Charles Rappoport 1928
First Published: in French in 1928 as Précis du Communisme;
Transcribed: by Adam Buick.
The greatest thinker of Antiquity, Aristotle, wrote: – “Man is a political animal.” Social science of today, making use of the lessons of experience, develops and clarifies this truth stating, “Man is a social being.” It is in society that man learns to think, to express his thoughts in terms of known languages, and to do battle with the forces of nature. A completely isolated man is a man without reason, without power to act on the world around him.
Society through the heritage of centuries has placed in the hands of man, perfected tools, machinery and means of production: fire, the steam engine, electricity. These things have gradually transformed the conditions of life and lay the foundation of the building of a new society based on the solidarity and common interests of all its members.
The supporters of capitalism ignore or do not know this basic and primary fact. They do not know and recognise anything save the individual. This bourgeois outlook sacrifices the interest of all, the collective interest of society to the self-interest of the individual; the interest of the producing majority to that of the parasitic minority. The slogan of the bourgeoisie is “Leave us alone” which interpreted means, leave all the privileges, all the advantages to a favoured few who are well prepared for the fight condemning the rest of humanity to ignorance and want. These bourgeois-capitalist ideas (which take the privileged individual as more important) is an individualist outlook which tears at the root of the fundamental law of social life; the subordination of the interest of the individual to that of society, the principle of social solidarity. Socialism which is based on the recognition of the interests which are common to all citizens, is a conception which does not sacrifice the individual for the sake of society nor society for the sake of the individual. The objective of Socialism is a free individual in a free society, the well-being of each assured by the well-being of all, the normally developed man in a well-organised society.
Present-day bourgeois thought which looks only at the individual in society is unaware of or does not take into consideration the fact that all societies are composed of classes. Because man in isolation is powerless and easily overcome in the struggle for existence, he groups with other men who have the same interests and in this way forms a class opposed to the other classes who have opposite or antagonistic interests. Ancient society was made up of armed property owners and unarmed slaves who worked under the lash for their masters. There were, too, other intermediate classes. The slave was a possession of the slave owner and only lived and worked for his benefit. The master had full control of the life and family of the slave. The slightest sign of resistance to the powerful masters was cruelly punished. The owner was everything, the slave nothing.
In the Middle Ages, society was also founded on class domination. It was, composed of the nobility, the people and the country serfs. As a general rule the serf did not belong body and soul to the feudal lord. He could obtain the right to work for himself by means of a whole series of dues and taxes. But from a juridical, social and political point of view, the oppressed people were dependant on the ruling class, on the nobles, who judged them, governed them and treated them as a lower class.
The Strata intermediate between these two classes formed little by little a new middle class, the town bourgeoisie which made its living through commerce and industry. Side by side with the class of landowners there grew up a new class of money owners the Capitalist class.
The discovery of America, the development of trade through the extension of the market, the innumerable mechanical inventions which radically transformed industry, helped to develop and encouraged the creation of this new capitalist class which ended up by declaring war on the nobility – now having lost all social usefulness – and taking hold of political power. In its turn, it dominated and exploited the working class whose labour went to its enrichment.
In short, ancient society, the Middle Ages and modern society differ only in their forms of class domination. That is the reason why the history of mankind falls naturally into three main divisions: slavery, feudal society and capitalist society.
To each one of these periods corresponds a ruling class and an oppressed class. The ruling class lives on the unpaid or robbed labour of the exploited and oppressed class. The history of human society up to the present day has been the history of the robbery of the products of the labour of some by others, robbery approved by law.
Society in order to live must produce. In order to produce, use is made of the means of production which everyone knows; the land, the mines and machines. These means of production turn into means of domination when they are not at the disposal of society as a whole but are the private property of one class. In this manner, the great landowners through possession of the first instrument of labour – which is the land – were in a position to exploit first the slaves and later on the serfs, The landlord said: “The land belongs to me and you will be my slave and work for me on my land,” The peasant thus comes under the sway of the landowner.
