“Sidney Webb is often represented as a descendent of the utilitarians. Social democracy and the welfare state thus stand as the continuing development of Enlightenment rationalism. Alternatively, Webb appears as the representative of a new managerial and administrative class. Social democracy and the welfare state here stand as the elitist and bureaucratic expressions of the power of this class.”

Abstract, Sidney Webb: Utilitarianism, Positivism, and Social Democracy, Mark Bevir. Bevir is Director of the Center for British Studies, and professor in the Department of Political Science, University of California at Berkeley.

“even those who regard our facts as accurate, and accept our economic theory as scientific, will only agree in our judgment of Trade Unionism, and in our conception of its permanent but limited function in the Industrial Democracy of the future.” ix, Preface, Industrial Democracy, Sidney and Beatrice Webb.“

“In our final chapter we even venture upon precept and prophecy; and we consider the exact scope of Trade Unionism in the fully developed democratic state – the industrial democracy of the future.” ix, Preface, Industrial Democracy, Sidney and Beatrice Webb.

“He [Brandeis] spoke before citizen’s groups and legislative bodies, wrote articles for popular magazines, put his ideas about industrial democracy in the briefs he submitted as a lawyer and later in the opinions he wrote as a Supreme Court justice (1916-1938), and advised presidents Woodrow Wilson and Franklin Roosevelt.” KU Scholar Works, Kansas University.

From times long predating both Brandeis and Webb, men have attempted to resolve the human condition through experimental social reform. A century prior to Brandeis and Webb, Robert Owen and the early 19th century cooperative movements were foundational to Henri de Saint Simon, Auguste Comte and the rise of utopian socialism of the mid 19th century on France. And, the more modern, Fabian led ethical socialist movement of the early 20th century, a direct outgrowth of those same utopians.  And when we fully trace back to source the modern ideas found within the Webbs’ very socially pivotal, Industrial Democracy we see a continuity of thought of deeper historical value, as all of these men find brotherhood with the even earlier philosophies of 17th and 18th century thinkers like Jeremy Bentham and David Hume. And here an important observation needs to be made as to set the tone for the remainder of this article and series.

Conventional history places George Bernard Shaw as a prominent playwright, political activist and social critic.  Few will mention his membership in the Fabian Society, and even fewer will tell you of his deepest wishes:

“There is an extraordinary number of people of whom I want to kill.”

It is critical to know here, and worth the digression, that by being identified as a descendent of the utilitarians, Sidney Webb is being immediately associated zero degrees of separation from Jeremy Bentham, the father of utilitarianism – or the pragmatic determining of correct action by focusing on outcomes. Like do neoliberal movements who today preach of the greater good and social justice outcomes, yet they know nothing of where this thought originated.  A slight shifting of the goalposts from ‘equality of opportunity’ to ‘equality of outcome’. Two very different approaches to social theory, one concerned with the beginning, one concerned with the end result.  Here again we see the pragmatic approach of ends justifying the means.   

According to Bentham and the utilitarians, the best public utility – the ultimate ends to which any individual within the State could pursue – is that pursuit which brings the greatest happiness to the greatest number of people. An ends sounding a lot more like the future perfect promise of the utopian socialist, or the manufactory owner, or the labour union leader, or the head of Pfizer.

Certainly the subservience of the individual was what was being instituted, an industrial democracy made it a prerequisite. The scientific management now revealing a longview.

Comte widely considered the first philosopher of science, the father of social science, or sociology, and founder of modern positivism. Positivism a great rejection of all ideas that aren’t gathered through experience. Intuition, introspection considered meaningless through the positivist verification principle. Intuition, or the collective perception of all your senses into and formed into a gut feeling are no longer accepted, “burned as if sophistry” is our ability to consider or contemplate as the etymological definition of intuition, intuit, suggests. Neither no longer acceptable is the ability to look within ourselves for answers, to evaluate our own spirit and soul. This rejection of anything outside the realm of acceptable sources sounding a lot like today’s claims of fake news and this blind belief in the scientific expert, or the belief that only the opinions of those experienced in whatever matter being discussed should be considered. The appeal to authority or the argumentum ad auctoritatum. The result, a largely blissfully ignorant population of television watchers.

