Tom Mann 1905
First published: July 1905;
Publisher: Tocsin Office Printers and Publishers, 23 Patrick Street, Melbourne;
Source: State Library of Victoria, Reason in Revolt;
Transcribed: Steve Painter.
In writing a few introductory notes to this pamphlet of Mr Tom Mann’s, I do so with much interest and pleasure, not that I necessarily endorse every expression herein contained, but because I know it to be a valuable contribution to the all-absorbing subject of social economics. This is a subject that is now confronting every nation and people. It is, I believe, impossible to shirk it. It imperatively demands attention, and is likely to continue so to do until the pressing problems embraced within its scope are solved.
This pamphlet should be much more interesting to the non-socialist than to the socialist. The author is a man of quite exceptional experience as regards his life’s work, he has been brought into close contact with the social reformers of the various European countries, and has himself materially assisted in labour organisation in many lands.
The fact that Mr Mann has been the subject of considerable criticism by the Australian press and politicians will probably give zest to a perusal of his views calmly and deliberately expressed, but which, I believe, in all essentials, are the same as the addresses he has delivered throughout all the Australasian states.
As an Australian I am very glad that it has happened to us to have so lengthy a visit from the author, and it is good for us that he should have stated his case so fully in this pamphlet, so that readers may keep it by them for reference, with the knowledge that it is not a hashed account of a lecture, but the direct result of the author’s own hand, so that readers will know the real nature of the case.
I bespeak a wide circulation for the pamphlet amongst all sections. Those who have been told that socialists are essentially anti-religious will find this is not by any means the case when they have read this little work. Those who have wondered what continental socialism really is, and wherein it differs from the labour movement of Australia, will find this dealt with in an exhaustive manner, leaving no room for doubt as to the principles and policy endorsed by the organized workers of the principal countries of the world. Those who are anxious to oppose socialism should be able to do so the more effectively when they know what socialism is, as officially declared by the chief socialist organisations.
Even the farmers will read the pamphlet with interest and profit, and I think they will look in vain to find any madcap policy calculated to scare any sensible person. My recent visit to the east impressed upon me the necessity for a study of these social subjects in the most comprehensive way. Nothing but good can come of the acquisition of knowledge; it is not knowledge but ignorance that is harmful. I hope the Labour Party will do their utmost to circulate the pamphlet as part of their educational campaign, and I doubt not but that the results will be entirely satisfactory.
Socialism has occupied the attention of certain sections in Europe for fully a generation, and during the past twenty years those using the English tongue have gradually been forced by circumstances to recognise that socialism imperatively demands attention at the hands of all and sundry who can by any fair means be classed as social reformers, or even intelligent politicians.
At the present time, 1905, the politically and socially active citizens in every civilised state and nation find it increasingly necessary to have some knowledge of socialism and socialists.
In writing this brochure my object is to contribute a little towards a correct knowledge of an admittedly vast and important subject. Those who are disposed to try and understand the numerous questions involved in such a study should first try and realise that this science of sociology should be approached as impartially and as deliberately as the exact sciences say of astronomy or geology. The student should try and divest himself of preconceived ideas, which he has imbibed from his surroundings, and not as the result of study.
Knowledge will certainly prove helpful in the long run, and it is worthwhile taking trouble to understand correctly the arguments for and against the subject to be dealt with. Above all, it is desirable that the man who wishes to be correct should take the pains to understand what is to be said against the subject he may have a predilection for, and therefore if this falls into the hands of any who have not studied the subject and such should become favourably impressed by reading the same, I strongly advise them to study what the opposition has to say.
A sensible man is not anxious that any particular “ism” shall prevail, he is only anxious that the right conditions shall obtain.
How to judge of what is right will be dealt with later on. A searching investigation into fundamental basic principles is at all times to be encouraged. If socialism disappears in consequence of such investigation, it will be because it ought to disappear and make room for something that will bear the searchlight of scientific analysis.
It will give a stimulus to study if one reflects upon the astounding development of the study of sociology during recent years. Not only is it true that in every country are to be found educated persons systematically dealing with the subject but the science is rapidly taking front place in many educational establishments. The professors at the universities are amongst the most ardent disciples of this science of human life, involving as it does a knowledge of ethics, politics, and economics. Not one state or nation can be named which has not a definitely organised body for the furtherance of the objects of social democracy, this latter term being quite as freely used as socialism, but considered by many to be more specific and definite. It is the term used by the Germans, who found it necessary to distinguish between the state socialism of Bismarck and the democratic socialism of the people.
The social problem which it is the object of social reformers to solve is many sided, and may he expressed in a variety of ways. But there is no difficulty in grasping the main essentials. Briefly put, it may be said that to study the social problem is to study the causes of poverty and the effects of poverty, but if there is no desire to get rid of poverty with a view to establishing conditions of general well-being, there can be no recognition of a social problem. Immediately one reflects upon the subject, one is confronted with this remarkable fact, that the power of the people of today to produce wealth is many times greater than at any previous period in the known history of the world; at the same time, poverty is so prevalent and terribly acute, that every week that passes, many thousands of persons die because of insufficient nourishment.
Another notable fact is that those who suffer so acutely are not merely those who are careless, indifferent or idle, but equally those who are and have ever been most careful, sober and industrious.
Further, it is found that republican and monarchical Countries suffer alike, that fee trade and protectionist countries have exactly the same characteristics, that whether a Tory government or a liberal government has a comparatively long innings in any given country, the results are just the same to the vast majority, to probably ninety per cent of the population, and no real difference of condition obtains re the workers standard of life, though it may, and sometimes does, (especially in America) result in a reshuffling amongst civil servants, changing the particular persons that will fill certain official positions, but in no way changing for the better the conditions of the toiling masses.
The enquirer soon notices the tall talk indulged in by certain sections in practically every nation, as to the exceptionally good conditions that prevail in that nation; as a literal fact there is no state or nation existing under conditions that will secure the means of a bare livelihood to all its people, no matter how willing and able they may be to work if they get the opportunity.
The student will discover, that in countries with a relatively sparse population like Australia, it is held that what is needed is more people, in a relatively densely populated country like Britain, it is said the cure will be found in emigration, or by getting rid of the people. In France, where density of population is much lighter than that of Britain and much heavier than that hat of Australia, but where the proportion just about the same as in both countries named, they are told it is the competition of Italy that keeps wages low, yet France is a protectionist nation. In Germany and Belgium they are told it is the competition of England that necessitates such arduous toil for so little in return, and yet the difference in the standard of life, such as it is, is higher in England than the other countries named. In the United Kingdom again the workers are frequently told that they spend an unwarrantable amount on alcoholic liquors.
Possibly they would be gainers if they spent less in this direction, but they consume much less alcohol than the French, and several other nations who are not classed as excessive drinkers. (See Appendix I.)
Thus in the non-socialist ranks, there is the utmost confusion as to the causes producing poverty, and equally great confusion as to proposed remedies.
Consider then a few of these facts. We all know there is poverty in every country, and all well intentioned men are deeply sorry for this. It is known that food, clothes, shelter, and all other commodities are the direct product of labour, spent upon the raw material provided by nature. It is also known that there is an abundance of raw material to adequately supply the wants of the whole world without any concern, and it is further known that the power of men to produce the requirements of life from this raw material is very much greater than ever before, and yet in every country people die of starvation. It is also known that the raw material, ie the land and minerals, are constantly available. It is further known that the people require to be fed and clothed and otherwise provided for constantly, and it is still further known that land, minerals and machinery are lying idle, and hundreds of thousands of men are in enforced idleness, such incongruities would be unbelievable if we were not in daily contact with the facts. Is there a solution to these intricacies? Let no man conclude there is not till he understands what there is to be said. Let no man conclude he is here asked to discard all other proposals and give attention only to socialist proposals. On the contrary, let each do his best to refrain from endorsing socialism, but resolve that he will examine every proposal worthy of attention, and give to each what is due, but if he finds it necessary he will endorse and work for socialism or any other “ism” that satisfies his reason is equal to the requirements of the case. Not the backing up of an “ism” or “ology” but the abolition of poverty and securing good conditions for all without exception, should be our guiding principle.
It may he said it is very well to tell us to endorse those principles and policies that will effect a solution of the poverty problem, but how is one to decide when there are so many advisers? All that can be said in reply to this is, a man must trust his thinking faculties, trust no one’s proposals without investigation, and honestly endeavour to gauge the nature of the proposal advanced. It may be taken for granted that those who are not willing to know the best and strongest that can be brought against a system are lacking in training or honesty.
A socialist is one who, having investigated the causes of present day social discord, decides that these causes are found in the private ownership of the means of wealth production and who therefore endorses the necessity for co-operative ownership in order to eliminate private or sectional monopoly, and secure the advantages for the whole people.
It is not an uncommon thing to find persons expressing sympathy with socialism and socialists, when all that is intended by them is a kindly feeling towards those in poverty, but by no means do they endorse the co-operative ownership and control of the land, mines, minerals, machinery and agencies of transit, without which no one can be a socialist.
By co-operative ownership is meant ownership of the whole people, ie the raw material and machinery of production to become the property of the public, and industry to be regulated by experts in the common interest, and the reward for work done to be according to the amount performed; otherwise put, under national co-operation or socialism, or social democracy, or collectivism, (all of which mean the same), working hours would be regulated according to the amount of work to be done, and the number of people to do it, the workers engaged in the less pleasant kinds of work would probably work fewer hours than those in the more agreeable occupations.
Once again then, social democracy, or socialism, involves the transference from present day private ownership to national ownership of all those agencies of wealth production necessary for supply of life’s necessaries for the whole people. The root basis of this is found in the fact that private ownership of the means of wealth production fails most lamentably to provide all the people with the commodities of life. Let that fact never he forgotten, private enterprise utterly fails at the present time to conduct trading operations in such fashion as to admit of honest and earnest-minded men and women obtaining for themselves a sufficiency of the necessaries of life. and in addition there are children by the million who are never surrounded with healthful conditions. Let no man dare to begin quibbling about the particular methods of the transference, all morality, all true religion, unsophisticated humanity, cries aloud for such changes as may be necessary to afford the means of healthy vigorous life for all.
But whilst many may see the force of this, they may not see why it should be really necessary to change from private ownership to public ownership of the means of production. To make this clear, one must get a correct idea of the incentive to action on the part of the capitalist section of the community; and the first item of importance in this regard is to realise fully that the object aimed at by the capitalists who own the land and other raw materials, and by the capitalists who also own the machinery, and ships and railway appliances, and by the investing owners of capital, is purely to obtain profit, therefore the present system is properly termed a capitalistic competitive system aiming at making further profit by each capitalist section, but never aiming at securing the public welfare.
That is not saying that capitalists are badly disposed towards the community, they may be, as undoubtedly many of them are, perfectly honest and well disposed towards all according to capitalistic morality, ie according to what is considered moral behaviour under the present civilised regime. Nor could they be part of the present system and behave much other than as at present. But watch the effects. Capitalists own and control industrial establishments in every manufacturing country, and the means of obtaining trade is by competing in the world’s market against all other capitalists in the same trade also seeking a share in the market; to compete effectively, they must place the commodity on the market as cheaply as, or cheaper than, other competitors. In order to do this they must ever have regard to cheapening the cost of production, and the bed-rock policy pursued in purchasing raw material to be worked up into the finished commodity, and also in the purchase of labour force, is to purchase as cheaply as possible and sell as dearly as possible. Therefore they keep wages down to the lowest possible margin, there is not an exception to this rule; it does not follow that an employer will necessarily be ever trying to reduce the wages of the men, there are two conditions generally operating to make that difficult, the one is the organised power of the workers to resist encroachments of the kind, and the other is that generally speaking men who receive the best wages are really the cheapest producers, but what the capitalist ever aims at is paying as wages of the lowest proportion possible of the total product of the factory. In short, as Karl Marx long ago explained, the capitalist is always after the “surplus” ie that the largest possible amount of the total value produced in the establishment shall come to him as profits, and therefore that the least possible should be absorbed as wages, expenses of management and general upkeep of the establishment.
