The Revolutionary proposition (continued)

In our last instalment we saw that the Revolutionary Proposition must be achieved, firstly by the education in its principles of the only class that, in the nature of things, can become revolutionary—the working class—and secondly by the capture of the political machinery.

The Revolutionary Proposition is a proposal to dispossess the master class, therefore the first axiom of the revolutionary politician is that, as a politician, he must necessarily be in conflict with the master class.

The political machinery exists for no other purpose than to serve and conserve material interests. Its every action finds its motive power in the all pervading “bread-and-butter” question. Why should it be otherwise ? The first passion is the passion to eat. The poet, whose mission under capitalism has been to supplement the work of the Church in the endeavour to depreciate the material, has tried to lift love to the first place, and calls it “truth,” while the modern novelist, true product of the bestial conditions of modern life, makes lust the premier passion, and calls it “realism.”

But how many of us, having the courage to speak as we find, give assent either to Beauty or The Beast ? How many of us, being “Men in earnest” who
“have no time to waste,
“Weaving fig-leaves for the naked truth. ”
dare assert that mankind in general would toil and moil and suffer, from the cradle to the grave, as mankind in general does toil and moil and suffer, for love, or lust, or any other passion than the passion to eat ? And history, indeed—the history of the slave peoples of all times—proves that neither is the poet’s frenzy truth, nor the novelist’s grossness reality ; for it shows, in its records of suppression, and violation, and emasculation—the concubines and eunuchs of the East, the “right of the first night,” the enforced celibacy, and the prostitution of the West—shows in these how love and lust have universally been trampled under foot. And history further shows that no other passion than the passion to eat, no other question than the earthy “bread-and-butter” question, no transcendent conception of justice or liberty or equality or fraternity, has ever led a subject class to revolution. Enslaved classes have been subjected to every indignity, deprived of the opportunity of satisfying every human passicn, but withal the worm has only turned for food, and the one protesting appeal has been: “Bread ! More bread !” Earth is more powerful than heaven ; preservation stands even before procreation.

Since the power of economic interests dominates all others, the bitterest of all struggles must centre about the possession of the political machinery—the machinery of the ruling class for conserving their economic interests.

The political struggle is in very essence the struggle for life, therefore it must be supreme. This struggle to capture the machinery of government, in order that it may be used to disarm the possessing class, preparatory to dispossessing them, must take the first and foremost place in the working-class political life. All other things must be secondary to this endeavour. Therefore the votes and support of the workers must be won openly and above-board, on the plain, clear issue of the Revolutionary Proposition,—for or against the abolition of private property in the means of living ; for or against the establishment of a system of society based upon the common ownership of the means and instruments of production and distribution.

The vote belongs to the idea behind it ; the seat, hence, no matter what manner of man fills it, belongs to the political faith of its constituents.

If then, a seat is won by revolutionary votes, and the man who fills it should turn out to be a traitor, the seat still would be a revolutionary seat, though temporarily perverted from its proper use. If, on the other hand, well-meaning enthusiasts desirous of the new social system, displaying all their gaudy baubles—cures for unemployment, State maintenance of children,and the like—gain by these means the votes of those who want the reforms but cling to the system, and through these votes get seated, their seats still belong to capitalism, and they, willy-nilly, become henchmen of the capitalists. In such, case no atom of progress has been made in the struggle for the revolutionary capture of the machinery of government; and if it can be shown that the reforms are either impossible or futile (a future consideration), then it is demonstrated that working-class effort has been utterly wasted.

But experience shows that the result of this building on unsound votes is worse than mere waste of energy. It affords opportunity to the wily and unscrupulous demagogues, the Burnses and Hardies of England and the Briands and Millerands of France ; and the workers, finding those whom the fondly hoped were to do their bidding, made Cabinet ministers, and suppressing them with bayonet and ball cartridge, heap curses on Socialism, and, losing faith in political action, fly to the sophistries of Anarchism, or sink in the sluggish waters of indifference.

The political struggle is the struggle for the instrument of class domination, therefore it must be a class struggle. The very fact of the existence of this machinery of government proves that. It is a strange superstition that conceives the possibility of the master class assisting in the work of giving the working class control of the legislative and judical machinery, the police and the armed forces of the nation. The fight for these instruments—the only power which to-day maintains the dominant class in their position—will be long, stern and bitter, and every weapon and artifice the ruling class can resort to they will.

The political party of the working class, therefore, must stand opposed to all other political parties, must, in short base their activities upon the fundamental principle of the class struggle. The issue is one that can only divide men into two camps—those for and those against the Revolutionary Proposition. This issue must be clear of all befogging issues and illusions, on the principle that only the revolutionary is of any use for the revolution, and the revolutionary will always vote right on the clear, simple issue of the revolution.

[To be Continued.]


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