Cartoon art

Item no. 28193
August 1924
Collection: Other

'So This Is Progress?' by Art Young, Industrial Pioneer, August 1924.

The IWW's concept of industrial unionism was fundamentally grounded in the observation that modern methods of mechanized production were leading to the progressive de-skilling of workers. In this cartoon, Art Young brilliantly captures the essence of this development. In accordance with capitalist economic evolution, modern machinery is sweeping across industry replacing skilled craftsmen and women and inevitably pushing millions of workers into the dustbin of unemployment. With their skills rendered obsolete, workers increasingly found themselves part of a uniform mass of wage slaves.

According to the IWW, craft unions like the American Federation of Labor were becoming a dangerous anachronism within the movement and only served to divide and weaken labor. An increasingly large part of the working class was being wholly ignored by the craft unions. Union scabbing was sapping the strength of organized labor as workers from one craft organization replaced striking workers from another craft organization.

Most of all, craft unionism divided workers and impeded the formation of class consciousness and solidarity, without which the struggle against capitalism (or even for better working conditions) would be doomed to failure. Keen observers of the times, the Wobblies called for a reorganization of labor along industrial rather than craft lines.

See other Art Young pieces such as The Masses Magazine cover of May 1911, Uncle Sam Ruled Out, and Law and Order in Lawrence.

See this image in the Solidarity Forever: A Look at Wobbly Culture exhibit.

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