“In the Anglo-Saxon world of to-day we find that Trade Unions are democracies: that is to say, their internal constitutions are all based on the principle of “government of the people, by the people, for the people.” Pg. v, vi, Preface, Industrial Democracy.

Sidney and Beatrice Webb wrote in their ‘scientific’ analysis of British industrial relations, The History of Trade Unionism in 1894, that “sociology, like all other sciences, can advance only upon the basis of a precise observation of actual facts.” 

“For the Webbs and their American counterparts, ‘the professional expert, whether civil servant or representative, was of decisive importance’ in bringing about industrial democracy. Americans quickly noticed the idea, as it appealed to their newly found sense of rational or objective science as a means to solve social and economic problems. American adherents to industrial democracy, including future Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis, saw in it a vehicle to rationalize American industry within a democratic framework.” Pg. 11, Triangle Shirt Waist, the Protocol of Peace and Industrial Democracy in Progressive Era New York, Richard A. Greenwald.

“Many American progressives were keenly aware of European experiences with labor problems. They studied Europe for guidance or a model. Industrial democracy, one such import, is most often associated with Sidney and Beatrice Webb and their circle of British Fabian socialists. The Webbs, in their seminal 1897 book Industrial Democracy, called for a reinvigorated democracy, one where unions played a central role. For the Webbs, modern capitalist industry had put an undue strain on democratic society. Unions could bring democracy to industry … as democratic institutions themselves, they offered the best hope of bringing … democracy to society. 

Brandeis was very familiar with the work of the Fabian Society since as early as the Haymarket Affair on May 4, 1886. His close friends at the House of Truth included Fabian Society members Walter Lippmann and Harold Laski. Laski a Harvard lecturer and professor at the Webb founded, London School of Economics. Lippmann close, personal friends with another Fabian founder, Graham Wallas. Wallas dedicating his, The Great Society to Lippmann in 1914. The Great Society and Industrial Democracy here being synonymous. Brandeis chose, industrial democracy as the future model of America and then manifested it into reality through his nearly omniscient authority.

A young Sidney Webb. Founder of the Fabian Society and London School of Economics. Funder of the National Consumers League.
Sidney and Beatrice Webb, authors of Industrial Democracy, 1897.

Brandeis, chairman of the Arbitration Board of the Protocol of Peace with Walter Weyl and Hamilton Holt. Weyl the author of, The New Democracy (1913) and resident of the House of Truth. A look through the minutes shows Brandeis very much the star witness, or the festival headlining act of the entire proceedings. The last to speak after a role call of progressive efficiency experts. The owner of the House of Truth, Robert Grosvenor Valentine testifies, as does Frederick Winslow Taylor, Henry L. Gantt, Carl G. Barth, and Harrington Emerson. A group of men already controlled by Brandeis.

“If they should fail to agree, then there was recourse to this board of arbitration with Mr. Brandeis as chairman.

THE ACTING CHAIRMAN. Who were the others?

Mr. WILLIAMS. Mr. Hamilton Holt and Mr. Walter Weyl of New York.

THE ACTING CHAIRMAN. Not in the industry?

Mr. WILLIAMS. No; I think they were all outside of the industry … I am told that the board of grievances – the commission – did not dispose of the cases fast enough, and it was charged, on the part of the union, that they were allowed to accumulate … and the union became more and more dissatisfied; they demanded there be an umpire, that there should be somebody to cast the deciding vote on that board. That led to a fierce controversy in which several good men went down, and it very nearly ruptured the protocol and cause a general strike; … it was then changed to this plan that I have suggested, and the employers consented to have an impartial man, but with this change, that instead of this impartial man being at the head of the board of grievances that he was only to be one of three, and two clerks and himself, who should act as this committee, so that the board of grievances becomes a consultative body now and is now in active use for the adjustment of grievances.”

