Mar

22

 I thought the group might enjoy reading the 1879 classic of Political Economy: "Progress and Poverty" by Henry George. 

Stefan Jovanovich writes: 

Scott and I seem to be in permanent disagreement. Henry George got all the publicity, but Terence Powderly is the important figure. He was the "mainstream" figure whose doctrine of producerism, now completely forgotten — was the essence of American political thinking in the years before WW I. Unlike George and the other neo-Socialists Powderly had equal scorn for government-protected financial capital, large, politically connected institutions and the underclass, including illegal immigrants. It is no surprise that the Ohio Republicans - Grant, Sherman, McKinley - were in complete agreement with such a "radical".

As a labor union organizer Powderly was wise enough to understand that strikes were stupid and that there had to be 1 Big Union. He knew that, as soon as labor organizing became a matter of craft guilds, the unions would spend their time fighting with each other over the already organized workers rather than trying to organize new ones. (The historiy of the AFL-CIO more than confirms this.) Powderly also opposed the doctrine of last hired first fired; he knew that such seniority rules would destroy enterprise and, therefore, destroy the unions themselves. Worst of all, from the point of view of modern enlightened opinion - both liberal and libertarian — Powderly had the common sense to know that tariffs (but not quotas) and immigration limitations were the only certain ways that workers could use politics to raise everyone's wages. 

Scott Brooks writes:

Actually, Stefan and I are not in disagreement. I was not advocating for or against the work of Henry George. I was merely sharing with the list something that I thought would interesting and spur debate. 


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  1. Ed on March 24, 2013 5:48 pm

    Terence Powderly. I wonder if 1 in a million Americans would recognize the name?

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