Manifesto of the Socialist Party of Canada
This pamphlet was first published in 1910 as the Manifesto of the Socialist Party of
Canada. During the ten-year period ending in 1920, five editions, totalling more than
25,000 copies, were issued. The growing insistence of members and sympathisers impels
us to place the Manifesto once again in the hands of the working class. The present
edition consists of 5,000 copies.
Some changes have been made. The section on History remains unaltered. One or two
minor errors in the section on Economics have been corrected. But a new section on
Politics has been written. This was considered desirable in view of the importance which
reform parties and programs have assumed in the minds of the Canadian workers since
the Manifesto last appeared. More and more, during the last quarter century, has the
advocacy of touch-up jobs to capitalism gained prominence. More and more have these
touch-up jobs become described as socialism. More and more has it become necessary
for the socialists to try and clear away the misconceptions resulting from this activity.
Hence our more detailed remarks on Politics.
Even so, however, our comments are necessarily brief. The space provided by one small
pamphlet is not sufficient to permit an exhaustive treatment of the mischievous activities
at present diverting the attentions of the workers from matters that really concern them.
For example, nothing has been said about the Communist Party (the “Labor-Progressive
Party”) and the immense harm which it has brought to the working class movement.
Nothing has been said about the Social Credit Party, which has gained a great deal of
support during recent years on the strength of a completely false money theory. Nothing
has been said about various other groups which claim to represent working class
interests. Our references to political opposition groups have been confined to the
capitalist and labor parties in general and to the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation
in particular. For a statement of our views on other groups the reader is invited to consult
other literature obtainable from the S. P. of C.
This is the second time that the Manifesto has been issued in the midst of war. The fourth
edition made its appearance during the first world war. Then, as now, the banner of
international socialism was held high and the hand of fellowship extended to the workers
of the world. Then, as now, the socialists kept the issues clear while the “saviors of labor”
were herding the workers along the road to destruction. The following paragraph from
the Preface to the fourth edition is especially worthy of being preserved:
“Another illusion that has been dispelled is that the strength of the European Social-Democracies, arising out of their opportunist mode of propaganda. These parties have
waged their campaign upon the ‘political issues of the day’, thus aligning themselves
with that section in the Socialist movement which would sacrifice sound principles to
immediate successes. They have numbered their adherents by the million, and have
educated them not at all. They have sown the wind – they are reaping the whirlwind. In
conflict with them for a generation are those who would sacrifice immediate successes to
sound principles, who have been content to be fewer in numbers if clearer in
understanding, who have given transient political issues the ‘go-by’ and have harped
upon the Social Revolution, who have expounded Economics and the Class Struggle,
when the others were shouting against taxes and tariffs, who have earned for themselves
the name of ‘impossibilist’ and have been content therewith. The war has justified them.
Where there are any ‘impossibilists’ or ‘near-impossibilists’ in Europe, they have stood
firm. The ‘practical socialists’ are cutting one another’s throats in the trenches.”
What was true of World War I is equally true of World War II. While the Social
Democracies of today, the C. C. F. of Canada and the labor parties of other countries,
have taken their stand on the side of the ruling class, the S. P. of C. and its companion
parties have reaffirmed their adherence to socialist principles, declared their conviction
that no interest is at stake justifying the shedding of working class blood, and, in the
words of the S. P. of C. War Manifesto issued on September 3rd, 1939, called upon the
workers of the world “to unite in the Greater Struggle, the struggle for the establishment
of Socialism, a system of society in which the ever-increasing poverty, misery, terror and
bloodshed of capitalism shall be forever banished from the earth.”
What will be the outcome of the present war? Our statesmen promise a finer world than
we have known – after the guns are silenced. The statesmen of the first world war made
the same promise. On the other hand the Party Manifesto, more brutally perhaps, but
more honestly, promised “an outbreak of peace as cataclysmic as was the outbreak of
war”. The statesmen were wrong; the Manifesto was right.
The statesmen will be wrong again, if the future of the world is to remain in their
keeping. The war has accelerated the development of the means of production to a degree
hardly conceivable a few years ago. When these means of production have become
transformed from war time to peace time purposes, when the tens of millions of workers
now in uniforms or engaged in war production seek a place in peace time industry, when
the devastation of war has been cleared away and the surpluses of wealth begin again
intensified by the frantic efforts to dispose of the ever-expanding wealth in an ever-shrinking market, the workers will find a post-war world much like the pre-war world,
except that their lot will become even harder to bear.
There can be no finer world for the workers – until they pay heed to the message of
DOMINION EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE
History, as it is commonly understood, is a chronicle of more or less unrelated events of
wars, battles, and murders, of the deeds and misdeeds of kings and heroes; a chronicle
wherein the more spectacular occurrences are given an exaggerated prominence, while
little if any attention is accorded to either their underlying causes or to their ultimate
To the Socialist, however, History is but a chapter of Biology. It is the life story of the
human race. Studied from this viewpoint, its features rapidly fall into their proper
perspective. The importance of wars and battles diminishes. The glory of kings and
heroes fades when these appear in their true light as but the pawns of circumstances
tricked out in a little tinsel. Events, so far from being unrelated, are seen in their order
and sequence, interlinked into a vast chain of causation, and the great panorama unfolds
showing us the human race in its progress from the mists of the past towards the receding
veil of the future. Then, too, is perceived that feature of history which most historians
ignore – the evolution of human society. For society is seen, not to be now as it ever was,
but to be in a process of growth, in obedience to the universal law of evolution, from the
simple to the complex.
And the beginning of our present society may be traced to a preceding phase and thence
through previous forms back to the earliest tribal communities. It is this development of
society which it is proposed here to sketch.
The Ante-Slavery Period
So far removed in the dim past is the period of human development previous to the
appearance of slavery that it has left little historic trace beyond the scattered remains of
primitive handiwork that have been unearthed from time to time, and any conception of
that period would be almost impossible were it not for its present day survivals – the
races yet existing in a state of primitive savagery.
By piecing together, the information derived from a study of these races, with what can
be gathered or guessed from the prehistoric remains, such knowledge as we have on the
subject has been attained.
The characteristic that marks the ante-slavery period from ours is the non-existence of
property in the true sense of the word. Personal possessions the primitive savage has,
such as his weapons and his dwelling, but the resources of the earth, being free of access
to all, are the property of none. For property is not so much the assertion of the claim of
the individual as owner as a denial of claim of all others to ownership.
Transition from Slavery to Barbarism
The economics of this period is as simple and crude as its tools, but is, nevertheless,
worthy of attention, as, owing to that very simplicity, it affords a clearer conception of
the fact that labor is the determining factor in comparing the values of articles – a factor
of supreme importance to the Socialist conception.
Production under savagery differs from that of today in being hand production instead of
machine, and individual instead of social production. That is to say, each article produced
is completed by one individual instead of being, as it is today, the result of the toil of a
whole army of workers, each one doing a little to it. Furthermore, under savagery, articles
are produced for use; under capitalism, for profit.
