At the first sign of “hard times” when the capitalist finds he cannot sell the commodities produced by the workers in his plant, at what he considers a sufficient profit, he immediately closes the doors of his factory and proceeds to enjoy himself at some pleasant resort, living, on previous profits accumulated by him until “trade pick up” again.
Not so with the workers who are reduced to actual deprivation and desperation if they are unable to find a new job, which may be at a wage still further reduced. During “hard times” the worker who cannot find work must starve, or beg, or steal, or revolt.
If you imagine for a moment that any of our great Captains of Industry are in business for the purpose of satisfying ever-present human needs, you have only to look about you to be swiftly undeceived. Under the present economic system, it is absolutely essential that people have to work in order to live. Everybody grants that productive workers are useful and valuable members of society and yet the very moment one multi-millionaire capitalist discovers that he cannot, personally, make a profit on his plant which he deems sufficient, he closes it down even though by so doing he throws tens of thousands of useful members of society out upon the streets to starve. The factory shuts down when the non-productive capitalist is dissatisfied with the dividends he is able to appropriate even though a hundred thousand people actually need the products that come from his plant.
This is sheer anarchy in production. It is the individual opposing his private profits to the necessities of tens and hundreds of thousands. This is selfishness enthroned; parasitism made lord over usefulness. And what say our law and our courts, our statesmen, our brave social problem-solvers to these things? Do they champion the cause of the productive workers, of those who serve, of the useful many, or do they rally around the support of the parasitic 1%?
You know and I know the courts and the laws, and their legal representatives, are so much a part of the of the privileged classes that they cannot conceive of any remedy, or relief for the working class at the expense of private property, to them the one sacred thing in the whole world. It never occurs to them that the railroads might be built, or the factories opened and operated, or the clothing produced merely to satisfy the desperate NEEDS of the people who actually produce these things. The only phase of such a situation that penetrates their minds is whether or not operation will result in greater or less profits for the owners of industry. What though the whole armies of Labour starve so long as it profiteth the profiteer! The Law and the legal representatives of the law, the Courts and our Great Judges say that a capitalist may do what he will with his own and that it is their function to protect him in the doing of it. And “his own” shall consist in whatsoever he may appropriate, take and hold, all he can get, whether it be 20 per cent profits, or 100 per cent profits, or 500 per cent. It matters not how a millionaire “invests,” what miracles of jugglery he may employ, what financial sleight-of-hand he may have achieved, whose money he has filched to invest the income on that investment, and on millions of fictitious investment, is considered first in operating the road, the plant, the mill. Unless the kings of industry feel that operation and production mean a sufficient profit (or additional capital) for themselves, the workers and the people may go to the devil with their needs.
The rewards of labour bear no possible relation to the productivity of labour. A group of workers, by the use of new technology, or improved working methods, may increase the factory output ten-fold in a single year. Do they receive even twice as many products when they spend their wages? The capital of the capitalist who owns the plant may be increased enormously. But if the capitalist closes the plant and lives on his profits next year, what do the productive workers live on?
The capitalist who often never sees his plant, who is ignorant of the first details of the processes of manufacture, is made magically richer by the increased output of labour. They double, treble, quadruple “his” investments in one, two or three years, perhaps. His workers make the owner of the plant three times a capitalist, the economic master of three times as many jobs, and therefore, of three times as many “homes” and families. HE REAPS ALL THE REWARD. What has he done that he should receive any portion of it?
Is it not true that the money he may have invested in this plant last year, or the year before, was the surplus values produced by other workers in the past?
Is it not true that the profits, or capital, you make for your employer this year will probably be used by him to purchase other plants, whereas economic King he will control other jobs and other lives next year ? Will not these new workers be permitted to work only when he is assured of still more dividends, still more capital for the purchase of still more factories?
We hear people say that “we need capitalists to promote production,” whereas it is precisely capitalist individualism or anarchy, that fetters and chains production. Capitalist rule has brought poverty and despair to the productive many, and idleness and power to the unproductive few. For hundreds of years, we have lived in a world where the capitalists were the Lords of the Universe. They have been responsible to no one. And the autocrats in industry are lords over all other social institutions. They say what should be built and on what terms these shall be built and operated. They tell us through their media where to send the army to protect their investments in oil or in mines. The capitalist autocrats say when houses shall be built and food raised and transported. They say what terms the workers of the world shall be permitted to toil, and they say when the factories, and mills, and mines shall be closed and millions of wage-workers be thrown out of work, hungry, upon the streets. Theirs has been the last word in everything concerning our jobs and hence our lives. They are our Masters. Yet, they act irresponsible with the environment and now are more dangerous to the world’s workers than the nuclear bomb.
What has this capitalist autocracy brought us? It has brought us the most devastating and annihilating violence the world has ever seen. The capitalist system has been the cause of the death of millions upon the fields of battle, or of their being crippled for life. It has brought untold hunger and suffering and scarcity, billions of dollars of debts, and a disintegrating banking system.
What has the rule of capitalist autocrats brought to us?
In a broad land, fertile enough to feed the whole world, by their private ownership they have given us under-fed children, constant need, everlasting insecurity against hunger for the majority of the people.
The rule of the capitalist has given us increasing unemployment next door to, closed factories and desperate need of factory products.
Capitalist rule has brought poverty and despair to the productive many, and luxury and power to the unproductive few.
It has filled our prisons and our jails with those who have been forced down into “crime” through poverty and despair!
It has fostered the prostitution of women who could not earn a living through work. It has closed the avenues of real education to the working class.
This situation combined with the growing consciousness of the workers of their own power, and their growing needs, is going to mean the early end of all exploitation upon the face of this earth!
Industrial democracy means the rule of the workers as opposed to what we have known all our lives-the rule of autocracy, or the rule of the capitalist few. Nothing has ever been done for the working class until the workers began to exercise power to force these things. Nobody but yourselves is going to do anything for you now. You must organise and carry on the work of education as you have never done before. And what you want done you will have to do yourselves.
There is only one thing that will cure the world of wars, of poverty, of unemployment, insecurity and parasitism, and that is Industrial Democracy - Socialism - when men and women shall give labour for labour, service for service, value for value. Then they who sow shall also reap, and the workers who make shall also enjoy. Then social planning and system shall take the place of the capitalist anarchy that has brought the foundations of the social structure tumbling in chaos about our ears today.
The capitalist still makes the rules of this game and you must never imagine for a moment that he is going to change them to benefit you in any way. THAT TASK IS UP TO YOU AND ME AND THE OTHER MEMBERS OF THE WORKING CLASS.
Adapted and abridged from this