It necessarily follows that each group of capitalists is continually on the lookout to save wages, and therefore every new device in the way of what is termed labour saving, which is really wages saving machinery is made use of and the result is that there is a constantly diminishing proportion of the total produce of labour going in the form of wages to those who perform the total labour and a constantly increasing proportion of output going as profits to the capitalist. Not a trade can he named but confirms this contention. That is not the worst phase of the matter. It will be seen that with the ever increased power to produce commodities the market is stocked with increasing ease, and by men who have been engaged in producing serviceable commodities producing so very much more than they receive in wages and therefore more than they consume, the markets are glutted, and these same men are thrown into the ranks of the unemployed, not because they have failed to work effectively, but because they have produced so abundantly and consumed so little of it, they are therefore discharged and prevented from getting even a sufficiency upon which to live. This is the direct effect of private ownership of the means of production for the purpose of making profit for the capitalists, instead of working co-operatively in the common or public interest.
Let the anti-socialist think over the above statement and meet it if he can. We socialists declare that the whole world bears witness to the truth of the statement as to the effects of production for profit for capitalists, and that being so we declare the present system stands condemned.
It will be seen that the very same means whereby manufacturing and commercial success is achieved, are also the same means that carry degradation to the workers, and there is no possible escape from this so long as private enterprise dominates the industrial system by which all must live.
Thus the argument so frequently used by the opponents of socialism, that private ownership and control are the only means whereby a stimulus can be obtained, or an incentive to action provided, has no possible chance of operating excepting upon a trifling minority of the population. On the present basis the sooner the markets are glutted the sooner will the workers be unemployed. The more the workers contribute towards facilitating production the smaller will be the proportion of their total number in employment; where then does the stimulus come in to encourage the highest possible?
A more grossly unfair system than the present could not be devised.
It is commonly said by opponents that under socialism we should all become slaves of the state. It is well to ask what amount of freedom the worker enjoys today. A small percentage of wage receivers are doubtless in receipt of a relatively high wage; these are quite necessary to the capitalists to ensure the successful whipping up of their fellows, and are found in the most highly developed form in the United States of America, they number about eight per cent, of the wage receivers; quite ninety per cent are ever under the direct regimentation of the capitalists, or are enjoying the freedom of being out of work, including the freedom to walk about begging for work and failing to get it, and the further freedom of walking back home to enjoy the comforting sight of a starving wife and children. Yes indeed we are living under free conditions today, the freedom can be witnessed in most countries in the marches of the starving unemployed. In America there are one and a half millions of men unemployed, “ten millions of our citizens are in abject poverty and forty millions more of us are in fear of poverty” (Wilshires Magazine, May 1905, East 23rd St, New York).
In England, unemployed marches, demonstrations and conferences have at last resulted in a bill being introduced in the House of Commons by the government purporting to deal with the subject. The Daily News (London) just to hand, gives a graphic description of bootmakers on the march from Northamptonshire to London “led by a cripple on crutches, behind whom walks the band, with a half-dozen much worn and battered instruments,” the number of bona fide unemployed in the UK at the present time is estimated by Mr Keir Hardie, MP at seven hundred and fifty thousand, and this is supported by trade union statistics.
In Sydney a few days ago a procession of the unemployed was marching toward Parliament House when the police interfered and broke up the procession. In the Melbourne Herald of June 14, is the following statement.
There is, we regret to say, great distress amongst the families of workless men in this city, a sum of £10 was sent to us for distribution. It is sad to have to report that the claimants for participation are so numerous that in no case has it been thought desirable to give more than five shillings, and the greater part of the money is going in mere bread-and-butter doles of half-a-crown per family. The would-be breadwinners protest that it is work they want, not charity.”
I personally can vouch for the truth of these statements as I have attended many of the meetings of the unemployed, I know a number of t them personally, and accompanied a deputation of them to the Honourable John Murray, Minister of Lands. Such being the conditions, it would be a waste of time to further dwell upon the inadequacies of the present system to make even tolerable provision for all citizens, and those who take up the position of opponents to socialism lest we should all become “slaves of the state,” would do well to realise that economic enslavement is now the lot of a large portion of the workers of all countries.
Some opponents find satisfaction in declaring that socialism has been tried many times in various countries and has “always proved a failure.”
By this is generally meant that in various places at different times, small groups of persons, betimes considerable numbers being dissatisfied with the conditions under which they lived and worked, and having some desire to work on a co-operative or communist basis, have banded together and tried the experiment. None of these attempts have been of a genuine socialist character, although many of them have been socialist or communist in tendency. The scientific socialist accepts and advocates principles which he believes must inevitably prevail consequent upon the development of modern capitalism, which having outgrown its usefulness is rapidly preparing a the ground for socialism; but it has never been possible for socialism to prevail in any modern state, seeing that the state itself as an organised entity is essentially bourgeois or plutocratic. Every government that can be named has been brought into existence for the express purpose of maintaining the domination of the propertied class, and to keep under subjection the proletariat or propertyless class. So long as individuals belonging to the propertied and dominating section continue to exercise control and ownership of the means of production, and decide as hitherto they have ever decided the character of the law and the control of the judiciary, no country is ready for socialism. Socialism can only exist when the people collectively own the instruments and agencies of production and distribution untrammelled by sectional monopolistic power, now wielded by a selfish plutocracy.
It is not in the power of any group or society to lift itself out of the pernicious influence of sectional monopoly, whilst it is in the midst of a world where every governmental department, naval, military and civil alike, is manned exclusively in the interest of plutocracy. Why then should people attempt to form societies of the kind, it may be asked? Chiefly because good men and true get tired of waiting for the full evolutionary development of capitalism, and its natural supercession by socialism; and being able to see and compelled to feel the terrible faults of a plutocratic capitalism and yearning to get to a better state quickly, they seek to take short .cuts thereto and frequently get squashed in their precocious attempts.
This applies to those who try to lift themselves out of the maelstrom of capitalist influence when every department and institution controlling all that is best in the world is under the blasting influence and ownership of the capitalist class. When capitalist politicians or the capitalist press scoffingly urge the advisability of socialists commencing operations on a socialist basis in a capitalist state, it is about as much to the point as though the co-operative owners of a few tugboats wishful for freedom to roam the North Seas as they pleased were told by the British Admiralty they were at liberty to do so, with the knowledge that in the British Fleet the Admiralty could at any hour not only hem them in but sink them immediately they desired, by their monopolistic control of the only effective fighting forces.
Some seek to attach importance to the attempt made to establish what was termed “New Australia” in Paraguay on a communist basis. As is well known, the prime mover in this was William Lane, and a splendid fellow he was, exceptionally well-informed, very capable within his own limits, whole-souled .and honest-hearted, he tired terribly of the maritime strike of 1890, and the shearers’ great struggle in Queensland in the following year. Further, William Lane had as comrades some dozen men of much more than average ability and devotion, all of whom appear to have joined systematically in the discussion of the New Australia project, but scarcely one of whom shared in Lane’s sanguine belief as to the wisdom of the project; Lane being strong of will, appealed to whomsoever would to join the expedition, and of those who left Australia for South America, not five per cent were communists or socialists, some of them had no knowledge of the main principles or belief in any ideal other than “getting on”; the result was foreseen, and predicted by Lane’s best socialist friends who have been and are still battling away in the movement in Queensland.
Even so, much success was met with, and the promise was bright, allowing for the inevitable disadvantages all such projects must be subjected to, till owing to difference of opinion perfectly natural and to be expected, one portion decided to leave the “New Australia” settlement and to establish another, with little to work with, at Cosme; and still much success attended the efforts of the Cosmeites, until William Lane himself decided to abandon the attempt apparently disheartened at the lack of socialist knowledge and spirit manifested, and even then it continued, though with varying success, and William Lane’s brother Ernest has now returned to Queensland, pretty good evidence that there is not much to be expected from Cosme.
On the other hand, several attempts of a similar character in the United States have proved permanently successful and the religious body known as the Shakers, has for generations past been able to completely abolish poverty and to organise industry in an absolutely successful fashion for themselves.
As to the attempts at anything in the nature of co-operative or communist colonies or settlements under the auspices of capitalistic governments, nearly all such attempts have been made as part the of a panic-stricken policy when the pressure of the unemployed has been unusually severe; and not infrequently those in authority have deliberately aimed at discrediting any attempt at a socialist experiment. Thus in France in 1848, after Louis Blanc had repeatedly urged the establishment of national workshops and the organisation of the unemployed, when the crisis was reached the ministry in power declared they would act upon the suggestions of Louis Blanc and try to guard against further difficulties, and immediately when they gave authorization for the national workshops, they appointed as general director, Emile Thomas, a chemist who had been and still remained, a bitter opponent of Blanc’s principles and proposals. Blanc immediately protested and declared nothing hut failure would result and such was the case deliberately arranged for by the authorities. So with the South American settlements, when men with only the usual ideas of commercialism are placed under conditions calling for the exhibition of qualities they have never understood or at any rate never thoroughly appreciated, in the nature of things, failure must result.
Therefore it is that socialists generally discourage isolated socialist settlements, surrounded by capitalist influences and monopolies, and always subject to the machinations of the astute plutocracy. But this by no means condemns the principle of state organisation of the unemployed, on the contrary, now the that some amount of democratic influence is being exerted in the respective legislatures, a manifestation of its usefulness should be looked for in this direction.
Another of the fallacies that pervades the ordinary mind not versed in industrial and social matters is that what is wanted above all things is an addition to trade. The free trader and protectionist alike advocate their respective views on the plea that if their views are acted upon, an addition to the volume of trade will be the result and therefore all will be well.
Work for unemployed, high wages, short hours and general prosperity. And yet every country claiming to be civilised is continually adding to its volume of trade. As this phase of the subject appears difficult for many to grasp, it becomes necessary to deal with it at sufficient length. By way of enabling this to be understood I will take the case of the United Kingdom, where it is known that many suffer from unemployment, from low wages, from inadequate housing etc, and then come the proposals for increasing trade to get rid of these hardships, and yet the trade of that country has been constantly increasing for the past three generations. In fixing upon the United Kingdom for the purposes of illustration I do so because most Australians are more familiar with and interested in that country than in either of the others, and also because the Australian press, and politicians and many workmen habitually refer to the poverty that exists there and proceed to argue that something should be done to check the decline of British trade. It should then help in learning a useful lesson when it is known that there is no decline in the total volume of trade nor yet in any of the staple industries, but a very considerable increase. There has been in recent years a greater aggregate output and greater output per capita.
Thus a London magazine, The Social Democrat, of January, 1905: “So far as statistics of imports and exports are evidence of national well-being, ours is steadily on the increase. The value of goods imported during last month was £551,400,000 as compared with £52,300,000 in the corresponding month of the previous year, and £48,200,000 in December 1902. For the twelve months ending last December, the imports amounted to £551,400,000 as compared with £542,600,000 in the previous year, and £528,400,000 in 1902. The exports again show for December of last year £34,500,000 as against £30,400,000 in December of the previous year and £29,600,000 in December 1902. The total exports for the last twelve months amounted to £371,100,000 as compared with £360,400,000 with in the previous year and £349,200,000 in 1902.” These are the figures issued officially by the British Board of Trade.
Who has not discussed British engineering and shipbuilding during recent years, and who has not shared in the view that British trade was seriously declining and hence the unemployed?
Therefore it will be interesting to learn the facts. The Board of Trade figures show that the total exports of machinery and millwork were £21,082,502 for 1904 as compared with £20,058,206 for 1903, and £18,754,815 for 1902. Commenting on this Mr Geo. N. Barnes, general secretary of the Amalgamated Society of Engineers, says in his annual report:
These figures form a strange and strong commentary on the “lamentations which have been made about alleged loss of foreign trade, and they have also as strange and strong a bearing in connection with the question of the unemployed, the number of whom have been increasing concurrently with this increase of orders from abroad.
In shipbuilding “there was a decrease in the tonnage launched from the total 3,536,731 tons in the year 1903 to 2,422,941 last year. Of the total tonnage launched, 1,332,337 tons were from British yards, and 1,090,604 from yards other than British, the decreased output from British yards having been 10,171 tons, and other yards 103,619 tons, from which it appears that British builders more than held their own during the year.”
