Socialism To-day

Among the subjects that attract the wavering attention of the people to-day, Socialism holds a steady and prominent place. Scarcely a news­paper appears without a longer or shorter reference to the “menace of Socialism.” The ignorant and superstitious capitalist sees in every strike and industrial dispute, fresh evi­dence of general working class discontent, and like the dwellers at the base of some volcanic mountain, they often speculate on the time that will elapse before the rumblings will materialise into a general eruption.

For many years after the Paris Commune revolution seemed imminent to the French capi­talists. A Government that had been actually deposed by the working class could be thrown down again, and the knowledge of this compelled the legislative assembly to devote the greater portion of its time to repressive measures and secret actions against the revolutionaries. They dreaded a renewal of hostilities, and their fear became apparent from their panicky expedients in the endeavour to avoid a repetition of their previous humiliation.

Every capitalist Government is compelled to take into consideration the revolutionary forces in its particular area. They know little or no­thing as to the extent of such forces. They only know that revolution is logical, that there is no reason why the working class should not act logically, except their want of knowledge. The Socialist Party, concerned only with spreading that knowledge, can well afford to laugh at their feeble efforts to shirk the real issue and spread confusion. Because sooner or later, out of the chaos of lies and misrepresentation, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, will emerge triumphant.

Confusion is undoubtedly the strongest wea­pon in the capitalist armoury. The fraudulent Labour Party, without a single measure on their programme that can benefit or interest the working class, lends itself to Tory and Liberal politicians as a Socialist chopping block. Sentimental curates and sleek, over-fed bishops, gather around them little cliques of working men, impress upon them that brotherhood only is Socialism, and, living on the Cross, they ex­hort allegiance to the Cross, and denounce the class war at the same time as they point to the hatred that capitalism and unrestrained compe­tition breeds.

The sanctimonious cocoa Press lectures the workers on efficiency, and warns them of the “tempestuous dangers of gross materialism.” For Liberalism, they say, is a faith, and its exponents are slowly, but surely, grappling with the evils that afflict society. “The civilising and humanising influence of men like Lloyd George and Asquith,” we are told, is the true Socialism. Socialism has, in fact, become so popular that Anti-Vivisectionists have been known to claim from the platform that they are the real Social­ists !

It is almost refreshing to turn from such a mixture of flattery and humbug to the noisy but empty declamations of the Tory party and the Anti-Socialist Union. Their efforts to spread confusion, just as purile and equally obvious, are only refreshing because they are avowedly hostile. Every party in turn, fully cognisant of its impotence before the logic of Socialism, tremulously strikes the note of fear.

Lord Abinger, in a circular issued to subscri­bers of the Anti Socialist Union, says :—

“The sixteen million workers of this country are being lied to and deliberately misled by revolutionary leaders, who are enrolling thousands of recruits for the army which is to dis­locate the commerce of this country, and leave it a prey to any enemy who may covet our wealth and trade.
“There is no industry in this country in which these rebels have not sown the seeds of hatred and discontent; there is hardly a town where, every day, specious lies, perverted facts, and false figures are not presented to the peo­ple by Socialist and Syndicalist orators. .. The time is short, the danger urgent. . . I ask you to read the enclosed report and in this time of great peril, to send us a generous contribution.”

In the, “Fortnightly Review” for May, the Rev. Vrnwy Morgan, D.D, writing on “The Character and Genius of Mr. Lloyd George.” says: ”He has stemmed the tide of Socialism by the adoption of a philosophy of politics mid way between Socialism and individualism.”

The above gentleman, however, was forestalled by the Marconi Messiah himself, for he already had this estimate of himself during hia bogus campaign, when he said : —

“If the party system were destroyed the class line must become the line of demarcation, and we should be reduced to the evil position in which foreign countries with democratic Governments found themselves, and from which they were struggling to rise. . . Is it not a real advantage to the country that there should be two great parties, each capable in turn of providing responsible administrations for the service of the Crown ? How much better our system of government has worked upon this balance than in those countries where there is a permanent governing class, with all those interests of wealth and privilege massed around them, keeping the rest of their fellow-countrymen in sullen subjection by force of arms. That is the position in more than one European country to day—a powerful imperi­alist and military combination holding all the power of confronting a vast Socialist party utterly estranged from the fundamental insti­tution of the State.”

Even the Carnegie peace advocates endeavour to strike terror by theory of “revolution.” An­other writer in the “Fortnightly Review,” Sir Max Waechter, D.L.F.P., flattering Lord Rosebery by imitating him, says : —

“No one can foresee the end of it all, but it is to be feared that a crisis is at hand. Unless this mad increase of armaments is checked in time the military and naval competition among the powers must end in the impoverishment and bankruptcy of all Europe, or in the great­est war the world has ever seen, or in a great revolution, for the masses may at last rise in despair in order to shake off their crushing burdens.”