At other times almost everywhere the land was held in common by those who cultivated it. Perpetual wars, direct. and systematic acts of violence, mass expulsions by armed nobles and their rulers turned the cultivators of the land into proletarians, that is to say, into men who had no other means of existence save the sale of their labour power. And they were obliged to sell this to those who had robbed them of the means of production. Common property was in this way, in England, transformed into large-scale property. Arable land was converted into pasture. Men were driven off and their place was taken by sheep whose wool was necessary for the development of the textile industry.
In this way there was progressively formed an army of workers. who became the veritable slaves of the factory-owners. Mechanical inventions destined to economise human labour and to procure for man the leisure necessary for the development of his faculties, his intellect and his culture, machinery which ought to be his “iron slave” is, under capitalist conditions his worst enemy, his competitor, a most powerful means of his exploitation and enslavement. The factory throws the artisan out into the street. And society becomes more and more divided into two classes; on one hand, the owners of the means of production, the owners of the factories and workshops and mines, on the other hand the propertyless the wage-earners, the working class, the proletarians.
Each class which owns the means of production seeks to obtain political power, control of the State and the armed forces in order to safeguard its exclusive property, and maintain its monopoly of ownership. Economic power brings political power. The landlord who exploits directly the ignorant peasant scattered throughout the countryside and unaccustomed to organisation, prefers the power of an absolute monarchy. The owners of machinery – living in a more developed society dependent on science and in which large masses of workers are concentrated in cities – have recourse for the purpose of maintaining its rule to the parliamentary monarchy or a republic. But be it parliamentary monarchy or a republic it is always political power at the service of private property. It is always armed force at the service of the privileged class. “He who possesses property possesses power.” The working class is a propertyless class. And is on this account without any real political power. But this situation cannot last indefinitely. The working class will come to realise that it is the plaything and victim of a system which exists only through its efforts and which heartlessly exploits it.
Capitalist society cannot exist without the working-class. It is the working-class which sets in motion its formidable technical and mechanical apparatus. The working-class, by seeing after the functioning of large-scale production, by work in huge factories and stores, brings into existence organised work on a collective basis. And this collective work ought to show more clearly the exploitation of the individual. Modern production is mass production. But without doubt, profit therefrom is individual; that is to say, the riches collectively produced are appropriated by individual capitalists. As soon as the proletariat becomes conscious of this fact, of this permanent scandal of capitalist society, it will begin to revolt against a state of things which ensures for the capitalist class the lion’s share and will demand its rightful due.
Nevertheless the modern proletariat does not wish to return to its former position. Workers in a mine, in a foundry, in a factory, on a railway cannot claim a part of the mine or the factory because these are huge production organisations which function like living organisms and cannot be divided into pieces without their ceasing to live and to produce.
This is the reason why the demand of the workers is for social property or, more exactly, common ownership of the means of production – the land, factories, railway, etc. To suit collective work, collective property. There should be collective ownership of what is collectively produced. The working class in possession of the means of production, whether, produced by its own efforts or through the bounty of nature, will cease to be the slave of the capitalist class. Machinery will cease to be a rival to the worker and will become a help, an aid, a friend to him. He will be assured of leisure for the development of all his faculties. From being a slave, a living instrument of production, he will become a self-conscious human being, master of himself. The working class will abolish forever the exploitation of man by man. It will establish social equality; instead of struggling against the bosses it will struggle against the forces of nature and against its own backwardness. It will snatch from nature its secrets and multiply its strength, the strength of society as a whole.
But the capitalist class will not surrender its power through goodwill towards the workers. In order to change the ownership of property it is necessary to take political power away from the bourgeoisie. This political power which is in the hands of the capitalist a means of self-defence will become in the hands of the workers a weapon for the emancipation of the working-class. The proletariat, on capturing political power, will merely follow the example of the class which preceded it. Each class has to have power in order to protect the form of ownership which it represents. When the proletariat has ensured the existence of social property, of property common to all, its political power is likewise the political power of the whole body of producers and will not be used in any violent manner except against the parasites and counter-revolutionaries.