The Testimony of Mr. Louis D. Brandeis:

“Mr. CHAIRMAN, my special interest in this subject arises from a conviction that in the first place the workingmen, and in the second the members of the community generally, can attain the ideals of our American democracy only through an immediate increase and perhaps a constant increase in the productivity of man. We hear a great deal about the inequality in the distribution of wealth and in the proceeds and the profits derived from industry. The progress that we have made in improving the condition of the workingmen during the last century, and particularly during the last 50 years, has been largely due to the fact that the intervention or the introduction of machinery has gone so far in increasing the productivity of the individual man. The misfortune in connection with the introduction of machinery and the revolution that came with it is, or was, that when that introduction of a method of increasing the productivity of man was made labor did not get the share to which it was entitled. With the advent of the new science of management has come the next great opportunity for increasing labor’s share in production; and it seems to me, therefore, of the utmost importance not only that the science should be developed and should be applied as far as possible, but that it should be applied in cooperation with the representatives of organized labor in order that labor may now in this new movement get its proper share.” Pg. 991, Efficiency Systems and Labor, Commission on Industrial Relations.


 You can see the making of the social contract built right in Brandeis testimony:

“science of management is nothing more than an organized effort, pursued intensively, to eliminate waste … it is absolutely essential that the unions be represented in the process …  In the next place – the first bears, of course, upon the adopting of what is the standard – but the next thing comes in applying some matter, some incentive, as you may call it, or a reward of a fair division of the profits resulting from the introduction of the new system. Now what is fair? What is the amount which ought to go to labor is a subject which can not be determined by any scientific investigation.

It is a matter for the exercise of judgment, judgment as to what not only shall be the best and the proper incentive but judgment as to what is just, what is consistent with the interests of the community, all of the conditions which surround introduction, and all of the conditions which concern the pursuit of business under these new conditions, just as those concern the conduct of business under the old conditions, demand that labor should have its representatives in the solution of these problems.” Now the George Bernard Shaw video talking about tribunals.

Eliminating waste can have more than one meaning in the same way ameliorating the poor and needy can.

Seems strange that these social science engineers, that despite advocating scientific management as the solution for every problem of labor and capital, when faced with solving the question of fair compensation, it becomes all-of-a-sudden a problem that, “can not be determined by any scientific investigation”. All of a sudden, all the science in the world couldn’t be trusted to find an equitable division of profit as easily as it had or as readily as it was being used by capital to increase the productivity of the labourer and nearly everything else? No, it would be judgment that would determine how much the worker would partake in the profit in labor and leisure. And upon who’s judgment were they to rely, if not the workers?

Mr. THOMPSON. Mr. Brandeis, I would like to ask whether in your study of this subject you have placed or fixed any time at which labor should cooperate with the employer as to the setting of a time standard and the initiation of a standard?

Mr. BRANDEIS. Yes – all the time … It seems to me it should begin at the time when the plans are being made to introduce the system.

Mr. THOMPSON. Some of the advocates of scientific management, Mr. Brandeis, who have appeared here as witnesses before the commission, while agreeing to the proposition that it would perhaps be beneficial for labor to cooperate or have a voice in cooperating with the employer in the running of the system, felt that at the introduction there should be no cooperation ; that there is so much difficulty in the selection of the system and in the installation of it, that the added element of labor would make it impossible. Do you so conceive it?

Mr. BRANDEIS. I should say quite the contrary. It seems to me that the elements of difficulty in introduction are largely due to the fact that there is hostility. to the introduction, and that if organized labor or the representatives of labor should welcome and cooperate in the introduction a greater part of these difficulties would be removed … The whole of the work, it seems to me, would be greatly aided by a spirit of helpfulness instead of the reverse.” Pg. 992, 993, Report of Commission on Industrial Relations.                                                            ‘DEFENSE IN THE FIELD BEGINS IN THE FACTORY’ 

 “Mr. THOMPSON. Mr. Brandeis, some of the representatives of organized labor who have appeared here to testify have concurred in the idea of scientific management which you have elaborated. That is to say, if by studies and by analysis and selection better methods for doing the work could be brought about which would be beneficial to the community and to the worker as well as to the employer, it was a good thing. But they have objected to the stopwatch method of making time studies. People who have represented systems, such as Mr. Taylor and others, have said that the stop-watch method of making time studies is one of the first laws of scientific management. In your opinion, what reasonable objection can there be to the introduction of the stop-watch method of making time studies?