Those who have been commenting so strongly upon the serious inroads made into British trade will probably find it a little difficult to reconcile matters; it is worthwhile in this regard to remember that Britain’s total population is 42,000,600 out of a world’s population of 1,700,000,000 and yet Britain builds and engines many more vessels than the rest of the whole world besides.
Ah yes, say many, but it is in electrical engineering where Britain is losing ground. Is it? Judge by the following: At the last meeting of the British Association, Professor Walthier Lotz read a paper before the economic section. This was published in the Manchester Guardian in which “a statement of the position of 59 German engineering firms for the year 1904 is given, and it is found that not a single one of them made a profit, but on the contrary some of them show immense losses, amounting in some cases, to more than £50,000 and many of them had paid no dividend for two and three years.” For the British position the engineering supplement of The Times (London), supplies the necessary information which is reprinted in the April 1905 number of the Amalgamated Engineers Journal. Sir Chas McLaren, head of the Palmer Shipbuilding and Iron Company, John Brown and Company, and other industrial enterprises, says:
In machinery, engine building, and first-class railway material, competition has, done us little harm, and, as a rule, work has gone to other countries from British and Indian railways only when our own shops have been full; and he further says that high profits are in many cases made from year to year, salaries are paid to managers and officials far above anything which can be earned by way of fixed emoluments in any other profession.
“Re electrical engineering,” another Times Supplement writer says, “the total capital for the United Kingdom in this industry was £61,109,525 in 1896, and at the end of 1904, £266,926,270, an increase of over 400 per cent.”
The object aimed at in giving these figures, all of which are from absolutely reliable sources, is not to indulge in the nonsense of claiming superiority for the British, but to show the utter unsoundness of the arguments of those who would account for the degradation of a large portion of British workers by wrongfully stating it is “due to a falling off of trade.”
In order to complete the argument it will be well to give the results of the labour of the people of that same country as estimated not by socialists only, but by the recognised statisticians of the plutocracy. Thus, on the authority of Sir Robert Giffen, fifteen years ago the national annual production of wealth in the United Kingdom equalled £1,250,000,000, and nearly one half of this, or £$600,000,000, went to those who produced it all, brain and manual workers included, salaried persons, wage receivers and that portion classed as profits, which was really the wages of superintendence, leaving more than one half of the total, or £650,000,000, to go to the receivers of rent, interest, and profit, for which no service was rendered to the community, therefore the producers received less than one half of the value produced, and the capitalist plutocracy really exploited the actual producers of more than one pound out of every two pounds of value produced. At that time the population of the UK numbered 36 million, in 1904 the population had increased to 42 million and the wealth produced equalled £1,750,000,000 an increase of no less than £500,000,000 but only a very small portion of this extra amount found its way to the mental and manual workers who produced it all. Their share was £750,000,000 whilst the non-working exploiting plutocracy, received £1,000,000,000 for doing nothing. These are the nuts for the anti-socialists to crack. What is the good of talking about the poverty of the British or Irish people being due to bad trade in face of such facts as these? With such facts before us how puny is the talk of the fiscal adjusters when they declaim about the poverty of the old country.
To leave no loophole of escape for opponents, and to further buttress up the position, it will be helpful to give the actual wealth per head of the various countries of the world; not the value of the annual product, but the existing accumulated wealth. This is made an easy matter, as Mr W. McLean the government statist of Victoria has himself compiled the statistics, or given the authorities on which he bases his statements, and has issued the same in the Victorian Year Book, issued 1905 in an article entitled Accumulation.
|Private wealth of principal countries|
of the world per inhabitant
|New South Wales||£266|
Can it be plainer that the root cause of poverty in the UK is not lack of production but faulty distribution, and it is exactly the same in Australia. When this is rooted and grounded in one’s mind, no worker or well-wisher of the people will go frantic about a change in fiscal policy, hoping thereby to add a trifle to the total volume of trade as though that ever yet gave any security or well-being to the workers. A high production is of course desirable and will certainly be resorted to under socialism, but no matter by what percentage the volume of trade increases under a capitalist regime, poverty can never be extirpated thereby.
Opponents of socialism often declare that there are so many definitions of it that it is well-nigh impossible to know exactly what socialists are after. To do a little towards removing this ground of complaint I will give definitions of a sufficiently general and precise character that no readers of this pamphlet shall be able to say they cannot tell what socialism is. First, briefly what it is not. Socialism does not seek to destroy individuality, but to make it possible for each person to develop his or her faculties up to the highest possible pitch of perfection.
Socialism does not seek to destroy but to build up, to build fine cities, in which shall be the most magnificent edifices the mind of man can conceive, where every building whether for public or private use shall be architecturally beautiful.
Socialism does not aim at making any the slaves of governments, but to gradually and surely get rid of all governments other than the self-government of free and intelligent citizens.
Socialism does not aim at robbing the rich but at preventing the rich from continuing to rob the poor.
Socialism does not favour or tolerate promiscuity between the sexes, but sternly declares in favour of monogamy.
Socialism does not enjoin upon its adherents the acceptance of atheistic principles, but leaves all perfectly free to enjoy whatsoever religious belief commends itself to them.
In defining socialism it is necessary to guard against that which is socialistic in tendency, and socialism of a full-fledged character. Socialism is the recognition and adoption of the principle and practice of association as against isolation, of co-operation as against competition, of concerted action in the interests of all, instead of “each for himself and devil take the hindmost.” Socialism saddles upon each of us the responsibility of being our “brother’s keeper.” If a child, woman or man is starving, socialism says there is something wrong in our social system, and upon us all individually and collectively rests the responsibility of righting the wrong. If one street or a dozen streets contain one slum dwelling or a number of such, Socialism says to each of us jointly and severally, “crime exists somewhere or no slum would exist, see to it quickly, root it out, raze the slum to the ground and let air and sunshine operate. If men are overworked, and so prevented from fully sharing in the joys of life, socialism bids us to immediately remove the overwork and see to it that every man and every woman shall have a fair share of all that makes life worth living.
All this is true, but it is not true that socialism can be summed up as a mere tendency. There can be no real socialism where exploitation obtains, under socialism no person can live idly upon the labour of others by receiving unearned income in the forms of interest, profit or rent. Therefore socialism means the, complete supercession of the present capitalist system, of private ownership and control of land, machinery, and money, necessary for reproductive purposes.
Therefore those who do not believe in the necessity for and the justice of the nationalisation of the means of production should not call themselves socialists. It is not fair to the socialist movement, and sooner or later it will land the person who vaguely covers himself by an unwarrantable term in a serious difficulty.
Above all I would ask that no one shall consider it necessary to patronise socialists or socialism, whilst not believing in the principles. We socialists are well used to buffeting our way in the world, and much prefer to stand or fall by our bedrock principles. With us there is no whittling down or begging of any one to accept that we are assurance that we are not as black as we are painted. Word painting at our expense, or for our decoration, perturbs us very little, the fight has been fought now for many years and it will be carried on by us with increasing vigour; and to be tolerated is against our grain, believe and work with us, or fight us, that is our attitude.
To understand the socialist position one must have some root grasp of morals. For our purpose at the moment it will suffice to say that right conduct or morality means proper relations between t ourselves and others, ie behaviour of a helpful and useful character. Under no set of circumstances must one take an advantage of one’s fellows; fair play between each and all, universal honesty, and right conduct not for one day a week but for every day of every week, is essential. Therefore, to forcibly take from another that which is his, is a violation of right conduct, and equally so if by making use of circumstances that place another in our power we may politely consent to take advantage of him, it is also a violation of right conduct, the reason being that it deprives another man of his rightful opportunities to develop along equally good lines with the rest of his fellows. So, when one section of men exercises a monopoly over the agencies whereby other men must obtain the means of life, and the monopolists refuse access to these agencies by those who must get them or die, and the monopolists stipulate, or in any case exact, that the users shall pay to them one half of the value produced, this is a gross s violation of morals.
True morality forbids exploitation, the present individualist system of conducting industry necessitates exploitation, and therefore is immoral. The results of this immoral system are found in a minority of persons receiving large incomes without working, and many persons deprived of the opportunity of a livelihood.
We therefore declare that the present capitalist system is based upon the legalised robbery of the wealth producers by the land monopolists, machinery monopolists and financial monopolists, and the undoubted object of socialism is to get rid of these monopolists as speedily as possible.
All socialists of every country agree with the statement made above. There are differences of opinion as to the particular kind of action, political and economic, that shall receive immediate attention, and there are some who would not use parliamentary action at all for the realisation of the object, but none would disagree with that object as stated.
Exactly when we may expect to see this object realised, and what particular month or year we shall celebrate the realisation of a socialist state it would be rather premature to speculate upon, and some who claim to be socialists declare:
that the transition to socialism will be so gradual as to be imperceptible, and that there will never come a day when we shall be able to say, now we have a socialist state. To such cautious souls I reply that although there is much truth in their contention that the process will be gradual, we shall be able to say that we have a socialist state on the day on which no man or group of men holds, over the means of production, property rights by which the labour of the producers can be subjected to exploitation. (Hubert Bland in Fabian Essays, 1889)
But how if socialist aims are not in accord with true politico-economic development? Why, then, those aims will never be realised. None knows and admits that so clearly as socialists themselves. In the early days of socialist advocacy the orthodox political economists pretended to flout as unscientific the contentions of the socialists; they declared that nature had stipulated we must forever fight each other on the basis of:
“the struggle for existence, the remorseless extirpation of the weak, the survival of the fittest, in short, natural selection at work. Socialism seemed too good to be true: it was passed by as merely the old optimism foolishly running its head against the stone wall of modern science. But socialism now challenges individualism, scepticism, pessimism, worship of nature personified as a devil, on their own ground of science. The science of the production and distribution of wealth is political economy. Socialism appeals to that science, and turning on individualism its own guns, routs it in incurable disaster. Henceforth the bitter cynic who still finds the world an eternal and unimprovable doghole, with the placid person of means who repeats the familiar misquotation, “the poor ye shall have always with you,” lose their usurped place among the cultured, and pass over to the ranks of the ignorant, the e shallow and the superstitious. (George Bernard Shaw, Fabian Essays)
Students of political economy are encouraged to keep to their studies, the only danger lies in a lack of study. John Stuart Mill is often quoted by the individualists as a bulwark of strength, they conveniently forget that Mill became a convert to socialism and in his autobiography declares:
The social problem of the future we considered to be how to unite the greatest individual liberty of action with a common ownership in the raw material of the globe, and an equal participation for all in the benefits of combined labour.
There the whole socialist position is fully conceded and avowed, and the individualists’ champion takes his place on the side of the collectivists.
If it is asked: Do socialists intend to deprive the present monopolists of their monopolies without compensation? The reply is that that entirely depends upon the monopolists themselves. If they are wise and recognise the forces rapidly gathering strength and reasonably facilitate the necessary changes on peaceful lines, the community will without doubt allow and accord generous compensation, but if on the other hand they behave rebelliously and refuse to come to reasonable terms, the community will stand none of their fooling and they will be placed under restraint until they come to their senses and recognise the wisdom of participating in the changed order.
It suits the present purpose of the rich and their backer s to express terror at the prospect of being despoiled of their property; the object aimed at by them is to divert attention from the actual robbery systematically conducted by them.
This robbing the poor because he is poor is especially the mercantile form of theft; consisting in taking advantage of a man’s necessities in order to obtain his labour or property at a reduced price. The ordinary highwayman’s opposite form of robbing – of the rich because he is rich – does not at appear to occur so often to the old merchant’s mind; probably because, being less profitable and more dangerous than the being a robber of the poor, it is rarely practised by persons of. discretion. (John Ruskin, Unto this Last).
Again in the same volume Ruskin says:
So the art of becoming rich in the common sense is not absolutely nor finally the art of accumulating much money for ourselves, but also of contriving that our neighbours shall have less. In accurate terms, it is the art of establishing the maximum inequality in our own favour. (Unto this Last, The Views of Wealth)
And still again, says the grand old teacher, John Ruskin in same volume:
So far am I from invalidating the security of property, that the whole gist of my contention will be found to aim at an extension in its range, and whereas it has long been known and declared that the poor have no right to the property of the rich, I wish it also to be known and declared that the rich have no right to the property of the poor.
The same lesson is emphasised by Thomas Carlyle when he urges the workers to always remember the injunction, thou shalt not steal, but never to forget its corollary, “Thou shalt not be stolen from.”
