The supreme sacrifice

The capitalist Press, possibly the dominant factor in the creation, moulding, and directing of “public opinion,” obviously plays so important a part now-a-days, that quite a large number of people seem to consider that it renders them an inestimable service : for the Press thinks for them, and thus supplies them with a stock of opinions ready made. This is self-evident—a truism. Nevertheless, just as there are many facets to a diamond, so there are many view-points to most matters.

We find that the capitalist papers are often extremely ingenious in the way they exclude or misrepresent ideas and news of things hostile to the present system ; but the distorted perspective of their outlook, and their cunning efforts to falsify facts and ensnare the masses are often very apparent to the Socialist.

The latter has, necessarily, a fundamentally different outlook from his pro-capitalist fellow-worker, although they are both wage slaves to the exploiting class.

Since the outbreak of this “war for freedom”—the colossal crime against the workers engineered by groups of plutocratic scoundrels—we have frequently seen the phrase, “The Supreme Sacrifice,” in our masters’ Press. The glib way in which it is used, and the deliberate concealment of the objects for which such vast numbers have been compelled to risk and yield up their lives, fills many with contempt. Class-conscious workers feel very poignantly the bitterness that fills them against the wealth lords of the world, who alone have caused the ruthless and wholesale disablement and death of our fellow workers in this and other lands. Our sadness and our anger, both, are inexpressible !

But we, as Socialists, wish to point to the “Supreme Sacrifice” the workers are making throughout their toiling existence, and will continue to make while the present system lasts—the pernicious system of capitalist production. One of the most bitterly true things ever written of the present regime is that the proletariat—the dispossessed and exploited wage-slaves—only commence to live when their daily toil is finished ! What a comment, on the civilisation that produces such a state of things! It is, we claim, for the mass irrefutable. No one can obtain employment unless with the sanction of, and under the terms made by, some exploiter of labour. No one is maintained in employment unless he can make his work “pay”—that is, make profit for his master. Ability of any kind must find its own market or it simply remains potential but inactive, no matter whether it be bricklaying or writing articles to keep starvation and the bailiff from the door. The land, the primal necessity from which all wealth is extracted, is inaccessible to the workers. Hence they must either accept their exploiters’ terms or starve.

Wherein is the “freedom of contract” vaunted by the anti-Socialists ? Freedom of slaves to remain slaves ! The consequence is “the poor ye have always with you.” And, ironical truth as the late Sir H. Campbell-Bannerman himself avowed, in this country alone 12 million people are, through this damnable system, always on the verge of hunger. Think of it, ye who boast of a “glorious Empire” !

This system, with plutocrats at one end of the social scale and paupers at the other, is the necessary outcome of the means of living being in the hands of a class. The non-possessors are thereby compelled to produce wealth which is appropriated by those who own the means by which it is produced, the former receiving in return for their efforts wages barely sufficient to support them.

The result of this dispossession and exploitation of the wage workers by the men in possession is of the most blighting kind. All that constitutes the essence of life is but sparingly theirs : they are starved of Life’s gifts who produce far more than they need to make it enjoyable and worth while.

From their first day of wage slavery until their last they are compelled to sacrifice their existence for other’s gain.

The workers’ economic bondage to another class results in the former’s complete subjugation. Religious, social, civic, and national life reflect this class subjection. Press, pulpit, and parliament are triply allied to maintain and secure the economic thraldom of the masses. Capitalist legislation is simply and solely made for capitalist interests. Control by the capitalists of the political power means control of the Army, Navy, and Police, which are used by them simply as ever-ready means of maintaining their class rule and keeping old markets free—from their capitalist rivals and gaining new ones.

Even education has for its purpose the shaping of the minds and hands of the workers to be efficient tools for profit production, and to keep them submissive, unaspiring slaves, easy to control, and “safe to ride and drive.”

What a sacrifice of the multifarious abilities possessed by the toilers is evinced daily ! What a renunciation of their own interests ! How great a denial of opportunities for culture and and leisure ! Robbed of proper and sufficient food, of leisure for physical and mental development, of fresh air, sunlight, and scenery, of rest itself very often, they are robbed of all that life should afford them !

Now let us ask ourselves as workers whether the present system, so sterile for the proletariat, should continue. Are you content to know that squalid slums should co-exist with palatial country-seats ? Do not you feel the stigma of “civilisation” which tolerates starvation amidst plenty, and makes occasional efforts to palliate it by ineffective reforms without ever touching the root cause of it all ?

Is it satisfactory that your class should continue, in poverty, to produce wealth for others in plenty ? and to be wage slaves, in “peace” and pawns in the hands of plutocratic and militaristic gamblers in sordid commercial wars ?

No, you know it is not !

Do you think the exploiting and ruling class care a jot about abolishing this shameless system because of its evils ? No ; only so far as it pays them will they bring about any measure of alleviation—for making you more content with your chains, and more efficient in their service.

Workers, you alone can free yourselves from your fetters. As a numerically powerful class you must organise class-consciously on both the industrial and the political field for the complete overthrow of the present tyrannical system, and for your own complete emancipation. Your potential power is immense—make it effective by putting it into active operation. Join with us in the Socialist Party to abolish capitalism and establish in its place the only practically constructive system of society—Socialism.

That system alone puts into the hands of the whole community the means of social wealth production, organises it, and controls it democratically, using the co-operative efforts of all to produce for the use and benefit of all.

Thus and thus only can emancipation come.

We ask : “For what are you, as workers, permanently making as a class the “Supreme Sacrifice” of your lives ? And the answer is :—for the maintaining of capitalism!—the most sordid, hellish system of slavery known through the ages. Haven’t you had about enough of it ? Gird up your loins, then, and set about making a “beautiful, new world” for yourselves, in which there shall he neither dreary drudgery nor grinding poverty, but in which a full and happy existence shall be the birthright of all.

J. G. M.

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