At least the capitalist newspapers with enor­mous circulations, have quite recently been so much impressed by the progress of Socialist propaganda that they have deemed it necessary to devote a large portion of their space to cal­umny and misrepresentation. We may question their wisdom in attempting to rise to the occa­sion ; it is difficult to ignore an enemy who is making steady progress, but Socialism thrives equally well, whether opposed or disregarded by the ruling class.

The Anti-Socialist Union at their outdoor meetings excite far more antagonism than sympathy, while the Socialist Party’s experience is that those who attend their meetings exhibit an intelligent desire to discuss and understand the economic and social problems we place before them.

To the ignorant capitalist every manifestation of discontent on the part of the workers is Socialism—the inflowing tide that shall ultimately overwhelm and submerge them. To the Socialist such manifestations are but the inter­action, the play of forces inherent in the system, which is safe while they function.

The friction between capitalist and worker is the old conflict of interests between buyer and seller—which conflict cannot end while both sides accept the status imposed on them by the system. On the part of the capitalist there can be no desire to relinquish his position as buyer of labour power, because if he does not buy he does not exploit. The worker, on the other hand, even if he knows surplus-value to be the pro­duct of labour, is forced to sell in order to live.

The alternative to a system wherein labour-power is merchandise to a huckstering merchant class, wherein the working class is exploited like arable land is a system in which the peo­ple will own the wealth they produce. This they can only do when they own the means whereby that wealth is produced.

Having already co-operative production, co-operative ownership and democratic control has to supplant private or class ownership and con­trol. When that has been effected a revolution will have taken place and society will have changed its form. The fundamental principles that form the basis of capitalist society, mark it off as a system distinct from those that have preceded it, will have disappeared. As to­day there are no feudal barons who war with each other and levy tribute and labour from helpless serfs bound to the soil, so under Social­ism the relation between capitalist and wage slave will have disappeared, because no indivi­dual or class can own wealth and use it to buy labour-power for the purpose of exploitation.

To the working class, whose one desire must be to retain the fruits of their labour, such a revolution is eminently desirable. Its realisation is therefore only a question of knowledge. Re­cognition of the class struggle is the conscious­ness of the social organism of the need for a readjustment of social relationships. The organ­ism that does not respond to the dictum is doomed to atrophy and extinction.

For races live and grow just as their individ­ual members do. In certain parts of the Western Hemisphere there is evidence of systems of intensive cultivation of the soil that proves, beyond doubt, that they have in some bye gone age, been peopled far more densely than our Western civilisation ; but these races have long since disappeared. Every race and every spe­cies tends to increase its numbers until the rate of mortality overtops the rate of fertility. In other words, races come into existence, rise to maturity, and then decay, exactly as their individual members do. The race, no less than the individual, has to adapt itaelf to its surroundings, or decay takes place more rapidly.

To day the human race is living out of con­formity with its environment. The operation of social forces has separated society into two classes, with different modes of living and a different outlook on the world. The dominant class has thrown off all pretence of function and has become solely parasitic, a cancerous growth in the body of the social organism. Its presence is detrimental to the race. The only useful class is robbed of the results of its labour ; the wealth goes to feed the cancer, the useless class. Increasing powers of production, instead of giving the workers leisure and opportunities for self-development, only increase their sufferings and intensify their labour. The result of longer hours, of technical education and training, is only so much more food for society’s malignant growth, so much more wealth for the capitalist class, from which to hire the forces that overawe the workers and keep them in subjection.

The very existence of such forces, when capi­tal has become international, reveals their pur­pose to the workers, whose every effort on the industrial field is thwarted by them. Antagonism that only shows itself on the industrial field sectionally and spasmodically, stands out as class antagonism when the armed forces are used against all sections of the workers in turn. The political machine then becomes a challenge to the workers ; it stands out as the symbol of capitalism, the nucleus of the capitalist State. Its control means power.

The working class have nearly exhausted the long chapter of blunders that characterised their history during the nineteenth century—machine smashing, Chartism, Liberal-Labour representation, etc. They must either begin over again or make a serious study of their real position and find that control of the political machine is within their reach and is the first step that must be taken towards freedom.

The growing antagonism of interests between the workers and the capitalist class, and the greater frequency with which the armed forces are used against them, emphasise the need for the capture of the political machine. Just when conditions are intensified and discontent has be­come more general, class antagonism as a direct result becomes more apparent, and the logic of the Socialist position becomes irresistible.

F. F.

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