Socialism stands for the abolition of robbery and the abolition of poverty. The opponents of socialism seek to defend the effete individualism now rapidly tottering to its fall, it has served its purpose and nature herself is rapidly clearing it out of the road.
Could evidence be plainer of the strong trend of modern development from private ownership of productive agencies, than is to be found in the remarkable growth of municipal enterprise to be seen in every country in Europe and America; and beginning to show itself in Australia? The means. of transit, railways, trams, busses, cabs, ferry boats; were in the hands of private monopolists, during the last fifteen years the bulk of these have become the common property of the people, with enormous advantage to the entire body of citizens. So, with regard to water, gas, and electric light and power supply, these were privately owned and controlled, but private ownership proved a ghastly failure in comparison to collective ownership by the people as a whole, managed through and by the democratically elected public authorities.
All the principalities of the world either already have or are now engaged in establishing industries that were formerly entrusted to private enterprise. Public ownership and public administration have proved to be immeasurably superior to private ownership on private profit-making lines. The capitalists of the world know this, and fear the effects to themselves as privileged monopolists, when the government machinery of the states is used to transfer the larger industries under the ownership and control of the common people. In municipalisation is to be seen the actual application of the socialist principle, although it is wholly impossible for more than a little of the advantages to come to the people as yet, whilst all the financial institutions are owned and controlled by private monopolists, as it necessitates that the people shall borrow back at a high rate of interest a portion of the capital they have themselves created in order to apply the principle of public ownership. Further, the reactionary politicians in every parliament, variously named Tories, Liberals, Republicans, Democrats and Fiscal Reformers, have done their utmost to check municipal enterprise, but the natural evolutionary forces have swept them aside and the achievements of the people’s duly appointed experts have accomplished results wholly impossible to private profit hunters.
Take the writings on municipalisation of Dr Shaw of America, take the achievements of the French, the Germans, the British, through and by municipal ownership, and the advantages are so tangible, so real and thorough, that great as the drawback is of private monopoly in finance, not one state or nation thinks of going back to private enterprise, but in every case without a single exception the order is to extend public ownership, and get rid of the incompetence of private monopoly. Already we have passed the stage of experiment, the principle is definitely established, and those who are vainly endavouring to checkmate the growth of socialism, would save themselves from humiliating ridicule if they dropped their futile attempts at bogey raising. Whilst they are declaring that all attempts at socialism have failed, all civilised countries which have sampled collective ownership and control for the public good, and contrasted the results with private ownership and control for private profit-making, are in ever increasing numbers demanding further extensions thereof.
Much public attention has been occupied by the critics of the Australian Labor Parties, more particularly because New South Wales, Victoria, and Queensland, have definitely declared in favour of the nationalisation of the means of production, distribution and exchange as the ultimate object of the respective parties. This one fact warrants us in declaring that Australia is perfectly safe for socialism. During the past two years particularly, the capitalist press has been exceptionally bitter in each of the states named, and every kind of capitalist organisation has been resorted to, to vilify the socialist movement and its advocates. The plutocrats have now the reply of the workers and know how successful their efforts to thwart socialist propaganda have been.
At the elections in South Australia a month ago, the fight was declared by the capitalist faction to be socialism or no socialism, the reply was given by the electors, who instead of returning only six straight-out pledged Labor candidates-as in the previous parliament, returned no less than fifteen out of a Legislative Assembly of 42.
The comrades throughout the whole of Australasia extend their fraternal greetings and hearty congratulations to the comrades of SA and particularly to those who fought so excellent a fight, not less to those that were not returned, than to those who were, and specially do we extend greetings and good wishes to the parliamentary Labor leader, Mr Tom Price, whose duties will soon be of a heavy character. To him and to his parliamentary colleagues, all good wishes for successful battlings in and out of parliament. The South Australian Labor successes are most encouraging and augur well what we may hope for and realise in the immediate future.
In Queensland, exactly one half of the Legislative Assembly has been returned on the straight Labor ticket, ie 36 in an assembly of 72. Mr Geo. Kerr, MLA for Barcoo is the parliamentary leader of the Labor Party, and all admit him to be an absolutely honest and earnest man; but Mr Kerr belongs to the canny old Northumberland stock, so many of whom are pronounced individualists in politics. Consequently, Mr Kerr as president of the Labor in Politics convention held in Queensland two months ago, not only did not favour the inclusion of socialism as the declared objective of the party, but felt it his duty to oppose it. Mr Kerr was within his right in so doing, as were also his four state parliamentary colleagues who voted with Mr Kerr in the minority of ten, viz : Messrs Burrows, Jackson, McDonnell and Turner. The voting on the socialist objective was, ayes 28, noes 10, a pretty clear indication of the direction the rank and file are taking.
It was very interesting to me to listen to an able and eloquent speech from Mr Geo Kerr, MLA, on the desirability of the Federal Labor Party accepting the same objective as agreed upon in Queensland, delivered in Fitzgerald’s Circus Buildings, Melbourne, on July 9, on the occasion of a reception to the delegates to the Inter-State Conference, of whom Mr Kerr was one.
It was encouraging to find such a clear pronouncement given, as since the coalition government a general flatness had characterised the Queensland Labor Party in and out of the house. Although having half the membership of the Lower Chamber returned on the straight-out ticket, the Labor Party has been content with only two of their number occupying cabinet positions, Messrs Kidston as treasurer and Peter Airey as home secretary. The present government is known as the Morgan-Labor coalition government. Differences of opinion exist as to whether it was wise for the Labor Party to enter into such an alliance or coalition, but it was acquiesced in as the speediest way of getting the state franchise broadened on to the basis of adult suffrage, instead of the old narrow multiple vote system that formerly obtained. This Franchise Act will become operative at the next state election and the Labor socialist successes will be commensurate therewith.
That there is urgent need for effective work on the part of the Labor Party everyone will admit who knows the industrial and social conditions that obtain. In the sugar growing trade 95 per cent of the white population work eleven hour shifts. All the sugar mills and refineries run 24 hours with only two shifts of men, and the wage averages about 25 shillings a week and “tucker.” This work lasts for about six months in each year, when all but the mechanics are discharged to “hump the bluey” for the next six months, averaging not more than one week’s work a month for the period. At the meatworks there is nothing in the nature of an eight-hour day, nine, ten or more prevailing. The butchers of Brisbane work seventy-two hours, a week as against forty-eight for slaughtermen and fifty for shopmen in Victoria, where organisation has received more attention. The banana trade, a very extensive and profitable business, is exclusively in the hands of the Chinamen, not only for growing, but for dealing and marketing also. There is, indeed, plenty of work to engage the attention of the Political Labor Party, but if it is to be accomplished, industrial organisation must receive attention also. The seagoing engineers are about the only ones effectively organised as far as my experience goes. Certainly the engineers ashore are not; as a member of the Amalgamated Society of Engineers, I carefully enquired how matters were, and learned as regards the Government Railway Shops at Ipswich, that employ640 persons all told, 160 of whom are eligible for membership of the ASE, only eleven were members of that body, nor do they belong to any other industrial organization. I was not surprised, therefore, to learn that the wages of these skilled mechanics are nine shillings and three halfpence per shift. The miners of Gympie, Charters Towers, Mt Morgan, Mt Perry and Chillagoe all stand in need of organisation. In every other state and nation, wherever political action on advanced lines is in the ascendant, industrial organisation is also on the increase.
It was my privilege to meet many excellent fellows at nearly every town I visited between Brisbane and Cairns, and the better they were the more they admitted the urgent need of organisation; so much so that I feel safe in predicting there will soon be a considerable change for the better in Queensland, and trade organisation and political action will travel together. In New South Wales, Labor men have been particularly active during the past four years in the matter of industrial organisation. Five years ago there were not more than ten thousand trade unionists in the whole state, now there are 70,000, this is the result of the state Arbitration and Conciliation Act, the workers have organised so as to register under and receive the benefits of the act, which in the vast majority of instances have been substantial in the matter of reduced working hours and increased rates of pay. The workers’ representative has at all times proved faithfully alert and argumentatively ready, and after the three years expired, when reappointment was necessary, the organised workers re-elected Mr Samuel Smith, with an almost unanimous vote.
Mr McGowan, the parliamentary leader of the Labor Party, is at present actively engaged in combating the plutocrats in power, and at the next election the Labor Party stands a fair chance of a majority.
The West Australian Labor Party came into power just a year ago when, out of a total of 50 members composing the Legislative Assembly, 22 were pledged Labor men, being the strongest party in the house, the parliamentary leader of the Labor Party, Mr Daglish, was sent for and he forthwith formed a Labor ministry, himself becoming premier. Whatever may be said as to the socialistic value of what has taken place, beyond question it must be admitted that the last election in WA, which returned these Labor men represented the class struggle as it was understood, and both capitalist factions, ex-premier James and his party particularly, did their utmost to maintain the plutocratic dominancy. If it be said that not very much has been achieved by the Labor ministry, it can at any rate be said that whilst for the first time in the history of parliaments, an avowed Labor government has occupied office for a year, the heavens have not fallen nor has the sea dried up. Changes have recently taken place in the WA ministry that indicate unrest, but come what will, there is the fact which nothing can ever wipe out. The defeated ex-premier who represented the bourgeoisie is now in London as Agent General, appointed by the Labor ministry that defeated him and his party at the polls and in parliament. A few more such strides and what will become of the poor old plutocracy? Really, the outlook for the monopolists is not a promising one, unless indeed their spirit of citizenship enables them to rise higher than their mere sectional interests.
At the Easter conference of the Labor Party of Victoria, it was decided to definitely declare in favour of socialism. All who join the Labor Party will now know exactly what the ultimate object aimed at is, and it is much better that it should be so than that the program should be indefinite and liable to several interpretations. The growth of the Labor Party in the state during the past two years is unprecedented. At that time there were but fourteen Labor men in a Legislative Assembly of ninety-five. In the present house there are eighteen members returned on the straight-out Labor ticket in a house of sixty-eight.
The parliamentary leader of the Labor Party, Mr G.M. Prendergast, has the confidence and hearty support not only of the Labor members but of the Labor Party throughout the whole state. Many of the branches of the Political Labor Council are systematically engaged in educational and propagandist work. Nowhere in Australia is there more genuine effort put forth to spread sound economic knowledge, and to organise in a businesslike fashion. The return of straight-out Labor men for Ballarat, Bendigo, Grenville, Geelong and Maryborough is a good indication of what to hope for next federal election. At present, Victoria does not return anything like a reasonable proportion of straight-out members to the federal parliament; New South Wales returns seven representatives, Messrs. J.C. Watson, Watkins, Brown, Spence, Webster, Thomas and Hughes; Queensland returns seven representatives, Messrs Bamford, Page, MacDonald, Culpin, Thompson, Fisher and Wilkinson; West Australia four Labor representatives, Messrs Fowler, Mahon, Carpenter, and Fraser; South Australia three representatives, Messrs Batchelor, Poynton and Hutcheson; Victoria three, Messrs Frank Tudor, Ronald and Dr Maloney; Tasmania one, King O'Malley. To the Senate, the Queenslanders have returned five out of the six, Messrs Higgs, Dawson, Stewart, Hurley and Givens; West Australia four, Messrs Pierce, DeLargie, Croft and Henderson; South Australia, Messrs McGregor, Guthrie and Storey; Tasmania one, Senator O'Keefe; and Victoria one, Senator Ed Findley.
Thus there is room for considerable improvement in Victoria yet, and every branch of the Political Labor Council should be preparing for the coming struggle, not merely holding meetings but giving systematic attention to their respective electorates, finding out weaknesses and remedying same. That the fight will be hot is certain, so much the better, that there will be electioneering ability on our opponents’ side is also a certainty, but all this can be overcome by that whole-souled devotion to a cause which those who belong to the workers’ party can show.
Tasmania has made a fair start with Labor men in the state house; the West Coast did exceptionally well in returning comrades G.N. Burns, Long, and Lammerton, and the workers are gaining ground in the small state as well as elsewhere.
