All wealth that is produced, no matter what form it takes, is the result of the application of human labour power to nature-given material. This material and the finished product are owned by one group of the people—the international capitalists—those people whom we are told advance the money to carry on industry. The labour power is supplied by the miner, bricklayer, carpenter, manager, dustman, office clerk, and other members of the working class. The brains and brawn of the workers are utilised to produce articles that belong to the capitalists.
The notion that the capitalists, by advancing the money, have a right to the result, collapses as soon as the case is investigated. The particular function of the money as means of exchange has a tendency to confuse and cover the process of production with a mystical cloud. It is a matter of fact that it does not require money to dig for coal. It requires food, clothes, shelter, and the other things necessary to the maintenance of the miner while getting the coal. The capitalists have the monopoly of the necessaries of life, and they advance these necessaries of life to the workers with a view of obtaining a profit. The capitalists are the employing class and the workers the employed class. The interests of these two classes are directly opposite.
It is the interest of the employers to get work done as quickly and as cheaply as possible, for the cheaper the production the greater the profit. The energies of the employers are centred upon obtaining up-to-date machinery and instituting improved methods ; but this means less work for the employees— a greater number of unemployed to fight for the jobs that are going. Improved machinery and improved organisation displaces more workers and the competition for jobs keeps wages at the level of subsistence. Even the draughtsman, the mathematician, the chemist, the doctor, and similar "professional" men, who need long and careful training to render them efficient, can only command a wage that means toil from the earliest days of manhood to the end. The capitalist buys abilities as he buys potatoes and other merchandise. Numberless are the instances where those employed in these professions have chosen the suicide's grave in preference to the grim and forbidding prospect ahead of them.
Why does this state of affairs exist ? Why is work the all absorbing interest of the working class? It is because the workers do not own the product of their labour power. Yet all wealth is produced by the working class—even the very gold and paper that function as money are obtained by the workers.
The more the capitalists take from the total wealth produced the less there is left for the workers, and conversely, the more the workers take from it the less there is for the capitalists. This is the centre of the whole business. The interests of the capitalists are opposed to the interests of the workers, and consequently a struggle is always going on as to who shall get most out of the pile. This is what the Socialist Party calls the class war. Those who deny the class war and seek to harmonise master and worker are the enemies of the working class, whether their intentions be good or evil. By their attempt to cloud the issue they take sides with the masters and must be treated as enemies, no matter what particular garments they dress their arguments in.
Workers attempt to alleviate their lot by combining in unions to keep up wages and improve their conditions. By this act they recognise in a subconscious way the opposition of their interests to those of their masteis. Unfortunately the recognition is only subconscious, and the masters take every opportunity of blinding workers to their real interests and dangle before them illusive reforms on which workers employ their time and waste their energy. For years the workers have attempted to alleviate their lot by trade union action, but at the end of it all the sorry truth must be faced that to-day their position is more insecure and their poverty greater than ever. The claim that they might have been worse off had they not been organised is beside the point, and cannot explain away the fact that trade union action has been a failure as far as improving conditions is concerned. The general condition of the workers is growing steadily worse. At best, trade union action but slows the worsening process—it cannot stop it.
The fight between the possessing class and the working class has always resulted in the advantage going to the former. So long as one class owns the means and instruments for producing wealth,, the other class must in the long run be beaten by the pistol of starvation. This being the position of affairs, reform is useless—revolution is the only remedy.
The workers must first realise their identity of interests as wage workers, and the opposition of their interests as a class to those of the capitalists—the owners of wealth. In other words, they must become class conscious.
Having arrived at that knowledge they must understand that the capitalists keep their position through their control of the political machinery, and that in order to overthrow the capitalist class they must vote themselves, and not their masters, into power. They must organise into a political party which has for its sole object the conquest of political power in order to usher in the Socialist Commonwealth. That party is the Socialist Party.