The elimination of these three factors – social production, machinery, and profit –
reduces economics to its simplest form.
Such exchange, or barter, of articles as would take place under savagery would be carried
on in the first place at the whim and caprice of the parties to the exchange; but with the
division of labor that would come with dawning civilization there would be an increasing
tendency for exchange to take place on the basis of the labor involved. Thus a savage
wishing to barter, say, ornaments for weapons, would exchange them upon the basis of
the labor it would cost him to produce either. He would know how long it took him to
make the ornaments, and he would have a pretty good idea how many of the weapons he
could make in the same time, and would therefore insist on just so many in exchange for
his ornaments. To accept any less would be foolish, as he would be better off to make
them himself. And, be it noted, that this standard of value has endured through all the
succeeding changes in the methods of production and exchange.
The resources of the earth have no value, a fact which is quite clear under savagery, but
obscured under capitalism by the fact that they are bought and sold on the strength of
their potentialities. It is only when the hand of labor is applied to the natural resources to
convert them into articles usable by man, that anything of value is created.
The primitive savage’s method of life is predatory. He lives by hunting and fishing, and
upon wild fruits and roots. Such a method of life is, at any time, precarious and becomes
more so with the increase of population and the consequent restriction of the tribal
hunting grounds. As time goes on the savage is driven to domesticate animals and to
cultivate the soil in order that his means of life may be more certain. Once this becomes
general, the way to slavery is open.
The primitive savage kills his enemies on the battlefield – perhaps eats them. He has no
incentive to make them captive, as it would only mean so many more mouths to feed. He
cannot even compel them to maintain themselves by sending them to hunt, as obviously,
they would escape.
But with the cultivation of the soil it becomes at length possible for an individual to
produce more than is necessary for his own keep. It then becomes well worth while to
make captives. They can be compelled to toil in the fields and produce for their masters;
their escape can be prevented by armed guards. So property, the slave and the soldier
make their advent upon the scene of events together, never to leave it till they leave it
together – when the slaves shall emancipate themselves.
The slave of old toiled in his master’s fields and the fruits of his toil belonged to his
master; the worker of today toils in his master’s factory or farm, and the fruits of his toil
belong to the master. The former received for his toil enough for his own subsistence, just
what the latter today receives at the best. The slave was bought and sold bodily and,
being so much invested wealth, was more or less well cared for whether he worked or
not. The worker of today sells himself from day to day, and being a “freeman” and
nobody’s property, nobody is under any obligation to care for him or to feed him when
there is no work for him to do. The slave was generally an unwilling slave, but the
worker votes for a continuance of his servitude. His freedom lies in his own hands, but he
refuses to be free. Which is the baser slave?
To sum up: the savage came upon the scene endowed with power to labor, which he
applied to the natural resources, and produced for himself wealth – articles of use to him.
The chattel slave was owned by a master, who compelled him to apply his labor power to
the natural resources, and took the wealth he produced. The worker of today sells his
labour-power to an employer, to whom belongs the wealth produced by the application of
The Slave Empires
It is noticeable that those people among whom slavery of one sort or another does not
exist are not very far advanced in the arts and sciences. This would point to the fact that
slavery is essential to human progress, and such is actually the case.
When man lived by fishing and hunting he had little leisure for the pursuit of knowledge.
All his time was taken up with the economic problem – how to provide for his wants.
When, however, the agricultural stage was reached, and it became possible for an
individual to live upon the fruits of another’s labor, society became divided into two
classes, the slaves and their masters, the working class and the leisured class. This master
class then had leisure to turn its attention to other things besides its immediate
Upon this basis the civilizations of the ancient world were built. Upon the labor of slaves
Babylon upraised her temples and gardens, Egypt her pyramids and tombs, Greece her
colonnades and statuary; the armies of Xerxes and Hannibal, the mighty empire of Rome,
were all maintained out of the surplus product of vast armies of chattel slaves.
Built thus upon the backs of toiling millions, empire after empire arose, attained its zenith
and crumbled to decay, some of them leaving scarce a trace to mark their place in history.
The course of each one was in many respects similar, for the reason that they were slave
Commencing as an aggregation of rude husbandmen conquering their neighbors until,
becoming great and having overcome all dangerous rivals, the masters degenerated into a
mere horde of parasites living upon the ever-increasing product of their slaves.
Wealth tends ever to accumulate into the hands of the most wealthy, and, as the wealthy
become fewer the slaves become more numerous, until the disproportion becomes so
great that the wealthy few, with all their luxurious extravagance and wastefulness, are no
longer able to consume the volume of wealth, and there are more slaves than employment
can be found for. As the slave thus becomes of little value his condition becomes more
and more precarious and miserable. Society is no longer able to provide for the wants of
the useful portion of it, and, there being no possibility, at the time, of any new form of
society to take its place, the slave civilization perishes, its extinction as a general rule
being hastened by the inroads of some younger and more virile race.
The Prelude to Feudalism
The fall of the last of these, the decadent Roman empire, marked the dawn of a new era.
For thousands of years chattel slavery had been the only form of slavery. In endless
rotation civilizations founded upon that basis had succeeded one another, but now, at last,
conditions were ripe for a change for which these cycles of chattel slavery had been but a
The drying out of the uplands of Asia displaced the population of that continent, and a
great westward migration commenced. Goth, Frank, Vandal and Hun swept wave on
wave across Europe. Before the inrush of these rude barbarians, Rome, already tottering,
could not stand. Gnawing at her vitals was the old disease common to all slave
civilizations – “where wealth accumulates and men decay”. The wealth of Rome had
concentrated into the hands of a very small percentage of her population; the number of
slaves was greatly out of proportion to the masters; their productivity beyond even the
wasting capacity of the dissolute Roman patricians. Roman society had reached the brink
of destruction. The barbarians had but to push it over.
The Institution of Feudalism
Western Europe, formerly one great forest, had now become populous. The incoming
races amalgamated with the former inhabitants who had, under Roman rule, been reduced
to some semblance of order. Conditions became so settled that it was no longer easy for a
slave to escape. It was no longer necessary to own and guard him. Therefore, gradually, a
new system of slavery evolved. The slave was attached to the land; he became a serf. His
master was now the owner of the land – the lord. The serf toiled on his lord’s land,
producing wealth for him, in return for which he was permitted to toil on his own behalf
upon a piece of land set apart for that purpose. The wealth he thus produced was just
sufficient to meet his necessities so that he might continue to live and produce more
wealth for his lord.
The difference between the chattel slave and the serf is one of form rather than of reality.
Each produced the wealth that maintained both himself and his master. Each received of
that wealth only sufficient, at the best, to maintain him in good working condition. While
the chattel slave, being generally bought, represented so much cash laid out, and was
therefore worth taking a certain amount of care of, the personal welfare of the serf was a
matter of little concern to the lord beyond that it was to the lord’s interest to protect him
from other robbers in order that he himself might get the full benefit of the serf’s labor.