It should be a valuable lesson to those who favour anything less than the clear declaration of independence from all orthodox parties, no matter how kindly considerate they may be for a time, to find that the industrially organised workers of New Zealand are organising on purely independent political lines. Those who, as many Labor men have, held the view that New Zealand is in a satisfactory condition from a Labor standpoint, must indeed be content with very little if they know the facts. There is, and always has been, a dominant plutocracy in New Zealand as well as elsewhere, but a few of them in the New Zealand parliament were shrewd enough to get a little in advance of the ordinary plutocrats and to pose as advanced democrats; from the socialist standpoint the conditions in New Zealand are far from satisfactory. When did any representative group in the New Zealand parliament or out of it, ever declare in favour of a policy that would put a stop to private rent receiving, interest taking, and profit making? Never. When did the New Zealanders declare in favour of putting a stop to exploitation? Never, except the socialists who have been trying to organise entirely apart from any of the orthodox politicians. The Arbitration Act has worked well, and is working well. The Factories Act is good for those covered by it. The Land Act is a little in advance of other states, but from the standpoint of enabling the people to become the complete controllers of their own industrial destiny, that certainly is not contemplated by any legislation yet passed or attempted. So it is satisfactory to learn that special efforts are now being put forth to organise a straight-out political Labour Party aiming at socialism. They are only in their infancy yet, and have yet to win their spurs, but it will come, and ere long we may hope to find the New Zealanders co-operating with those of the Commonwealth and definitely taking concerted organised action with their fellow workers of other countries.
This brings me to deal briefly with the international congresses of the workers, generally held triennially, with which it is not only desirable but urgently necessary that Australia should be properly related. Every student of sociology who has obtained a correct idea of the historical development of humanity, through slavery, serfdom, and wagedom or capitalism, and who understands how universal capitalism is today, knows also that however much patriotism is held up as a virtue by plutocratic politicians and a capitalist press, that capitalism is absolutely international and recognises no frontiers or boundaries. The financial monopolists are ever seeking additional opportunities for investment, and they have no scruple whatever as to whether the people of any given country are white, brown, yellow or black, providing only they see a chance to get interest; they mind not at all as to what the relationship of the various nations may be; they never allow such considerations to interfere with business, that is, their own private interests. The capitalists of each country are in actual and active sympathy with each other, and no racial antagonisms prevent concerted action when necessary.
It requires but little education to show how urgently necessary it is that the workers should be equally cosmopolitan. Europeans, Americans and Australasians are all covered by the same economic forces, are all subject to the same guiding tyranny of the plutocracy; and therefore their interests are absolutely identical. The recognition of this fact has resulted in the organised workers of the world who aim at the realisation of socialism by constitutional action, holding international congresses, as a rule triennially; though sometimes they are four years apart. The last of these congresses was held in September of last year in Amsterdam, Holland, and was attended by 482 delegates from twenty-one nations. The largest contingent was the British, consisting of 101, the French coming next with 8o and the Germans next with 70 delegates. Such numbers serve to indicate the importance attached to these congresses by the respective nations. Australia had one representative, Comrade Thompson, of WA; but no proper instructions were given him although he had credentials, as the Labor Parties of Australia had not themselves given attention to the matter.
Those individuals that have given the subject attention well know that subjects of the greatest moment to the respective parties of the various countries are discussed at these congresses as they can be under no other set of circumstances.
The next International Congress is fixed to be held in Stuttgart, Germany, in 1907. It is of the greatest importance that the Australian Labor Party or parties should be adequately represented at that congress by delegates properly instructed by those whom they are to represent.
The first step to be taken in connection with this matter is the preparation of a comprehensive report of the social, political and economic conditions in Australia, which after preparation and endorsement should be printed in suitable form for presentation to the congress delegates. It is desirable that all such reports should be prepared and issued and supplied to the secretary of the International Bureau several months before the congress is held, that the same may be placed in the proper hands early enough. There is therefore ample time to take the matter in hand and deal with the same effectively. Let us hope that the responsible persons will take due note of this, and not allow time to slip by till it is too late.
Religion and marriage. In view of the criticisms passed upon socialism recently, it is necessary to remind all, that socialists base their attitude upon the scientific interpretation of history, and this applies to all departments of knowledge, and serves as a guide for all forms of conduct. Over against the attitude until recently strongly declared by all the churches that all truly devout persons must accept and believe the same, viz that the world was brought into existence out of nothing in 4004BC, that man was then made perfect, but fell from his lofty condition, that all other animals were made at the same time, and “the heavens and all that therein is.” Science teaches that mankind did not begin existence 4004BC, but hundreds of thousands of years before; that instead of having made a grand new start as a perfect being and then being cursed by the creator, there is an abundance of indisputable evidence to show that man began life in so low a condition that it took him many ages even to develop the capacity to rise from all fours and stand on two legs, and very many centuries after that before he was able to develop rationality of any degree. No man of intelligence objects to this today, and therefore in the church has accepted the inevitable and endorses what it formerly denied. The orthodox formerly avowed and taught that the oceans of the world and the land and the minerals were brought into existence in six ordinary days. Science has demonstrated that the earth and all the other planets of the solar system were at one time in a gaseous form, and in the course of myriad centuries have cooled down and so been in a state of continual change, and as a result we have the minerals, the rocks, the land and the water, salt and fresh, and everything that has ever dwelt upon the earth or that does now dwell thereon has been and is now the to the same law of change or development; and only the ignorant ever think of taking exception to this view.
It is the law of progress and the theologians no longer oppose such well-established facts, but they did with all their might, and declared that all who said otherwise were grossly irreligious. As though it were wrong to develop the understanding, as though it were wicked to train the intellect and to study the wonders of nature and so gradually substitute intelligence for ignorance. Many honest-minded men and women have been miserable beyond endurance because they wished to be truly religious, and yet found many things in connection with religion as they had been taught it, outrageously cruel, mean, and degrading. The degrading ceremonies of the ancient Jews as recorded in “the Bible can easily be understood when it is remembered that they were only a semi-civilised people believing in the gross superstitions and resorting to the barbarous behaviour of semi-savages, gradually working their way from savagery and barbarism to civilised life, and of course like all other peoples learning by myriad experiences how to develop the worthier side at the expense of the baser. So one cannot only make allowance for their barbarities, but can see a strong confirmation of the evolutionary theory of human as well as all other development.
Yet when Charles Darwin, the biologist, in his epoch-making works The Origin of Species and The Descent of Man, adduced evidence to prove the development of man from lower forms, he was vehemently assailed on all sides by the clericals, preached at, denounced, condemned, vilified, classed as atheist, etc. Darwin’s great crime consisting of contributing to the world’s knowledge, as the result of many years of devoted study. Today, Darwin’s name and that of his co-workers, Professors Alfred Russell Wallace, Tyndall, Huxley, Lyell, etc, etc, stand revered the world over as masterminds in their respective departments, but of course, as none taught more strongly than they, knowledge must be constantly added to as the result of constant study, with the ever-developing faculties of a growing humanity, and so, as knowledge is increased ideas and opinions change and always for the better, because always as the result of a fuller understanding of nature’s laws, including ourselves. This is what is meant by the scientific interpretation of history, cheerfully recognising the universal law of continuous progression, and the consequent moulding of conduct that this entails. This is the bedrock upon which all scientific socialists rest their case, and they need no other. Therefore one can dwell upon the marvellous work of the omnipotent and omniscient, can reverentially dwell upon the ever unfolding of the mysteries of the universe, can rejoice that it is permitted to us to add wondrously to our stock of knowledge by such aids as the spectroscope telescope microscope, to be able to measure the distances of the celestial bodies, to gauge their size, to weigh their mass, analyse their composition, to waft messages thousands of miles by wireless telegraphy, all tells of knowledge acquired and applied by man in his march towards a possible perfection.
Moses did the best he could as a teacher and guide, and for his day doubtless he did exceeding well; but is humanity not to progress after Moses or any other teacher? And are those who teach ever to be denounced as sacrilegious and unworthy innovators? Yes, it would appear that it is so difficult for some of us to change opinions and bring ourselves into line with the truest knowledge that being impelled to say something, we find it easier to condemn what we cannot understand and therefore we begin to denounce the more worthy. But this really does not matter, as the pioneers of knowledge know how hard it was for them at one time to become diligent students instead of being content with the conditions they were born in.
As in other departments of knowledge, so in sociological affairs or the affairs directly affecting human life. The student knows that the forms of human society have been such as were necessary for the particular kind of development at each stage of progress. Naturally some sections are mentally and morally in advance of their fellows, and experience the limitations and faultiness of any given system prior to their fellows, and some of these advocate the desirability of a change, and the kind of change desired is always one that shall admit of humanity developing a few degrees more perfectly than the existing conditions allow of.
So in passing through the tribal stage, chattel slavery, and serfdom, and now in passing through wagedom or capitalism, it is found that all civilised society is relatively rapidly getting to think more and more of the community and less of self and one’s own family; ie not that they become disregardent of the individual and the family, but manifest increasing concern for the welfare of each family and each individual by true concern for the community as a whole.
The patriarchal family was complete, with the father, who was master and owner of each and all and everything. The persons and the chattels were his property. Humanity travelled beyond the stage when that ownership of persons in the patriarchal fashion can serve completely the requirements of modern life, and therefore we see the foundations of patriarchal family life in process of change. It is still the unit, but not anything like it was under the true patriarchal regime; not only was the woman not allowed to have a voice and a vote in worldly affairs, she was the slave of the man, to do his bidding unquestioningly, and the prevalent religious forms pronounced their blessing upon such relations. They doubtless met the requirements of certain times, that such conditions do not suit modern necessities is known to everybody; and so already, marriage has become a civil contract and women have claimed and obtained the right to vote as free and independent citizens, quite irrespective of the opinions of menfolk, even of those of their own household. This is so marked a departure, so contrary to the patriarchal principle, that still further modifications may be expected to follow. In what direction there does not appear to be any general agreement, except for this, that all socialists having made a special study of the causes that retard human development are strongly in favour of economic, or industrial and social freedom for women, the same as for men, by which is meant that all human beings, men and women alike, should be educated and trained, qualified and enabled to obtain all the essentials of a full, free and healthy life.
Therefore the agitation on behalf of the Labor Parties for equal pay for equal work for women and men. Women must not be condemned to an inferior standard of social well-being because they happen not to be married and young women living at their own homes should not be encouraged to accept as wages a nominal sum altogether unequal to their adequate maintenance, if for similar work young men would be entitled to a fuller share. It is not kindness on the part of parents to take up the position that if the girls can get what will keep them in clothing etc., they may live at home and share with the family; to do this is to encourage the worst forms of sweating. It may be that workmen’s families buy commodities at a lower price than would be possible if such young women did not work for less than half the proper remuneration, that in no way mitigates the evil, its effects are blasting.
Of course, if such young women get married pretty early, the evil effects are not so pronounced in their cases, but when, as under existing conditions is always the case, a high percentage do not marry early, are themselves deprived of opportunities which ought to be theirs, and which, if they were not treated as inferior beings would be theirs. I will not enter into a discussion or description of the glaring evils arising in consequence of the abnormal and artificial sexual relations that arise in every country in consequence of this economic handicapping of women, but no one with any knowledge of existing conditions can express satisfaction therewith.
Why have the Australians decided in favour of the political emancipation of women, if it is not that they may use political power to bring about social and industrial changes, and therefore in favour of economic freedom?
Is there any good in men or women having political power unless it be used to alter the social surroundings from an unsatisfactory state to a satisfactory state? Certainly it would be a mockery to say to any, “you may have political power but you must not use it.” Or, “you are entrusted with the power to vote but you must vote as we decide,” or, “political power must not be used to raise the standard of life.” It is too late for any to take up such an attitude now. The reactionaries will do so because it is their nature to, but that will have no effect upon the possessors of political power.
Dealing with this subject by a letter to the Melbourne Argus two years ago, I then wrote:
As to the effect of socialism on family life, the present system absolutely forbids the possibility of family life to a very large proportion of the community. Everyone knows that in each of these Australasian states, including New Zealand, family life is quite impossible for such a large number that not only is there a serious decline in what should be the natural increase of the population, but which has led to other evils of so gave a character as to give most serious concern to all well-wishers of the community.
