We believe that the years immediately ahead are the most critical we have faced – the years of decision. As long as the few own the sources and means of life — they will corrupt our politics, they will enslave the working class, they will impoverish and debase society, they will do all things that are needful to perpetuate their power as the economic masters and the political rulers of the people. Nothing is more humiliating than to have to beg for work, and a system in which any man has to beg for work stands condemned. The slogan “We want work!” takes attention away from the main job, that of wiping out the capitalists and their entire work system. How can you attack the system which hires labor and exploits it, when you are clamoring for work under that system, demanding and beseeching it. These people who shout “We want work!” fail to realize that it was precisely because everyone was working that we have such terrible crises. The workers were being exploited harder than ever, they were turning over vast amounts of stuff to the bosses who had to sell this stuff and could not. Not being able to sell their goods at a profit, the capitalists were forced to close down their plants because the workers had produced too much, because they had worked too hard, because they had not fought for a greater share of the produce. The slogan “We want work!” implies that what is wrong with the present system of society and what has caused the depression is not overwork but under-work. Or, on the other hand they imply that it is not the work system that is to blame but the “system of distribution.” In both cases they attack the bosses not because he is driving the workers too hard but because he did not give them enough work. The demand “We want work!”, therefore, is a demand that blinds the workers and prevents them from seeing that they do not have to work much to eat, that the workers have produced plenty which the boss has grabbed for himself. It must be constantly kept in mind that the demand for work, is the demand to work under present social conditions, with capitalist control and direction. But what is this capitalist control? It is a control that destroys the crops, that lays waste the soil, that rots the products, that rusts the machinery, that devastates the land, that kills the humans—that is capitalist control. If capitalism is developed, it is only to raise the destructive power of the ruling class.
We, in the Socialist Party propose that society in its collective capacity shall produce, not for profit, but in abundance to satisfy human wants. Every man and every woman can be economically free. They can, without let or hindrance, apply their labour, with the best technology that can be devised, to all the natural resources, do the work of society and produce for all. Contrary to the claims socialists are not going to abolish private property. We are going to introduce and establish private property — all private property that is necessary to house everybody, keep them in comfort, and satisfy all their physical needs. A few have got it all. They have dispossessed the people, and when we will dispossess them. We will reduce the workday and give every person a chance. We will go to the parks, and we will have music, and we will have music because we will have time to play music and inclination to hear it. You are not your brother’s keeper in this system. When we are in partnership and have stopped cutting each other’s throats, we will stand together as brothers and sisters we will go forward to the grandest of civilisation that the humanity has ever known. Only through the victory of world socialism can the vast stores of available scientific knowledge really be put to work for the full benefit of humanity.
There is a continuous class war between wage slaves and the capitalist class. So long as wages are paid by one class to another class, so long will men and women remain slaves to the employing class. Workers cannot emancipate themselves from slavery to the employing class, until they themselves cease to compete with one another for wages. Workers sell their labour power, which is the only commodity they possess, to the capitalists who own or control all the means of producing wealth, including the tools, raw material, land and money. Under the great machine methods of production the workers are controlled by their tools, instead of being in control of them. Under the capitalist system of production for exchange the producers themselves have no control over their own products. Goods are produced not directly for social purposes, but indirectly, in order to create a profit for the capitalists. If capitalists are unable for any reason to produce goods profitably, the wage-earners cease to be employed, though there may be a vast quantity of useful goods glutting the warehouses on the one hand, and millions of people who are anxious to have them on the other. Rent, profit and interest are all provided by the workers. All three are the component parts of the labour value embodied in saleable commodities by the labour power of the workers, over and above the actual wages paid to the toiler, and the cost of raw materials, incidental materials, etc., needed by the capitalist for the conduct of his business. Production for profit and exchange by wage labour assumes the existence, from historic causes, of large numbers of people who are divorced from the land and possess no property of their own. The only way to solve the growing antagonism between the two great classes of modern society is, by substituting cooperation for competition, in all branches of production and distribution. This involves a social revolution, peaceful or forcible.
The capitalist is in business for the profit and does his best to increase the mass of profit and the rate of profit. He can do this either by winning more markets or by reducing the cost of production or by speeding up the circulation of his capital, or all these. In short, in order to increase his profit the capitalist must expand his business and produce more stuff at lower cost. To do this he must accumulate capital and reinvest part of his profits back into the business. This accumulation of capital is the basic law of capitalism. Because of it, the factories grow larger, the industries become greater, little business turns into big business in this in turn develops into huge corporations and multinationals. To raise their profits, the capitalists began to "rationalise" their industries, that is to bring scientific invention and method into production more than ever. All of science was called upon and real technological revolution took place in every field. All sorts of automation appeared. Standardised production became the rule and products were turned out on a mass scale. Hand in hand with all these methods to increase the productivity of labor went all sorts of clever schemes to speed up (that is to increase the intensity of labour) and to increase the hours of labor wherever possible. The capitalist likes to see the workers work. It means his wealth, capital will be increased and that he can try to beat his competitor down better.
The chief method by which the capitalist can lower the cost of his production is through cheapening the value of labour power. This is done by introducing new machinery which can enable the worker to produce an ever-increasing quantity of goods in less and less time and with the same effort. Thus the introduction of machinery which increased not only the actual production but also the productive capacity of industry had two effects: if the market did not expand as rapidly as production increased, then workers were thrown out of work. Secondly, the amount of goods that were turned over to the employer, over and above the amount set aside for wages and replacement of capital, became increasingly large and increasingly difficult for the boss to get rid of.
Why is it necessary that human beings should work at all? In order that the world may be supplied with goods, of course. Do we therefore rejoice when the world is so supplied? Oh, no, that is the greatest disaster we can imagine, for then we would be thrown idle, owing to over-production. We must labour in order to supply the world, and when the world is supplied we must starve because there is plenty for all and our labour is not needed. Science and invention by increasing the productivity of our labour lessens the period necessary to stock the world’s markets, and thus, at one and the same time, lessens the period during which our labour is required and increases the duration of our compulsory idleness. One insoluble difficulty of capitalism is to devise a method whereby the march of science and inventive genius can assist industry without menacing the bread and butter of the working class. When capitalism has made the private interest coincide with the common weal; when machinery becomes in reality ‘labour-saving’, and not as at present, wage-saving; when an overstocked market means for the worker a well-stocked larder, and not idleness and hunger, then it will be time for our enemies to tell us of our future difficulties. But under capitalism that time will never come.
The Socialist Party is for a socialist world which will apply all technological progress not for war, bringing misery to the many and the enrichment of a few, but for building a life of peace and plenty for all. It aims at the rational reorganisation of economic life. Socialism then is an endeavor to substitute for the fight for existence with, instead, the organised co-operation for existence.