The reason serfdom displaced chattel slavery was that it was a more economical and less
troublesome method of exploiting the workers. The point most worthy of remembrance in
the feudal system is that the serf worked a part of the time for himself and the rest of his
time for his lord, much as the worker today works a part of his working day producing
his own wages and the rest of the time producing profit for his employer.
The Passing of Feudalism
It had taken several thousands of years of chattel slavery to prepare the way for serfdom.
And it took several centuries of feudalism to prepare the way for a new form of society –
capitalism – the kernel of which already existed in the feudal society. While the
agricultural districts were under the sway of the nobility, the towns and cities of the
Middle Ages were, to a certain extent, free from their domination. Here were congregated
the merchants, artisans and handicraftsmen, whose interests were at all times more or less
antagonistic to those of the land-barons, who naturally sought to place restrictions on the
manufacture and marketing of the city products. This antagonism was accentuated by the
discovery of America and of the southwest passage to the Orient, and the consequent
expansion of trade.
As the wealth and power of the townsmen increased, that of the nobility decreased. The
invention of gunpowder sealed the fate of the mail-clad knights and their chivalry. The
nobleman became a mere parasite upon society; feudalism ran its course as other forms
of society had done. It was dying when the steam engine gave it its death-blow.
That invention threw wide the doors of opportunity to society’s new masters, the
townsmen or bourgeoisie. Heretofore the production of articles of commerce had been
carried on by hand. The town worker was a craftsman who learnt his trade by a long
apprenticeship, who, when he became a journeyman, worked by the side of his master,
and had reasonable hopes of becoming himself a master. The tools of production were yet
so primitive as to be within the purchasing power of the thrifty workman. Land alone was
the sacred property of the ruling class.
The coming of the steam-driven engine changed all this. The hand tool grew step by step
into the gigantic set of machines we know today. Ownership of the tools of production
became more and more an impossibility for the worker. The master workman left the
bench for the office; the foreman took his place. The factory called for more labor –
cheaper labor. The capitalist turned profit-hungry eyes on the brawn of the agricultural
districts. Serfdom stood in the way, so serfdom was abolished. The serf was freed from
his bondage to the land that he might take on a heavier yoke, that of the factory. The
factory needed not brains, but “hands”. The hands of the country yokel, of his wife, and
of his children, would serve equally as well as those of the skilled craftsman. No
apprenticeship was needed, no training. Only “hands” with hungry stomachs attached.
The serf was not only freed from the land, he was driven off it by the closing in of the
commons and by other measures. The freeing of the serfs was no humanitarian measure.
Greed – and greed alone – was its inspiring motive.
The capitalist class had humble enough beginnings. Its progenitors were the bourgeois,
literally townsmen, of the Middle Ages. A part of the feudal society, they were yet, in a
way, apart from it. They were neither nobles nor serfs, but a species of lackeys to the
nobility. From them the noble obtained his clothing and the gay trappings of his horse;
they forged his weapons and his armour, built his castles, loaned him money. He stood to
them in the relation of a consumer, and, as a consumer, he legislated, defining their
markets, prohibiting them from enhancing prices, enacting that wages should not exceed
certain figures, insisting that goods should be of such and such a quality and texture, and
be sold at certain fixed prices.
From Serfdom to Wagedom
Naturally these restrictions were little to the taste of the bourgeoisie. As trade and
commerce increased they found these conditions less and less tolerable. As they grew in
wealth and influence they became less and less inclined to tolerate them. In England they
had joined with the nobles to weaken the king, and with the king to weaken the nobles.
Finally they broke the power of both. In the name of freedom they crushed feudalism.
But the freedom they sought was a freedom that would allow them to adulterate goods,
that would allow the workers to leave the land and move where the factories needed
them, their wives, and their children.
While in other lands the course of the bourgeois revolution was somewhat different to
that in England, the result was the same. In France, for instance, the revolution was pent
up for so long a period that when it burst forth it deluged the land in blood, through
which the people waded, bearing banners inscribed “Liberty, Equality, Fraternity”, to a
new order wherein Liberty, Equality and Fraternity were the last things possible.
The Mission of Capitalism
Once freed from the fetters of feudalism the onward march of capitalism became a mad,
headlong rush. Everywhere mills, factories, and furnaces sprang up. Their smoke and
fumes turned fields once fertile and populous into desolate, uninhabitable wastes; their
refuse poisoned and polluted the rivers until they stank to Heaven. Earth’s bowels were
riven for her mineral hoards. Green flourishing forests became mere acres of charred and
hideous stumps. Commerce pierced all mountains, fathomed all seas, explored all lands,
disturbing the age-long sleep of hermit peoples that they might buy her wares. Capital
spread its tentacles over all the world. Everywhere its voice was heard, crying “Work,
work, work”, to all the workers; “Buy, buy, buy”, to all the peoples.
The New Slavery
The conditions of the new form of slavery that took the place of serfdom, and now is the
form prevailing throughout the “civilized” world, are somewhat different from the old.
As has been pointed out before, the essence of enslavement is that one man should be
compelled to work for others, and surrender to them the product of his toil. Wage-slavery, the present form of servitude, fulfils this condition exactly as much as did chattel
slavery or serfdom. The workers of today have not an atom of claim upon the wealth they
produce. That is sufficiently self-evident to call for no proof. And while they may not
actually be compelled to work for any given master, they must work for some master.
They are therefore slaves in the proper sense of the word. And, indeed, the conditions of
their servitude are in the main more severe than under previous forms of slavery. They
are exploited for more wealth – that is to say, the masters obtain from their labor greater
returns than did the masters under any other form of slavery. In fact, were it not so, the
other forms would now be in existence. But no feudal serf or chattel slave can compete
with the modern wage slave at slaving. Moreover, while in favored trades and in favored
localities, the modern worker may lead a more or less tolerable existence, the misery and
suffering prevailing in populous centres today are undeniably worse than could have
existed under the old forms of slavery at their worst, for the reason that the masters of old
were, to a certain extent, interested in the welfare of their slaves, having, directly or
indirectly, a property interest in them. The modern master, on the other hand, has no such
interest in his slaves. He neither purchases nor owns them. He merely buys so much
labor-power – physical energy– just as he buys electric power for his plant. The worker
represents to him merely a machine capable of developing a given quantity of labor-power. When he does not need labor-power he simply refrains from buying any.
The Achievements of Capitalism
Ages of chattel slavery were necessary to break the ground for feudalism, centuries of
feudalism to prepare the way for capitalism. In a dozen decades capitalism has brought us
to the threshold of Socialism.
Capitalism has done a great work, and done it thoroughly. It found the workers, for the
most part, an ignorant, voiceless peasant horde. It leaves them an organized proletarian
army, industrially intelligent, and becoming politically intelligent; it found them working
individually and with little co-ordination; it has made them work collectively and
scientifically. It has abolished their individuality and reduced their labor to a social
average, levelling their differences, until today the humble ploughman is a skilled laborer
by comparison with the mere human automata that weave cloths of intricate pattern and
forge steel of fine temper. In short, it has unified the working class.