Mr. BRANDEIS. It seems to me there can be no objection except the one as to the way in which it is introduced … But if it is done in the right way, the stop watch can not, it seems to me, be objected to by labor, because it is the greatest possible protection to labor … What labor has suffered from in the past and is constantly suffering from now is the ignoring of facts … There is nothing, as I view it, in the situation, the whole social industrial structure, that labor wants so much as knowledge. It wants not only to know itself but it wants others to know it ; and any means that may be adopted, whether it be the stop watch or the photograph or any other means, that could absolutely establish the fact as to what is being done, how long it takes to do it, what the unit is of doing the particular thing — all those are in the interest of labor, because they are in the interest of truth.”

Mr. THOMPSON. In your study of this subject have you considered ways and means? In other words, have you considered the kind of machinery that might be used in the cooperation of the employer and employee in putting into operation their joint cooperation in the introduction of this system?

Mr. BRANDEIS. Not machinery — and I doubt very much whether there is any machinery, except the tactful and sympathetic man, some one’ who realizes, in the first place, that the greatest gain we are to get from scientific management is advancing the interests of the workingman, and who, recognizing that as a fact, has the tact to bring the workingman and his employer together in the adoption of the means by which the various steps should be taken.

Mr. THOMPSON. Have you considered whether or not it is feasible at the beginning for a representative of the workers and the firm to have a joint voice in the selection of the expert who shall install a system, or would that be impracticable?

Mr. BRANDEIS. Certainly.

Mr. THOMPSON. In such a selection, Mr. Brandeis, of the kind of man you mention, a tactful, diplomatic man, he would then be in a sense the instrument or medium by which this principle of cooperation in scientific management might be brought about?

Mr. BRANDEIS. Certainly.

The following, a conversation between the chairman, Frank Walsh and Mr. A Rosenberg.

Testimony of Mr. Rosenberg, New York City, January 15, 1914, Volume 2.

The CHAIRMAN. How has it [the protocol of peace] affected the shop’s work?

Mr. ROSENBERG. After the signing of the protocol?

The CHAIRMAN. Yes, compared with what it was before?

Mr. ROSENBERG – … the agreement says explicitly there shall be no strikes and lockout, and possibly during that time we had a few misunderstandings with shops which did not call strikes, but a stoppage of work; but those stoppages of work have never been ordered by the union or by any official of the union … those stoppages of work have always been ended by the union, as far as my knowledge goes. Of course, in many cases stoppages are avoided for more than an hour or two. To my memory we had only serious stoppages of work where the union had all sorts of trouble before sending the people back to work, in possibly half a dozen shops; those stoppages in half a dozen shops lasted for a day, or possibly two days, or say a week. Even in the independent shops — with those shops we do not have any individual agreement with — we have very few strikes, because the union, as well as the employers, are always trying to get together on some basis to prevent strikes. In other words, as far as strikes are concerned, I believe for the last three years and a half they have been out of existence.

The CHAIRMAN. What has been the result of your adjustment of grievances under this protocol?

Mr. ROSENBERG. We will come to that … For the first couple of months we had no machinery, and we did not know how to set about it. The protocol provided for a board of grievances; the board of grievances was composed of 5 representatives of the union and 5 representatives of the manufacturers’ association; those 10 people used to come together whenever there was any grievance, and we tried to adjust them in the best way we knew how and with the best machinery we had at our disposal. On many occasions, when it was necessary to make an investigation, the board of grievances used to employ one representative of the employers and one representative of the union, and those two used to go up to the shop and investigate, and if they could adjust they did adjust it, and if they could not they brought it to the grievance board, to the board of the grievance committee, and the grievance board acted on the merits of the case, and some decision was made somewhere. But that arrangement was not satisfactory. The board of grievances offhand could not handle so many cases as they had on hand, so there was a whole lot of friction and trouble in the shops, and we finally called upon the board of arbitration to devise ways and means how to adjust grievances in the future quicker than they had been doing, and the board of arbitration got together.

