Producers and Parasites

The only useful people today are those engaged in producing the wealth. It is they alone who must eliminate the parasites and usher in a new social order. The future of civilisation is in the hands of the producing class.

Many other workers talk about “my job.” It is partly habit and partly belief that in some way or other it is their job. The job is regarded as a sort of fundamental right, but the truth of the matter is that the worker has not got a job. It is the other fellow’s job. The capitalist own the means of wealth production; therefore, they own the job. When the capitalists tells the workers to “get out” They are obeyed. The workers have to leave. They are obliged to leave “their jobs” behind. Dependence upon a job and the wages are the invisible chain that binds us to the machine cuts them to the quick. The workers must struggle to keep up their wages and to better their standard of living. In this struggle the odds are always against them and on the side of the capitalists. The competition for jobs keeps wages down to a minimum. If, for a time, there is a brief industrial boom, it is always followed by a crisis that creates a jobless army. Every improvement, every invention that increases production, is a further economic fetter on labour.

The worker under capitalism is a “free” man. He is free to go where he likes. He does not have to work for any one boss. If he does not like an employer he can quit, but if he does not like the employing class he can not quit, unless he is prepared to starve. He is a slave to a class. His freedom amounts to having a longer chain than his predecessors – the serf or chattel slave. It is true that he is not bought and sold and that he has liberties unknown to former generations of workers. It is also true that he takes greater risks than former workers and that while he is not sold he is obliged to sell himself.

Employees are often described as wage-slaves with good reason.  The worker sells his labour-power and as he cannot deliver that without delivering himself he is as much a slave as any worker that ever responded to the crack of his master’s whip. The modern whip is an economic one. The lash of hunger, or the fear of it for himself and those depending upon him, keeps him ever on the jump. The slave of old knew little of occupational diseases. He knew nothing of that scourge that drives the modern worker on – unemployment. The industrial scrapheap was unknown to the serf.  In the past an escaped slave was hunted down. It was a cruel system, but no less cruel is the present system in which the slave has to hunt the master.

The worker finds himself in the position described by Robert Burns:

“See yonder poor, o’er – labour’d wight,
So abject, mean, and vile,
Who begs a brother of the earth
To give him leave to toil,
And see his lordly fellow-worm
The poor petition spurn,
Unmindful, tho’ a weeping wife
And helpless offspring mourn.”

Many workers know their condition while others have an instinctive feeling that they are getting the worse of it. The question these workers may ask is “What are we going to do about it?” Some prefer to take what they think is the easiest way and slide along and make the “best” of a bad job. When asked to organise in the struggle of their class, they want to know why they should pay to keep labour leaders and union headquarters. They prefer to “spend their own money.” They are individualists and tell us that they are capable of fighting their own battles. That is just exactly the way the employing class want them to think. The employer has no fear of an individual worker. He has him where he wants him so long as he is unorganised. Some individual workers get ahead by allowing themselves to be used as tools against the others. The individual worker, however, who becomes militant and goes to the boss with his demands, if he is able to reach the boss at all, usually gets turned down and sometimes gets fired from the job altogether. When the workers go individually to the employer, cap in hand, they are met with the sharp retort “What do you want?”

It is the other way about when the workers bargain collectively. Employers understand the power of organisation and are aware of the thousands standing behind the union delegate. When the representatives of the workers enter the office of the capitalist Their attitude is “ what can I do for you? Sit down, let’s talk.” Negotiate – arbitrate – compromise; these are the weapons the capitalists are obliged to resort to. They know that the workers have one thing they can not take away from them. That is their numbers. Organisation is the greatest weapon that the workers have at their disposal. All that the workers have ever gained has been through the power of organisation. The power of numbers alone, however, is not suffice. There must be the  power of knowledge to back it up. The struggle between capital and labour at first sight appears as a struggle for more pay and better working conditions. That is all that the average worker sees in the struggle. Many of the capitalists see no more than that. They merely struggle to keep down wages, as part of their production expenses. Others know that this is only the surface and at the back of it is the question of the ownership of the tools – the machinery of production, the conquest of political power and taking possession of the industries. The all important thing is the building of powerful political party of the proletariat, a united force with a common understanding and a common will to action, moving along a definite course, not pulling in different directions. Its present task is to ripen the proletariat as a political class, reaching out to our fellow workers to influence and change their social outlook. Revolutionaries do not confine themselves to cursing labour leaders, rotten enough as many of them are. The elimination of the union traitor and bureaucrat labor can only be brought about by an enlightened membership.

