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Ernest Lund

“Scissor Bill” – Walks Like A Man, Talks Like a Boss

Straight Talk

(26 June 1944)

From Labor Action, Vol. 8 No. 26, 26 June 1944, p. 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

Of all the different kind of people who go to make up this world, none fills an honest man with such utter disgust as the creature who makes his living as a wage worker but does his thinking as a capitalist.

The old Wobblies called this creature a “Scissor Bill.”

There isn’t a shop, that, doesn’t have its share of them. Blessed, indeed, is the union man who doesn’t have to work near one of them. To hear a Scissor Bill sound off is enough to turn your stomach.

The Scissor Bill has his feet in the working class and his head in the capitalist class.

He works, eats and lives like a worker. But he thinks like a capitalist.

He does not identify his welfare and interest with those of his fellow workers. He identifies his welfare and interest with those of his employer and the capitalist class generally.

The Scissor Bill is the ideal wage slave. He is a working man, like any other working man. He has arms, hands, legs, feet and eyes with which to work for the boss. But in place of a brain be has an editorial from the capitalist press. Or else a record of a speech from the National Manufacturers convention.

The capitalists are, in his mind, men with brains and energy who “burned the midnight oil” and “worked up to where they are.” We should respect them for their ability and be glad that they keep industry running so we have work.

Labor leaders are all racketeers who are trying to get rich quick out of the dues “the poor workers are forced to pay.” The Scissor Bill knows this for a fact. Even Westbrook Pegler says so. And Pegler ^writes for the Morning Blah. Such a big and respectable paper certainly wouldn’t lie.

The Scissor Bill reads the Morning Blah on his way to work and then worries all day about what he read.

His face gets more and more mournful as he thinks about:

How are we ever going to pay of the national debt?

How will industry manage during reconversion, when .production stops and overhead continues?

How can they expect industry to give everyone a job, when industry doesn’t know whether it will have a market after the war?

And if everyone doesn’t have a job, where will the money come from to buy what industry will make?

How will industry be able to get on its feet after the war if they keep burdening it with taxes?

And at night, Scissor Bill, his shoulders bent with the load of worries, goes home to turn on his radio to hear more capitalist lies.

Scissor Bill is the modern counterpart of the slave whose aim in life was to be an ideal slave and serve his master well. All through human history the exploited class has always been divided between Scissor Bills and rebels, between those who crawl on their bellies and those who stand up on their legs.

The Negro people in this counry, through their centuries-long bondage, had both their Uncle Toms and their Frederick Douglases. And, unfortunately, they still have them today.

Ancient Rome had its slaves who were proud to die for their master and it also had its army of rebels who rose in insurrection under the leadership of Spartacus.

The Southern planter gave his old hat to Uncle Tom . and a worn-out dress to the faithful “Mamie,” but had whips and bloodhounds for the slave in whom the spirit of human dignity and love of freedom burned too strongly.

In like manner the boss today seeks to find countless little rewards (which cost him little) for the “company stooge” and countless persecutions of the class-conscious worker.

* * *

But the Scissor Bill of today usually differs in one respect from his cringing forebears. The Scissor Bill is usually also very dissatisfied with things today. He complains much about many things. But he is distinguished from the rebel in that the Scissor Bill always finds some other “little guy” as the source of his troubles.

He talks for days on end about some welders in a shipyard who were arrested for cheating on piecework reports, This, he tells us, is why we must pay such high taxes. But he thinks the big corporations are above such things.

He thinks the little grocers and butchers should be jailed for running up prices, but never understands that the real profiteers are the big interests.

He complains that unskilled labor is getting eighty cents an hour in shipyards. This proves to him how selfish people are. “They want to hog it all while our boys fight for $55 a month.” But he never says anything about the cost of living or shipyard profits.

He thinks that the trouble with this country is that people spend their earnings instead of saving them for a rainy day. “Most workers are lazy bums who want the government to feed them when they are out of a job.”

And following out this line of thought, the average Scissor Bill today ends up with the discovery that “the Jews have all the money and run the country,” that Negroes “are invading white men’s jobs,” that Jews, Negroes and foreigners have ninety per cent of the Civil Service jobs, that “there are too many women working” and that “this country is going on the rocks and we need a dictator to clean up.”

The Scissor Bill is always stupid and reactionary. But today his thinking is being guided into more and more open fascist channels.

The Scissor Bill is a worker who betrays his class. The Scissor Bill is a worker who fights in the ranks of the enemy.

As a traitor to his own kind, the Scissor Bill merits neither sympathy nor mercy. Out of his ranks came the scabs in the past and out of his ranks will come the fascist rank and file in the future.

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