At all times and in all places, the World Socialist Movement has waged war against every political, social and economic disability of men and woman and proclaimed the gospel of emancipation. Society has been divided into two warring classes. The capitalist owns industry but he has nothing to do with its operation. By virtue of such ownership he has the economic power to appropriate to himself the wealth it produces. This accounts for the fact that the capitalist becomes rich.
But how about the working class? In the first place they have to compete with each other for the privilege of toiling for the capitalist. No work, no food, and after a while, no credit, and all this in the shadow of the abundance these very workers have created. The capitalist has become a profit-taking parasite. Industry is now co-operative and therefore self-operative. The capitalists hire supervisors, managers and foremen to operate their plants and produce wealth. The capitalists are absolutely unnecessary; they have no part in the process of production — not the slightest. It is the worker’ duty to so organise economically and politically as to put an end to this system; to take possession of the machinery of production and operate it, not to create billionaires and multimillionaires, but to produce wealth in plenty for all people. It makes no difference what you do on the economic field to better your condition, so long as the means of production are privately owned, so long as they are operated for the private profit of the capitalist, the working class will be exploited, they will be in enforced idleness, they will be reduced to want, some of them turned into to vagabonds and criminals, and this condition will prevail in spite of anything that organised labour can do to the contrary. The most important thing is to recognise is the class struggle. Now, what is class-consciousness? It is simply a recognition of the fact on the part of the working people that their interest is identical with the interest of every other working person. Class-consciousness points out the necessity for working-class action, economic and political.
What is it that keeps the working class in subjection? What is it that is responsible for their exploitation and for all of the ills they suffer? Just one thing — it can be stated in a single word. It is ignorance. The working class have not yet learned how to unite and act together. There are relatively but few capitalists, but the capitalists and their retainers have contrived during all these years to keep the working class divided, and as long as the working class is divided it will be helpless. It is only when the working class learn — and they are learning daily and by very bitter experience — to unite and to act together, especially on election day, that there is any hope for emancipation. As individuals you are helpless, but united you represent an irresistible power.
Reformists declare they will give both labour and capital a fair square deal, and the Socialist Party say that is impossible. No-one can be for labour without being against capital. No-one can be for capital without being against labour. Here is the capitalist; here are the workers. Here is the capitalist who owns the mines; here are the miners who work in the mines. There is a difference between them over a division of the product. Each wants all that can be get . Here we have the class struggle. Now, is it possible to be for the capitalist without being against the worker. Are their interest not diametrically opposite? If you increase the share of the capitalist don't you decrease the share of the workers? Can you increase both the workers' and the capitalist's share at the same time? There is just so much produced, and in the present system it has to be divided between the capitalists and the workers, and both sides are fighting for all they can get, and this is the historic class struggle. We have now no revolutionary organisation of the workers along the lines of this class struggle and that is the demand of this time. The capitalists are combined against you. They are reducing wages. They have control of the courts. They are doing everything they can to destroy your power. You have got to follow their example. You have got to unify your forces. You have got to stand together shoulder to shoulder on the economic and political fields and then you will make substantial progress toward emancipation. No one will attempt to dispute the fact that our interests as workers are identical. If our interests are identical, then we ought to unite. If our interests are identical, it follows that we ought to belong to the same party as well as to the same economic organisation. What is politics? It is simply the reflex of economics. What is a party? It is the expression politically of certain material class interests.
What is a political party? It is the expression politically of certain material class interests. You belong to that party that you believe will promote your material welfare. Is not that a fact? Now, if you are in a party that opposes your interests it is because you don’t have intelligence enough to understand your interests. That is where the capitalists have the better of you. As a rule, they are shrewd. They understand their material interests and how to protect them. You find the capitalists as a rule belonging only to pro-capitalist parties. They don’t join a socialist party and they don't vote socialist. They know enough to know that socialism is opposed to their economic interests. There will be no change as long as you continue to support the prevailing capitalist system, based upon the private ownership with which working people work and without which they are doomed to slavery and starvation. It doesn't make any difference which pro-capitalist parties wins, you lose! Is there any doubt that we are in the midst of a class struggle? This whole system is based upon the private ownership and the wage slavery. You may, at times, temporarily better your condition within certain limitations, but you will still remain wage slaves, and why wage slaves? For just one reason and no other — you have got to work. To work, you have got to beg for work from the man who owns the factories and he will determine the conditions under which you shall work. If he owns your job he is your master. You are in no sense free. You are subject to his will. He decides whether you shall work or not. Therefore, he decides whether you shall live or die. And in that humiliating position any one who tries to persuade you that you are a free is guilty of insulting your intelligence. You will never be free, you will never stand erect in your own self-reliance until you can freely work without the consent of any master. The capitalist receives the lion’s share of what you produce for which he does nothing, while you get a small fraction to feed, clothe and shelter yourself, and reproduce yourself in the form of labour-power. That is all you get out of it and all you ever will get in the capitalist system. You live in capitalism, and you have nothing but your labour-power, and you don't know whether you are going to find a buyer or not. But even if you do find a master, if you have a job, can you boast of being independent? No-one can rightly claim to be an individual unless free. Can you be satisfied and happy being a wage-slave?