Americanism of Socialism (Continued)



VII.

Industrial Feudalism or Industrial Democracy?

Should a typhoid epidemic break out in your community, you would not merely treat the several cases reported; you would seek the cause and eliminate it. Why, then should we treat social diseases--poverty amidst plenty, unemployment, war--with less intelligence? Their cause is clearly capitalism, ownership of the means of production by the idle few and production for sale with its terrible concomitant, the international struggle for markets, and war. In the light of the plainly written injunction in the Declaration of Independence rejoining us to throw off any government obstructive to the ends of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, who will gainsay that Socialist aims are the very essence of Americanism? To keep silent in the sight of needless misery would be un-American. Such conduct would be cowardly and contrary to the revolutionary, freedom-loving spirit in which this nation was born.

Gradually in the beginning, then at a more rapid tempo, the wealth of this nation has concentrated, rendering propertiless and dependent the overwhelming majority. Yet the illusion of independence has persisted. It is still true that the individual worker may quit his master. But the "independence" ends there, for as soon as he quits one master he must seek another. Withdraw yourself! Get perspective! Then look at the social scene in America. You will see, not a mass of independent workers, but a class of wage slaves bound as securely to a class of capitalist owners as ever chattel slave was to his master or serf to the soil. [The American anthropologist, Lewis Henry Morgan, celebrated author of "Ancient Society," in a lecture delivered in 1852, entitled "Diffusion Against Centralization," underscores this point:

"Centralize property in the hands of a few," he said, "and the millions are under bondage of property--a bondage as absolute and deplorable as if their limbs were covered with manacles. Abstract all property from the hands of labor and you thereby reduce labor to dependence; and that dependence becomes as complete a servitude as the master could fix upon his slave
."]

"It is of no consequence by what name you call the people," declared the American patriot, John Adams, in the Continental Congress of 1777, "whether by that of freemen or slaves; in some countries the laboring poor are called freemen, in others they are called slaves; but the difference as to the state is imaginary only. What matters it whether a landlord employing ten laborers on his farm gives them annually as much money as will buy them the necessaries of life or gives them those necessities at short hand?....The condition of the laboring poor in most countries--that of the fishermen particularly of the Northern States--is as abject as that of slavery."

The condition of the wage slave today is bad. For more than a decade millions have rotted on the industrial scrapheap while their more fortunate brethren have hung precariously on the raw edge. Only through war -- mass butchery of "surplus" workingmen and mass destruction of surplus commodities-- could capitalism start the wheels of industry again. Everyone who will reflect but for a moment know this. They know that had it not been for the violent contest for world trade we would still be wallowing in the trough of a "depression" or "recession" or whatever euphemistic name our capitalists choose to call their chronic economic crisis.

But wretched and insecure though it is, the lot of the toiler under capitalism is not as bad as the industrial serfdom which is in store for us if we permit capitalism to drag society backward to Industrial Feudalism. The "free" wage slave is rapidly disappearing from Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy. In those blighted countries workers are forbidden to quit their jobs at will and are bound to their employers in much the same way as the serf was bound to the soil and, thereby, to his feudal lord. This is the trend in every capitalist nation! It is a trend which is accelerated by organization for total war. In an editorial on "Britain's 'Dictatorship,'" May 24, 1940, the premier organ of plutocratic capitalism in America, the New York Times, declared:

"But once the principle of conscription for the army is admitted....then there is no logical stopping point. If men can be ordered to leave their jobs, their homes, their civil life, to obey commands at any hour of the day or night, go wherever they are sent, perhaps to be shelled, machine-gunned, bombed or slain, then there is no reason why other men should not be ordered into coal mines, or to work twelve hours a day instead of eight, or seven days instead of six...." (Italics ours.)

Aye. There is no logical stopping point short of TOTALITARIANISM FOR THE NATION AND INDUSTRIAL SERFDOM FOR THE WORKERS! It is to avert that calamity, it is to put society back upon the road to peace and progress that the Socialist Labor Party urges the workers to heed this warning and acquaint themselves without delay with the Socialist program for a reconstruction of society.

