individuality. It creates in that workingman some self-respect for and self-reliance upon himself as a producer. I contend that sabotage instead of being sneaking and cowardly is a courageous thing, is an open thing. The boss may not be notified about it through the papers, but he finds out about it very quickly, just the same. And the man or woman who employs it is demonstrating a courage that you may measure in this way: How many of the critics would do it? How many of you, if you were dependent on a job in a silk town like Paterson, would take your job in your hands and employ sabotage? If you were a machinist in a locomotive shop and had a good job, how many of you would risk it to employ sabotage? Consider that and then you have the right to call the man who uses it a coward -- if you can.
Limiting The Over-Supply of Slaves