Are politics futile?

E. J. HIGGINS (Philadelphia) writes :—

“I hold that the control of the murder machinery of the master classes in human society is not, as you say, ‘put into their hands by the votes of the workers.’ In the first place, the power of repression, was with the master classes before the workers had votes ; and in the second place, no matter how the workers voted for ‘political power,’ they could not ‘capture’ it, because power is not a thing that can be ‘ captured ‘ by votes, but must be generated through industrial organisation. This real power of the workers will not spend its time trying to ‘capture ‘ the State, but will render the State impotent through the workers’ control of industry.
“The very absence of even an equal suffrage to-day amongst our male brethren, to say nothing of women and children who are disfranchised, renders your position somewhat difficult to appreciate.”


It is quite true that the “power of repression was with the master classes before the workers had votes.” But material development, with the alterations in the material conditions, made the ruling class adopt a Constitution—a charter which provides for the consent of citizens to the policy of those; in power. Hence it is, alas ! only too true that “the murder machinery” is “put into their (the masters’) hands by the votes of the workers,” as the latter hold more than two-thirds of the voting power. You say that “power” is not a thing to be captured by votes, yet our masters spend a great deal of time and money in securing that power through getting a majority of votes.

Section after section of the employing class have struggled to get hold, of this power that you depreciate without rhyme or reason. And as that political power does give to those who control it, the supreme command of social affairs, all social struggles have been and must continue to be, waged around the possession of this political power.

How can “industrial organisation generate power” ? History is very explicit on the fact that power has rested with those who commanded the political machinery, but where does history record that power has been generated through “industrial organisation” ? It is a pity that our “anti-political” critics do not tell us what the power is that can be generated in this way. If they mean power to destroy, power to paralyse general industry (and themselves), then it can be granted—but that disposes of their case. For if they are unable to carry on production uninterrupted, they are manifestly powerless to take and hold the means of life. You say they will render the State impotent, but we still await information as to how that can be done. Can you render the “murder machinery” impotent ? Or if not, can you control it by other means? Until you do control the “murder machinery” you cannot “control industry.”

Your last remark, re absence of equal suffrage, is pointless, not only as regards “our male brethren,” but also as regards female women, and your point that children are disfranchised is too strong. We succumb.


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