The victory of Socialism is not only desirable, it is also possible practically and historically inevitable. The victory of Socialism is desirable because only Socialism can put an end to the exploitation of man by man and of women by men. Because only Socialism can put an end to the struggle for the re-division of the world, for national possessions, which takes place between the different continents, nations and races. Only Socialism can put an end to war and poverty and the innumerable injustices which are an everyday feature of our lives.
As it is, present day society, based on a mistaken and blind individualism, reaches the very highest points of absurdity. On the top, we have a small class of proprietors who have in their possession all the means of happiness but who are incapable of making use of it because they are condemned to live apart from the working people which hates them. They pass their lives fearful of their privileges, fighting all forward movements which threaten the reign of privileges. They are more and more obliged to live as it were in an armed fortress. Being condemned on account of their riches to a life of idleness which is repugnant to human nature, the majority of them enjoy neither physical nor moral health.
On the other hand we have the immense majority of the producing class, the workers and peasants condemned to routine work which undermines their health – work without any distraction and with the concomitant of numerous accidents and illness. Enforced idleness is the lot of the working-class on the onset of each periodic economic crisis. Tuberculosis, a product of poverty decimates the toilers. Alcoholism, through which they seek forgetfulness of their miserable lives, poisons them and helps to bring about their physical. and moral degeneration. The life of the worker is twice as short as that of the rich. On the one hand, badly spent and unhappy lives among the upper classes, and on the other, no possibility of leading a normal life among the oppressed toilers.
Here indeed is a true picture of society based on an internecine struggle between different classes, races, nations and individuals. Such a society is always in a state of disequilibrium like unto an inverted pyramid standing on its tip with base in the air. Our social system can rightly be described as a house upside down with its pillars where its roof should be. It is not the producing class, the creators of life, who rule but the parasites who dominate and oppress it. On taking power the producers will establish a true equilibrium and put everything in its proper place.
Modern science has created all the conditions of well-being and even of luxury. If applied to increase the things of life, our society would become a social heaven. Through the absurd system in which we live, we find ourselves in a veritable social hell. Mankind, instead of co-operating in the building of a common habitable house, finds itself occupied in an internecine strife in a war of each against all. The result is a useless waste of individual and social strength. Socialism by suppressing the cause of these rivalries and antagonism – the monopoly of the means of production – forms a new society based on the principles of human solidarity and reciprocity, and economic soundness. It will put an end to all waste and all unproductive work. It will abolish antagonism of interests and reduce authority to a minimum, making it function not in the interests of a class but in the interests of society as a whole. Socialism consists of a rationalisation of production, of all our activities and our very lives themselves. And that, not in the interests of some, but for the benefit of all.
Socialism is then from every point of view desirable. Socialism is possible now. It is possible because it corresponds to the interests of all; because it satisfies the goodwill the desire of well being, and the common interest of the producing class which forms the immense majority in all countries.
Socialism is possible because men are more and more brought into close co-operation in pooling their efforts. All sorts of associations and organisations, political, intellectual and moral, are accustoming man to regulate his work and his life.
Socialism is possible because the forces of production, thanks to machinery, have reached an unheard of pitch of development. They only need to be put in action for the benefit of everyone in order that all members of society may be assured of complete well-being. Socialism everyday becomes more possible through the social education of the working-class, organised as it is in political parties, trade unions, and co-operatives. Rational organisation of production becomes more urgent as a consciousness of solidarity develops among the producers.