 Everywhere that workers gather the aim of socialists is to keep class issues before them. Certain economic laws govern the capitalist system, A knowledge of those laws is an important tool, if the workers are going to struggle against their exploiters. What makes the class struggle a political struggle is the coercive power of  the State which upholds the power of the owning class when workers resist the rule and robbery of their masters. Organisation must be met with organisation. It is the existence of class society with the State power in the hands of the exploiters of labour that determines the need for a political party to combat the ruling class and organize the working class for its final act as a class, namely, the political overthrow of capitalism.

Adapted from Keracher’s “Producers and Parasites”

Producers and Parasites by John Keracher (

The Proletarian Party of America’s John Keracher was born January 16, 1880, in Dundee, emigrating to the United States in 1909. Keracher colleagues included a number of individuals who had cut their ideological teeth in the “impossibilist” Socialist Party of Canada, eschewing the ameliorative reforms traditionally cobbled on to the socialist program for their reinforcement of the capitalist system. As far back as 1914 there was a group in Michigan that had succeeded in controlling the state organization and adopting an anti-reform program, as opposed to the opportunistic program of the Socialist Party. The center of this opposition was the city of Detroit and was inspired to some degree by comrades from England and Canada who adhered to the Socialist Party of Great Britain and the Socialist Party of Canada, respectively. The group was very active in socialist educational matters.

“We will leave reforms of all kinds to those who think the present social system worth reforming. For our part, the revolutionary watchword, “the abolition of the system,” will be the keynote” he wrote.

Keracher was also critical of the semi-syndicalism of the Industrial Workers of the World and its industrial unionism explaining that:

 “The framework of the new social order requires no building within the old. It is already built — in the form of highly organized, socialized production, which by the way is in no way connected with industrial unionism. The task that presents itself is to abolish the present class ownership. Let us not fritter away our time dreaming about how affairs will be administered in the future social order. Let us rather take up the work of clarifying out movement; let us cast out the dross of legislative reform, and carry to the working class an uncompromising message, rallying them for the first step — the conquest of political power.” 

Nor was Keracher a proponent of nationalisation, saying:

 “workers should not allow themselves to be fooled into believing that State capitalism is in their interest, that it will “save” them… Complete State capitalism, government ownership of all property, will not necessarily improve the lot of the workers one iota. They will still be wage slaves, producing surplus-values which will be appropriated by the government “

In declining to affiliate to Comintern the PPA responded:

 “The following must be understood and accepted by any group that expects to function as the Communist organization in America. Firstly, America has not been, is not, and will not be for a considerable time upon the verge of revolution. The faith of the masses in the bourgeois political institutions of America has not broken and does not show any signs of breaking. The psychology of Americans is such that the ruling class would not experience any great difficulty in mobilizing national sentiment against either Japan or England. They are still thoroughly possessed of the provincial psychology which arose with America’s frontier development.” It argued that “it is impossible to accomplish a social revolution of the character of the proletarian revolution without the conscious support of the great mass of the people.” and that “A broad use of parliaments and parliamentary campaigns for the purpose of educating the masses to Communism is absolutely necessary, doubly so in countries like the United States where the masses still have faith in bourgeois parliaments.”

 Both the Proletarian Party and the World Socialist Movement contend that it will be necessary for the majority of the workers to have a clear understanding and broad agreement of the principles of socialism in order to carry out the Revolution.