The Western Socialist
Vol. 27 - No. 218
No. 7, 1960
Letters to the Editor
Sir — In reference to the Rev. Todd Lee's editorial on deterioration of ethics and his advice to take another look at the teachings of Jesus without taking the first look at the modern social structure, I would like to say that all ethics can be shown to have a class bias in a class system such as exists everywhere today. There is no ethically neutral tribunal to which opposing class rights can be impartially referred.
Capitalist society consists of buyers and sellers of labor power. The worker, as a seller of labor-power cannot assert his "right" to maintain or improve his living standards via ethical appeal or moral law. He can only seek to enforce his right through active organization with others of his kind. Nor is the capitalist under any moral obligation to waive, or even remit in any way the unpaid labor of the worker — profit — back in the form of increased wages. Not only has the capitalist a legal right to profit in the category of unpaid labor, but from his standpoint a moral right as well. Behind this moral right stands custom, tradition, religion, the so-called classless ethic — and the state.
It is the actual social situation and the human needs of men which provide them with their truly moral quality. While universal ethics might see the demands of the working class as a form of selfish assertion, it is only by such assertion that this class can secure for itself a decent existence and develop the possibilities for its own emancipation. To neglect the struggle which this involves for concern over other class individuals, weakens the moral content of its own demands and could only lead to servile and degrading and inhuman conditions for the vast majority.
An election is in progress now in which five parties are standing for ruling class ethics and one for working class ethics. The looseness of ethics complained about by the reverend is only a reflection of the immoral basis of a society of exploitation and deceit. Its universal ethics are becoming more transparent to the masses, they can see the hypocrisy of its sponsors. "Socialism, production for use," will help bring a real classless ethic; one world, one people.
Daily Free Press, Nanaimo, B.C. 8-24-60