Whether we look at the manifestations of the capitalist system of society from a historical standpoint, or view the effects of its workings at the present time, there is every reason why the system should be abolished. Apart from the fact, that it has given birth to and developed the means of production so that it is possible to produce wealth in abundance, capitalist society has since its inception a record worse than which it would be almost impossible for the human mind to conceive. For years now the workers, who alone produce the world’s wealth, have had a greater struggle to exist, in spite of the mar­vellous increase of wealth production due to improved machinery and methods. Not only is it true that the workers are in greater poverty relatively to the amount of wealth produced, but they are beaten, broken, and done to death in their struggle for a dull, monotonous exist­ence. Factories, mills, mines, and the like are veritable death-traps, “accidents,” poisoning of one kind and another, and consumption finds victims by tens of thousands.

We know that of recent years the Press has published the heart-rending news of ex­plosions in mines with their great loss of life, and that the customary enquiry has produced evidence proving beyond honest dispute that had the mine-owners taken reasonable precautions the terrible loss of life would have been avoided. We know that Lloyd George, at the behest of the ship-owners, raised the load-line of ships so that the owners might get greater profits at the expense of seamen’s lives. It is hardly neces­sary to refresh the memories of our readers with reference to railway disasters and the appalling waste of railwaymen’s and passengers’ lives.

After every railway disaster the usual enquiry of the Board of Trade official takes place ; the scapegoat is invariably an employee. The railway directors escape all blame. In the “Nine­teenth Century Magazine” for June appeared an article on railway administration in Great Britain, from which is quoted the following scathing criticism.

“What is the Board of Trade record in this connexion ? It is shameful. Our percentage of killed and wounded on railways is nearly twice what it is in France. After every accident, there is the same heartless mockery, The same condemnation of a per­fectly innocent engine-driver or signalman, found guilty of being human, of having failed to do the duty the human machine is not capable of doing : a duty which it is biologically impossible for him to carry out with the requisite degree of certainty. It is the duty of the Board of Trade official, as specified by Act of Parliament, to enquire into the cause of railway accidents, and advise and enforce the proper remedy. The Board of Trade official knows that the cause of 90 per cent. of railway accidents is one locomotive running into another, and he knows that the remedy is to instal apparatus which would render the recurrence of such accidents a physical impossibility. He knows that the engine-driver or signalman as the case may be, who has been guilty of the inevitable biological lapse, is as innocent as the policeman who stands at his elbow in the dock. He knows that the really guilty persons are the railway managers and he himself: the railway managers because they have neglected to make the inevitable accident an impossibility, and he himself, because he has neglected to employ the authority vested in him by Parliament to force the adoption of the necessary preventive measures. The proceedure in these so-called Board of Trade inquiries is nauseating in the extreme. The real points of importance are purposely avoided. Why does not the Board of Trade official enforce the remedy he knows so well ? The explanation is obvious enough. He knows that the installation of preventive measures will mean a legitimate expenditure of railway money on a large scale, and that this will deplete some railway dividends, and absorb others altogether. He knows that this would cause an immediate outcry from the railway share­holders en masse, that real enquiry would follow, and that the miserable sham in which he is a partner would be at an end. He therefore orders a fresh copy of the conventional report he has made so many times before, to be made. It only differs in the matter of the date, and the figures of the killed and wounded, and the place at which the disaster took place. He sheds the same number of crocodile tears as he did on the previous occasion, and takes his directorship of one or more railway companies on his retirement from Government service (Italics mine.)

Think it over, fellow workers ; read it over yet again, and I have no doubt as to the result of your serious deliberations. During the processes of production and distribution thousands of men and women are hurled into premature graves in the greed for profits, while thousands of the wealth producers every year are maimed or become physical and mental wrecks as the result of the awful conditions under which they are compelled to labour for a bare existence. The capitalist class are only concerned with the acquisition of dividends, and are indifferent to the prodigious waste of human life that is ever resulting from their avarice. The writer hardly feels disposed to give the reader a further dose of the horrors of the ghastly struggle on the Continent ; but no more convincing evidence could be adduced to show the cold-blooded, murderous nature of the ruling class.

Not content with the systematic butchery of the workers in the “piping times of peace,” the master class, whenever their material interests are seriously threatened by their rival capitalists of another nation, do not hesitate to force the whole of the manhood of the toiling masses who are capable of shouldering a rifle and marching, into the armed forces to safeguard their interests and property. Many thousands will never return. As they die fighting King Capital’s battles they will be hurled unceremoniously into any hole as so much refuse, forgotten by their historic enemy—the ruling class.

Perhaps the reader would like to peruse the following, culled from the “Daily Chronicle,” 12.6.16.

“’Vorwaerts’ publishes an article headed ‘More than 700 Graveyards.’ The article refers to the battlefields of Galicia and to the efforts that are being made by the Austrian authorities to bring some order into the chaotic military burying places which lie scattered over almost the entire province. The writer reckons that between the town of Gorlice and the heights of Tarnovo no less than 419 graveyards have been cleared of their unsightly surroundings, and says that where possible natural beauties in the landscape have been utilised to lend dignity to the enormous cemeteries.
All along the Dunajec one proceeds from graveyard to graveyard thickly strewn over the entire countryside. Russians, Austrians, Germans, Hungarians, to the number of 40,000 are buried in the cared-for graveyards, a number which does not include, of course, those buried in masses in one grave. In West Galicia alone about 600 graveyards exist, and in other parts over 100. From the Dunajec eastwards the multitudinous graves of the Russians are seen stretching away into the eastern plains, an awful record of the death-grapple of last year.”

The reader will, of course, recognise that the same conditions apply with equal force to France, Belgium, and other areas where hostilities are in operation. The writer can almost hear the terrible shrieks of the Anti-Socialist in pre-war days: “Socialism will break up the home.” That agonised voice is strangely quiet while the homes of whole peoples are being laid in desolate ruin.

Need more be written ? We Socialists urge the workers to study their position in society, to understand the great and bloody struggle which exists between the capitalist class and the working class, and when they realise and understand these things, to join with us in the work of spreading the knowledge of the principles of Socialism, and organising our fellow-workers, consciously and politically, for the overthrow of the hideous capitalist system and its blood-soddened parasite class.

Only when capitalism is overthrown will society be able to free itself from the shackles that bind it, and men and women be able to lead a free, full, and joyous life.


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