The present marriage system is based upon the supposition of economic dependence of the woman on the man, and, as a result, sex domination obtains. Political freedom will, we hope, result in economic freedom for both sexes alike. The country that has already politically enfranchised women, must prepare itself for the broader issue.
Considerable criticism has been passed upon the above statement, I adhere to every word of it, and it stands perfectly unassailable, as it merely indicates the present trend of politico-economic affairs, not in Australia only but throughout civilisation.
The following extract is from the very able and lengthy article on socialism in the Encyclopedia Brittanica:
On religion as on marriage, socialism has no special teaching. The Social Democrats of Germany in their Gotha Program of 1875 declare religion to be a private concern. As we have seen, Christian Socialism is a considerable force in many European countries, and in many of the other schools, especially that of Louis Blanc, the kinship and even identity of ethical spirit with that of Christianity are unmistakable.
How to estimate values under socialism. The question of values and how to estimate the value of services under a socialist regime is often dwelt upon, the following brief statement on this subject from Dr Karl Marx’s Capital is helpful.
Some might think that if the value of a commodity is determined by the quantity of labour spent on it, the more idle and unskilful the labourer, the more valuable would his commodity be, because more time would be required in its production. The labour, however, that forms the substance of value, is homogeneous labour, expenditure of one uniform labour-power. The total labour-power of society, which is embodied in the sum total of the values of all commodities produced by that society, counts here as one homogeneous mass of human labour-power, composed though it be of innumerable individual units.
Each of these units is the same as any other so far as it has the character of the average labour-power of society, and takes effect as such; that is, so far as it requires for producing a commodity, no more time than is needed on an average, no more than is socially necessary.
Socialism and communism. It is a common thing for some to speak very favourably of socialism, and very unfavourably of communism. This arises mainly in consequence of lack of knowledge as to what communism is. It is the full realisation of the collectivist ideal, when not only will the means of wealth production be co-operatively owned by the people, but when there will be no regimentation or any dictatorial official class of the kind we have knowledge of today, when even parliaments will disappear very largely if not wholly. Socialists desire a free state of society wherein exploitation will be impossible and minus armies of officials or parliamentarians.
For a socialist to declare, imply or tolerate the idea that socialism is sound, economically and ethically but that communism is unsound is preposterous. When capitalism is superseded by socialism, influence will begin to operate favourable to the shedding of officials and permanent politicians and society will doubtless travel to communism. Only those who have not thought the subject out will have any hesitancy in accepting this, but when it is realised that it would be as illogical to suppose society will not continue to develop beyond socialism, as it would be now to declare it cannot go beyond capitalism, the absurdity of it will he seen and dropped.
The following extract from a lecture by the late William Morris, author of Earthly Paradise and very many other works, is worthy of attention, he says there are:
Two views taken among socialists as to the future of society. According to the first, the state – that is, the nation organised for unwasteful production and exchange of wealth – will be the sole possessor of the national plant and stock, the sole employer of labour, which she will so regulate in the general interest that no man will ever need to fear lack of employment and due earnings therefrom. Everybody will have an equal chance of livelihood, and, except as a rare disease, there would be no hoarding of money or other wealth. This view points to an attempt to give everybody the full worth of the productive work done by him, after having ensured the necessary preliminary that he shall always be free to work.
According to the other view, the centralised nation would give place to a federation of communities who would hold all wealth in common, and would use that wealth for satisfying the needs of each member, only exacting from each that he should do his best according to his capacity towards the production of the common wealth. Of course, it is to be understood that each member is absolutely free to use his share of wealth as he pleases, without interference from any, so long as he really uses it, that is, does not turn it into an instrument for the oppression of others. This view intends complete equality of condition for everyone, though life would be, as always, varied by the differences of capacity and disposition; and emulation in working for the common good would supply the place of competition as an incentive.
These two views of the future of society are sometimes opposed to each other as socialism and communism, but to my mind the latter is simply the necessary development of the former, which implies a transition period, during which people would be getting rid of the habits of mind bred by the long ages of tyranny and commercial competition, and be learning that it is to the interest of each that all should thrive. (True and False Society, 1888)
The preceding quotation is from a lecture by William Morris, delivered in Edinburgh in 1886, one of a series of six from as many representative men, including the grand old socialist and social reformer, the author of The Wonderful Century, Professor Alfred Russell Wallace, compeer and co-worker with Charles Darwin. Professor Wallace is a socialist and profoundly religious, take any of his works on social reforms or any of his works dealing with spiritual matter and always there is the same loving heart and wise head presenting knowledge and showing sympathy not only with the suffering but with those at work as social reformers.
Most readers will have seen statements from Men Who are Young in the Socialist Movement who declare they have sympathy with socialism, but not with the socialism of the continent of Europe. This is simply because they lack knowledge. It is as though someone should say. I believe in capitalism but not in the capitalism of England or America. Just as the capitalist system is found most highly developed in the countries named, so has socialism been scientifically studied and elaborated in all its bearings on the continent of Europe. To think of endorsing socialism and not to endorse the socialism of Europe would be more ludicrous than to attempt the play of Hamlet, leaving out the Danish prince. Indeed such admissions are only made by ill-informed persons who are at the mercy of critics, oftentimes knowing no better than themselves, but unscrupulous and mercenary, writing under cover of the capitalist press.
However, it is easy for those who are willing to take the trouble to know exactly what are the principles and what the policy of socialists of the respective European peoples. Two years ago there appeared a volume entitled Modern Socialism, edited by R.C.K. Ensor, published by Harper Bros, London. This volume contains not only speeches by representative men in the socialist movement, but gives also the statement of principles and actual programs of the respective parties. The cost of the work is six shillings; its value cannot be overrated. The programs of the German, Austrian, Belgian, French and British parties are given, and reports of lectures or speeches of representative persons of many countries, make up a volume that may well serve as a guide to all students.
In order that those who have thought the continental socialists are a wild sort of folk, not knowing what citizenship means, or finding pleasure in some outrageous demands, I transfer from the book named, the statement of principles of the German Social Democratic Party that precedes its actual program. And as everyone knows the Germans are the most perfectly organised of the socialists of the world, and may be quoted as being in the forefront of socialist organisations.
The economic development of bourgeois society leads by natural necessity to the downfall of the small industry, whose foundation is formed by the private ownership of the means of production. It separates the worker from his means of production, and converts him into a propertyless proletarian, while the means of production become the monopoly of a relatively small number of capitalists and large landowners. Hand-in-hand with this monopolisation of the means of production goes the displacement of the dispersed small industries by colossal great industries, the development of the tool into the machine, and a gigantic growth in the productivity of human labour. But all the advantages of this transformation are monopolised by capitalists and large landowners. For the proletariat and the declining intermediate classes – petty bourgeoisie and peasants – it means a growing augmentation of the insecurity of their existence, of misery, oppression, enslavement, debasement, and exploitation.
Ever greater grow the number of proletarians, ever more enormous the army of surplus workers, ever sharper the oppression between exploiters and exploited, ever bitterer the class war between bourgeoisie and proletariat, which divides modern society into two hostile camps, and is the common hallmark of all industrial countries.
The gulf between the propertied and the propertyless is further widened through the crises, founded in the essence of the capitalistic method of production, which constantly become more comprehensive and more devastating, which elevate general insecurity to the normal condition of society, and which prove that the powers of production of contemporary society have grown beyond measure, and that private ownership of the means of production has become incompatible with their application to their objects and their full development.
Private ownership of the means of production, which was formerly the means of securing to the producer the ownership of his product, has today become the means of expropriating peasants, manual workers, and small traders, and enabling the non-workers – capitalists and large landowners – to own the product of the workers. Only the transformation of capitalistic private ownership of the means of production – the soil, mines, raw materials, tools, machines, and means of transport – into social ownership, and the transformation of production of goods for sale into socialistic production, managed for and through society, can bring it about that the great industry and the steadily growing productive capacity of social labour shall for the hitherto exploited classes be changed from a source of misery and oppression, to a source of the highest welfare and of all-round harmonious perfection.
This social transformation means the emancipation not only of the proletariat, but of the whole human race, which suffers under the conditions today. But it can only be the work of the working class, because all the other classes, in spite of mutually conflicting interests, take their stand on the basis of private ownership of the means of production, and have as their common object the preservation of the principles of contemporary society.
The battle of the working class against capitalist exploitation is necessarily a political battle. The working class cannot carry on its economic battles or develop its economic organisation without political rights. It cannot effect the passing of the means of production into the ownership of the community without acquiring political power.
To shape this battle of the working class into a conscious and united effort, and to show it its naturally necessary end is the object of the Social Democratic Party.
The interests of the working class are the same in all lands with capitalistic methods of production. With the expansion of world transport and production for the world market, the state of the workers in any one country becomes constantly more dependent on the state of the workers in other countries. The emancipation of the working class is thus a task in which the workers of all civilised countries are concerned in a like degree. Conscious of this, the Social Democratic Party of Germany feels and declares itself one with the class-conscious workers of all other lands.
The Social Democratic Party of Germany fights thus not for new class privileges and exceptional rights, but for the abolition of class domination and of the classes themselves, and for the equal rights and equal obligations of all, without distinction of sex and parentage. Setting out from these views, it combats in contemporary society not merely the exploitation and oppression of the wage workers, but every kind of exploitation and oppression, whether directed against a class, a party, a sex or a race.
This statement of principles is followed by the immediate demands of the party and which want of space alone prevents insertion, but from the statement given may be gathered the entire raison d'etre of the socialist movement, not a sentence too much or too little, and each country in turn presents its case with equally correct economic reasoning. No other political party in any country does anything of the kind.
Which of the plutocratic parties dares attempt to analyse society equally scientifically? Not one! The very attempt would again prove how unnecessary they were to the world. Socialists themselves will do well to carefully study this German statement, as brief though it is all salient features are dwelt upon. That statement was agreed upon at the Erfurt Conference of the party in 1891, and has been ratified at each of their subsequent congresses. In the same year the Austrian Social Democratic Party held its congress at Brunn, and its statement preceding its program is in all essentials like that of the German, just as a sample I give the first paragraph:
The Social Democratic Labour Party in Austria strives on behalf of the whole people without distinction of nation, race or sex for emancipation from the fetters of economic dependence, political oppression and intellectual confinement. The cause of these unsatisfactory conditions lies, not in particular political arrangements, but in the fact essentially conditioning and dominating the whole state of society, that the means of working are monopolised in the hands of individual possessors. The possessors of the power to work, the working class, fall therefore into the most oppressive dependence upon the possessors of the means of working, which include land – that is, upon the great economic land-owning and capitalistic classes, whose political domination is expressed in the class state of today.
Thus, having diagnosed scientifically the causes of exploitation and its results, the Austrians declare in favour of an international party. They condemn the privileges of nations as well as those of birth and sex, property and lineage, and declare that the war against exploitation must be international like the exploitation itself. Equally interesting and educative is the statement of principles of the French Socialist Party, voted upon and accepted at Tours in March 1902. A couple of paragraphs will prove interesting. Say the French:
Proletarians are acknowledged as fit citizens to manage the milliards of the national and communal budgets; [ie local governing bodies] as labourers in the workshop, they are only a passive multitude, which has no share in the direction of enterprises, and they endure the domination of a class that makes them pay dearly for a tutelage whose utility ceases and whose prolongation is arbitrary.
The irresistible tendency of the proletarians, therefore, is to transfer into the economic order the democracy partially realised in the political order. Just as all the citizens have and handle in common, democratically the political power, so they must have and handle in common the economic power, the means of production.
This should go far to satisfy those who have thought that socialists could not agree as to what socialism is, the fact being there is no disagreement as to main essentials or as to policy, and very little as to method.
The oldest of the socialists bodies in England is the Social Democratic Federation formed in 1883, this organisation also issues its statement of principles, which are so like those of the continent that it would be superfluous to quote at length. It is well, however, to give proof of the oneness of aim and agreement as to necessity therefore, says the SDF:
The economic development of modern society is characterised by the more or less complete domination of the capitalistic mode of production over all branches of human labour. The capitalistic mode of production, because it has the creation of profit for its sole object, therefore favours the larger capital, and is based upon the divorcement of the majority of the people from the instruments of production and the concentration of these instruments in the hands of a minority. Society is thus divided into two opposite classes, one, the capitalists and their sleeping partners, the landlords and loan mongers, holding in their hands the means of production, distribution, and exchange, and being, therefore, able to command the labour of others; the other, the working-class, the wage-earners, the proletariat, possessing nothing but their labour-power, and being consequently forced by necessity to work for the former.
