Turning our attention to the species homo sapiens, we see a creature possessing various emotional tendencies, such as love, fear, joy, etc., which, if freed from the effect of economic repression, would enable a full and varied existence to be lived.
Now it should be noted that there is no biological distinction between working people and the capitalist class. The distinction between the worker and the capitalist is one of property ownership. The capitalists own the means by which life is sustained—i.e., the land, factories, workshops, etc.—while the workers possess only their ability to work.
Arising out of this class ownership of the means of life, the worker finds oneself condemned to spend most of his or her waking life either toiling as a wage-slave or looking for the chance to become one. This sordid existence robs the worker of any initiative as well as the fruits of one’s labour, strangles emotional life, and tends to reduce us all to the level of a beast of burden.
The cure for this condition lies in the abolition of the private ownership of the means of living. This in its turn will bring us freedom from the curse of wage slavery. Therefore, let socialism become the aim of a politically enlightened working class. Keep the goal of socialism ever before us; do not lose sight of it in squabbles over such things as a bonus system of payment, etc.
Notwithstanding the hopes of some worker-optimists and the fears of some capitalists, capitalism will not disappear of its own accord. It will change some of its features but it cannot disappear until such time as the working class of the world is ready to establish socialism, and that cannot be until much more has been done to propagate socialist ideas.
Nevertheless, there will be changes. It is a fairly safe assumption that there will be re-grouping and that in place of the present multiplicity of States the world will be effectively controlled by a smaller number of large Empires and Federations. There are, however, two things that we can see clearly enough, first the continuance of the main capitalist rivalries in international trade, and secondly the ideas which will guide the efforts at reform on the part of various interested parties.
Beyond urging every effort to safeguard democracy they have no practical proposals to offer; in which respect they are like all the other non-socialist planners of the New Order. It is a problem to which there is no solution short of Socialism here and in the world as a whole. Proponents of a New Order insist on the desirability of raising the standard of living of the world’s population. But before human welfare can be the aim and object of international policy that aim and that object have got to be adopted by those who control the government and that cannot be while capitalism is the established order of society. The aim of the capitalist, whether individually or through capitalist trading and industrial associations or through governments, is and must continue to be the production and sale of goods for profit. Governments may come under the control of men or parties which profess other aims, but so long as they have the task of administering capitalism it will be the profit motive, not the idealistic aim, that will and must determine their conduct and policy at home and in the international field.
There will be no essential change until all the means of production and distribution are brought under common ownership and democratic control with production solely for use and the complete elimination of rent, interest and profit.
The workers will decide. Changes are needed! For the present, at any rate, everybody seems to agree on that point. We ask the workers to consider carefully these questions: What kind of a change is it going to be? Is it to be only the reform of present-day society, capitalism? This is the kind of change the capitalist class and their supporters envisage. Or will the workers act in their own interest, and perform the revolutionary act of abolishing capitalism and establishing socialism?
We ask the workers these questions because the nature of the change society undergoes will depend upon their choice. This is a point too frequently forgotten in these days when the world has so many so-called “great men.” Yes, the choice rests with the working-class. If they want reforms, mere modifications of capitalism which will still leave them fundamentally in the same position as they occupy to-day, they can have them. On the other hand, should they decide to have done once and for all with capitalism, its private property, profits and privileges for the few and its wage-slavery and poverty for the vast majority, there is no one who can prevent them.
The lesson is plain, therefore; in highly developed capitalist countries the workers, the bulk of the population, can decide how society is going to be changed. Should the workers support plans for the reform of capitalism? Or should they take matters into their own hands, abolish the present system, and establish socialism?