Mr. ROSENBERG … the board of arbitration decided to establish a system of clerks, deputy clerks, and whenever each side should have a sufficient number of complaints, one clerk and one general clerk — the general clerk should appoint the number of deputy clerks, as many as the occasion required; and so they did. That was understood — that whenever the two clerks, one clerk representing the association and the other clerk representing the union, go upon a case and make an investigation, if those two clerks agreed upon some proposition how this case should be disposed of, it is final, and each side must obey the order of the clerks — the manufacturer as well as the union must obey the order of the clerks.

But whenever those two deputy clerks disagreed and could not come to a conclusion, then It was submitted to chief clerks on each side ; each side has a so-called chief clerk — the manufacturers’ association employed one and the union employed one … But whenever those two chief clerks disagreed on a case, then it was brought before the board of grievances, and the board of grievances, sitting as a court, used to hear the case; and whenever necessary they called witnesses to testify, and it was the custom that each side had an equal number of members on that grievance committee, so it required one of each side to decide the case one way or the other; for instance, if the union had a complaint against a certain manufacturer, it required one manufacturer to vote with us; and, on the other hand, whenever the manufacturers brought up one…

The Protocol of Peace

“Industrial Democracy provides an important lens through which to view IR during the Progressive Era. Industrial democracy was one of the handful of ideas that defined Progressive Era reformers. It signaled a new scientific approach to labor in America as well as a fundamental recommitment to democratic principles.” pg. 23, Triangle Shirtwaist, the Protocols of Peace, and Industrial Democracy in Progressive Era New York, Richard A. Greenwald.

“It was the purpose of the Protocol to introduce into the relations of the employer and the employee a whole new element; that is the element of industrial democracy.” Louis Brandeis.

Brandeis was foremost among all in the creation of the Protocol of Peace and it was largely through his efforts that the strike was ended on September 2, 1910. The Protocol provided legislation for a 50 hour, 6 day work week, 10 paid legal holidays a year, time-and-a-half for overtime, an increase in the minimum wage, a regular and prompt cash pay-day, all in shop subcontracting abolished, but most importantly, the agreement was the official acceptance of the union shop. “Each member of the Manufacturers is to maintain a union shop”, and when hiring, “union men are preferred”, and health care only for union men, “the Manufacturers declare their belief in the Union”.  The union as the scientific expert, an absolute necessity for the future international system they would begin constructing a mere two years later under Woodrow Wilson. The alignment first of America, to be compatible, or compliant to the future model of collectivism (globalism or internationalism) a must, a prerequisite to everything. But that story concludes this series, so much more on that later.

One notes how the Protocol is “an arrangement entered into” between the “CLOAK, SUIT AND SKIRT MANUFACTURERS’ PROTECTIVE ASSOCIATION, hereinafter called the Manufacturer”, and the “INTERNATIONAL LADIES’ GARMENT WORKERS’ UNION.” The workers here not named, only their representative, the union. Note the lack of presence throughout the entire process of the actual worker. The entire system built upon the back of labour yet where is his voice being heard? Certainly not in the testimony of Brandeis or his industrial friends.

Brandeis named chairman of the Arbitration Board to enforce the Protocol, Brandeis having final say in all grievance settlements. He holds the tiebreaker.

CLOAK STRIKE ENDS; AGREEMENT SIGNED; Men Win All Their Demands Except That for the “Closed Shop.” New York Times, September 3, 1910: “The strike of 70,000 cloakmakers which began early in last July ended yesterday with the acceptance by both the strikers and the employers of a peace protocol, based principally upon the agreement suggested by Louis D. Brandeis of Boston in the last days of July, when he conducted a Series of conferences between employers and strikers.”

