BADGER, or the UNION and its BADGE ?

Worker Saturday 3 February 1912 p. 6.

The "Worker."

One thing the tramway trouble should bring home to the people of this State with all the force of calamity is the foolishness—the suicidal foolishness—of permitting the means of life to be held as monopolies in the hands of a few persons who use their power for the base purposes of greed. We boast of the freedom of our race. We have set to blatant music the vaunt that we "never, never shall be slaves."

Yet how can we be free when for the very food we eat, and the very shelter above our heads, we are dependent on the will and pleasure of a master caste ? The things impossible. While such conditions obtain, our status is that of servitude. We are not the owners of our own bodies. We are not the lords of our own souls.

With this man Badger able to make the livelihood of thousands of men, women, and children contingent on the acceptance of his tyrannical decrees, and with others wielding similar powers over the rest of its, it is a mockery to speak of ourselves as a self-governing people.

We don't govern ourselves at all. We are governed by the Boss. He does just what he likes with us.

By the wage be pays us he dictates what kind of house or hovel we shall dwell in, what kind of clothes we shall wear, what kind of meat we shall eat.

He maps out the destiny of our children. They must receive such mental education as will make them efficient tools for his pro- fit, and so much physical training as will enable them to effectively defend his property.

* * * *

We ask the citizens of Queensland to put the question seriously to themselves : "The things without which we cannot exist being thus doled out to us, or kept back from us, by a despotic class, where is our liberty?"

The tramway trouble may help them to a right answer. Because of Badger's insolent attempt to humiliate those of his employees who have dared to form a Union against his wishes, the whole State is in danger of the loss and suffering which come like ravening beasts in the train of a general stoppage of work.

We include tramways among the necessaries of life, because in modern times the locomotive utilities are the measure of civilisation. Progress is not on feet, but on wheel.

Is there not something wrong in a state of things that makes it possible for one man's tyrannous will to destroy the peace of a city, and involve it in a ruinous struggle? The tramway workers are contending for nothing more than the most elemental right—the right to their own bodies.

That they cannot win this right without plunging the entire community into industrial war, is surely a fact to give the thoughtful pause, and cause them to critically examine the foundations of the social system that produoes such results. They will find, if they do, that civil strife is inevitable in the constitution of society as we know it.

* * * *

Production is carried on by two antagonistic classes, neither of which is animated by the spirit of the common good. The employers produce for profits, the employees for wages.

The question of the benefit of the whole does not enter into consideration. There is no effort made to regulate the output to the needs of the people, or to allocate the commodities produced in a manner to ensure the general well-being.

At the present time, and for long past, the employers, by their ownership of the machines and the land, have had so much the better of this arrangement that the employees are virtually robbed.

And being so numerous as to form the mass of the population, this is tantamount to saying that under Things As They Are the community is virtually robbed.

But the employees have not yet learned to act together as a community. Split up into drafts and callings, they organise as crafts and callings, and then they make an endeavour to improve their conditions. Too often it is as separate disunited fragments they take action.

That is why we have sectional strikes in every direction. The employees want more of the wealth they create. They can only get more by allowing the employers to take less.

And as the employers play their part in production only that they may grab as much as they can for themselves, there is trouble. In the very nature of the case there is bound to be trouble.

That is what we are anxious to impress on the people of Queensland in connection with this tramway disturbance.

Such upheavals are unavoidable in the Capitalist state. Moreover, whenever they occur they tend to become more widespread. The workers, realising that they have but one cause, are standing by each other as they never did before.

The lesson, even yet, is being learned slowly, but it is being learnt, and working class action is losing its guerilla character as the days go by.

We have not yet attained to the wisdom of perfect unity, but we are getting there. That is how it happens that the whole of the unions of Queensland are behind the tramway men, and are prepared to go to any lengths that may be necessary to protect them from the victimisation of Badger.

It is a serious situation. That one man can bring it to pass, by a display of brutal arrogance that may be due to nothing of greater consequence than a swollen head or a sluggish liver, is something utterly discreditable to us as a civilised people. "I will not recognise your union. You shall not wear that union badge on your watch-chain," cried Badger to the tramway, workers. "Take it off, or get out !"

Perhaps he said it in a fit of that bumptious self-conceit which loves to exalt itself, and knows no better way of doing it than by humbling others.

Or it may be that exercising the power of the sack over five hundred man has upset his sense of proportion, and filled him with the insolence of pride so often found in tinpot satraps and petty jacks-in- office.

Or the cringeing of crawlers who are never so happy as when the boss is wiping his boots on them may have induced in him the delusive belief that this curriah nature is common to all wage-earners.

Or, as a final guess, perhaps he is giving us in Queensland a taste of Yankee plutocratic methods,—of that contemptuous disregard of human rights which has made the gigantic statue of Liberty at the portal of New York the greatest satire which the world has known.

Be this as it may, there is the outstand- ing fact that one man has precipitated a grave industrial crisis, full of menace for the peace of the State.

And this—apart altogether from the merits of the dispute—is the question which every man and woman, as reasoning beings, must resolve in their minds. Is it well that such power for mischief should be left in the hands of one man, or of one small class ?

Can a community afford to have its livelihood at the whim and caprice of individuals saturated with the virus of vanity that drove Nero to the fiddle while Rome burned, or of bowelless corporations who seek the gratification of their greed, and don't care if they wreck a town to do it ?

The arbitrary action of the Tramway Company springs from the possession of a power which no person or combine of per- sons should possess—the power of giving or withholding bread.

* * * *

And so in Queensland a general strike has had to be declared as the only answer to the tyranny of one man !

The Unions cannot compromise on this matter. Be the consequences what they may, Labour must fight this business out to the bitterest extremity.

Badger stands as the symbol of aggressive Capitalism ; the Union is the legalised right of Australian workmen, and the Badge is the symbol of Working-class Unity. Which shall it be, ye workers —

BADGER, or the UNION and its BADGE ?

For all who have the instinct of liberty in their breasts, there can be no hesitation in the choice.

Labour dare not give way in this, dare not abate its right one jot, though the State be shaken to its foundations.

Let Badger triumph—permit him to enforce his command that the men's union shall not be recognised, and they shall wear no badge but the Company's badge of servitude, and Labour will prove itself unworthy of its mission as tho pioneer of the Freedom that is to be.

The Unions have but to stick together, and they must win. Their cause is one that men have gladly died for, have rotted in jails for,—the Cause of Liberty, for which it is a joy to bear the slings and arrows of persecution, and the highest of glories to achieve the victory.

The ranks of Labour are drawn up in battle array–brother standing shoulder to shoulder with brother,—the grand flag of Unity waves over them and on its red folds these are the words inscribed :


Thus banded together they are invincible. But whatever the outcome of the conflict, one thing it must impress on thoughtful minds. There, can never be peace on earth, nor goodwill among men, until the means of existence have been taken from the control of persons, and placed in the control of the people.


See the song about this struggle - The Wearin' o' the Badge

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