Labor as a Factor in the Newer Conception of Internationalism, May 31, 1917 (draft)

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(Wed. or Thursday of this week)>

MISS JANE ADDAMS: Mr. Chairman, Ladies and Gentlemen: <May> I wish to begin by re-forming <re-stating> my subject. Owing <doubtless> to the general illiteracy of Chicago, a telegram was very much <reached me in such a> confused <state that> and what I thought I was going <asked> to speak about was <on> labor under <as a factor in> the newer conceptions of international relations. <The title was of course very long but it seemed to me no> It is long, but it is no more complicated than <every thing which pertains to the vexed problems of> international readjustments.

I shall not undertake to speak for organized labor, because, as you well know, some <more than> twelve million men the world round are organized into trades unions<, who> They have <hold> their national conventions, and <who> for many years it has been their <have maintained the> custom to <of> sending fraternal delegates from one national convention to another. They <Trades Unionists> are, I believe, a very great factor in <forming> the newer conception of international life, and although they, like all other men in this time <day> and generation, have been swept away by a strong nationalistic feeling, and are in many cases fighting against each other, they still have <hold> their <common> own body of doctrines, & their common <mutual> interests. <Upon these many of us believe they will> upon which they will, we are all sure, later <become reunited.> unite.

I should like to speak for a few moments for that [page 2] other very large body of unorganized labor, which we are accustomed to call <ordinarily designated as> immigrant labor, which <implies> really means large migrations of men from one country to another every year. If you <Those of us who> know as many Italians as I do, you have heard <hear> many stories of the Italians who go every winter to South America. By the simple device of going to South America <crossing the equator> after they have garnered their own crops, they miss <avoid> the cold in <both hemispheres> every country, crossing the equator, and they are always earning money. and They do <this annually> in large numbers. You know about <[recall]> the Ruthenians who go every year into Germany to gather the crops there, and you know about those many other migrations, which I need not give. <enumerate.>

(I need not give <will only remind you of> our own immigration figures <, that> in 1914 <when> we had something more than a million immigrants <entered> come into the United States, and we had <a> very little less than half a million returned to their own countries.)

An Italian can go from Chicago to Naples for $26.60, and if his wife and children <children> are little enough to go free, it is much <oftener> cheaper <for him to take his family> to go back to Naples for the winter than <to> pay the <a> coal bill in <Chicago.> [page 3] Chicago. There <Of course> are <in> many instances of this going back and forth. Of course, what happens is this, that while the mobilization of labor <the men are engaged> is on an itinerant <basis without reference to the standard of living in either country.> basis <[Although] a recent> quite as if the proposition should be made that you should bring <that> Chinese men and their families <should be brought> into Montana or some of the <and other> Western states to supply our <the> shortage of labor <was rejected on the ground that the American standard of living would be permanently lowered.> The result is a vast social network <of social relations on an international basis> work, and a great understanding which I imagine none of you <adequately> realizes unless you have seen men who have been divided for generations by every sort of thing, language and history and religion, coming together in the marvelous way in which we constantly see it in <at> the settlements.

This means that labor, so <So> far as it <labor> is mobilized and as it <annually> crosses from one side of the world to the other, <there> is forming at the very bottom <base> of society, if you please to call it so, a new [illegible] <[conception]> of internationalism rela.

I should like to draw attention to the several <the> fact brought out <earlier> in this conference that all of this migrating of labor is by no means free labor. We were told at one of the sessions of the Indentured Labor in the West Indies<, at another> I think the speaker mentioned <referred to> ten million Africans who had lost their lives because they have been exploited by Europeans in South Africa itself. That was due to the <It was> same sort of <ruthless> exploitation <as that> as in the case of <applied to> the rubber in the Congo or <to> the diamonds in the [Kimberley] mines. and There has <however> come into the minds of many people during the last few years, who have seen <in regard to> this exploitation of labor going on all over [page 4] the world, that they should have some sort of <a belief that such labor is entitled to> protection, and if <that when> their own governments are not able to give it to them, that <the protection should be provided on> of an international sort. <basis.> Why should not labor in a country where the government is not able to protect its poorer citizens <like South Africa>, be put on under some sort of international protection, exactly as <publicists> are beginning to talk of putting different quarters of <recommending that certain sections of> the Earth under international protection, <globe> which seem to afford so much temptation to rival nations that they cannot stay out of them? <should be thus protected.>

You remember what Mr. [Lippmann] urged, that certain quarters of the Earth <specified localities> should have international commissions to take charge of them <them in charge>, because apparently their <resources unprotected by a stable govt of their own> were too much for human I won't <nature, or shall I> say greed, I will say human nature to withstand. <International commissions for a specified purpose are not without precedent even throughout this devastating war an> international commission to <has continued to> take care of the commerce of the Danube as it flows through Germany and the Balkan <the great river flows past [belligerent]> States.