It found the means and methods of production crude, scattered and ill-ordered, the private
property of individuals – very often of individuals who themselves took part in
production; it leaves them practically one gigantic machine of wealth production, orderly,
highly productive, economical of labor, closely inter-related – the collective property of a
class, and of a class wholly unnecessary to production, a class whose sudden extinction
would not affect the speed of one wheel or the heat of one furnace.
It found the earth large, with communications difficult, divided into nations knowing
little or nothing of one another, with prairies unpopulated, forests untrod, mountains
unscaled. It has brought the ends of the earth within speaking distances of one another,
has ploughed the prairies, hewed down the forests, tunnelled the mountains, explored all
regions, developed all resources; it has largely broken down all boundaries, except on
maps; it has given us an international capitalist class with interests in all lands on the one
hand, and, on the other, an international working class with a common interest the world
The Passing of Capitalism
Aristotle, with something akin to prophetic vision, laid down the axiom that slavery was
necessary until the forces of Nature were harnessed to the uses of Man. This has now
been accomplished and the necessity for slavery is past. Armed with the modern
machinery of production, with steam, electricity, and water power at their command, the
workers, a fraction of society, can produce more than all society can use or waste – so
much more, that periodically the very wheels of production are clogged with the super-abundance of wealth, and industrial stagnation prevails.
At the very heyday of prosperity, industry suddenly becomes disjointed; the wheels of
production come to a standstill. Furnaces cool off; smoke ceases to belch forth to the
skies; the belts stay their eternal round over the pulleys. The workers, from being worked
to the limit of their endurance, find themselves unexpectedly without work at all, and
soon without means of subsistence.
Not here and there alone, but everywhere where capitalism rules, from all quarters comes
the same tale. Famine-stricken where food is plenty; ill clad where clothing lacks not;
shelterless among empty houses; shivering by mountains of fuel; tramping where
carwheels rust. And ever the tale grows! There is no promise of alleviation, but rather
portents of worse to come.
Society can no longer feed itself. When the societies of old could no longer feed
themselves they perished. And capitalist society is about to perish. A revolution is at
hand. Another leap in the process of evolution. Society has grown too big for its shell. It
must burst that shell and step forth a new society.
The means of wealth production are the collective property of the capitalist class. The
operation of these means of wealth production is the collective function of the working
class. The working class, working together, produces all wealth. The capitalists, owning
the means of production, own all the product. They allow the working class, when
working, sufficient, on the average, for their subsistence – just what the slave owner
allowed his slaves; what the feudal lord allowed his serfs. But when the worker of today
is not working he is allowed nothing except freedom to starve. His is the worst kind of
What stands between him and his emancipation is the collective ownership of the means
of production by the capitalist class. If the means of production were collectively
administered by the working class that now collectively operates them, the product would
also belong collectively to that class, and the workers would be able to individually
consume the wealth they collectively produced. They would not need to be hungry,
homeless, ragged, shivering outcasts. The world is theirs for the taking. Presently they
will be compelled to take it. Man cannot be equalled in endurance by any animal, but
even his endurance has a limit. When that limit is reached capitalism will be at an end; its
mission will have been accomplished to the final touch.
The economic problem, whose solution lay in the advent of slavery, will have been
solved. Labor will step forth free at last from its aeons of bondage. Man shall be the
master of his own destiny, able with little effort to produce all that his mind desires, with
ample leisure to enjoy the fruits of his handiwork, and the legacies of time. The earth
shall be his and the fullness thereof; the forces of Nature his to command; the giant
machine his tireless servitor. Speed the day!
Economics is the scientific study of the mode of wealth production, that is, of the manner
and means whereby society procures its food, clothing and shelter, and all that goes to
make up its living.
The importance of the study of Economics arises out of the fact that, whereas procuring
its living is obviously the most important function of society, it must of necessity very
largely influence all other functions or phenomena of society. So much so that it may be
taken as an axiom that the mode of production in any society determines its social,
political and religious forms; and it is only in the light of a knowledge and understanding
of the former that the latter can be accurately understood and explained. Of particular
importance to us, therefore, is the study of the economics of our own period – of the
capitalist mode of wealth production.
The sum total of all that is produced by human labor is the wealth of the world.
Notwithstanding the current use of such terms as “natural wealth”, “mineral wealth”,
“forest wealth” and so on, those things known collectively as natural resources are not,
for the purposes of political economy, included under the term “wealth”.
It is only when natural resources are, by the hand of labor, worked up into things useful
to man, that wealth comes into being. Two factors, then, enters into the production of
Taking the first commodity that comes to hand, e.g., gold, it is well known that gold is
extracted from gold-bearing quartz, or sand. Given this natural resource, man, by the
exercise of his physical energy, his power to labor, produces gold, or wealth. This power
to labor is called for short, labor-power. It should not be confused with labor, though this
is frequently done. Labor is a condition of labor-power. It is the act of applying labour-power to natural resources in order to produce wealth. The wealth thus produced is the
embodiment of the labor performed. Its existence is the evidence that a certain quantity
of labor has been performed. The sum total of the world’s wealth, therefore, represents
the sum total of the labor performed in its production.
The Value of Wealth
We say that wealth has value, i. e., it is worth something. But what is it that gives it that
value? We have seen that it is composed of natural resources and labor. But the natural
resources of the earth are the free gifts of Nature and count for nothing in this regard.
Therefore, it must be labor. The hand of labor alone confers value.
It may be objected that, as natural resources, such as coal-beds, mineral veins and timber
limits, are bought and sold, they must have a value. However, natural resources with
which human labor has not entered into the slightest relations cannot be regarded as
properly being raw materials. And, furthermore, such natural resources are bought and
sold on the strength of their potentialities; that is, the possibilities they may present when
converted to human use by labor. Without labor no value can be possible.
The wealth of a capitalist society, such as we now live under, “presents itself as an
immense accumulation of commodities.”
A commodity is, in the first place, “a product of labor”. It is, in the second place, a “use
value”, i. e., it will satisfy some want or desire. Thus the use value of a sack of flour is
the length of time it will keep a man alive. The utility of an object is dependent upon its
natural properties and qualities, but is independent of the quantity of labor required for its
production. Thirdly, a commodity is produced for sale, i.e., for exchange. In the act of
exchange, the value conferred by labor will manifest itself as exchange value.
Exchange value is necessarily comparative. It cannot be used except in comparing the
relative values of two or more articles. An article by itself cannot be said to have any
exchange value until it is compared with something with which it is proposed to
exchange it. Furthermore, that with which it is proposed to exchange must be something
else than a loaf of bread, it being self-evident that there would be no advantage in
exchanging loaves for similar loaves.
We find, therefore, that exchange value comes into play only when it is proposed to
exchange two or more dissimilar commodities.