Thus it will be seen there is an agreement in every country as to what socialism is, and why it is inevitable.
The socialists of Russia and of Japan equally agree on “the principle of a common brotherhood based on the socialisation of the means of production, distribution and exchange, to be controlled by a democratic state in the interests of the entire community, and the complete emancipation of labour from the domination of capitalism and landlordism, with the establishment of social and economic equality between the Sexes” (English SDF object)
In addition to the Social Democratic Federation of Great Britain, there is another socialist body. The Independent Labor Party, whose activity is very considerable and which conducts a systematic propaganda continuously throughout the UK. Its object is pithily put: “An industrial commonwealth founded upon the socialisation of land and capital.” The reasons for this are given as: “The true object of industry being the production of the requirements of life, the responsibility should rest with the community collectively, therefore ... The land, being the storehouse of all the necessaries of life, should be declared and treated as public property. The capital necessary for industrial operations should be owned and used collectively. Work and wealth resulting therefrom should be equitably distributed over the population.”
Then follows the program. Both the SDF and the ILP together with the Fabian Society have done very much educational work, and it has resulted in the formation of a much larger third body or organisation known as the Labour Representation Committee, now five years old, formed really out of and by the Trade Union Congress in order to give all necessary attention to the desires of the workers from the political standpoint as expressed by the parent body. The first essential condition of this new political organisation was that it was to be entirely independent of, and apart from the bourgeois, or orthodox political parties of the day. It was not to be Conservative, Liberal or Radical, or be in anyway identified with these bodies, but straight-out Labour. It was not declared to be socialist, on the contrary, when an effort was made that the declared objective of the new body should be the realisation of socialism, the majority of delegates declared it was unnecessary to make any such declaration; what was wanted said they, was the bringing together of the trade unionist and socialist forces; and it appears they have succeeded.
At the LRC conference this year the socialist objective was easily carried, and this represents a million of the organised workers. This may be taken as a decisive indication of the development of affairs in the UK as the most perfectly organised bodies of workers are directly connected with, and are largely responsible for, the movement. About seventy socialist and Labour candidates are prepared to take the field immediately there are signs of a general election, and of these about forty will be returned, so that after the next election the House of Commons will at least have a group of straight-out fellows to sturdily fight the workers’ cause.
As bearing upon the pledge signing by candidates, which has received some public attention here, it is interesting to note that the LRC is quite definite on the matter. The following is the declared immediate object of the oragnisation:
To secure, by united action, the election to parliament of candidates promoted, in the first instance, by an affiliated society or societies in the constituency, who undertake to form or join a distinct group in parliament with its own whips and its own policy on labour questions, to abstain strictly from identifying themselves with or promoting the interests of any section of the Liberal or Conservative parties, and not to oppose any other candidate recognised by this committee. All such candidates shall pledge themselves to accept this constitution or resign, and to appear before their constituencies under the title of Labour candidates only.
Labour’s advancing army. Most of the information given below is based on material issued by the secretary of the International Socialist Bureau; but at the time it was issued it was not known to the bureau that Labor candidates in Australia stood on a definite socialist basis and therefore they were not included. After what has taken place at the respective state congresses or conventions, and the endorsement of the socialist objective by the Interstate Labor Conference, held in Melbourne in July 1905, no one could give an account of the socialist representatives in the various parliaments, and on municipal bodies, without including the Australian Labor men, but to guard against criticism, I admit it would not be right to declare that all are definitely socialist, it can only be said of some of them that they are socialistic in trend, but no one can doubt that the guiding or driving force is socialism pure and simple, and the same now applies to the socialist and Labor members returned in the United Kingdom, Labour only though some of them are, they are consciously or otherwise, the evidence of the antagonism of classes brought about by modern capitalism.
|Socialist and labour representatives and the labour-socialist vote of the world|
|Election||Year||Vote||Labor socialists elected||Reps|
At the federal election in December 1903, the Labor Party ran candidates for the Senate in each state, including Tasmania. By taking the highest vote in each state recorded for Labor Senate candidates, we get the total of 321,225 ; the number returned in above list stands for representatives. There is probably no other country in the world where so general an opportunity was afforded to test the feeling, as for Senate purposes, each state forms one electorate and therefore the vote recorded is not for a portion of Australia, but literally for the whole of the commonwealth, women as well as men.
One half of the senators and representatives retired and were eligible for re-election at the last election, so the number of senators and representatives is composed of those who were returned at the last two elections.
The total number of Labor senators is fourteen out of a total of thirty-six, there being a total of six senators for each state, irrespective of the population.
Queensland heads the list with five Labor men out of six possible as follows:
|Queensland Labor senators||Higgs, Dawson, Stewart, Turley, Givens (5)|
|Western Australia||Pierce, DeLargie, Benderson, Croft (4)|
|South Australia||McGregor, Guthrie, Storey (3)|
|Federal House of Representatives|
Consists of 75 members, as follows:
|State||Labor members||Total reps|
|New South Wales||7||27|
|New South Wales||23||90|
|Labour and socialist mayors, aldermen, councillors, guardians, etc|
|Germany||111 representatives in state diets|
|United Kingdom||790 aldermen, county, town and urban councillors and board of guardians members|
|1200 municipal councillors|
|43 provincial councillors|
|Italy||100 municipal councillors (Socialist Party)|
|Belgium||600 municipal councillors|
|70 provincial councillors|
|Denmark||400 municipal councillors|
|Sweden||20 municipal councillors|
|Norway||17 municipal councillors|
|Switzerland||Socialist Party represented in 17 cantons|
|41 councillors in 178 municipalities|
|United States||350 socialists on public bodies|
This is not a bad start and now the respective plutocratic parties are merging their forces to make common cause against the socialists. This must come; all pretence of having real sympathy with socialist aspirations will be dropped by the reactionaries as soon as the respective forces get to close quarters. I know full well the tendency on the part of some well-meaning comrades to appear always as models of decorum, harbingers of peace, ultra-respectable, no opposition to anyone or anything; I know also how utterly futile they are and must be to accomplish anything of value. The fight has begun but it is by no means over, and those who have no understanding that it is a real struggle we are engaged in are of very little use to the movement.
Whilst children are dying by hundreds of thousands, women groaning because they cannot command life’s necessaries for their children, and millions of men in the respective countries barred by unemployment from getting life’s necessaries, this in the midst of a superfluity of wealth the like of which the world has never known before.
The clarion cry goes forth to all vigorously appealing to every true comrade to get to work and achieve something. Never before in history, so far as we have knowledge, has there been such a universality of expectancy. The times are ripe for great changes, those changers are certain to come, not the mere pettifogging changes of fiscalism, not the trifling additions to wages, brought now and again for some sections by one or other agencies, but definite deep-rooted drastic changes, the dethroning of the monopolists, the people themselves becoming direct owners and controllers of themselves and the wealth they produce; this is not the time to ask for peace.
Peace between capital and labour, is that all you ask?
Is peace then the only thing needful?
There was peace enough in Southern slavery.
There is a peace of life and another of death.
It is well to rise above violence.
It is well to rise superior to anger.
But if peace means final acquiescence in wrong, if your aim is less than justice, and peace, forever one, then your peace is a crime.
The chief cause of the English workman being so much behind his continental brother in so many important directions is traceable to his snobbish notion of respectability. With opportunities exceeding those of workers in any other European country, so insular and bourgeois, so lacking in class-consciousness has the representative British worker been, that until just recently it seemed next to hopeless to expect any advance.
Even now, how poor by comparison do the British workers show up as evidenced by the lists previously given. Look at the aggregate Socialist vote in the UK, a country with 42 million inhabitants, even though the franchise may be faulty, they have seven million electors on the rolls, and the workers have a large majority of the votes in 70 per cent of the electorates. How often has the need for a daily paper, owned and entirely controlled by the workers been called for, and how feeble the response! Australians may not be conscious of it, but they exhibit the faultiness of the Britisher in many serious respects.
To think of the insults that have been thrown at the Labor Party by the plutocratic press, to realise how great a service could be rendered to the cause if party owned an efficiently conducted daily newspaper, should be sufficient stimulus to bring one into speedy existence. At last it looks as though a sensible effort is to be made in South Australia and Victoria, perhaps by the time the workers are a little more educated in social economics, the effort will be crowned with success. It is not too much to hope to see during the next few years, not merely more perfected organisation but also such educational agencies in the hands of the disciplined bodies of workers that we shall be entirely out of the swaddling clothes stage.
The Socialist Labor Party of Australia should be so perfectly organised and thoroughly equipped that nothing should ever go by default. As yet the literary department is woefully deficient. Every state party ought to systematically educate the electorate in everything appertaining to the socialist movement of the world. The weekly Labor papers at present serving as the chief organs, are of course doing the best they can, but how trifling compared to the stupendous work that needs to be accomplished. More weeklies and dailies will be necessary, and it is high time business capacity was shown in this direction.
Without literature of the right sort the workers cannot be properly qualified to discern between the subtleties of political charlatans who are ever alert to turn aside the movement from the straight path that leads to social ownership of the agencies of production.
How well I know the plausible person who says: “Really you know I would go as far as necessary but one musn’t go too fast.” And such a person’s notion of going fast enough is to follow the crowd even if it drops him through the sands and the mulga because he hasn’t the courage or capacity to make one to get the crowd on to the right road. I urge upon my readers, more especially upon the young men, to be at all times most tolerant and kindly towards all who have done good work even on the most superficial plane; but I also urge them not to consider it kindness to hesitate to always declare for straight-out action and go the whole hog.
Remember, we are not building a nation of workers to fight some other nation of workers either in a military or an industrial sense. Industrial warfare is fraught with horrors every whit as awful as military or naval warfare. Until now the workers of each country in turn have been gulled that they are a wonderfully superior people to the workers of some other nation. Now we know how absolutely true it is that the interests of the workers of all lands are perfectly identical. Future fights must not be between the workers of one country and the workers of another, that is madness. The fight we are called upon to engage in is as a part of a disciplined army of the world’s workers battling against the workers’ exploitation in every country alike.
Socialism enjoins international peace and universal goodwill among all peoples. No other influence known to men has operated half so powerfully to eradicate racial animosities and national jealousies. All through the centuries led by the dominant propertied class in both countries, the French and English have been slaying each other. Of late years this has given place to incessant industrial warfare; each undermining the other. The spice for this is found in the profits of the respective plutocratic sections; for variety, Germans versus French, British versus Dutch or Russians versus Japanese; but always tearing each other. As socialists we have no quarrel with the workers of any nation on earth. There is ample room for all in the world, it is only the conduct of industry for profit-making on behalf of the plutocracy that makes it appear each nation must fight every other nation. Stop this, and begin to produce for use and there is room for all and work for all and of course a market for all.
With us it is not France versus Germany or Europe versus America, but each for all and all for each. But to make this possible the exploiters must be got rid of. We declare a class war to get rid of classes, and ever after to have a people on the basis of economic equality.
We preach a peace that so far transcends the peace proclaimed by churches that whereas the churches in each nation back up the murderous empire-extending policy, socialists always declare in favour of the solidarity of the interests of the workers of every country. An American writer has put this so forcibly – and it is always helpful to study the Americans, as the most progressive, are thinking and saying that it cannot but be interesting to readers.
More and more the enlightened proletarian is realising that war means for him but continuing exploitation and enslavement. More and more he is learning that every attempt to exploit the workers of another country only fastens the shackles of exploitation more firmly upon his own limbs. More and more he is learning that every blow aimed at the interest of the working class of Europe, of Asia, or the far-off isles of the sea will only rebound with fourfold force upon his own back. More and more he is learning that the irrepressible conflict of today is not between the workers of one nation and the workers of another nation, but it is a conflict between the capitalists and the workers of all nations, and so above every appeal to national pride, above every appeal to religious prejudice, above every appeal to race hatred, sounds high and clear the clarion call of the socialist movement. Workers of all countries, unite. You have the whole world to win and nothing but your chains to lose.