<Other specialized International Commissions have been suggested.> of Professor Hull, who advocated <at this conference> that there <one> should be some sort of International Commission appointed now, to sit throughout the rest of the war, which could <to> take charge of the conquered lands, at least so far as the lands are to be conquered by the Allies. He contended that it would be much easier at the end of the war to adjust <dispose> those lands in an equitable manner if they were held <administered> by an International Commission than if they were held by the particular nation which <had> made the conquest. [page 5]

If we could apply that to <If> the German colonies which are <now> held in South Africa now by the British, if they could be held by some sort of <taken over by such a> Commission until the war was over <ended>, and an International Commission <Conference> could decide what to do with them, that in itself would be a great gain. and that would be very similar to the sort of thing which is being advocated <I should like to propose similar inter [commissions]> for the protection of labor which is now under a governments too [feeble] to afford it adequate <proper> protection, <or which is to so migratory that it cannot be properly protected by any one govt.>

What would be easier than to extend this to <more natural than> labor, to begin our new international morality with that simple desire for <impulse to> protect <the weak> which we are told is <was> the beginning of individual morality, or the <as defense of women & children was the> national morality, of which we are so proud. and with which we are at present almost swamped. <Beginning naturally with [defenseless] labor now so ruthlessly exploited & so in need of protection.> Such international commissions might in time even take care of other things besides labor. At the present time <moment> it seems absurd, does is not, that it is impossible to get <build> a railroad through to [Baghdad], that it is impossible to provide ways to the sea for land locked Balkan States, that it [page 6] is impossible <or> to provide <secure> warm water harbors for Russia, without involving so much of the world in war? We <Many of us> believe that this war, as many other wars, is not so much the result of differences <[quarrels]> between nations as it is the result of trying <an endeavor> to obtain through war<,> what <that which> could not be obtained through the processes of peace, because no international machinery has been provided through which men might approach these vexed world problems and situations. <which has become intolerable & unbearable.>

If, therefore, we are longing all over the face of the Earth <statesmen are longing> for some sort of international organization which will be able to take <care of> these complicated situations, and they <which> are sure to arise during the coming years as they have arisen during the past years, if we are longing for that sort of international machinery, why don't we <they at least> begin with that, this thing which is so appealing and so simple, the need of <international> protection to those people <laboring men> who need it the most, and which <who> are so sadly exploited without it?

I believe there is another point of view from which labor, not so much the <There are three great human instincts or tendencies exhibited in striking degree by> organized labor as <well as by> unorganized labor <which> I believe there are three human instincts which will count in the long run <result in> toward better international adjustments and <[informal?]> conceptions. The first is the tendency which the Russian philosopher <peasant> [page 7] [Bondarev] speaks of, that tendency to magnify and believe almost something sacred in what we call bread labor, <[Bondarev] defines as "Bread Labor". The peasants all over the world magnify and consider obligatory that> labor in the ground which is destined to feed a man<,> and his family and his neighbors, and so far as he is able, all the people on the face of the Earth. When we <[our?]> were in Austro-Hungary in 1915 we were continually told stories which we took with a grain of salt, because they were told to us by Austrians and Hungarians, <their enemies,> of Russian soldiers who were easily made prisoners, because they had heard that the <war> prisoners in Austria were working upon the land; and in the spring of 1915 many of the men came over and <Russians had> said that the spring had now come, <that> it was time to work upon the land, and <that> they would like to be prisoners long enough to put in the seed.

Now, this <Such stories> may have been an exaggerated, but it is <they are> not so alien to the temperament of the Russian peasant, who has been taught <believes> that bread labor is <his sacred> duty or obligation, and who means to <longing to> go on with it whenever he can, and who feels that war is simply an interruption to the main business of his life.

There is another characteristic in <of> human nature which I believe counts on <in> the same thing and <direction>, <that> which is the thing that has been called <Prof [Veblen] has called> The Instinct of Workmanship. [page 8]

Well, Wells has said that this war is a <[destructive] & dispersive> industrialism <in place of the constructive and the> destruction, destructive of the accumulative tendency <industrialism> with which we are so much more <all so> familiar<.> and It is a question of course <an open question,> how long workingmen can feel that they can <can mechanics> go on with this reversal of the business <experience> of a lifetime, and the things they have been taught <how long can they continue to outrage the training they have received> from the time they were apprentices.

One of the English Commissioners [illegible] in <told us> Chicago a few weeks ago of having been sent down with some other men <a committee> to the trenches <France> to get <in order to take> out of the trenches <skilled> mechanics who were much needed in <the> munition manufactories <at> Sheffield<.> in the They went into The response <on the part of the men in> the trenches and asked for mechanics, and <was,> he said, was very touching <& indeed impressive.> The men <fighting mechanics> were hungry to get <for "the feel of> tools" in their hands, <they longed> to lay down their muskets for the other sort of <in order to take up the> implements with which they had been so long familiar. That was not due to lack of <The English Commissioner did not challenge the> patriotism they <of these mechanics> did not say any of the things which we are always expecting them to say one way or another, they <who> were quite ready to go on <to fight on> to the end of the war<,> if the country wished them to <it was so ordered,> but they were glad of this opportunity <he was much impressed with their [eagerness]> to return to a more normal life, and the <to again use the> implements to which their hands and <very> muscles <& nerves> had been <become> wonted and accustomed. <Is not> the instinct of workmanship is a genuine factor in human life that is not to be despised, that <existence and one that> is not to be underrated. [page 9]