But socialism is not only desirable and possible, it is also an historical necessity. It is the inevitable goal and culminating point of all historical and economical as well as intellectual political and moral evolution. In the economic sphere the trend in modern society is towards the concentration of production. Big enterprises bringing more profits crush out the small and middle class ones. The factory takes the place of the small workshop. The big merchant dominates trade. The big bank runs the small one out. Socialism is the logical end of this concentration for it replaces the monopoly concentration of the possessing minority by social concentration for the profit of all.
The immense army of organised producers can take over control of mass production; everything stands ready by their own very nature to be placed in the hands of the workers who produce them.
The same phenomenon of concentration, of organisation on collective basis, is to be observed in other spheres, social, political, intellectual, and moral. The city in which men live a more intense social life, enlivened by all sorts of organisations and collectivities, takes the place of the countryside. The State, the highest form of political concentration, daily and increasingly dominates social and individual life. The alarming increase of its budget which threatens to absorb all that is called the national income is the best proof of this. On taking possession of the state power the proletariat will use it in the general interest of the producers.
Public education, the development of the popular press, the popularisation of literary and scientific works, are other forms of intellectual and moral concentration which it is necessary to finalise and direct towards social objectives, viz, the intellectual and moral development of a society of producers working for the benefit of each and every one.
In short, all social evolution leads towards the organisation of collective efforts whose crowning point is Socialism.
Our opponents say that we are not practical men: that we are dreamers, Utopians, visionary men. Our opponents confront us with human nature. And they say – all of them savants, or ignoramuses, academicians or public figures, “You want to change society to ensure happiness to all and give everyone equality of rights. You forget, poor fe1low, human nature! Man is by nature selfish and bad. There is nothing he loves more than himself. You will never be able to change man. Your ideals are beautiful. Your intentions are good. But the bride is too beautiful for such an ugly thing as man.”
And to this the Socialist reply. “This same human nature argument was advanced against those who wished to abolish slavery and serfdom and the cruelty and exploitation of antiquity and the middle ages. In the same way this argument was brought forward in defence of the absolute monarchy and the political enslavement of the Third Estate.”
The greatest thinkers of antiquity, Aristotle and Plato, defended slavery with the “Human Nature” argument. They said: “It is human nature which makes the Greeks – a civilised people – enslave the conquered barbarians and all other peoples. It is on account of human nature that there exists inequality among men and the oppression of some by others.”
Very wel1. Slavery has been abolished. And human nature has not uttered a word of protest. Just the opposite. Anybody who today would advocate the establishment of slavery in its old form would be looked upon as an enemy of the human race. And he would be told that there is something in human nature which cannot tolerate the existence of slavery.
Nevertheless we must be just with the past. The situation of the slave in ancient times – above all when slaves were not so numerous – was better than that of an unemployed worker today. This was because the slaveholder looked upon the slaves as his personal property which it was necessary to look after. The slave was therefore always assured of means of subsistence. And at least if he was affectionate he was treated as a member of the family.
On the other hand, capitalist society condemns to poverty, enforced idleness, and starvation those whom it cannot employ for the purpose of enriching the capitalist class!
It is a big error to maintain that human nature does not change. Everything changes in Nature and in life. Everything is in a process of transformation. Movement is the universal law of everything that exists. That is the conclusion all science of our era comes: to the science of celestial bodies (astronomy), the natural and biological sciences, social and historical science, all. Everything evolves. Everything is constantly being modified. As the ancients said. “Everything changes. It is impossible to bathe twice in the same stream.” We never meet the same man twice because during the interval he has grown older, his constitution and his character changed; he is no longer the same. The human species also has evolved. The planets themselves, the sun, the moon, the stars have not always been what they are today. Our earth has undergone an innumerable number of geological revolutions.
Human history is a record of perpetual change – we will run over it.
Total slavery was replaced by semi-slavery the serfdom – the Ancient Regime. Serfdom had to give way to our wage-slavery, which is “the last form of slavery.” The wage system will have to give way to Socialism which will bring to an end the exploitation of man by man and slavery in all its forms.
