Speech to the IWW in 1905
by Lucy Parsons
Lucy Parsons addressed the founding convention on two occasions and her
speeches touched on issues close to her heart: the oppression of women and how
to develop radical new tactics to win strikes. Her idea clearly were in
advance of the time, presage the "sit-in" strikes of the 1930s, the anti-war
movement of the 1960s, and her words resonate today. Delegate applause interrupted
her speech several times and at the end.
We, the women of this country, have no ballot even if we wished to use
it, and the only way that we can be represented is to take a man to represent
us. You men have made such a mess of it in representing us that we have not much
confidence in asking you . . .
We [women] are the slaves of slaves. We are exploited more ruthlessly
than men. Whenever wages are to be reduced the capitalist class use women to
reduce them, and if there is anything that you men should do in the future it is
to organize the women. . . .
Now, what do we mean when we say revolutionary Socialist?
We mean that the land shall belong to the landless, the tools to the toiler,
and the products to the producers. . . . I believe that if every man and every
woman who works, or who toils in the mines, mills, the workshops, the fields,
the factories and the farms of our broad America should decide in their minds
that they shall have that which of right belongs to them, and that no idler
shall live upon their toil . . . then there is no army that is large enough to
overcome you, for you yourselves constitute the army . . . .
My conception of the strike of the future is not to strike and go out an
starve, but to strike and remain in and take possession of the necessary
property of production. . . .
. . . . Let us sink such differences as nationality, religion, politics,
and set our eyes eternally and forever toward the rising star of the
industrial republic of labor; remembering that we have left the old behind and have
our faces toward the future. There is no power on earth that can stop men and
women who are determined to be free at all hazards. There is no power on
earth so great as the power of intellect. It moves the world and it moves the
earth. . . .
I hope even now to live to see the day when the first dawn of the new era
of labor will have arisen, when capitalism will be a thing of the past, and
the new industrial republic, the commonwealth of labor, shall be in operation.
I thank you.