There is still a third factor <tendency><characteristic> which those of us who have lived with humble people realize is very strong and highly developed among them, and that is <It is difficult to describe> if <and> I may put it <much too> baldly <when I call it> a certain reverence for food as that. Food is the precious stuff which men live by, it is that which is required <& with difficulty obtained> at every step on their part from the time they were little children; <in a long & toilsome journey>; it is the precious <cherished> thing which they have seen come into the house <little by little and> often not enough<,> of it and <since they were children until> it has come to mean to them something more, it has come to have <for them> almost a <the> sacramental quality, of life itself.

There is among <simple> people everywhere a revulsion against the destruction of food and <a clutching fear of food> the shortage<.> of food, not so much the destruction of food as perhaps <In the peasants dread of war there is a> passive resistance to the reduction of the food supply, because <a [peasant well] knows that> when a man is fighting he is not producing food, and they are <he is> troubled <for his own family & the rest of the world.> about it. It comes to be almost <have the strength of a> conscientious scruple in their <some> minds. New [page 10]

I was in Paris during the Boer War of 1900, and every <one> morning I found the street in front of the <studio in which I was living,> door filled with very <an> excited <group of> French men and women reading the newspapers. The cause of their excitement <feeling> was what the <the report in morning> newspapers said <in> regard to the destruction of food in South Africa, which, as you know, at the end <one stage> of the war was <became> part of the campaign, grain <was> was <systematically> destroyed, bodies of cattle <were piled high covered with kerosene and> were burned, and so [forth?] on<.> That <Such action> seemed to the <thrifty French> quite impossible, a horror beyond the horror of warfare itself, almost beyond the horror superimposed by the loss of life, to which they had more or less grown <somewhat> accustomed <during the war.>

I believe The primitive instinct <need> to <of> feeding the young, which the workingman is obliged to think about all the time if he is to rear his family at all, after long training, it goes back to primitive times, to and save it, because your <when men's> very life depends on it <upon their ability to> garner the harvest. I believe that is a factor in this new internationalism, In the interruption <present disordered state of> the <world's> food supply, <and> the interruption of the orderly exchange of those commodities upon which the whole world had got <come> to depend, <the fear of famine has come back into the world, with so many other primitive & half forgotten fears. This concern for the common food supply may prove a factor [page 11] <in> what I should like to believe is the newer conception <at least as a [more?] basic conception> of international life. It seems to me sometimes as if [we were driven back [into?] <[illegible]> those dark days <when men are being thrown back to their earliest and most> primitive experiences <& if there might be an opportunity to lay again the old foundations of morality.> If we would only trust The instinct of <to> protect for the neighbor <men> who is <are in So Africa> otherwise <are being> exploited to the point of extinction many times, especially in Africa, if we would trust that <it> instinct and begin again to protect the man who is so unprotected, at the <& those at the [very?]> bottom of the pit <is certainly very similar to the instinct which led the tribe to protect its women & society children.> I don't like to call it a pit, at the bottom of society, and then if we add to that a confidence that in that <If we could be induced to feed our enemies it might be analogous to those> first interchanges of relations, of tribal <[illegible]> relations, <when> the tribe had to go out because <who could no [longer?] fight was obliged because> of the shortage of food, slipped up, it had to begin in the exchange of food, <to the humble trying of communicating with other tribes> and the problems connected with it. If we would begin there, we may get to a conception of international rivalry, to <Such> a conception of international relationship which will <may> be sound, <not only because it is founded upon genuine experience but> because it is founded in <reaches down into> the wisdom of the humble.

<I hope> I may have <have not> stretched the use of the word "labor", because We have so long been accustomed to think of labor as organized<,> labor, of <as pertaining to> the man whose hand is skilled; but after all, there is a great deal of labor in the world, a great deal of <much> hard, unremitting toil performed by the men who are unskilled, [page 12] by the men who never have a chance to attain any <many of whom have no opportunity to attain to a higher> standard of life except that which is assured to them by people <apparently above them> who holding their fate in their hands.

It is from that point of view that I like to consider what it seems to me is the <Such a> beginning of a newer conception of international relationships <& more basic> of international ties, <are totally> not unlike the mid-Victorian conception <notion> of organizing the world with a lot of <[through] a conference of> wise men, not in the least <quite> unlike some of the newer plans which are being put forward, and for a good many of which I have the keenest sympathy; but back <whatever new international organization may be consummated is it not possible> of it <that> the international morality <[will]> begin, as morality has so often <as individual morality is said to have> begun, with the simple function of protecting the weak, with that function <and> of feeding those who are hungry!