If everything changes, is subject to transformation and modification, how is it possible to believe for a moment that the present system of property will always remain the same? That would be, indeed, contrary to nature. Look around you and compare what you see with what existed at other times. The earth is covered with railways. Floating palaces cruise around the oceans. Man has conquered the air and is as at home in it as he is on earth. He flies from one continent to another. Electricity gives light everywhere. Wireless telegraphy carries the news in a few minutes from one end of the world to the other. We can carry on conversations with men a thousand miles away. Everything in our lives has changed. And yet they want to maintain society in its old barbaric state of struggle and poverty.
It is quite natural that men who live under one regime do not believe in the possibility of another; some because they find themselves in a favoured position, others because they do not know or do not think. Before the fall of the Bastille everybody believed that the French monarchy would last forever. Before the 1917 Revolution in Russia no one believed that the Czarist regime would fall. Before the Bolshevik revolution in October no one believed that the working class would come so easily to power or would hold their own for more than a few weeks. In France no one believed that there could be such a thing as a German republic. The whole world over there was no one who thought that China would set itself in motion and throw the whole old regime overboard.
It is hardly a century since eminent statesmen were reasoning thus, “you can never have carriages without horses.” The railway, the automobile, the aeroplane, made a joke of these pessimistic forecasts. And we are obliged to come to the conclusion, in face of the overwhelming array of facts, that there is no reason whatsoever to despair of human progress. What appears to us impossible today is done tomorrow. Today’s dream is tomorrow’s reality.
Other objections to Socialism: We are accused of wanting to suppress liberty! But where is this liberty of which they boast? Is the worker free not to go to work at the factory for the profit of the capitalist? Is the employee free not to go to work at the specified time? Is the doctor free not to attend to the patients who give him his living? Is the capitalist himself free from not exploiting the workers if he wishes to make profit and “keep up to his position”? Is the capitalist press free to refrain from lying if it still wants to get advertisements? Is the government free to stop using troops against strikers, if it does not want to be thrown out by the capitalists who keep it in power? Are the troops free not to move against the strikers? Is the small merchant free to prevent his ruin at the hands of the big merchants? Is the peasant, borne down by taxes and the money lender, free to leave the land from which he draws his bread?
True liberty does not exist where property is not common property where man is the slave of man, where the capitalist state has control of our lives and our wealth. Liberty in our society is an empty word, a word without meaning, a lie.
Only Socialist society by putting the land, the sub-soil and machinery at the service of all who work the land and in the factories, will guarantee real liberty to all. Because then, men will be master of themselves, barracks will he replaced by factories, and soldiers by producers. Workers and peasants of the various countries will no longer have any necessity to destroy one another. The bourgeois state-machine will disappear together with the parasitic class whose privileges it safeguards. The producer member of the Socialist society, after having paid his tribute to nature and after having worked producing the necessities of life, will be free to spend his time at his leisure. All the natural wealth freed from the control of the property owners, all the inexhaustible riches of science and human art will be at his disposal. The only care of society will he how to increase the necessity and pleasures of life, to perfect the instruments of labour in order to create for the citizen a proper amount of ease and leisure; Freedom will then cease to be a slogan and will become a reality, an everyday fact the property of all.
It has also been said that if men do not have the spur of hunger and want and of the desire to make profit they will become lazy. To argue thus is to forget the necessity for clothing, feeding and sheltering oneself. He who does not work neither will he eat. It is to forget too, that idleness is not the characteristic of a man in his sane senses.
Laziness is a social malady, a legitimate child of our system, which is in itself a stimulant to laziness. It assures all riches, all the pleasures of life – in theory – to those who work the least possible, to the idle rich, to the social parasites. Laziness develops from the intolerable conditions of forced and excessive labour in unhealthy and infected factories. How can a man work with enthusiasm when he knows that his work will go to the enrichment of others? When the producers know that the products of their work will belong to them they will throw overboard the old repugnance which forced labour engenders in them. Work well regulated and apportioned will become attractive. It will become a joy and a pleasure, and this is because work is necessary for the physical and mental well-being of man. Modern science itself establishes the vital necessity for work.