“SHIFF COMMITTEE STOPS LABOR WAR; Cloak Manufacturers Agree to Its Proposal to Arbitrate Differences with union. SETTLEMENT NOW IN SIGHT 50,000 Workers Were Ready to Strike – Brandeis or Mayor Mitchel May Head Board.” July 3, 1915

 “In New York City’s garment industry, reformers found what was arguably the nation’s most primitive industry. Cutthroat competition, layers of subcontracting, and a poorly paid mass of immigrant workers, among other things, locked garment manufacturing in a nineteenthcentury production model. It therefore offered a perfect laboratory for people such as Louis Brandeis. The ladies’ garment industry had an established, but weak, new union. It had a core of willing industrial democrats within the industry led by Julius Henry Cohen, a noted corporate lawyer. The result, Brandeis’s creation, the Protocol of Peace, was one of the most significant labor-management cooperation schemes of the Pre-New Deal Era. So impressive was the Protocol that when the Wilson Administration created the U.S. Commission on Industrial Relations in 1913, Brandeis was the president’s first choice to chair it4 New York also was the site of the terrible Triangle Factory Fire of March 25, 1911, when 146 mainly young, immigrant women garment workers died. The fire sparked a reform effort that in four years remade New York into the model of a progressive state.” pg. 14, Triangle Shirt Waist.

“The father of the Protocol, Louis Brandeis came to the labor question in 1892.”

“In 1910, while New York was in the heat of the second in a series of general strikes in the garment industry, Brandeis came to the city to bring labor and management together in a novel agreement that became known as the Protocol of Peace.” Pg. 16, Triangle Shirt Waist.

“They decided that if ‘a big man’ made a call for a settlement conference, and if the union and Cohen could set certain preconditions, talks could begin. It was clear to all concerned that they meant a big Jewish man. Both sides were concerned that ‘their’ matters be settled within their community. They did not want an outsider meddling in their affairs. In a July 21 letter to Louis Brandeis, Bloomfield explained how he laid the foundations for talks:

‘there was only one open door – to take a big man like Brandeis and empower him … to confer with both sides and draw up a fair basis of negotiations. Both responded heartily and suggested that I invite Mr. B. and come with him for a private talk’ … That initial meeting set in motion a process that eventually led to the Protocol. On July 22, Brandeis left for New York, taking with him a draft of a proposed labor agreement … After a preliminary meeting between the principal negotiators, Meyer London, noted socialist lawyer who advised the union, and Cohen, a later conference was scheduled with Brandeis as chair. At this first meeting were ten representatives from each side plus Brandeis and his staff. In writing about this meeting, McClure’s Magazine’s Edith Wyatt was struck by similarities on both sides. Both groups were almost identical. They were overwhelmingly Jewish. The union delegation included middle-aged unionists, radical workers, East Side intellectuals, and socialists. And, so did the management group. The mood at that first meeting was hopeful, according to McClure’s. Samuel Gompers, President of the American Federation of Labor (AFL), who was an observer at the first meeting was so confident that he returned to Washington on the 29th, telling the New York Times he was sure “that the garment workers’ strike would be settled speedily.” Brandeis set the mood for the conference. He told the twenty men assembled that they were witnessing an important moment in history, the birth of a new system of industrial relations. They would help shape the future:

“Gentlemen,” Brandeis stated “we have come together in a matter which we must all recognize is very serious, and an important business, not only to settle this strike, but to create a relation which will prevent similar strikes in the future. That work is one which it seems to me is approached in a spirit which makes the situation a very hopeful one and I am sure from my conferences with council of both parties, and with individual members whom they represent, that those who are here are all here with that desire. It seems to me … that aid could be effectively and properly given by providing that the manufacturers should, in the employment of labor hereafter, give the preference to union men, where the union men are equal in efficiency to any non-union applicants …” Brandeis opening remarks, Mason, 1946, pp 296, 297.