Why Not Enjoy What You Produce?
Written: circa 1910
Wouldn’t you like to wear better clothes, eat better food, live in a better house, work
shorter hours under better conditions than you do now? Of course you would.
Now, who builds all the nice houses which we se all around us? The working class – and
they themselves live in shacks or tenements.
Who makes all the fine garments and themselves dress in shoddy rags? Again the
Who live on the cheapest and most adulterated foods, whilst themselves producing all the
good things to eat? Who build automobiles and then walk? Once more the working class!
Why do you deliver up all these good things to those who never produced them? Because
you have to!
Why do you have to? Because you work for wages, your labor-power that you sell for
wages being a commodity like butter, eggs, cheese or potatoes, its price is governed by
the same laws which govern the price of butter, eggs, cheese and potatoes. Your labor-power is bought by your employer just as he buys his coal, coke, lumber or any other raw
With the aid of modern machinery, the productive power of human labor is wonderful.
The workers produce many times more than they can but back again and enjoy. Why
cannot they buy it back again? They haven’t the means to buy it back!
Who are the capitalist class? The people who own the earth! That economic class in
human society which owns the land, railroads, factories and mines.
Then why can these people buy all the good things that you produce? By virtue of their
ownership of the things by which you make a living. By virtue of their ownership of the
land, railroads, factories and mines.
By what right do the capitalist class own these means of production? By reason of their
making and building them? No. The workers make and build them.
Because they manage and run them? No. The capitalists pay men to manage and run
them – workingmen.
Why, then, do they own them? Because they have certain pieces of paper which they say
that they own them. Because they control the powers of government, the parliaments,
law, courts, armies, navies and police to back them up when they say they own them.
And now, last question of all, why do they control the powers of government? For the
simple reason that you say that they can do so by voting them into power, and when you
make up your mind that they won’t control the powers of government, well, they won’t
control that power any longer! For as you know, parliaments are made by votes, and, it so
happens, the working class has the majority of those votes. And when you do this the
capitalist class won’t have any power behind them when they say they own the means of
production whereby they rob you of the fruits of your labor. Do you think that you desire
the full product of your labor? Of course you do! Then vote for the Socialist Party, which
stands for it.
But what about the other parties, don’t they interest you with their platforms, programs
and “issues”? Not a bit. What interests you is the fact that you are being robbed as a
producer by the present system of capitalism. No matter whether they label themselves
Liberal, Tory or as in some places where the workers are getting conscious of their
position – the so-called “Labor” party. Make no mistake, the Socialist Party alone
advocates Socialism and it only will destroy capitalism in the interests of the working
THE FALLACY OF REFORM
The present system of property in the means of wealth production is based upon the
production of things for the profit that may be obtained from the process. The fact that
people require the things that are produced, in order to consume them in the satisfaction
of their wants is merely incidental to the real purpose of production. When there is no
longer a profit to be obtained by the production and disposal of any commodity, its
production will cease no matter what suffering may be entailed upon humankind because
of such cessation of production. Once the capitalist motive is lacking – that is, the ability
to obtain a profit by the process – industry must cease, no matter how many persons may
actually starve to death in consequence.
With the production for profit as the prime motive of industry there flows from it, as a
perfectly logical consequence, all of the abnormalities, paradoxes and pestiferous
phenomena that beset and afflict human society today, and reduces its members to the
level of brute beasts engaged in savage warfare among themselves, each one consumed
with the purpose of saving his own hide at no matter what cost to the rest. Arrogant and
vulgar wealth upon one hand and servile and equally vulgar poverty upon the other,
greets the observer whichever way he may turn. Almost within the shadow of the
mansions of wealth is found the rabbit hutch of poverty. Gaunt hunger slinks along
streets that are lined with warehouses filed to the roof with everything requisite for
human comfort. Ships, rich-laden with the products of industry, go ahead to dump their
contents upon people who do not want them, while the plundered victims of capitalist
robbery starve and die because of that robbery. Vice, crime, corruption and degradation
flourish like a green bay tree, though moral precepts and ethical conceptions are voiced
by an army of hirelings and devotees of capital who receive payment for their vocal
encubrations out of the rich swag run from an enslaved working class by the
conscienceless masters of modern industry.
As the merry game goes on spreading physical and moral degeneration in its wake, from
out the unrest and discontent, that production for profit engenders in human society,
comes many a well-meaning one who purposes to inaugurate some reform that will, in
his estimation, wipe out some particular evil that has attracted his attention. Not realizing
that all the evils afflicting society spring directly from the economic basis on which
social institutions rest, our reformer sees visions of conditions most felicitous, once his
pet reform has been applied. He overlooks the fact that although his special nostrum as
incorporated into the law of the land, the fundamental basis of modern production would
not have been altered, and, therefore, the ill-effects flowing therefrom would not be
abolished. In other words, the reformer is deluded with the belief that the evils of which
he complains flow from the wrongful acts of men instead of being the logical expression
of the economic principle underlying the social and industrial life of his time.
Production for profit – capitalist production – can bring forth only those conditions and
phenomena with which we are surrounded upon every hand. He who would preserve this
system of production and at the very same time cry out against its effects, and attempt to
prevent the latter without first abolishing the former, is about as wise as he, who,
acknowledging the potency of the law of gravitation, should attempt to prevent, by legal
enactment, the man who fell from the top of a four-story building, from getting a severe
jolt when he struck the ground.
Reform is a delightfully amusing plaything by means of which surface-skimmers may
while away an idle hour without danger of brain fag. But all reforms are as futile as
Mother Partington’s effort to sweep back the tide with her broom.
The Socialist is no reformer. He insists that production for profit must be abolished and
production for use become the fundamental principle underlying social institutions. As
production for use cannot imply the enslavement of labor, the evil results that flow from
the present system which is based entirely upon the wage servitude of the workers and
production for profit, must vanish. Under production for use labor would be free, because
no longer exploited by a profit-mongering class as at present. The fundamental basis, the
groundwork from which the evils afflicting present day society spring, i.e., capitalist
production, or production for profit, having given way to a new economic principle, –
production for use, – those evils would of necessity die along with the economic principle
that brought them forth. The enslavement of labor being brought to an end, the vices,
crimes, corruption and degradation incidental to slavery must inevitably disappear.
Reform is a fallacy unworthy of acceptance by any one not in his dotage. Happily, this is
being recognized by an increasing number of people, hence the Army of the Revolution
gains in strength and numbers.
Mr Workingman, the above article is published for the sole purpose of starting you
thinking. If it has accomplished that we are satisfied.
The Socialist Party of Canada is not organized as other parties are, to catch your vote, but
to educate you to your own material interest. The ballot is used to obtain what you want,
but unless you know what you want it is of no use to you.