In order to hinder the growth of Socialism the capitalist class tries to stir up the peasants against the workers. They tell the small peasant that we wish to take away his means of labour, his little plot of land. This is a lie. Socialism will leave the land with those who cultivate it. Only the huge parasitic land owners will be expropriated, because for these people the land is merely capital which realizes value through the labour of others. In France it will put an end to the scandal in which three-fifths of the land belongs to 69 families while 7 or 8 million small peasants own no more than 2/5th., that is to say, less than half of the lands of France. Socialism means the rule of Labour. And all products of labour are sacred to it.
The small cultivator who works hard on the land will easily realise the advantages of agricultural co-operation, the common purchasing of stock, the use in common of machinery. The socialist will place at their disposal all the most advanced means of production, will initiate them into the methods of modern large-scale cultivation by increasing the number of granaries and establishing models on Socialist lines.
No pressure will be brought to bear against the peasant who makes his living from his work. He will rather give aid to his brother in the city who is also on his part a son of the soil. Unity between the worker and the peasant will be the salvation of the world. The peasant has need of the products of the city. The workers have need of grain. The needs of the one therefore fit in with those of the others. While there is being established the new society on new bases – a society which will only know one productive people working at times in huge well-aired factories at other times in the fields with perfected instruments of labour – at one and the same time worker and peasant toiler by hand and by brain – while this is taking place the city will exchange its manufactured goods without greed or speculation with the countryside producing the means of subsistence.
It is the rich, the high and mighty, the parasites and their kind who stir up the peasants against their brothers in the cities. While the peasant fights the worker the common exploiter empties the pockets of both. Peace between the worker and peasant, between the producing arms of society is necessary in order that both may be freed from the common oppression of the rich and powerful.
Under the capitalist regime intellectuals and men of letters, engineers and technicians, form almost a class apart at the service of the moneyed men. They are the “gilded servants” of capital, the exploited and oppressed, dressed in top hat and evening dress. Science is given lip service but is in reality the slave of the rich in the everyday practice of life.
Socialism will free science. It will give it first place in the society of producers. This is only natural because Socialism stands for scientific production. Socialism is based solely on productive. work. Therefore, the greater the productivity of labour or in other words, the more scientifically it is organised the greater benefit for all. In capitalist society machinery is used only when it is of benefit to the capitalists to do so. On the other hand Socialist society will always be in need of it. The betterment of the position of the producer, rendering him happier and more independent – such is the only criterion of Socialist society.
Capitalist society has made of science an instrument of murder, a formidable weapon of destruction a factory for making weapons of war.
Machinery of destruction is invented with powers that exceed all imagination. Very soon it threatens to destroy all humanity. In other words capitalism is scientific destruction while Socialism as we have already said, is “scientific production.” In capitalist society science is a servant of death, in socialist society it will be used for the purpose in increasing life and health. Labour and Science are the only masters to the Socialist Society. Science makes man free and happy by reducing to a minimum his dependence on nature.
Art will enrich the lives of the workers, embellishing their leisure hours and stimulating them to useful and fruitful efforts. At the present moment art is the frivolous plaything of the idle, a toy which they buy and despise. Art will give a festive aspect to daily work, to human life. It carries man away from himself and fills the social atmosphere with joy and happiness. It will bind man to life by invisible bonds of joy and pleasure. The intellectual, the man of letters, the technicians, all united in the working-class family will get rid of that narrow professional caste outlook and will take their place as producers among producers. They will cease to be the exploited-exploiters of a system without dignity or beauty and will become the heart and brain of a full, well-built and harmonious social life. The genius will no more be threatened with ingratitude nor the original inventor with persecution by his rivals. The inventor will meet in a society anxious and eager for novelties the competition necessary for the development of his inventions. Socialist society means the triumph of science. art and inventive and organisational genius.
