Abundant evidence in various forms presses itself upon us in the media to prove our contention, that, as the capitalist system develops, the gulf between the working’ class and the capitalist class must ever become wider and deeper. At one end of the social scale we have opulent luxury, at the other sordid and sickening misery.
Perhaps you think that the Socialist Party is a group of selfish people who are envious of the wealth of others. You and I, and others like us, go to work. Some are employed in one way, some in another. Between us we produce and distribute the things we eat, the things we wear, the buildings we live in, and those we work in; the planes, ships and train that carry the things we make are made and worked by people like us, even the most luxurious, are made by people like us. If you and I and people like us were to die to-morrow, all production and distribution of goods would cease. We are those who go to work. But why do we go to work when there are others who do not go to work? We go to work to get wages to buy the things we need; our bosses do not go to work for wages because they have the means to get the things they need without having to wait for wages. From whom do we obtain the wages that are so necessary for our present existence? From capitalists. But where do they get the means to pay us our wages? The capitalists employ us, pay us wages, for producing all these necessary goods. With the wages we receive we buy back a portion of the goods we have produced. We buy back some of the goods we produce. The rest of the goods we produce is either taken by our employers for their personal use, or is used, like new machinery and new factories, to enlarge the capacity for future production, to carry on wars, and for other similar purposes. It is because we work, but do not consume all we produce, that oligarchs can live without working. They are able to take what we produce because they own all the means for producing and distributing wealth. The employers are in one special class and we are in another. They belong to the class of property-owners, we belong to the class of propertyless. They look at things in a different way from what we do. When we apply for work we endeavour to obtain as high a wage as we can; they endeavour to pay as low a wage as we will take. The lower the wages they pay us, the greater, as a rule, will be the wealth going to them. You will see that this arises from the nature of the system in which we live.
Subjugated and subjected people are slaves; those people who dominate slaves are their masters. Wage slaves are people who have been robbed of their means of living; therefore, they possess no property: neither do their masters feed, clothe nor house them. In order to live, these slaves must sell their labour power to their masters, the capitalists, who, in return give them a wage on the average only sufficient to buy the means of subsistence whilst working. Thus it will be seen, if the wage slaves cannot find work they will get no money; without money they cannot get the means of subsistence, therefore, they must slowly starve to death. Yet, the wage slaves can free themselves from slavery! This power can be obtained through the vote; chattel and feudal slaves were not allowed to vote, but the wage slaves are. The different sections of the capitalist class beg for the votes of the workers in order to get into power. It is a strange thing, that the working class have the means at hand to gain their freedom and yet they use those means to put their masters into Parliament. By such action the wage slaves of to-day tighten the bonds of their slavery. Of course, it is obvious, the working class would not return their masters to power if they understood their slave position. How then can the workers overcome their political ignorance? By studying socialism. Through studying the history of humanity socialists understand the cause of the unhappy lot of their class and know that the only remedy for the ills of their class is socialism.
You are sometimes told that we are poor because of unjust taxation or because we do not work hard enough. Do not accept such a view. We are poor because, as I mentioned above, we are robbed of the greater part of the goods we produce. We are robbed when we receive our wages because we are given back as wages only a fraction of the wealth we have produced. Our wages, as you must know so well, represent little more than will keep us and our families alive. We have nothing to spare which can be robbed from us afterwards. They who rob us are the people who own the means of wealth production and distribution. To-day with the assistance of nature you produce what is necessary for society’s existence, but this wealth is owned by your masters, as they own the means by which wealth is produced. They own these things first of all because they stole them from you, and secondly because you give them the power to retain this ownership by voting them into Parliament. Police, Army, Navy, Air Force, Courts of Justice, and so forth, are all controlled through Parliament, and they are all used to help your master to keep his hold of the means of wealth production.
What then, you may ask, is the remedy for such an evil state of affairs. In one word, socialism. To-morrow, if you wish, you can obtain control of the means of production, and arrange the affairs of society so that all those who are able shall take an equal part in producing wealth and all who live shall have an equal right to receive the best that society can give. This is socialism. if the majority of working men make up their minds that it shall be, then socialism will be here as soon as you have appointed delegates and sent them to Parliament with instructions to take the necessary steps to bring in socialism.
The purpose of the Socialist Party is not to arouse a sentimental sympathy, useless by itself, but to urge the non-socialists to study our position in order that he or she may join with us to help achieve our object, a system, in which the enjoyment of life will not be based upon the misery of others. They are not free who mock their chains even if those chains be the invisible ones of wage slavery.