The two commodities being thus dissimilar, their concrete components are necessarily
also dissimilar. While the one may be made of flour, the other may be of steel, spirits or
wool. There arises, therefore, the difficulty of comparing them, as there appears to be
nothing contained in either by which may be ascertained how much of the one should be
given in exchange for a certain quantity of the other. Nor will weights and measures
serve for the purpose of this comparison. The one may be measured by the pound, the
other by the yard or gallon.
We have seen however, that there is one factor that is embodied in all commodities –
labor. And it is the only factor common to all commodities, however dissimilar may be
the materials of which they are composed, or the means by which they are weighed or
measured. Therefore it stands to reason that dissimilar commodities can be compared one
with another only on the basis of the labor contained in each. It is on that basis, then, that
commodities must be exchanged.
However, we may observe that exactly similar shoes may be produced in two different
factories, but in the one factory, owing to improved methods and machinery, less labor is
involved in the production of a pair of shoes than in the other factory under less efficient
methods. While the labor contained in these shoes would be different, their exchange
value in the open market would be the same, i. e., the average of the time required for
their production. No more could be obtained for the shoes in which more labor is
embodied than for the pair in which there is less, because no more labor is actually
necessary to the production of shoes of that quality. This brings us a step further in our
examination into exchange value. We now have the axiom that commodities exchange
one with another according to the necessary labor involved in the production of each.
Another aspect of exchange value has yet to be considered. The labor involved in the
production of a pair of shoes is no longer the labor of one individual, but of many.
Primitive man made things, for his own use himself. From the materials to hand, he
laboriously and painstakingly fashioned all the things he required. Not only did he
complete each article himself, but he made the crude tools wherewith he worked. This
was individual production in its purest form. Today, however, things are different.
Individual production has disappeared; social production has taken its place. No
individual produces any article in its entirety. It takes a multitude to make a box of
matches. Not only are the leather, nails, thread, etc., of which shoes are made the
products of many hands, but in the factory itself the shoes passes through the hands of a
large number of operatives, each of whom does a little to it until it is finished. Then it has
yet to be transported and handled by the labor of others again before it reaches the
consumer. So that, from the ox to the consumer, there is embodied in each pair of shoes a
fraction of the labor of each of many individuals. All these transmigrations are a part of
the process of production. The labor that is embodied in any commodity is not individual
but social labor – the collective labor of a large number of individuals. This completes
our definition of exchange value. Thus: the exchange value of a commodity is determined
by the socially necessary labor embodied therein.
This socially necessary labor is the cost of production of each commodity. Each
commodity being the embodiment of a certain amount of labor, it costs just that much
labor to produce it. Commodities, therefore, exchange one with another at cost. Which
brings us face to face with the following problem: If everything is sold at cost, where
does profit come from? For buying and selling is really nothing more than the exchange
of one commodity for another with money as the medium through which that exchange is
The generally accepted idea of profit is that it is made by buying cheap and selling dear.
But, unless our reasoning up to this point can be proved fallacious, buying cheap and
selling dear are out of the question, as the relative values of commodities are
predetermined by the socially necessary labor involved in their production.
It is true, that a certain amount of fluctuation in the price of commodities, above and
below their exchange value, actually takes place according to the supply and demand for
them in the market. But these fluctuations are almost negligible, as will be seen later, and
cancel one another in the average. Moreover, they offer no solution of our problem as to
the source of profit.
The solution to this mystery is that buying and selling have nothing whatever to do with
the making of profit. It is not in the process of exchange, but in that of production that
profit comes in. Profit is acquired, not by paying less for a commodity than it is worth,
nor by selling it for more than it is worth.
The chattel slaves, as we have seen, produced wealth, which belonged, of course, to their
masters. In this wealth was embodied the labor of the slaves. That was its value. A certain
amount of this wealth went to feed, clothe and house the slaves, the surplus accrued to
the masters at no cost to themselves. The value of the surplus wealth would be surplus
The modern worker – the wage slave – is in much the same position. The wealth of the
world is produced by the workers of the world. Its value is determined by the labor they
have put into it. It belongs to their masters, the owners of the means of wealth production,
the natural resources, mines, mills, factories, etc. A portion of this wealth goes to feed,
clothe and house the workers through the medium of wages. The remainder accrues to the
masters, the capitalist class. Its value is surplus value. It costs them absolutely nothing.
The workers have received all that is coming to them. Having produced all the wealth,
they have actually paid their own wages. The capitalists have done nothing except own
the means of production. The wealth they thus obtain by virtue of ownership is clear gain
The Commodity Nature of Labor Power
Wealth being a social product, the individual produces nothing, but only fractions of
things. The collective labor of the workers is necessary to produce wealth. The individual
is a mere cog in the social machine of production. Being thus unable to produce things
for himself, he can procure them only by buying them – unless he begs or steals them. To
buy them he must first sell something. In other words, in order to procure the things we
need we must give something in exchange for them.
The capitalists can very well do this because to them belongs all the wealth that is
produced, by virtue of their ownership of the means of production. The workers,
however, have no property in the means of production, and therefore own none of that
wealth. The vast majority of them have absolutely nothing to give in exchange for their
necessities – that is nothing tangible. They have, however, the power to labor. In order to
procure food, clothing and shelter they must, then, sell their labor power. This is what
working for wages amounts to. The worker is not paid for what he does. He is paid for so
much labor power. This is what working for wages amounts to. The worker is not paid
for what he does. He is paid for so much labor power, just as he in turn pays the grocer
for so much flour and potatoes. He is paid, not for the wealth he produces, but merely for
the exertion of producing it. To the wealth he produces, therefore, he has not a vestige or
right or title. It belongs by right to those who bought his labor power, by means of which
it was produced. To admit the capitalists’ claim to the ownership of the means of
production is to admit their right to the whole of the product of labor.
Labor power, being bought and sold, ranks, therefore, as a commodity, and is subject to
the law governing the exchange of commodities.
The law governing the exchange of commodities is that they shall exchange, on the
average, at their cost of production, as has been shown. The cost of production of any
commodity is the social labor necessary for its production. Labor power is the physical
energy of the individual. The labor necessary to produce this is the labor that is involved
in producing the individual’s living. The exchange value of labor power then, is
determined by the socially necessary labor involved in the production of those things that
go to make up the laborer’s living from day to day. And that is exactly what the workers
get on average – their living according to the prevailing standard. It is true that some of
them get a little more than is actually necessary for them to exist on, but, on the other
hand, millions get less and are actually dying of slow starvation at their work.
Wages are generally regarded as so much money: two dollars a day or sixty a month. A
closer examination shows two other aspects before which the mere money wage dwindles
into insignificance. These are the “relative wage”, and the “real wage”.
The Relative Wage
The relative wage is that which the worker receives in comparison with what he
Owing to the improvements in the machinery of production, the relative wage has fallen
greatly during the last century, and is continually becoming less. Under handicraft
production the worker could not produce very much more than he consumed. Under
modern machine production the worker produces far more than he consumes, even if the
standard of living has risen.
The Real Wage
The real wage is what is bought with the money wage, the food, clothing, housing, etc., of
the worker. It is what the workers actually receive in exchange for their labor power.
