The capitalists are the upper class-because they are always on our backs; if they were not on our backs they would not be above us. In capitalist society the worker is not a person or an individual at all. He or she is simply merchandise, a commodity. The very terminology of the capitalist system proves it. Go to any factory or office and there will exist a department called “human resources”.
Capitalism is a society divided into two economic classes: a relatively small class of capitalists who own the machinery they did not make and cannot use, and the vast numbers of workers who did make the tools and machines and who do use them, (and whose very lives depend upon using them), yet who do not own them. Every cog in every wheel that revolves everywhere has been made by the working class, and is kept in operation by the working class; and if the working class can make and operate this marvelous wealth-producing machinery. These millions of wage-workers, producers of wealth, are forced into the labour market, in competition with each other, selling their labour power to the capitalist class, in return for just enough of what they produce to keep them in working order.
You are as much subject to the command of the capitalist as if you were his property under the law. You have got to go to his factory because you have got to work; he is the master of your job, and you cannot work without his consent, and he only gives this on condition that you surrender to him all you produce except what is necessary to keep you in working order. The machine you work with has to be oiled; you have to be fed; the wage is your lubricant, it keeps you in working order, and so you toil until you pass away. That is your lot in the capitalist system.
You do everything and he has everything. We do not need the capitalist. He could not exist without you but we can live without him. Workers are the only class essential to society; all others can be spared, but without you society would perish. Why should you be dependent upon a capitalist? Today the capitalist is far removed from the scene of production, and workers generate wealth more autonomously. All you have to do is to unite, think together, act together, strike together, vote together, never for an instant forgetting that you are one, and then the world is yours. You only need but to stretch out and take possession.
In the struggle of the working class to free itself from wage slavery it cannot be repeated too often that everything depends upon the working class itself. The simple question is, can the workers fit themselves, by education, organization, co-operation and self-imposed discipline, to take control of the productive forces and manage industry in the interest of the people and for the benefit of society? That is all there is to it. All the workers have to do is to recognise their own power. This seems simple enough and so it is, yet simple as it is it involves the greatest struggle in history.
Socialists are the very last to underestimate the magnitude of this Herculean task. We offer no so-called “great men” to do something for the workers. We are not offering ourselves as the vanguard party which will lead you. The workers must organise their own emancipation to achieve it and to control its almost limitless opportunities and possibilities.