The Western Socialist
Vol. 29 - No. 227
No. 3, 1962
A federal election is about to be held. The competing parties are rounding out their programs. The candidates are displaying their talents. The passing days grow warm with political activity. The day will soon be here when the electorate will enter the polling booths and demonstrate the amount of serious thought they have given to the shape of things past, present and to come.
But if the coming election runs true to custom, it will be a day of mild excitement, good-natured indifference and very little thought, ending with time-frayed messages of appreciation by the victors for the wisdom shown by the electorate.
Should it be different? There is encouragement to indifference on all sides: baseball, football and other sports for those interested; theaters, concert halls, art centers for the more snooty; radio and television to bring the world into the home; automobiles, aircraft and other ways of changing climate or environment. And there are historians, economists, news interpreters and other purveyors of fiction ever on hand to entertain. What need, then, is there for serious thought at election time when the outcome will change none of these things.
That's the way it looks to the average person; and if the world around us had only rosy hues there would be no need for more than the circus-like atmosphere common to election campaigns, no need to worry about the future and what to do about it.
But the world has other colors, and some of these are dark and gloomy. There are the masses of unemployed spread across the country, living an insecure, uncertain existence on the thin fare of unemployment insurance or social welfare. There are the outer fringes of labor's ranks partly employed on terms that permit only a slender hold on the pleasures of life. There is the position of the workers generally, obliged by the nature of the modern world to deliver their labors to other people, receiving a wage that is forever the subject of haggling and bitterness, never sufficient to ensure security and plenty.
And overhanging all this is the ever-present threat of war, the kind of war that could in a matter of days, even hours, destroy humans in the hundreds of millions.
Are these not subjects for serious thought? And should they not be met head-on by those who aspire to control of government? Conservatives, Liberals, New Democrats — these are the major parties of the day. Read their literature; listen to what they have to say. Can their proposals be looked upon as sensible treatments for the problems of today? Could their programs, if instituted, contribute in any way to the ending of poverty and war?
The Conservatives and Liberals have had many years of government to prove that they never think in terms of ending poverty and war; and the New Democrats, being no more than Liberals and Conservatives strayed from the fold, are equally unfamiliar with such thoughts.
Prominent in the current campaigning of the major parties are pension plans. They have turned their attention to the poor, or some of the poor; and they propose to do something about poverty, but not end it. They propose to do as much as is needed to win the election.
The game is an old one, a sordid one, often helpful in boosting one of the parties into power; and if the promises made and brought into effect bring shabby results, this need not prevent them being embellished and used again in another campaign.
Such things are possible only because those who do the voting fail to think seriously about what has to be done on election day.
In the modern world there are many evils, poverty and war being the foremost. Canada is afflicted by these evils just as other countries are. They are not biological products and are not the result of the wickedness of men. They arise from the nature of society.
The wealth producing machinery of today is owned by a small section of the people who because of this ownership hold a position of dominance over the other members of society. The workers operate this machinery for the amount of their produce and seldom exceed their everyday needs. The wealth they produce becomes the property of the owners.
From this condition comes the main problems of the day. The owners of industry battle steadily with the workers to keep wages down; and the extent of their success may be forcibly noted in the great and growing number of charities making daily and urgent appeals for support. The owners also battle among themselves, each trying to elbow himself into a greater share of the plunder taken from the workers. These battles are savage and on the international field often break into military conflict.
The major political parties have no effective way of dealing with these problems because of their reverence for the property relations creating them. This obliges them to raise other things to prominence and importance and so create the impression that they are wrestling, in Mr. Pearson's words, with the "great issues of the day."
But there is one political party standing in awe before none of the institutions of present society. It reasons not from the standpoint of tradition or reverence or how to get elected quickly, but from the standpoint of what is best for society. It claims that since the great evils that afflict mankind arise from the class ownership of the means for producing and distributing wealth the only program that can seriously deal with these evils calls for:
The establishment of a system of society based upon the common ownership and democratic control of the means and instruments for producing and distributing wealth by and in the interest of society as a whole.
This is the program of the Socialist Party of Canada. It is time for the wealth producers to stop looking starry-eyed at mink-stoled matrons giving crusts to hungry children who will be hungry again tomorrow. It is time to question wars for democracy that are followed only by wars for democracy. There is abundance at hand that can be made available to all when the Socialist program is realized. For a world without want and war, give this program your complete support.