From an old Austrian Comrade

During my stay in England, some 40 years ago, I came in contact with your party whose teaching brought me out of the political quandary and wilderness in which I had till then been groping under the influence of Austrian Social Democracy. A study of economics and especially Karl Marx’s critical scientific analysis of the operation of the profit-making system, to which study I had been encouraged, was a veritable revelation. What I had previously been taught in Continental labour, “socialist” and “communist” circles and in Arbeiter-Zeitungen, and what is still being propagated to this day as being Socialism or Communism, or “instalments of socialism,” revealed itself as the very opposite, namely the consolidation and strengthening of capitalism. So far indeed from touching or interfering with the fundamental principle of private or State-capitalist ownership of the means and instruments of wealth-production and distribution so far from touching the degrading fundamental status of the workers as a disinherited slave-class to capital, the policy of all the so-called Socialist and Communist parties in the world—save the Socialist Party of Great Britain and its companion parties overseas based on their Declaration of Principles—merely serves to prevent the breakdown of, and so to perpetuate the rule of capital and money.

The 60 years of Austrian “socialism” or “instalments of socialism” have proved the truth of this contention. With “socialist” governments in a number of countries, with “socialist” State-presidents, Prime-ministers and Chancellors in others, with three times Labour party governments in Britain up to now, with “communism” in one sixth of the earth, capital and its privileged beneficiaries,. the shareholders, the millionaires, Royal families, kings and queens, landlords and aristocrats, the high priests and dignitaries of the church, and the rest of the masters’ supporters, are doing as well as ever. They can indeed feel quite safe in their palaces, castles and luxurious mansions, as long as the workers and their families do not ask the impertinent question where their “instalments of socialism” are, or as long as they believe their leaders* assurances that the working-class has been “uplifted” from wage-slavery to “free men.” What a farce!

Already at an early stage of my contact with the English comrades and my discussions with them—what a different picture was unrolled before my mental eye! I came to realize that as the very antithesis of capitalism, the term Socialism can mean nothing but the total abolition of private and State-ownership of the means of life and their conversion into the SOCIAL or COMMON property of the people as a whole. It had never struck me before that the true implications of such a new constitution of society and the completely changed outlook on every phase of human co-existence it is bound to produce, were never dwelled upon in so-called socialist publications. Ignoring, as they do, these implications, the leaders and mouthpieces of the big parties masquerading under the banner of Socialism, would seem to look upon a classless and moneyless society as a utopia, or else they are deliberate frauds. As a result of “socialist” education and propaganda provided by these workers’ organisations, most of their members will indeed tell you that a society without wages and without money—a society based on the principle : “From each according to his capacity, to each according to his NEEDS” was an impossibility, a utopia. How pleased the capitalists must be with such loyalty of their slaves to capitalism! Well, dear brother, while wage-packets are a cardinal feature of their system of exploitation, they will have no place under socialism, since there will be no employers and no employed. There will only be co-operation in producing the wherewithal to live and enjoy life by so doing. The very word “work” will become generally identified with pleasure. Wealth will no longer be produced for buying and selling for profit, but for USE. Commerce will be replaced by distribution according to the needs of individuals the world over. With no more buying and selling, and no more money (which becomes unnecessary with the abolition of private property and will go into the museums for future generations to see and marvel at 20th century-man’s folly), there will of course also be no more buying and selling of human labour power (wages), no prostitution male or female, and no corruption. The dependence of individuals on other individuals or groups of individuals will cease. Since under socialism the means of subsistence, including all cultural needs and desires, will be guaranteed by society to every human being from the cradle to the grave, irrespective of services rendered, there will be no more need for insurance of any kind, nor pensions. The sick and infirm, the invalids and the old will naturally be provided for as well as the children.

With the gigantic means of production and distribution now at the disposal of mankind, all man’s needs and desires can easily be satisfied, especially when the enormous waste due to the protection of the private property “rights” by armaments, police, laws, insurance, etc. ceases, and all the complicated and intricate machinery of financial accounting. Banks, advertising, taxes, and the rest of the capitalist paraphernalia is no longer necessary. As there will be no more private or State-ownership, there can be no more coercion. Government, which is only the executive committee for the management and safeguarding of the interests of property-holders and the maintenance of privilege, will be replaced by a purely technical administration of things. With private interests and the question “does it pay” out of the way, it will be a comparatively simple process. In fact, most of the complications and problems with which society has to grapple today, will fall away. With the world and all its resources controlled and operated by, and in the interest of the people as a whole, as their common heritage, with all separating frontiers gone, as they will under socialism, not only poverty, but insecurity and the rest of the social evils arising therefrom, will be things of the past.

