A new world can only come into being by making the means of life common property. This our masters will not do for such a move means their end as the ruling class. Nevertheless, our lords and masters are compelled by circumstances over which they have no control to liberate economic and social forces that move inexorably in the direction of common ownership.
WELCOME TO WAGE SLAVERY
After a few more years of wars the peoples of the earth may look at capitalism with the eyes of understanding. As soon as the source of exploitation is made plain to the working class in general, it will be eliminated. Our task is to explain and keep in tune with the forces making for socialism. The capitalist class are caught in the cleft of the class struggle. If they refuse to make the means of life common property and do not allow the establishment of a system of production solely for use, they will be ruthlessly thrust aside by the forces their own system has engendered. Society, in this respect resembling an organism, will struggle to maintain its existence. Society must eliminate capitalism or capitalism will eliminate society. Let us work unceasingly until the working class declare socialism without equivocation and do away with the cause of war, poverty, slavery and the class struggle. Capitalism has nothing within it for the working class.
Capitalism is based on the concentration in the hands of a tiny minority of the population of the ownership of the means of production. These function as capital for them in the sense of providing them with an unearned income. The source of this unearned income that accrues to capital is the labour of those who operate the means of production and actually produce wealth.
Ownership of capital, in other words, confers the right to appropriate a part of the new wealth that is being produced every day. Most of this new wealth—around 80 percent in fact—is used as means of consumption, by workers from their wages and salaries, by capitalists from their rent, interest and dividends, and by the state from the taxes, it levies. The rest, under the spur of competition between capitalist firms to maximise profits, is accumulated as means of production, as further capital to yield an unearned income for their owners. This accumulation of capital out of profits produced by those who operate the means of production is what capitalism is all about. Capitalism is an economic system under which means of production are accumulated in the form of profit-yielding capital.
In concrete terms what this means is that the stock both of physical means of production (factories, machinery, plant, materials, etc) and of its monetary form, capital, grows over time. This is by no means a steady process—it is halted and even reversed from time to time, as in wars (when wealth is physically destroyed) and in slumps (when the same thing happens and when the value of the rest falls)—but the long term trend is upward. This must mean that in the long run those who own the means of production—the rich—get to own more means of production, more capital, i. e. get richer.
The contention of the Socialist Party that the whole working class is sweated is amply proved by the evidence of even our opponents. Under capitalism the working class are poor. Some get a “fair” wage and are poor; some get a sweated wage and are poor ; others are unemployed and get no wage at all. They are all poor. What, after all, is a fair wage? The Socialist Party is the only Party which at its formation and ever since has declined to side-track the working class by advocating palliatives.
There are but two classes in society—the producers of wealth and the master class. If by a trade union or any other effort the working class succeed in securing a larger share of the product of their labour, it must necessarily be at the expense of the master class. Competition among the latter compels them to be always on the lookout for means whereby the cost of production may be reduced and profits increased. “Concessions” wrung from them by the organised working class stimulate them in their efforts. As a result, old machinery is scrapped or improved, and new technology introduced. Under the new conditions, fewer workers are required, and so many are discharged altogether or put on short time. Thus we see the limitations of working-class effort under capitalism, so long as that effort is only directed to palliating the evils of the system, to making it more bearable for the wage-workers.
The revolution will not be accomplished by words: it needs organisation and action, and step by step as the workers become convinced of the soundness of socialism they must be enrolled within the ranks of a militant organisation so that the mustering of forces and the training of men may go steadily forward for the capture of the political and industrial machinery of the world for the workers.