The world war was a result of the capitalist system with its struggle for the partition of the globe, for the world-market, for spheres of influence, for riches and power; with its rivalries between country and country, nation and nation, between continent and continent. Capitalism means internal and external war. Socialism means social and international peace. Socialism and peace are synonymous. Socialism recognises only one source of wealth and riches – Labour. And naturally, the producers detest destruction. They are the creators of life, the enemies of death and ruination. These are not mere mouthings. The first social revolution, the Russian Revolution, of its own accord gave autonomy and independence to all people who were willing to live in peace with it. Since it got rid of the counter-revolutionary intervention the Communist revolution has proclaimed peace to the world its sole thought is directed towards the organisation of peaceful construction. It preaches everywhere solidarity among the producers. It is profoundly internationalist and its slogan is “Workers of the world, Unite!”
In capitalist society the world is divided into states with opposed interests. The world is split up, balkanized, lined with frontiers and impassable barriers. Powder kegs and powder barrels strewn all over the world threaten to blow up capitalist civilisation. At each moment storms are brewing. Nowhere is there security. There is talk of peace while there is preparation for war. The need for disarmament is announced while the powers arm to the teeth.
The world was hardly recovered from world war when preparations were launched for a more terrible and atrocious one. England beat with the aid of France and the U.S.A., her ultimate economic rival on the continent, Germany. And already we see a new and even more powerful competitor for world domination appear on the horizon. The United States. There is distrust of Japan who wishes to dominate Asia to invade and subjugate China. The conflict is a mortal one. It will be a terrible clash between continents in which all nations whether they like it or not will be drawn anew. It will be a butchery without precedent organised on the basis of the last word in science. A war of aerial flotillas and weapons, in short a “total war” which means the wholesale destruction of men, women and children.
There is only one way to avoid this new world slaughter – a world revolution which will replace the struggle between nations by international co-operation; what is called national defence by social defence against nationalism. and war; national property by the internationalisation of the globe beginning with the world routes, the seas, the straits ports, etc. National property will be after a necessary series of transitions, definitely and absolutely replaced by international property. Private ownership of the means of production forments civil war. National property gives rise to international war. The suppression of these two forms of capitalist private property will for good and all ensure internal and external peace. By suppressing the cause – private and national ownership of property – Socialism suppresses the consequence – war!
Humanity must choose between the continuation of the capitalist system which leads to destruction and the organised revolution of international labour founded on the bases of solidarity and reciprocity through the socialisation and internationalisation of the forces of production.
Socialism win make of the earth one country single and indivisible. In each country taking into consideration its ethnic and linguistic peculiarities the independence of each race and each nation will be assured and each will by free co-operation work for the common progress and happiness.
Capitalism after the 1914-1918 war stood for an eternally armed peace and universal insecurity; for the triumph of nationalist barbarism, for protectionism which kills commerce and free trade; for increasing unemployment, for horribly empty lives, for the devaluation of monies, for the bankruptcy of states, for the threat of universal bankruptcy for an atmosphere imbued with hatred and imperialist feeling. Post-war capitalism means new gigantic bloodshed. Socialism stands for the end of the war and poverty.
Socialism existed as a practical system for many centuries among the majority of peoples. They believed that the land was the common property of the family or the tribe just like the sun or the air. Even up to the present day “primitive” Socialism exists among some people in some parts of the world (in parts of India for example).
Socialism has provided a livelihood for millions of human-beings through whole historical epochs. It has shown its vitality, its possibility because it has existed and because entire peoples lived under its system. But primitive Socialism differs from modern Socialism in this way; the former had as its foundations equality in poverty and want. Its means of production were undeveloped and primitive. It was more dependent on the forces of nature than on dominance over them.
