The artificially high wages forced on the economy by compulsory unionism imposed economic hardships on other groups—particularly on non-union workers and on unskilled labor, which was being squeezed gradually out of the market. Today’s widespread unemployment is the result of organized labor’s privileges and of allied measures, such as minimum wage laws. For years, the unions supported these measures and sundry welfare legislation, apparently in the belief that the costs would be paid by taxes imposed on the rich. The growth of inflation has shown that the major victim of government spending and of taxation is the middle class. Organized labor is part of the middle class—and the actual value of labor’s forced “social gains” is now being wiped out.

Organized labor has been much more sensitive to the danger of government power and much more aware of ideological issues. Its spokesmen have fought the government in proper, morally confident terms whenever they saw a threat to their rights. (To name a few examples of such occasions: the attempt at labor conscription in World War II, the issue of U.S. contributions to the Soviet-dominated International Labor Organization, President Kennedy’s attempt to impose guidelines in the steel crisis of 1962.) Labor’s concern was aroused only in defense of its rights; still, whoever defends his own rights defends the rights of all. But labor was pursuing a contradictory policy, which could not be maintained for long. In many issues—notably in its support of welfare-state legislation—labor violated the rights of others and fertilized the growth of the government’s power. And, today, labor is in line to become the next major victim of advancing statism.

It was business, not labor, that initiated the policy of government intervention in the economy (as long ago as the nineteenth century)—and business was the first victim. Labor adopted the same policy and will meet the same fate. He who lives by a legalized sword, will perish by a legalized sword.

Copyright © 1986 by Harry Binswanger. Introduction copyright © 1986 by Leonard Peikoff. All rights reserved. For information address New American Library.


Excerpts from The Ominous Parallels, by Leonard Peikoff. Copyright © 1982 by Leonard Peikoff. Reprinted with permission of Stein and Day Publishers. Excerpts from The Romantic Manifesto, by Ayn Rand. Copyright © 1971, by The Objectivist. Reprinted with permission of Harper & Row, Publishers, Inc. Excerpts from Atlas Shrugged, copyright © 1957 by Ayn Rand, The Fountainhead, copyright © 1943 by Ayn Rand, and For the New Intellectual, copyright © 1961 by Ayn Rand. Reprinted by permission of the Estate of Ayn Rand. Excerpts from Philosophy: Who Needs It, by Ayn Rand. Copyright © 1982 by Leonard Peikoff, Executor, Estate of Ayn Rand. Reprinted by permission of the Estate of Ayn Rand. Excerpts from “The Philosophy of Objectivism” lecture series. Copyright © 1976 by Leonard Peikoff. Reprinted by permission. Excerpts from Alvin Toffler’s interview with Ayn Rand, which first appeared in Playboy magazine. Copyright © 1964. Reprinted by permission of Alvin Toffler. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Plume, a member of Penguin Group (USA), Inc.