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CHAPTER III.: DURING THE STRIKE. - Yves Guyot, The Tyranny of Socialism 
The Tyranny of Socialism, ed. J.H. Levy (London: Swan Sonnenschein and Co., 1894).
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DURING THE STRIKE.
Prohibition to Work—Strikes an Episode in the Social War—Threats—Confectioners—Navvies—In Amiens—Coachmen—Strike of Belgian Glass-Blowers—The Homestead Strike—Other Strikes in the United States—The Decazeville Strike—Assassination of M. Watrin—Carmaux—M. Humblot—Explosion in the Rue des Bons-Enfants.
Strikes are declared for the substantial motives enumerated above. From the moment that the striker has left his yard, his shop, his factory, or his mine, he does not permit one of his mates to go there either.
It is vain to try and prove to him that the very principle of human liberty is to do, or not to do, as one chooses; and that he is guilty of an outrageous tyranny when he demands that a workman shall give up living upon his labour.
The great majority of strikers, if not all, answer:—From the moment that I decline to work, I forbid all others to work. If they resist, so much the worse for them. We shall strike them.
Under these circumstances, a strike does not represent to the striker an economic means of acting upon the Law of Supply and Demand. It is an instrument of oppression and an episode in social war.
He resorts to violence. All over the place may be seen men forming themselves into groups, and heaping insults and injuries on those of their fellow-workmen who decline to take part in the strike. In 1884, at Anzin, they were not content with threats; they laid waste the gardens of the non-strikers. Two thousand strikers went to the Renard pit to prevent those who had been at work from coming to the surface.
In the month of August, 1882, at Montceau-les-Mines, the revolutionary Collectivists wrote some letters in red ink, on white paper, drawn up as follows:—
“The Committee has, in the name of justice, condemned the aforesaid X . . . . to death.”
“The Delegate of . . . . ”
Bands of men paraded the streets shouting a song of which we give the first couplet:—
They did not confine themselves to singing. They threatened and they pillaged.
In Paris, in August, 1888, the strikes of the confectioners and navvies were full of episodes of intimidation. A band of waiters went, at 7.30 a.m., and plundered the Café Vachette and the Brasserie du Bas-Rhin. For several days they attempted to invade several cafés on the Boulevards.
Not only did the navvies go to sweep away the sheds, but they took their fellow-workmen, who were at work, prisoners, and carried them off. Citizen Goullé called out at the Bourse du Travail:—At the Dieudonnet sheds there are sixty navvies at work; there are more than ten thousand of you. Go and turn them out!”
Then they came back and boasted of their exploits:
“You ought to be pleased with us, citizens, we have kicked the bottom out of the dung-carts! And we carried about a citoyenne of the Rue-Moulin-des-Pres in triumph, because she upset one of them by herself. Naturally, if the carters resist, we strike them. If the guardians of the peace timidly intervene, M. Vaillant will call them ‘Capitalist convictkeepers!’”
The carpenters, who were out on strike at the same time, applauded an orator who cried out: “We must set fire to all the employers’ cribs.” And citizen Tortelier cried out: “We will terrorise them!”
At Amiens, in 1888, the strikers destroyed the offices of the firm of Cocquel, throwing the velvets out of window and setting fire to the premises. Dis turbances recommenced in Amiens in the month of January, 1893, in connection with putting the law relating to female labour in force. The employers were threatened, the manufactories invaded—some of them laid waste. At Rive de Giers, violence was used chiefly against the non-strikers.
The same methods were resorted to at the time of the omnibus and coachmen’s strikes. In the month of June, 1893, the strikers commenced by exacting a tax from the coachmen who continued at work, and who, as a check, had to stick a card in their hats, which had to be renewed each morning. The Prefect of Police having put an end to this abuse, the coachmen smashed and set fire to some carriages, with petroleum, and overpowered and stabbed some of the coachmen with knives.
For having asserted on various occasions, that such proceedings as these were amenable to the Penal Code, I was spat upon. According to the Manual of the Perfect Striker, the rights of man partly consist in the right to invade workshops, to destroy machinery, and to attack non-strikers.
But the things done in our French strikes are as nothing by the side of those of the glassblowers’ strike in Belgium. This strike was not caused by poverty. It was carried out by workmen who, earning £400 to £960 a year, exemplified the “Iron Law of Wages” by whims, such as taking foot baths in half a dozen bottles of champagne, according to a fashion set by the glassblower Rofler. The strike was not caused by over-work: the men worked on twenty-four days per month for nine and a half hours. It was not brought about by the reactionary views of their employer; because M. Baudoux, against whom they struck, was the leader of the Radical party. But he had introduced the Siemens furnace, which, however, did not supplant labour. But that did not make any difference. This novelty did not please the glassblowers, who were stirred up by a gust of savage frenzy. The strike broke out. They sang:
They put iron into the furnaces, and set fire to the four corners of the factory, thus madly destroying the instruments of their labour. They burnt M. Baudoux’s mansion; and, if they did not massacre him and his, it was only because they did not fall into their hands. Fighting broke out at Jurnet. There were twenty-five killed and wounded. At Roux seventeen were killed. At Louvières they shouted: “Shoot down the bourgeois! Do not spare the children, the seeds of the bourgeois! Blow up the factories! Stave in the mine ventilators!” They tried to carry out their threats: they used dynamite at Roux, and at Marchiennes, and at Louvières a cartridge exploded under the window of a café where the officers were seated.