Modern Socialism on the other hand presupposes a vast development of the forces of production, mechanical tools, large-scale production and a class-conscious proletariat organised in political parties trade unions and co-operatives. Co-operation between the Party, the trade unions and the co-ops are necessary in order that – with the aid of science and technique – the whole gigantic apparatus of production may be set in motion. Modern Socialism takes from capitalism its technical basis, its cadres, its administrative directors, its engineers and technicians and places them at the service of the working community. We cannot enter here into the details of Socialist organisation, which on its part will have to be adapted to the various and varied social and national conditions. The fruitful lessons of the Russian revolution helps us a great deal. Suffice it to say, large-scale capitalist production supplies us with data of all the best technical conditions for the new organisation of society. The machinery is all there set up. All that is needed is that we set it in motion for the benefit of all.
Production is collective. It is necessary that all benefit therefrom be collectively shared. The workers have at their disposal a thousand means of organising administration, control and division of products – Workers councils, factory committees, trade unions, co-operatives, etc., etc. There is no obstacle that cannot be overcome in a society that is based on Labour and not on profit.
The future alone can tell what will be the precise forms and special methods of organisation. In proportion as we approach the Socialist reality we will be able to foresee the general plan and the decisive direction.
As a doctrine Socialism has passed through two main phases the utopian and the scientific.
The greatest of philosophical idealists, the Greek Plato, founded around 25 centuries ago the first Socialist utopian system. Utopian Socialism does not recognise the class struggle.
It depends like the reformists of our times on the good will of the ruling classes. It appeals to Justice and reason. It gives up to a search for a benevolent despot, for a philosopher king to bring into being in the name of philosophy the ideal Commonwealth.
Two thousand years after Plato we meet Utopian Socialism in the old English Chancellor, Thomas More (1478-1535) and in the Italian Campanella, both of them martyrs to their social and political convictions and extreme independence of character.
At the beginning of the 19th century we see St. Simon, who was of aristocratic origin, develop brilliantly a new social philosophy which made peaceful labour the base of social and industrial reform.
St. Simon who spent a great deal of money in study and in developing his ideas was the founder of the Saint Simonian School. He had several notable disciples, Enfantin, Bazard and many others. St Simon was the forerunner of scientific Socialism for he tried to base his social reform on historical evolution, on the development of the productive forces, on facts and not on dreams. The future comes from the womb of the past and the present just like the child from the mother. Capitalism gives birth to Socialism.
Among other precursors of modern Socialism it is necessary to mention Robert Owen, the father of the co-operative movement in England. Own tried to show by facts and experience that man’s character is changeable and changes with the environment and social institutions. In order to change man it is necessary to change the conditions of his existence. This, of course, is pure truth.
The Frenchman Charles Fourier and his school made a brilliant criticism of our society based on the wastage and squandering of energy.
Fourier demanded the harmonious reorganisation of society on a co-operative basis and with varied and attractive work. He did not deny human passions but tried to utilize them for bringing about a fuller life. He sought after harmony and economy in human effort. Difficult and tiring work was replaced in Fourier’s system by pleasure-giving labour .
P. J. Proudhon launched a bitter criticism against property theft and the authoritarian state. He praised the political capacity of a proud, dignified and independent working-class.
Louis Blanc denounced capitalist anarchy and demanded a rational organisation of work. He was the first Socialist to take part in a bourgeois government and his betrayal led him so far as to fight for the men of Versailles against the Communards in 1871.
With the Communist Manifesto of Karl Marx and Frederick Engels a new stage in the history of Socialism is reached – the period of scientific Socialism. Scientific Socialism is class Socialism it has as its foundation the study of the productive forces the knowledge that it is the economic base which determines the policies and ideology of society.
It bases its practical work on recognition of the class struggle. The working-class is the centre of all action. The study of capitalist society shows us that the new productive forces of society have created large-scale machine production and the revolutionary force which will deal capitalism its deathblow.