Mankind under socialism will no longer be dependant, for the continuance of life, on the crops and dwellings in this or the other locality. If they ate destroyed, no one who is not himself destroyed or struck down by the event, need suffer prolonged hardship; it will simply be a case of perhaps only temporary displacement until “his” devastated area has by common effort or desire been restored. Apart from this, mankind will not be slow in learning from the experience and probably take greater precautions against possible “accidents” and riotous nature in future. Anyway, the destruction and devastation wrought by natural catastrophes is as nothing compared with the havoc and ruin caused through capitalist wars and preparations for war, and the latter will certainly be things of the past under socialism.

Only the revolutionary objective of the S.P.G.B. is worthy of the name of Socialism; what goes today by that name. i.e. what is by present-day “socialist, communist” and labour parties represented and claimed to be Socialism, is a fraud, a delusion and a snare. To have allowed themselves to be misled and bamboozled by this lure, has not been without a heavy penalty for the workers and their families. By identifying themselves with the interests of the property-holders and voting for their political agents and executive committees (the modem capitalist State), the workers have been mixed up, with disastrous consequences, in the mercenary quarrels of their masters over property and trade routes in which the workers have no share whatever. Proof: The 10 years of war which left the workers, both in the “victorious” and the “defeated” countries alike poor, if not poorer than ever before. The present conflicts in Asia, Africa and elsewhere are of course no exception. The European, as well as the American and the Asiatic and African workers are all deluded in the belief that it is a struggle for their freedom. In reality, it is of course part and parcel of the eternal quarrels between rival groups of property-owners—hence of no concern to the propertyless working class. As an unknown poet sang during the first world-war:

“Sing a song of Europe, highly civilized,
“Four and twenty nations, thoroughly hypnotized.
“When the battles opened, the bullets began to sing,
“Wasn’t that a silly thing to do for any king?
“The kings were in the background, issuing commands,
“the queens were in their parlours, by etiquette’s demands.
“The bankers in the counting-house busy multiplying,
“while all the rest were at the front, DOING ALL THE DYING.”

That the teaching of Marx, which the S.P.G.B. and companion-parties elsewhere have been faithfully interpreting and spreading for the past 50 years, should not yet have found a more universal echo and response among the working-class, we all regret of course; The reasons are manifold, not the least of which is our lack of means, and the prodigious means (including the poisonous Radio-spider) at the disposal of the enemy. It cannot, however, discourage us from persevering on the straight and clean path we are pursuing, even if for the time being, we have to be content with the role of being just pioneers.

Upon returning to the Continent after World-War I, efforts, however feeble, were not wanting to make the founding of a revolutionary Socialist Party in England known over here. Comrades of the writer started a group in Dortmund, Germany, which however seems to have eventually disintegrated after the death of the more active members. Before anything could be got underway here in Austria, even the western pattern of democratic liberties was finally lost by the advent first of the Dollfuss-Schuschnigg dictatorship, then by Hitler and now by another occupation, so that for the last 20 years it has been virtually impossible to openly advocate the revolutionary socialist policy. I need hardly remind you of the fate awaiting anyone who exposes publicly in the Russian zone the fraud and masquerade labelled communism.

Personally I enjoy the satisfaction that I could contribute in England my own tiny share and have recorded in the SOCIALIST STANDARD my adherence to that great cause even before capitalism’s great crisis and world-wars with atomic weapons had so glaringly demonstrated what capitalist greed, lust for power and domination is capable of and where what one of their most prominent representatives called “this appalling development” will land the human race, unless the workers of the world bestir themselves and join with us to end the nightmare. The Socialist Party of Great Britain points the scientific way how to dethrone the ruthless powers that impose upon the dispossessed the precarious and degrading conditions of existence—the wages-system—and how true Socialism will abolish it and ensure a dignified and enjoyable life for all.

R. F.

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