Karl Marx in the New York Daily Tribune 1853

Lock-out vs. Turn-out


Source: Marx and Engels on the Trade Unions, Edited by Kenneth Lapides;
Written: by Marx;
First Published: in the New York Daily Tribune, November 1 1853;
Transcribed: by Andy Blunden.

While the first cannon bullets have been exchanged in the war of the Russians against Europe, the first blood has been spilt in the war now raging in the manufacturing districts, of capital against labor. On Friday night a riot took place at Wigan, arising out of the contest between the colliers and the coal kings; on Saturday the town was stated to be perfectly quiet, but today we are informed by electric telegraph that at the colliery of Lord Crawford or of the Earl Balcarres, an attack was made by the colliers; that the armed force was called out; that the soldiers fired, and that one of the workmen was killed. As I am to receive private information from the spot, I adjourn my report on this event. ...

Thus, one by one, step by step, the industrial bourgeoisie have removed, with their own hands, all the carefully propagated delusions that could be conjured up at the hour of danger, in order to deturn the indignation of the working classes from their real antagonist, and to direct it against the antagonists of the millocracy, against the landed aristocracy. in 1853, there have waned away the false pretenses on the part of the masters and the silly illusions on the part of the men. The war between those two classes has become unmitigated, undisguised, openly avowed and plainly understood. “The question,” exclaim the masters themselves in one of their recent manifestoes — “is no longer one of wages but one of mastership.” The Manchester liberals, then, have at last thrown off the lion’s skin. What they pretend at — is mastership for capital and slavery for labor.

Lock-out vs. Turn-out, is the great lawsuit now pending in the industrial districts, and bayonets are likely to give judgement in the case. A whole industrial army, more than 70,000 working-men are disbanded and cast upon the streets. To the mills closed at Preston and Wigan there have been added those of the district of Bacup, which includes the townships of Bacup, Newchurch, Rawtenstall, Sharnford, and Stanford. At Burnley the mills stopped last Friday; at Padiham on Saturday. at Accrington the masters are contemplating a lock-out; at Bury, where about 1,000 men are already out of work, the masters have given notice to their hands of a lock-out unless they discontinued their contributions to those out of work in their own town and at Preston. and at Kindley, three large mills were closed on Saturday afternoon, and more than a thousand additional persons thrown out of employment.

While the hypocritical, phrase-mongering, squint-eyed set of Manchester humbugs spoke peace to the Czar at Edinburgh, they acted war with their own countrymen at Manchester. While they preached arbitration between Russia and Europe, they were rejecting scornfully all appeals to arbitration from their own fellow-citizens. The workmen of Preston had carried in an open air meeting the resolution that the delegates of the factory operatives recommend the Mayor to call a public meeting of the manufacturers and the operatives to agree to an amicable settlement of the dispute now pending.

But the masters do not want arbitration. What they pretend at is dictation. While, at the very moment of a European struggle, those Russian propagandists cry for reduction of the army, they are at the same time augmenting the army of civil war, the police force, in Lancashire and Yorkshire. To the workmen we can only say with The People’s Paper.

If they close all the mills of Lancashire do you send delegates to Yorkshire and enlist the support of the gallant men of the West Riding. If the mills of the West Riding are closed, appeal to Nottingham and Derby, to Birmingham and Leicester, to Bristol and Norwich, to Glasgow and Kidderminster, to Edinburgh and Ipswich. Further and further, wider and wider, extend your appeals and rally your class through every town and trade. If the employers choose to array all their order against you, do you array your entire class against them. If they will have the vast class struggle, let them have it, and we will abide the issue of that tremendous trial.