While the money wage, the price of labor power may rise, the real wage may at the same
time be falling. Thus during the last decade, United States statistics show a rise in wages
of some 20 per cent, and a rise in the cost of living of some 30 per cent. Here the money
wage would be raised 20 per cent, but the real wage would have fallen 10 per cent, so that
in place of receiving 20 per cent more, the workers are actually receiving 10 per cent less
in exchange for their labor power. [This was written before 1914.] A rise in prices,
therefore, means to the worker, not so much a rise in his cost of living as a fall in his real
wage, that is, a reduction in his standard of living.
As the money wage has been referred to as the price of labour power, a consideration of
price itself would not be out of place. Price is the approximate monetary expression of
the exchange value of a commodity. Money itself arises out of the inconveniences
attendant upon the direct exchange, or barter, of one commodity for another. To
overcome these inconveniences one commodity is employed to which all other
commodities are compared, and their exchange values are expressed in terms of this
The commodity employed becomes in time segregated from all others and is looked upon
as having a fixed value. Nevertheless it should be remembered that in reality it remains a
commodity, and is subject to such fluctuations in exchange value as are other
At present, gold is the money commodity. In terms of gold the exchange value of other
commodities are expressed. Actually this is equivalent to comparing the exchange values
of other commodities with that of gold. Thus if we say a pair of shoes is worth five
dollars, we assert that the same quantity of necessary social labor is embodied in a pair of
shoes as in five dollars of gold. The coinage of gold merely signifies that the government
certifies the coin to contain so much gold of such and such a fineness. The gold itself
being the product of labor, its exchange value is determined by the labor it embodies.
Fluctuations in Value and Price
Fluctuations in the exchange value of a commodity can only take place when changes
take place in the quantity of labor involved in its production. Thus, with the development
of labor-saving machinery, the production of commodities involves less labor, and their
exchange value decreases. Price, being the approximate monetary expression of exchange
value, necessarily follows these fluctuations. It is, however, subject to fluctuations from
other causes, one of the most important being the fluctuations in the exchange value of
So great has been the saving of labor recently in the production of gold, that its exchange
value has decreased more than has been the case in other commodities, which accounts
largely for the so-called “high cost of living”.
The minor fluctuations in prices that are continually taking place are due mainly to
supply and demand. In a staple market, wherein the supply of, and demand for, all
commodities exactly balanced one another, prices and exchange values would be
equivalent. But, as such is not the case, as supply and demand do not balance, prices of
commodities continually fluctuate above and below their exchange values. When the
demand for a commodity is greater than the supply, its price rises. When the supply is
greater than the demand, the price falls. But, whenever from this cause, the price of a
commodity rises, a flow of capital takes place in that direction and the price is brought
down to its normal level, and wherever the price falls, production is retarded until the
normal level is resumed. So that these fluctuations in process of time cancel one another,
and commodities exchange, on the average, at their cost of production, that is, according
to the socially necessary labor involved in their production.
Fluctuations in Wages
The money wage, being the price of the commodity labor power, is subject to the same
fluctuations as in the price of any other commodity. That the supply of labor power
exceeds the demand at most times, and often to such an extent as to produce a veritable
glut, is so patent that it may be taken as proved.
This excess of supply over demand naturally gives the price of labor power a constantly
Apparently, however, wages have risen. This apparent rise is due to the decrease in the
value of gold. As has been shown, the real wage has fallen 10 per cent, even in a period
of capitalist prosperity. And now that that period is over and the industrial depression
following it has immeasurably swelled the ranks of the unemployed, thus increasing the
disproportion between supply and demand in the labor market, the money wage has come
In the case of a fall in the prices of other commodities this would be remedied by a
restriction of production, but no such restriction of the production of labour power is
possible. The worker’s labor power being his physical energy, his very life force, he must
continue producing it while he lives, and he will not continue to live very long if he does
not find a buyer for it.
The inevitable result of the downward trend of wages is an ever-increasing portion of
misery and privation for the workers, in spite of the constant struggle which they are
compelled to carry on in the industrial field to obtain a better price for their labor power,
etc. Strikes have been fought with the greatest determination; privation and suffering
have been endured with a heroism of which the working class alone is capable; millions
of dollars have been spent; the unions were never so strong as during the first decade of
this century, and yet, in spite of it all, the wage has fallen. Here and there, in favored
trades, they have attained some success. Capitalism is the great leveller of the working
class, the great abolisher of individuality. All trades are being reduced to a common level.
In one line after another the skilled worker has been replaced by a machine and a “hand”.
And locality after locality is being brought more and more within the full dominance of
At one time, when the workers fought against individual capitalists with no great capital,
some measure of success was possible. But now the odds are against them. Monster
Capitalism sits enthroned! Employers are now grown to giant corporations, with millions
at their command. Out of the very rise and fall in stocks consequent upon strikes and
lockouts, the masters may reap a richer harvest than what they lose by stoppage of
industries. And all the powers of government are theirs to do their bidding, the policeman
and his club, the thug with his revolver, the soldier with his rifle, the court with its
injunctions, and the legislature with its law. Weapon after weapon has been wrested from
the hands of the workers until today, in the words of a Western labor union official, “the
only remaining usefulness of the labor unions is in resisting the petty tyrannies of the
The workers today are fighting not only against the man-made laws of capitalism, but
also against all the laws of economics. So long as their labour power remains a
commodity they cannot essentially better their condition. So long as they allow the
capitalists’ claim to the resources of the earth and the machinery of production, slaves
they must remain, and as slaves they must expect to be treated. Their only hope lies in
their emancipation from slavery – and they alone can achieve that emancipation.
All the wealth the capitalist class possess has been produced by the working class. In
taking it the working class would but be taking it back. Wealth is not a fixed and
indestructible quantity. It is being constantly destroyed and renewed. Even the most
stable portions are being constantly worn out and replaced. The workers of one
generation may be said to produce with their own hands practically all the wealth in
existence at the end of their generation, so that in taking it they would actually be taking
the very things they themselves produced, things taken from them without any
compensation. They would therefore owe compensation for them to none. And, indeed,
there can be no question of compensating the capitalists.
The outcome of the struggle between the capitalist class and the working class will be the
Social Revolution. By political force the working class must wrest from the capitalist
class the reins of government and must use the powers of the State to legislate in its own
interests. By that stroke classes will be overthrown and labor power cease to be a
commodity; production will be for use and not for profit; government of persons will die
out and be replaced by an administration of things. The workers, controlling the means of
production, will also control the resultant wealth and they will then be able to
individually enjoy what they collectively produce.
From an understanding of the foregoing facts of history and of economics the Socialist
Party came into being. We now propose to outline the principles governing the policy of
the Socialist Party in the field of politics.
“The history of all hitherto existing society (that is, all written history) is the history of
“Freeman and slave, patrician and plebeian, lord and serf, guild master and journeyman,
in a word, oppressor and oppressed, stood in constant opposition to one another, carried
on an uninterrupted, now hidden, now open fight, a fight that each time ended, either in a
revolutionary reconstitution of society at large, or in the common ruin of the contending
classes.” – Communist Manifesto.
