The Western Socialist
Vol. 26 - No. 205
No. 1, 1959
If Socialists had the time and facilities they could probably describe a contradiction arising out of capitalism for every day of every year that capitalism has existed. But we will just have to be satisfied with a few prize-winning entrants. For this day of this particular year of capitalism in Canada we choose Mr. Lester Pearson, leader of Canada's Liberals and holder of the Nobel Peace Prize.
We believe Mr. Pearson when he says he wants peace, as far as peace by itself is concerned as we could have believed Adolph Hitler with the same claim, but both men were in love with something far more than peace; this something wasn't war—by itself — but capitalism, which cannot operate without wars. Profits and peace just don't go together.
Working hard in the UN to minimize the Suez crisis, as Mr. Pearson did to qualify for the peace prize, is tantamount to starting an apartment blaze, then fighting it heroically to win a firefighters award.
Wars arise out of the international competition for markets, raw materials and trade routes. Every nation is the potential enemy of every other nation because every nation stands opposed to all others in this economic rivalry. Mr. Pearson probably knows this, but it doesn't stop him from supporting this war making system. Neither does it make him ashamed of holding a peace prize he doesn't deserve.
This last point can possibly be explained by the lack of authenticity in the prize itself. The prize is just as phony as Mr. Pearson's political ideas, so they'll keep each other good company. The Nobel Peace Prize was instituted by Alfred. Nobel, an explosives manufacturer. He didn't do the manufacturing; he owned the factories in which wage-workers did the producing, in exchange for money they needed to buy food, shelter and clothing, in order to stay alive. The dynamite shells were used to bombard densely populated Montmartre, by the German Army during the siege of Paris, in the time of the Commune. He made a fortune from war.
Albert Einstein won a Nobel Peace Prize. He was the man who wrote to President Roosevelt in 1939 drawing attention to the power of the atom bomb and urging him to start scientific wheels rolling in that direction in order to beat the Nazis to the punch; only to say afterwards that "if World War III is fought with atom-armed missiles, then World War IV would be fought with clubs," and signed the famous scientists' declaration with Bertrand Russell, in July, 1955, predicting that radio-active dust could end the human race.
Another champion of capitalism to receive the prize was that venerable old wardog, Winston Churchill, in 1953.
We'd better stop here before we trip over more of the paradoxes that clutter up the pathways of this social "order" known as capitalism.
In the "Daily Colonist," 11-15-58 an editorial titled "The Majesty of the Law" supplies another reason why few workers bother reading the editorial pages of the daily newspapers. As a means of escape they prefer the fairy tales on the comic page to the fairy tales on the editorial spread.
It says in part, "under the majesty and dignity of the law, the age-old process of trial by jury in open court without fear, haste or bias, has distinguished between right and wrong and upheld those values without which mankind would be poor indeed."
Considering the sad state of mankind now, we wonder just how poor it can get. We can only figure that the Colonist works on the theory that nothing is too poor for mankind.
In this case they were referring to Robert Sommers, former Lands and Forests Minister in British Columbia's Social Credit government, who was convicted on a bribery charge of accepting money for the issuance of forest management licenses and sentenced to five years imprisonment after a very lengthy trial.
As far as corruption in government is concerned, officials can be compared to a bellhop in a hotel. He expects tips for his favors, the customers are expected to compete for the favors and the biggest tipper gets the best service. It has been suggested that Sommers was too cheap, he should have demanded more for his considerations. All he got was new linoleum on the kitchen floor, a free trip down east and $1700. He didn't adjust his sights high enough and he was one of the rare ones prosecuted. And you can't judge the amount of corruption in a government by the number of corruptors convicted, no more than you can judge the fish population of a lake by the number of fish caught.
As Socialists we would like to say that the existence of corruption or how much there is of it in governments is not important to the working class. What is important is why it exists and the answer is because it is an inevitable part of capitalist society. Corruption and crime in high places and low, in government and in church charity bazaars will be with us so long as wealth is produced for sale for profit, whether it involves misappropriation of funds for expansion of factories in Leningrad, "gifts" to congressmen in Washington or pay-offs to the vice-squad in Montreal. Social inequality, poverty beside riches will guarantee its continued existence.
But the ridiculous isn't good enough for this editor, nothing less than the sublime for the last paragraph, — "While the law stands in majesty and incorruptibility, there can be no infringement on the rights of any individual in the land. To the last appeal in the highest court the way is open to every man regardless of his station or possessions, subject to the judgement of his peers."
We don't know whether this individual will ever come down out of the clouds, but let's ignore him for a moment and jog our memories on a few individual rights. If you have the money and influence and possibly information on your colleagues you can be as corrupt as the former police chief of Vancouver apparently was and get off relatively scot free as he did, or just resign your public post as the provincial government cabinet ministers did in Ontario recently.
If you are in a certain bracket of the army of the misinformed and are suspected of aiding a foreign capitalist rival, you can be transported and imprisoned incommunicado as William Heikilla was in Vancouver not long ago and you can be secretly arrested and held for days without the public's knowledge and without being allowed to communicate with anyone for days as was Federal M.P. William Rose and those associated with him in the Russian spy ring in 1946.
You can be assaulted or end up in jail over incidents arising from strike activity, part of the struggle to maintain or prevent the too rapid fall of relative wages.
In short, the vast majority of society can exist and function for the convenience of the minority who own all the means of production and distribution of wealth. The masses can do anything they want, so long as these activities are in harmony with the needs of the ruling class. Consequently, freedom of assembly is patronizingly sanctioned so long as it is carried on in the interests of production for profit or anything that aids that process. "Free speech" and freedom of movement" exist for the same purpose, so long, for example, as the speechmaking is in the welfare of capital and the movement is in the direction of a new master for the unemployed wage-slave.
But everything has its opposite and the old adage that you can't fool all the people all the time is true and the workers can use the "freedoms" that were issued for the welfare of capital to organize politically for their own freedom from enslavement to capital by instituting a new society with no classes and characterized by social equality.
In the last analysis the Colonist editorial was right. The rights of the individual can never be infringed upon when they don't really exist. As Marx stated, justice can never rise above the economic conditions of any social order or of the cultural relations arising from those conditions. So we find propertyless workers acting as jurists to other propertyless workers who have infringed upon the rights of property. The dictatorship of the minority over the majority in Canada as elsewhere is based deep down in the economic grass roots of society and has the active or passive support of the majority of workers. The capitalist control of all important means of information and misinformation from the pulpit to the editorial desk doesn't stop the increasing indigestibility of the food offered. The workers will get harder to brainwash as time goes by.
J. G. JENKINS
Victoria, B. C.