A World To Win

“The proletarians have nothing to lose but their chains.
They have a world to win.
Working men of all countries Unite!”

These are the words of Marx and Engels in their famous Manifesto of 1848, and although that is now 110 years ago, there is a message contained in those words which is of the greatest importance to the working men of all countries in 1958.

In 1848 our present system, capitalism, was just beginning. Although it had existed in England for a considerable time, the last remnants of an earlier system, Feudalism still existed in Europe, and Russia. Most of the rest of the world was still completely undeveloped industrially and was operating under the old feudal order of things. This meant that the working class, a class of wage earners or proletarians, as Marx and Engels called them, had yet to emerge. By far the great majority of people were peasants.

The idea of an international system, the whole world as one community, could not have had any significance under feudalism. The village and farm life of people working on the land and rarely leaving these confines, the scanty means of communication, the general isolation of one part of the world from another, and the inability of most people to read and write, all this would go against any world-wide concept of things.

With the development of trade, once England, the pioneer of capitalism, had broken trail, others began to follow suit. The appearance of capitalism has been sometimes gradual, sometimes more rapid, in various parts of the world. There are a number of reasons for this uneven growth but the important thing is that those countries which have been slow to start, China, India, etc., make rapid strides once they embark on the building up of capitalism.

These rapid strides are sometimes quite misunderstood, and taken to be something entirely different. Many people, including adherents of the so-called Communist Party, believe they can see Socialism in Russia chiefly because of the vast and speedy development of modern industrial techniques.

The fact that Russian industry is run by the State makes the confusion more persistent, but when one realises, as Marx and Engels did, that the State is necessarily a CLASS instrument it is then easy to understand that with wages, buying and selling and profits, not to mention war machines, Russia has all the fundamental features of capitalism and in fact is a capitalist country.

To Marxists it is elementary that the existence of wage-labour means that a class exists which owns nothing but the ability to work.

It is not at all the concern of Socialists to deny the tremendous technical and scientific advances since Marx’s time. It is in fact this very development which provides the material basis for the class-less world of abundance— Socialism. What makes Marx so important is the fact that, with all these technical advances, the workers of all lands are still cut off from ownership in the means of wealth production which they operate for the profit of a privileged minority of owners.

Because of this ownership by a few, and for no other reason, the world, which no longer needs to be a number of isolated parts, is still marked off into absurd frontiers involving ridiculous passports and Customs barriers, with each national ruling class jealously guarding their loot against the others.

So in 1958 the world is a seething mass of tension and anxiety. Vast armaments are poised at bases all over the world, including “H” bombs, in case one ruling class group should attempt to grab the oil, rubber or other economic assets of another. The Hydrogen bomb itself cannot be separated from scientific development under capitalism.

In 1958 it is as true as ever that housing problems, hire purchase, tally-men, and the general struggle to get by are the lot of the productive working class, while their non-productive masters enjoy the best, and follow the sun.

For a world of plenty and happiness without wars and poverty, it remains for the workers of the world to see that they are in the same predicament and that flags and nations do not matter. Then this great potential which capitalism has built, only to stifle for profits, will be a reality and. free from our chains, the world will belong to all mankind.


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