In the United States, strikes have come to be real wars. Those who waged the great railway strike, in 1877, intercepted trains, destroyed the lines, demolished the carriages and engines, and set fire to the warehouses. Such again was the strike, in 1892, at Homestead, Pennsylvania, the works belonging to Mr. Carnegie, who, starting as a working-man, is now master of metal manufactories which give employment to 20,000 men, and who has written a book entitled Triumphant Democracy, and a study on the art of spending a fortune. Because of the rate of wages which the Amalgamated Association wished to impose, the Company closed its works, and declared its intention of employing none but non-union men. The workmen took up arms, and made themselves masters of the town. The Company applied to Robert Pinkerton’s private police agency, which sent them three hundred men. When the strikers saw these men on the boats they fired at them: three of the police were killed; they retaliated, and some of the workmen were wounded. The steam-tug having left, the Pinkerton men remained under the strikers’ fire; the strikers brought up a cannon and directed jets of burning petroleum on the vessel. Forced to capitulate, the police were taken to prison, where they arrived overwhelmed with insults and blows, and some of them half cut to pieces. Whilst all this was going on, a man named Beckmann, forced his way into the private office of the general director, Mr. Frick, and struck him four blows with a revolver. A force of six thousand men had to be sent to Homestead before order could be re-established. Work recommenced with nonunion men—what we, in France, should call non-syndicated men.
At Cœur d’Alène, in the State of Idaho, some miners having been replaced by non-union men, massacred, pillaged, blew up the iron railway bridge, and declined to lay down their arms until after a battle in which 250 were taken prisoners.
In the State of Tennessee, the miners besieged Coal Creek, taking possession of it, and their strike, too, was only closed by a fight.
At Buffalo, on Lake Erie, on August 15th, 1892, the pointsmen, to prevent non-union pointsmen from taking their places, destroyed the points, and set fire to some hundreds of railway waggons loaded with cotton and merchandise. The State Government had to set 13,000 militia on foot to quell the outbreak.
If in France strikes have not assumed the same proportions, and have not been distinguished by the same brutality, it is not the fault of some of their leaders.
Some days before the Decazeville strike, Bedel, who had been arrested for a robbery of bicycles, said: “I shall kill some one.” He was condemned to six days’ imprisonment at the time of the strike. He kept his word.
When the strike broke out, on January 26, 1886, he, at the head of a band of strikers, forced his way into M. Watrin’s office, and summoned him to go to the Town-ball. He went, escorted by a crowd of four hundred people, who threw mud at him, and shouted: “Death to Watrin! to the pond!” After sundry parleyings, in which the miners’ delegate assured M. Watrin that he had nothing to fear, he, accompanied by the engineers of the mine and the engineer of the Departmental mines, M. Laur, started to go to the Bourran mine. There they found a crowd awaiting them, which grew more and more menacing; two of the engineers were struck by stones. M. Watrin and those accompanying him took refuge in the railed-in centre of the Plateau des bois; the barrier gave way under the pressure of the crowd. M. Watrin and the engineers reached an old building at one time forming part of the company’s offices. They ascended to the first floor. A crowd of eight hundred people besieged the house. Some men succeeded in reaching the first floor by climbing up a street lamp; others, supplied with bars and great egg-shaped pieces of oak, mounted by means of a ladder, whilst they answered by shouts of death, to the death shouts of the crowd. Caussanel shouted: “He must die!” At the same moment the street door was forced in. M. Watrin opened the door of the room wherein he had taken refuge. With one blow from a bar, a blacksmith laid open his forehead. The assailants relaxed their efforts for a moment. M. Cayrade, the Mayor, arrived, and to calm the assailants, asked M. Watrin to resign his post, and he finally, after a courageous hesitation, consented. When the Mayor announced this fact, they answered: “It is he himself whom we want. Watrin must die!” Some of the besiegers dragged him towards the door, others dragged him towards the fire-place, and they ended by throwing him from the window. Men threw themselves upon him, tore him to pieces, plucked out his beard, and stamped upon him, whilst part of the crowd fled in terror. Some brave men at last rescued him from these savages, and removed him to the hospital, where he expired at midnight, in the midst of such terror that no witnesses could be found to denounce the authors of the crime.
On August 15, 1892, strikers invaded the offices of the Carmaux Company, surrounding its director, M. Humblot, demanding his resignation, under threats of Watrinising him! And for three months they walked about singing,
Referring thereby to Baron Reilla, President of the Board of Management, and the Marquis of Solanges, who was a member of it. They sang the Carmagnole and cried: “Long life to social revolution!” under protection of M. Deputy Baudin and the watchful eye of the authorities. And when M. Clémenceau, finding these songs and cries to be a little compromising, retorted, “Long life to the Social Republic!” the equivoque did not succeed.
The Carmaux threats ended in the pot filled with dynamite, which, being placed at the company’s offices in the Avenue de l’Opera, and taken to the police station in the Rue des Bons-Enfants, exploded, killing five people. I know that Messrs. Rochefort and Pelletan1 pretended to believe that this machine had been placed there by the Carmaux Company, but this idea was too ingenious to be generally accepted.
Justice, October 9, 1892.