The class struggle is the product of class-divided society. It exists no less today than in
the class societies of history. By means of political action the oppressed classes of the
past strove to gain their emancipation. The form that this action took was dictated by the
conditions then existing. By means of political action – and by no other means – can the
workers gain their emancipation. The politics of the working class form the subject
matter to be discussed below.
Society rests on an economic basis. The manner in which wealth is produced and
distributed determines the form of existing society. The development of the productive
forces calls periodically upon mankind to adapt society to the changed economic
conditions. Modern industry ushered capitalism into existence. It now demands that
capitalism pass out of the picture, to be replaced by a new form of society, one that will
conform to the needs of the developing means of production, and, therefore, to the
essential needs of mankind. It is the duty – the imperative mission – of the working class
to undertake this task.
Capitalism has outlived its usefulness. Within its confines can be found no solution for
the wretchedness and insecurity endured by the workers. Not more than momentary relief
has ever resulted from the generations of effort to improve their conditions of life. Even
their trade unions – their most potent weapon in these activities – have been forced to
remain for the most part on the defensive, struggling not so much to improve their
conditions as to prevent these conditions from becoming worse. Socialism offers the only
way out. The failure of the workers to recognize this fact – no matter what else they may
do – can result only in the preservation of things as they are, with the prospect of darker
In the main the world’s workers have in the past given their support to parties openly
representing capitalist society. The principal agencies for spreading education and
information have, throughout the period of capitalism’s existence, been under the control
of the capitalist class and have been used for the purpose of fostering and preserving the
illusion that there is no practicable alternative to capitalism. Incessant, insidious
propaganda is levelled at the workers from the cradle to the grave, designed to cloud their
minds in their own interests and protect the dominant position of the capitalist class.
They are taught that their interests are tied up with the interests of their masters and that
only in the solution of the latter’s problems can the solution of their own problems be
found. It is no wonder, therefore, that for generations they have been only too willing to
give their support to one or another of the various capitalist parties.
Capitalist parties represent, first of all, capitalism. They may differ as to the manner in
which the affairs of capitalism ought to be conducted. They may differ as to the sections
of the capitalist class whose interests ought to be the most favored. But they are united in
their opposition to those who would end capitalism. They are united even in opposing
any effort to provide the workers with a greater share of the wealth which they produce.
These parties are represented in the English speaking world by such groups as the
Liberals and Conservatives of Great Britain and Canada and by the Republicans and
Democrats of the United States. All of them are servants of the ruling class.
Practically all of the reform legislation on the statute books of the capitalist world has
been placed there by capitalist parties. The capitalists have never been noted for their
generosity towards the workers, but they are practical gentlemen and they have long
known that the smooth and economical operation of their system requires periodic
additions to the mountains of reforms. Reforms to them are like a vile tasting tonic that
must be taken from time to time for the protection of their health and well-being.
Workers who live under poor sanitary conditions are ready victims of ailments which
often develop into communicable diseases; and diseases do not respect the superior and
necessary persons of capitalists. Moreover, workers afflicted by ailments spend time at
home that could better be spent in the factory turning out surplus values for the factory
owner. They must be protected against these conditions. They must also be protected
against malnutrition, accidents, etc., in order that their efficiency as cogs in the wealth
producing machine may not be impaired. They must even be provided for when they are
unemployed, for the repressive measures of bygone days are no longer sufficient to deal
with the vastly increased number of workers thrown periodically into the scrapheap by
modern industry. It is now more economical to provide them with necessities than to
maintain a coercive force great enough to prevent them from helping themselves.
Besides, as in times of war or other periods of trade expansion, their services may be
Hence the measures dealing with sanitation and housing, sickness and accidents, health
and unemployment! Hence the reforms piled upon reforms, reaching to the heavens!
Hence the gradual conversion of the workers into destitute wards of the state!
There is a further reason for the acceptance of reform measures by the parties of the
capitalist class. The workers form the immense majority of the members of society. They
are the ones who suffer most from the evils of capitalism. They are only too conscious of
the existence, if not the cause, of these evils, and they are ever ready to lend their support
to whoever will promise redress. No party can govern without the consent of the workers.
The capitalists, in consequence, must be ever ready with the required promises, if they
are to protect their exclusive right to govern. Reforms that are not desirable to them can
frequently be sidetracked afterwards, together with flattering appeals to the workers for
loyalty, understanding and co-operation. Where they cannot be sidetracked, these reforms
can always be watered down and presented with fanfares and glowing self-praise. It is an
easy game to play, and while it does not give the workers very much, neither does it cost
the capitalists very much, and it frequently assures for them a period of contentedness on
the part of their slaves.
In most countries, at one time or another, the established capitalist parties are sidetracked.
Through their momentary reluctance or inability to keep in touch with or conform to the
“pulse of the people”, they sometimes find themselves replaced in the seats of power by a
new party or combination of parties. The parties usually in the most advantageous
position in this respect are those that most closely associate themselves with the ideas of
the workers. These are the Labor Parties. They exist (or have existed) wherever
capitalism prevails. In some countries they are known as “Social Democratic Parties”,
sometimes as “Socialist Parties”. In Canada the party of this type is known as the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation. In the United States no labor party has yet risen to
prominence. The development of such a party during the Hungry Thirties was in all
likelihood blocked by the Roosevelt whirlwind; and the admiration of the U. S. workers
for America’s first statesman, although waning, still, apparently, exceeds their interest in
a party they can still call “their very own”.
The labor parties are parties of reform. As has been shown above the capitalist parties
also sponsor reforms. But there is a difference. The capitalist parties are quite satisfied
with capitalism. They have no criticism to offer of the system or its beneficiaries. To
them reforms are simply the means, first, of ensuring the smooth and adequate operation
of industry, and, second, of maintaining their own control of the powers of government.
The labor parties, on the other hand, are the representatives of the politically organized
discontent of the working class. Into their ranks flock most of those workers who, for the
moment at least, have fallen out with the “old line parties” and have become attracted to
the “new line” which, after all, is little more than an impressively learned outline of their
own inadequate ideas. The labor parties advocate reforms, not as a means of serving the
masters, but as a means of ameliorating the lot of the workers. Anything which they
conceive to be in keeping with this aim becomes a part of their program. That a given
course of action may not be practicable or desirable from the standpoint of working class
interests is not a matter upon which they devote much study or thought. To them it is
sufficient that the workers, or a considerable number of them, are prepared to support it.
In this manner are their programs formulated.
Co-operative Commonwealth Federation
Canada’s Co-operative Commonwealth Federation seems to have finally become a
typical labor party. Founded in 1932 as a federation of more or less autonomous “labor,
farmer and socialist groups”, it existed for several years as the country’s number one
“whatisit”. It was neither labor, farmer, nor socialist, but, out of the struggle that was the
inevitable result of the mixing of such divergent elements, labor appears to have emerged
victorious, with the farmers salvaging from the rubble “security of land tenure” and the
“socialists” succeeding in having whatever program is advanced at the moment described
as socialism. That the farmers and “socialists” will remain content with their present
achievements may be open to question. But that is beside the point: at the moment labor
dominates the C. C. F.