And back from the hills and valleys of the German fatherland in mighty volume more than three million strong; back from the sunny fields of France, green and peaceful and smiling; back from England, from Belgium, from Spain, from Italy; back from more than six million militant socialists throughout the civilised world comes the answering cry in the language of that message which was sent by the Berlin comrades to the Paris comrades during the Franco-Prussian conflict: “We are the enemies of all wars, solemnly we promise that neither the sound of the trumpet nor the roar of the cannon, neither victory nor defeat will swerve us from our common purpose, the union of the children of toil of all countries.” That is the spirit of the working class movement. That is the spirit which above all others is making for human brotherhood and universal peace. This is the spirit of the newer and truer patriotism for the spurious and bombastic patriotism which arrays race against race and nation against nation, which glories in war and finds its highest inspiration in the trumpery of a military parade for that spurious and bombastic patriotism which glorifies the deeds of our fathers but stultifies every principle for which they fought; for that spurious and bombastic patriotism whose other name is tyranny, oppression, exploitation, capitalism, the world over, we have no use whatever. Against it our whole soul sickens and revolts. But to that newer and truer patriotism which recognises the whole world as my nation and every man as my brother: to that newer and truer patriotism which realises that there is more glory in peace than in war: to that patriotism which would turn our warships into floating hospitals and our tented fields into kindergarten playgrounds; to that truer patriotism whose banner over us is the worldwide red banner of socialism, not the flag of bloody revolution, but fitting symbol of the fact that one blood courses through the veins of the whole human family, to that newer and truer patriotism whose shibboleth is liberty, fraternity and equality, and whose other name is justice and peace for everyone, the working class movement of the world, gives its whole-souled allegiance. – Dr Howard A. Gibbs in The Comrade, Cooper Square, New York
How lofty the aspiration and how noble the mental and moral attitude shown in this citation, as contrasted with the puny bickering of orthodox politicians and the mean aims of competitive commercialists. America has been relatively slow to accept and to advocate the necessity for socialism; there more than anywhere else the gospel of “getting on” was for several generations the ideal – if such it might be termed. From every country in Europe there flocked to America those whose only ambition was “to make a bit” to “scoop the pool,” a natural desire on the part of those who had been subject to old-world aristocratic and plutocratic domination, and in turn they exhibited the very worst evils of a bossing, gold-hunting exploiting plutocracy, and the world may be grateful not only that the field has afforded them to indulge that propensity, but still more grateful that having passed through the experiment, the educated advocates of genuine collectivism. This fact is surely a very weighty one.
Worthy of serious attention by Australians, many of whom, although claiming to be guides on matters of social and industrial reform, have nothing better to offer than a policy of fiscalism and largely on the grounds that “America has succeeded well on it.” The day has gone when it was possible to build up a nation to pass through the experience of America and the older countries, economic development absolutely forbids it. England had a long innings because the capitalist movement based on machine-made commodities began with her, and slowly (though quickly compared with other economic phases) she developed the joint stock companies, syndicates and trusts. America, picking up on the trusts, developed them in every conceivable direction, and rushed through with national and international combines. Other peoples cannot now come along and engage in industrial competition as though these stages had not been passed through.
No fiscal policy can prevent a people engaged in the world’s competitive system from being directly affected by every evil attendant on that system, therefore it is that Australians must, not may but must, get far beyond the idea that Australia will build up a great nation on the basis of competitive industry, and not be subjected to the social blight that is inseparable from that universal competition. But there is something much better than that in store for Australia. She will not be called upon to comply with the capitalists demand of cheap labour and heavy product or a few wage receivers and much wool, timber, meat, dairy produce and minerals to export to enable the capitalists to have big profits – not that, but better than that. Nor will Australia be called up to comply with the demand made by many workers for “a living wage for all workers,” which she is not able to do now any more than either of the other competitive peoples. Not this, but much more than this. Australia is, in common with other countries, about to enter upon a period when industrial international competition will cease. The all-absorbing endeavour to supply every country with the products of every other country has been acted upon so successfully that it has already passed through the stages of relative success and failure and is now decaying. The success of it is killing it.
It was an excellent policy a century ago, it’s coming to be a dead failure now. No country can now monopolise manufactures or raw materials or the fine arts, and the puny effect of preferential trade will at best mean nothing more than a trifling addition to the total demand of raw material from Australia. Competition has to be given up and co-operation will take its place, and Australian workmen and politicians must face the inevitable.
Again, I repeat, Australia will not be built up on the basis international industrial competition, no matter how many protective tariffs there may be, or how much scope may be afforded for the operation of free trade doctrines. I am not saying that fiscalism will not be necessary during the transition, period to enable industries to be built up and safeguarded, the point I am seeking to make clear is this: that Australia’s future depends upon the opportunities afforded to increasing numbers of people to provide the essentials of life for Australians on the highest and best scale, not by engaging in production for export, but in producing for Australian consumption. This does not in any sense forbid export of raw material in return for other material or commodities, where such is actually desired; but it changes the viewpoint, and changes the object, and therefore changes the policy.
The future of the world is to be co-operative, and not competitive, and Australia has an impossible task before her if there be no alternative but fighting for a share of the world’s markets.
But there is an alternative: that of adequately supplying the needs of all who are here or care to come here; there is practically no limit to the population that could be maintained in the Australian commonwealth and on an ever-advancing standard of well-being; but to do this all legislative effort should be in the direction of national co-operation.
Every socialist man and woman, and every Labor man and woman should have this as their watchword: national co-operation. Therefore, as speedily as possible, the land must be transferred to the nation, the industries must be taken over by the nation, and the state, ie the nation, must organise and run the industries, including scientific agriculture, in the interests of the people co-operatively.
Never had a people so glorious an opportunity to begin this as Australians now have. Even if America had desired to do it a century ago, in the then relatively infantile stage of economic development of the world it was impossible. Under co-operation there can be no room for international hatreds and jealousies, no room for armies and navies for offensive purposes, or to protect a sea-borne commerce against marauders. All this waste will absolutely cease, and the energy of every man will be welcomed and his reward will be sure.
Given a proper recognition of the stupendous advantages of national co-operation and right away state iron and steel works should be started. Smelting works and blast furnaces, rolling mills and engine shops, and every encouragement would be given to every industry, the products of which made for general well-being. Under such conditions there could be no poverty, there would be no crime arising out of poverty. Would not this then be a country worth living in? And all this is realizable and that speedily; but we must face all it involves and bid goodbye to international competitive industry, which is tottering to its final fall.
The well-being of a nation depends upon efficiency of wealth production and equity of distribution. With modern methods of production, effectively applied, an abundance of commodities can be provided to satisfy the needs of all, but this necessitates concerted action with the subdivision of labour and associated effort on the highest scale.
To ensure efficiency of production, there must be free access to the raw material and machinery, therefore all private and sectional monopoly of natural agencies or mechanical appliances must disappear.
The present system of conducting manufacturing and trading operations primarily for the purposes of capitalist profit instead of producing for the use of all is directly responsible for the enforced idleness of a considerable section in every country, and for keeping the mass of the wage workers in of all countries in constant subjection to the capitalist class.
The object of the Socialist Labor Party is to secure economic freedom for the whole community, ie, that all men and all women shall have equal opportunities of sharing in wealth production and consumption untrammelled by any restriction it is possible for the state to remove.
Modern science teaches that man’s powers over natural forces are constantly increasing, the only possible basis for industrialism that will admit of all sharing in these advantages is the co-operative basis. Working hours being regulated according to the efficiency of production and the standard desired by the community there could never be an unemployed problem, and exploitation ceasing as a result of national co-operation the existing anomalies of immense wealth for a few and hardships for the many could not obtain.
The clearly avowed object therefore of the Socialist Labor Party is to hasten the change already begun, of transferring from private ownership to public ownership, all the agencies of wealth production and distribution, to control these agencies on a co-operative basis in the interests of all alike, and to aim constantly at securing for all citizens the highest standard of mental culture, industrial efficiency and social well-being.
To realise this co-operative state, the following program must be carried through:
The abolition of the office of state governor.
The abolition of the Legislative Council.
The introduction of the initiative and referendum.
A measure of local government on a genuine democratic basis.
The administration of justice to be free to all.
The establishment of public offices where legal advice can be obtained free of charge.
Compulsory construction by public bodies of healthy dwellings for the people; such dwellings to be let at rents to cover the cost of construction and maintenance alone, and not to cover the cost of land.
A legislative six-hour work-day or 36 hours per week for all miners and others engaged in arduous occupations, and a legislative maximum eight-hour work-day for all other trades and industries.
No child to be employed in any trade or occupation till 16 years of age.
State provision of useful work for all who might otherwise be unemployed.
Free state insurance against sickness and accident, and adequate state pensions for all aged and disabled persons.
Equal pay for both sexes for the performance of equal work.
Economic and industrial
Nationalisation of the land and the organisation of labour in agriculture and industry under public ownership and control on co-operative principles.
Nationalisation of the trusts.
Public ownership and control of electric light and power supply, gas, tramways and cabs.
Municipal ownership and control of coal supply.
Municipal ownership and control of milk supply.
State and municipal banks, pawnshops and public restaurants.
Public ownership and control of the liquor trade.
Public ownership and control of hospitals and dispensaries.
Free medicine for all.
A cumulative tax on all incomes exceeding £300 per annum.
I ask a candid consideration for the above program, and I think it will be seen that every item makes directly towards the socialisation of the means of production and distribution. And what is the good of working for anything less than this? We are in for a prolonged warfare, not the mere shuttlecock game of ordinary politics of ins and outs, as Lowell has it:
It’s war we're in, not politics:
It’s systems wrestlin’ now, not parties.
The struggle is not confined to one people but covers the whole of civilisation. And yet it is nothing more than the natural evolutionary development and therefore is in the most perfect order. Humanity cannot by any possibility remain in its existing chaotic economic condition, we are suffering consequent upon the overthrow of old institutions by the capitalist system. The capitalists themselves know this full well, and many, very many, I believe, are glad to see the signs of the coming change. So with many of those officially connected with religious denominations, who are sorely grieved at the grossly materialistic conditions that surround them and feel deeply the urgent necessity for a revolutionary change in the basis of human society; that change is at hand, but as yet only minority are conscious of it. It is a change fraught with every blessing to mankind that the best amongst us could wish for. All hail the day, not distant now, when the mercenary spirit shall be replaced by that nobleness of nature all to lofty to demean itself or others by the mere pursuit of pelf.
As the English-speaking race are frequently referred to as though they are heavy drinkers in comparison with other nationalities, the following table taken from that standard temperance work, The Temperance Problem and Social Reform, by Messrs Rowntree and Sherwell, will be helpful.
|Consumption of absolute alcohol|
per head of the population
Considerable misunderstanding exists as to the annual value of production in the United Kingdom and Australia, and quite a number who quote Mr Coghlan, are in utter confusion regarding primary production, the value of production from all industries, and total income. Primary production relates to agricultural and pastoral pursuits, dairy farming and mining, and other primaries.
The table given by Coghlan in A Statistical Account of Australia and New Zealand, (1903-4) is taken from Mulhall’s Dictionary of Statistics for all countries except Australia. It shows that Australia produces £89,144,000 per annum of primaries or £22/15/2d per head of population per annum. The United Kingdom produces in primaries £317 million or 18/6d per head; France £11/11/6d per head; Germany £8/134d; United States £14/14/-; Canada £16/5/6d. These figures, however, give no indication at all as to the character of a nation’s welfare. As for instance with the United Kingdom. four-fifths of the nation’s work is on other than producing primaries, whilst in Australia the reverse is the case.
The value of the combined industries of Australia ie manufactures in addition to primary products, amounted m 1903 to £117,672,000 or £30/0/10d per head. See Coghlan ‘s Statistical Account.
This, however, does not give the total income of the people of the commonwealth, as the services of other sections are called into requisition who, of course receive incomes, when all such services are included and allowed for, the income of the Australian commonwealth amounts to £179,563,000 or £45/18/- per head. Mr Coghlan gives no figures for countries outside Australia as to the value of the combined industries or the total income; but the officially declared estimate of the total income for the United Kingdom for 1903 is £1,750,000,000 or £41/18/- per inhabitant.