Socialist Party of North America
“Emancipation not Palliation”
Socialism vs. Capitalism
To understand socialism, one must necessarily understand the present social system; i.e.,
Under capitalism, society is divided into hostile classes: an owning capitalist class, whose
members have ownership of the various parts of the instruments of wealth production.
This includes: The land, the factories, the railroads, the mines, and steamships, etc., upon
which the whole of the people are dependent for their existence.
A working class, whose members possess nothing but their labor power, which is useless
to the worker unless he can have access to the raw material and the machinery of
production, which is owned by the capitalist class.
This being so, the worker, in order to live, must sell his labor power to the capitalist or
This labor power that the worker sells to his employer is used for the production of
wealth, for which the worker receives what is termed wages.
Wages are the price of labor power; that is to say, the capitalist will have to return to the
worker the amount of necessities he must consume while exerting his labor power. This
amount will vary with the value of these necessities and the standard of living, but it will
invariably be less than the amount of goods his labor power produces. This is a necessity,
not alone of this system, but of any social system of wealth production in which only a
part of the members of society are actually engaged in useful labor; so that when a man
sells his labor power a number of hours for a certain wage, the amount of necessaries to
produce his wages is always smaller than the amount of labor which the employer
receives from him, the difference between what the worker receives as wages and what
his labor power produces during his working time, constitutes the sole source of unearned
income, i.e., capitalist profits. Here we see laid bare the secret and mysterious source of
the wealth of those, who, without producing themselves, obtain possession of the wealth
Capitalism had its beginnings in the development of industry and commerce. With the
application of machinery to productive industry, a tremendous change has followed in the
whole superstructure of society. With the development of the hand tool into the machine,
the independent mechanic has been forced into the factory, divorced from the means of
production, a dependent on the machine owner.
As the machinery increases in size and cost, so does it squeeze out the weaker capitalist,
whilst the stronger ones unite into combines and trusts; so that we see competition
increasing among the workers, whilst among the capitalists combination is the rule.
Thus does capitalism go steadily onward; first an individual competitive state, then on to
collectivism, less and less competitive. Surely this cannot last for ever! A point is reached
where it becomes unbearable for the workers. Collective labor and increasing
competition among them clash with the collective capitalism and increasing combination
of the capitalist. The contradiction must be abolished. The expropriators must be
expropriated, the workers who collectively use the tools of production must also
collectively own them. Classes in society abolished and a new order of society
inaugurated in which poverty may give place to comfort, privilege to equality and slavery
How will this transformation from capitalism to socialism be accomplished, and who will
bring it about?
Socialists maintain that social progress since written history has always been through the
struggle of classes with opposing interests. These interests to-day are represented by the
capitalists, who are the rulers and the workers who are the ruled.
Hence, the next step in social progress must lie in the victory of the workers.
The capitalists, however, are powerfully entrenched behind the state, which is the powers
of government; this includes the legal, civil, and armed forces; this is the political power
controlled by the capitalists in their interests, viz., to preserve their ownership in the
means of wealth production. But in the hands of the class conscious workers these would
be used as an instrument for their emancipation.
Therefore, to accomplish their universal freedom, the workers must be organized into a
political party of their class with a full knowledge of their conditions, and the meaning of
the momentous act it is called upon to accomplish, viz., the emancipation of the workers
from slavery and establishment of a new order of society based upon the ownership of the
means of wealth production, by and in the interest of the whole community. With this
object in view, we solicit the support of all members of the working class. Our slogan
must be: “Workers of the world, unite; you have nothing to lose but your chains, a world
Declaration of Principles
The Socialist Party of North America has for its object:
The emancipation of the workers from slavery and establishment of a new order of
society based on the ownership of the means of wealth production, by and in the interest
of the whole community.
That society as at present constituted is divided into two classes, the capitalist class and
the working class.
The capitalist class are the owners of property in the means of wealth production: land,
factories, transportation, etc.
The working class in this respect are the propertyless class, and are, therefore, dependent
upon the capitalist class for their existence.
That this ownership of the machinery of production tends, with the development of
industry, to greater accumulation of wealth to the capitalist and a more precarious
subsistence for the worker.
This creates an antagonism of interest between owners and non-owners, capitalist and
wage worker, resulting in a constant struggle over the division of the wealth produced.
The basis of the class struggle, therefore, lies in the economic foundations of society.
The title to capitalist ownership is vested in the state, and all the powers of government
are used by the ruling class to protect their interests and legalize their encroachments.
All class struggles are therefore political struggles, and the workers must organize
consciously and politically to gain control of the machinery of government (including
the legal, civil, and armed forces) in order to abolish the capitalist form of private
property in the means of production and convert it into the common property of the
community, with democratic control. This is the revolutionary proposition.
Therefore, the first step in the revolution of the working class is to raise itself to the
position of the ruling class, that it may lay hold of the ready-made state machinery,
convert this instrument of oppression and domination into an agent for the emancipation
of all mankind from wage slavery for ever.
The Socialist Party of North America, therefore, enters the field of political action
determined to wage war against all other political parties, whether alleged labor or
avowedly capitalist, and calls upon the members of the working class of this country to
muster under its banner to the end that a speedy termination may be wrought to the
system which deprives them of the fruits of their labor, and that poverty may give rise to
comfort, privilege to equality, and slavery to freedom.