First of all, the C. C. F. proposes that the government take over and operate the money
system. What on earth for is not made clear in its literature or in the utterances of its
spokesmen. But the fact is that during the depression of the 1930s a strenuous campaign
was carried on by money reformers of various kinds, and this campaign was sufficiently
successful to secure the election of a “social credit” government in the province of
Alberta. Large numbers of workers were influenced by the view that the money system
needed reforming, and there seems to be no better reason than this for the adoption by the
C. C. F. as its first measure a “plan” for the “socialization” of money.
Like all labor parties the C. C. F. also proposes that certain industries be “socialized” –
meaning by this that these industries should be brought under government control. This
aim arises from the long established and often expressed illusion among the workers that
governments exist for the purpose of looking after the welfare of the mass of the people.
The fact that governments already own and control certain industries, without any
noticeable difference in the position of their employees as compared with that of other
concerns, has not yet brought home to them the fact that this is not so. The view that a
labor or C. C. F. government can alter this situation is not supported by the records. The
labor governments of other countries have not left a commendable record behind them.
In addition to its general plan of government ownership, a plan which constitutes its
ultimate (and inconsequential) objective, the C. C. F. has, at various times since its
inception, advocated a number of measures, some of these to become part of its ultimate
aim, others to take care of immediate needs. Among these have been unemployment
insurance and health insurance, both of which, together with other reforms, have since
been brought into effect by the present Liberal government without reducing the needs of
the workers in any marked degree.
Futility of Reforms
Capitalism can be reformed. It can be reformed in many ways. But it cannot be reformed
in such a manner as to effect an essential improvement in the working class conditions of
life. It cannot be reformed in such a manner as to raise the workers from the poverty
level. Reforms, insofar as they have had any effect, have been effective simply by
preventing the workers from sinking too far below the poverty level, their function being
to do no more than preserve the workers as able-bodied means of production.
It is not in the nature of capitalist society to provide better conditions for its slave class.
The efficient operation of capitalist industry requires not only a capable working class, it
requires a working class always at the beck and call of the master class. Only by keeping
the workers bordering on necessity at all times can this condition be assured. The
whiplash of poverty is far more effective than any coercive force could be in keeping
them tied to the machine and subservient to their masters.
Those who would administer the affairs of capitalism are limited in their endeavors by
the requirements of capitalism, and even though they would bend every energy to lighten
the burdens of the workers, the system itself inevitably reduces the results to
The workers must ultimately turn to socialism as the only means of finding release from
the problems of capitalism. Even though it were possible (which it is not) for the present
system to provide considerably improved conditions for the workers, that would still be
no justification in the eyes of an informed persons for its continued existence. It has
solved the problem of wealth production, but it has failed to solve the problem of
distribution. It divides the labors of the workers between production and a myriad of
unnecessary activities related to distribution. It is wasteful and destructive of men and
materials. Its conflicts over markets, trade routes and sources of raw materials breed wars
that grow ever more terrible in their dimensions. It is a haven of luxury and idleness for a
useless parasite class. It is a fetter on further social progress.
Socialism solves the problem of distribution. Its introduction will mean the conversion of
all the means of production and distribution from private or class property into the
common property of all the members of society. Goods will no longer be produced for
sale; they will be produced for use. The guiding principle behind the operations of
industry will be the requirements of mankind, not the prospects of profit. Production
under socialism will be pre-determined, and distribution effected with neither advertising
nor sales staff, thus reducing wasted materials to the minimum and making possible the
transfer of great numbers of workers to desired occupations.
The ending of exchange relationships will bring at the same time the ending of an
exchange medium. There being neither sale nor profit associated with the production and
distribution of goods, neither will there be money in any of its forms. Currency, credit
and banking, whether private or “socialized”, will pass out of existence.
The advent of common property means the abolition of private or class property, which
in turn means the abolition of class society together with the class struggle. The
antagonistic classes of today will become merged in a people with common interests, and
the former capitalists will have the opportunity of becoming useful members of society.
This will not only remove the greatest of the burdens resting today on the backs of the
workers, it will also further augment the available labor supply, by the inclusion of the
capitalists and their former personal attendants, thus contributing to the general reduction
in labor time needed to produce society’s requirements.
Since unemployment means not only idleness but also severance from the means of
subsistence, such a condition could not exist under socialism. That there will be plenty of
leisure time, however, is beyond question. It will be the conscious aim of society to
constantly reduce the obligations of its members to production, thereby providing ever-increasing leisure time in which to enjoy the proceeds of their labor.
Wars constitute another wretched feature of capitalist society that will come to an end
under socialism. Since they arise from the struggle of the capitalists over markets, etc.,
and since these struggles will no longer play a part in the affairs of society, they will
remain only as a ghastly memory from a horrible past.
Socialism will not solve all the problems of human society. But it will solve all the basic
economic difficulties that are a constant source of torture to so many of its members. The
solution of a single one of these difficulties would warrant its introduction. The solution
of them all renders it imperative.
The Socialist Movement
The Socialist Party of Canada and its companion parties in the United States, Great
Britain, Australia and New Zealand stand alone in their respective countries in their
consistent advocacy of the socialist solution. Their examination of society has taught
them that nothing less than socialism can suffice, and they have adopted a common set of
socialist principles (first formulated by the Socialist Party of Great Britain) which
constitutes the basis of their movement and their conditions of membership. Adherence to
these principles makes possible their steady insistence upon the fact that the immediate
need of the working class is:
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.
These parties at present form only the nucleus of the great working class movement
which must finally rise to bring this program into effect. The workers cannot depend
upon others to do the job for them. It is a job that requires conscious and deliberate effort
on their part. It is a job which they must do themselves.
Many and varied have been the interpretations that have been placed upon Socialism.
Stalinism and Hitlerism have both been described as socialism. At different times
socialism has been announced in New Zealand, New South Wales, London, Vienna and
points west. Labor parties frequently come forward with lengthy lists of reforms or
elaborate plans for “nationalization”, or “socialization”, and describe these as socialism.
Workers must guard against such nonsense if they are not to be fooled by political
highbinders, social quacks, or people who have themselves been fooled. For this reason
among others the socialists stress the necessity for socialist education. The workers must
understand socialism before they can serve usefully in the struggle for its attainment.
Social reform is not socialism. Neither is government ownership. Socialism has not yet
been established in any country. It exists today only as an independent working class
movement striving against the opposition of capitalist and labor parties alike, its energies
directed without deviation towards a single goal. There are no short cuts to socialism. It
can be reached only through the conscious political organization of the working class.
But with that organization accomplished, no obstacle can stand in the road. Socialism
may be had for the taking. Take it.