Weapons of Warfare

O U Rube, in The Workers’ Republic,July 14th 1923

[This is a continuation of One Big Unionism Made Easy]

In dealing with the struggle between the slaves and the slave-drivers, and the O B U method of handling the robbers, we must always bear in mind the two underlying principles of strike action ‘within the organisation.’ The first is, ‘that the human element must be introduced’; that is, that the workers are not concerned so much with a soul-less corporation or firm, as a factor in capitalist political economy, as they are in action against the component individuals of their place of slavery. Thus, a parasite in Dublin, drawing his unemployment dole from a factory in Cork, discovers that a strike is on, when an entirely different concern in Galway in which he is a shareholder also develops trouble, even though conditions in said factory may be more or less bearable, and when the grub in his house in Dublin is held up. The psychological value of such tactics cannot be overlooked by class conscious workers. In Ireland here especially, a blow against Shoneen McIsaacs is more enthusiastically delivered than a blow against the economic system he represents. It stands as the introduction of Irregularism or guerrilla tactics into the arena of class war. The usual ‘regular’ tactics are day by day, illustrating their own futility in coping with bosses control and organisation.

The second principle of ‘the new manifestation of the Old Faith’ (OBU’ism) lies in the forcing of a wedge between the financial and industrial magnates. In countries where capitalism is highly developed, where the huge Trust has replaced this ‘private enterprise’ game, this principle is to some extent, inoperative, but in Ireland, where Trusts are yet to develop, it deserves some little thought. By a rigid application of the first principle whereby a shareholder in any given factory on strike, causes trouble in the concern, the bankers and ‘green goods’ men are forced (for a time) on the side of the workers against the industrial magnates. This fact is of good value where boards of directors control a firm, and many demands may be made, and won, without precipitating an open conflict. All tactics are justifiable in the workers struggle. We need never be afraid to sink to the level of the enemy; about the one impossible thing to rebel workers.

Re Officialdom

It is generally regarded, as a guiding line of action, that officials will not hold a paid position longer than three years in succession, and that twelve months should elapse before another paid job is offered. In this connection we can site the case of P Christopher, Western Organiser of the Canadian OBU, who voluntarily resigned his job to vindicate the principle which he had consistently advocated. But here in Europe, where there is practically no economic freedom, such a resignation would bear hardest on the rebel officials, and is therefore impracticable. Yet in various ways, it may be made plain to any official, that he is by no means married to his job. But seeing that in all things the workers get, not what they want, but what they deserve, reactionary, or, worse still, apathetic leaders are merely the reflex of the rank and file. The big job of the OBU, one that makes it stand out from the Usual Labour Union is the EDUCATION OF THE WORKERS.

It is the duty of the Central Labour Council, in all areas, to make definite campaigns in working class education. While in Philosophy, Organisation and Action, the OBU is a continual educational force, yet the theory of the class struggle must be for ever preached. Weekly lectures and discussions, all radical literature, and Labour journals furnish the basis. Yet the first step, the one that made the fighting reputation of the IWW and later (in the USA and Canada) of he One Big Union, is the definite statement of principles in the ‘preamble’. Compare, for instance, the preamble of the Transport Union prior to 1918 with the one that followed, and one can understand the different fighting spirit of the two periods. Psychologically, the preamble, to a fighting union, is a flag to soldiers, or others trained to military traditions. The Constitution is handed to the worker on joining, and he must understand and agree to the preamble before he is accepted as a union man. Say it’s arbitrary if you will, yell ‘dictatorship’ if you wish, but remember, that we are dealing with the OBU, an organisation, not for winning strikes, a mobilisation of the army of Labour for the ‘final conflict.’

Political Organisation

The parliamentary field is regarded as a small, but necessary adjunct to the industrial struggle. Candidates are put in the Gas House as all military organisations put agent provocateurs, spies and ‘minute men’ within the ranks of their opponents. But the parliamentary representation is always at the bidding of the Central Labour Council, to do the work they think fit, even to throwing of Hansards at the representatives of the enemy. This, with this safeguard, there can be no betrayals, such as disgraced the Labour Movement in the past.


The perfect Labour Union has never yet been found, will never be found under Capitalism. Labour Unionism, in its very essence, implies all that is finest and noblest in life. The principles outlined above may, however, with some slight modification be practised in the struggle against the parasites, will be in themselves a weapon powerful enough to end the robber system. We of the rebel section of the Irish working class, must, to be true to ourselves, do our thankless task to make them known, and give them a fighting chance to fight for our emancipation.

O U Rube

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