We Must Fight It Out

(April 1915)

The International Socialist Review, Vol. 15 No. 10, April 1915, pp. 627–628.
Transcribed by Matthew Siegfried.
Marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.

Comes a friend, P.A. Levene by name, with a thought-inspiring article in the New York Sunday Call, in which he says that the war in Europe is, perhaps, only the BLIND striving of the big capitalists of the world for real, international capitalism.

Just as, in national boundary lines, the big oil interests fought for the oil wells until the Standard Oil Trust was evolved, just as the small packing companies battled until there grew up the Packing Trust, and as the steel companies fought each other in the competitive markets until we have the Steel Trust, so, says he, the great capitalists of the great nations are today engaged in a BLIND struggle for industrial and economic world supremacy.

And the rising economic class has ever used the exploited workers to help fight its battles. Thus, says Mr. Levene, the capitalists of Europe are today using the working classes of the various nations to fight their battles. And out of the storm and stress of the struggle he believes there will evolve gigantic international capitalists, gigantic world-trusts, international corporations. And with the coming of these international trusts, he believes we shall have the basis for a REAL International of Labor, an international wherein the workers of the world will be FORCED to join hands to fight the international capitalistic monarchs.

And when all is said and done, he may be right. Europe may today be going through a tremendous shaking down, from which may spring actual, working, international Capitalism, a Capitalism that will render futile and comic anything short of a REAL International of Labor.

And if Mr. Levene IS right, he has shattered another of our illusions. We have been receiving jolts and shocks in such close succession during the past few months that it is hard to adjust ourselves to the new viewpoints.

Is it true that the European war was NECESSARY to the complete development of international Capitalism? Is it true that the only way we can have a real International of Labor is when the economic basis for such an organization becomes a crying need through the organization of international Capital? Is it true that, if left to itself (as we have apparently had to leave it to itself) Capitalism, in its effort to develop to perfection, will make way and PAVE the way, and even (industrially) ORGANIZE the workers for Industrial Democracy?

These last few months have upset many of our old ideas. They have taught us that even we all-wise socialists have much to learn. They have shown us that we cannot count on plastering the earth with our Ideas and looking for the Co-operative Commonwealth the next day. In fact, if we have learned anything, we have come to see that IDEAS, even RIGHT ideas, are not all it is going to take to make the revolution.

Perhaps some of us are thinking that it is barely possible that we may not be able to THINK the workers out of wage slavery. They thought a long way in France and Germany (apparently), but when they came to cash in their Ideas, we find they amounted to very little in plain brass tacks. Their ideas did not prevent them from being led into war. Perhaps our ideas will not prevent us from being dragged, or forced or deceived into war.

But all these jolts and jars and shakings-up are good for us. They are teaching us that we do not know ALL about it. They are preventing the Socialist Parties from becoming FIXED institutions. And FIXED things neither grow nor progress.

And some of us are beginning to suspect that perhaps instead of THINKING our way out of Poverty, we may have to FIGHT our way out. If IDEAS alone are not enough to save us, what more do we need? Perhaps it is this very jolting, these shocks and breakings of habit. Perhaps we had to be thrown into the water before we would even TRY to swim.

Evidently the Revolution is not going to be as easy as some of us prophesied. The capitalist class has not done developing its own supremacy. At least the stronger capitalists have not yet thrown out, or fought out, or squeezed out the smaller capitalists of the world. The new monarchs mean to supplant the old ones. The capitalist king is coming to replace the Czar and the Emperor.

And perhaps this further development bears in its accomplishment a constant measure of AID to the revolution.

Anyway, study as we may – history, economics, biology – much of our progress is going to be CHANCE progress, blind luck discovery that comes from CONSTANT STRUGGLE. The wisest among us have failed in the war in Europe. Sometimes the Capitalist way may DO MORE for us THAN OUR OWN WAY. I do not know. I only know that we shall never get anywhere on our own initiative unless we revolt, unless we rebel, unless we struggle.

The class war will have to be FOUGHT OUT. And every act of rebellion and revolt will make us better fighters for the overthrow of Capitalism, fighters with weapons tried and found effective. Revolt! Revolt again! And again Revolt!

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Last updated on 31 May 2022