Instead of wasting their energy and substance in a vain and futile effort to reform outmoded capitalism, the workers must unite under the political banner of Socialism to demand the unconditional surrender of capitalism. The day is past for so-called "immediate demands" in the platform of Socialism. "Immediate demands" (reforms) are as out of place in the platform of bona fide Socialism as they would have been out of place in the Declaration of Independence. For our generation of toilers it is all, or nothing. There can be no compromise, no half-measures. If we do not dare to claim our rights and perform our duties as men, the reaction will be emboldened to destroy those rights--even though it set progress back a thousand years.

The rights asserted in the Declaration of Independence were backed up by arms which the colonists possessed and which their mode of life had taught them to use with great skill. The modern working class has neither arms nor practice in their use. But the toilers of our age possess an infinitely superior weapon, or force, with which to back up the Socialist ballot. The immense changes and improvements wrought in the methods of production have placed that weapon in our hands. Mass production has placed the workers collectively in de facto control of industry. They run industry from top to bottom. Organized into a Socialist Industrial Union, prepared to act concertedly the moment the political signal is given, the united working class in a position to take possession of all the means of production and distribution, lock out the rebellious capitalist class, if it stages a "pro-slavery rebellion," and continue operation for the benefit of society.

The Socialist Industrial Union alone can cope with the situation should the capitalist minority choose to rebel against the decision of the majority
. It alone can prevent chaos and civil war, maintain order and avert widespread distress among the workers. Above all, the Socialist Industrial Union supplies the framework for the Industrial Republic of Labor to replace the worn-out capitalist State. Just as the thirteen colonies became the thirteen states in the United States, the Socialist Industrial Unions become the units in the Socialist Industrial Republic. An Industrial Congress compose of democratically elected representatives from the industries will replace the political Congress of capitalist politicians. As the celebrated American social architect, Daniel De Leon, described the purpose and aim of Socialist Industrial Unionism:

"Industrial Unionism is the Socialist Republic in the making; and, the goal once reached, the Industrial Union is the Socialist Republic in operation.

"Accordingly, the Industrial Union is, at once, the battering ram with which to pound down the fortress of capitalism, and the successor of the capitalist social structure itself."

Never, not even in Abraham Lincoln's time, was it more true that "the dogmas of the quiet past are inadequate to the stormy present." To cling to hackneyed capitalist dogma, to maintain the capitalist system, means to re-enact over and over again all the dreadful tragedies capitalism has produced, each time upon a more stupendous scale and bringing proportionate havoc and human misery. In spite of ourselves and irrespective of our private wished, our generation has been entrusted with the gigantic task of sweeping away the incubus of wage slavery as our forbears, eighty years ago, swept away the incubus of chattel slavery. Once more "we shall nobly save or meanly lose the last best hop of earth." We stand today where the roads fork. One leads to Industrial Feudalism and imperialistic barbarism; the other to the Industrial Republic of Emancipated Labor, a society of equity, harmony and abundance for all.

Right to Revolution

Whenever any government becomes destructive of these [life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness] it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it, and to institute a new government, laying its foundations on such principles, and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness--Thomas Jefferson, The Declaration of Independence, 1776.

It is an observation of one of the profoundest inquirers into human affairs that a revolution of government is the strongest proof that can be given by a people of their virtue and good sense. --John Adams, "Diary," 1786.

An oppressed people are authorized whenever they can to rise and break their fetters. --Henry Clay, Speech in House of Representatives, March 4, 1818. All men recognize the right of revolution: that is, the right to refuse allegliance to, and to resist, the government when its tyranny or its inefficiency are great and unendurable--H.D. Thoreau, "An Essay on Civil Disobedience," 1849

[Appendix]

Right to Revolution

Whenever any government becomes destructive of these [life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness] it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it, and to institute a new government, laying its foundations on such principles, and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness--Thomas Jefferson, The Declaration of Independence, 1776.

It is an observation of one of the profoundest inquirers into human affairs that a revolution of government is the strongest proof that can be given by a people of their virtue and good sense. --John Adams, "Diary," 1786.

An oppressed people are authorized whenever they can to rise and break their fetters. --Henry Clay, Speech in House of Representatives, March 4, 1818.

All men recognize the right of revolution: that is, the right to refuse allegliance to, and to resist, the government when its tyranny or its inefficiency are great and unendurable--H.D. Thoreau, "An Essay on Civil Disobedience." 1849

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