William F. Warde

Are Capitalist Bosses Necessary?

(11 October 1941)

Source: The Militant, Vol. V No. 41, 11 October 1941, p. 6.
(William F. Warde was a pseudonym of George Novack.)
Transcription/Editing/HTML Markup: 2019 by Einde O’Callaghan.
Public Domain: George Novack Internet Archive 2019. This work is completely free. In any reproduction, we ask that you cite this Internet address and the publishing information above.

Capitalists Have No Useful Function

Parasitic ruling classes have always spread the idea that they are indispensable. The more useless they become, the more insistently they try to impress this illusion upon workers’ minds. Between beatings, slaveholders have always preached to their slaves: “How lucky you are to have us on your backs to direct you. You couldn’t get along without us.”

In reality, the slaveholders live on the toil and produce of their slaves and couldn’t exist without them. But to keep the slaves in submission and uphold their system of exploitation, the slavemasters are forced to twist the real state of affairs into its opposite.

So the modern slaveholders, the capitalists, contend, in order to justify their existence, that they alone are competent to rule the state and control industry. Their spokesmen maintain that workers are slaves by nature and therefore cannot be permitted to assume commanding positions in political and economic life or in military matters, without overturning the foundations of civilization.

As a matter of fact, the opposite is true. The capitalist class possesses its present power, property rights, and privileges as a result of long outgrown historical conditions. This class of parasites no longer performs any essential functions in modern society, any more than the appendix performs any useful function in the human body. Today the decayed capitalist class, like a diseased appendix, imperils the very life of humanity. This source of infection must be removed before society can regain its health – and only the revolutionary working class can perform that surgical operation.

The life of society does not depend today upon the capitalist exploiters but upon the working mass they oppress and exploit. If these workers put down their tools, then production stops. But if every stockholder in General Motors were to die or be dispossessed tomorrow, the workers in the plants would continue to turn out automobiles. Moreover, if the rich monopolists were wiped out by the socialist revolution, the workers could then produce autos for themselves and everyone to use, instead of tanks and machine guns with which to slaughter each other for imperialist profits.

The worker who now operates a lathe can direct a machine shop tomorrow and an entire industry the day after. This has been done under capitalism by a few individual workers who ascend higher in the social ranks, break away from their original class, and, like Chrysler and Knudsen, become big bosses themselves. What is done by isolated individuals under capitalism can and will be done collectively by the mass of organized workers under socialism, who will own, organize and operate industry by means of democratic councils. They will then produce not for the enrichment of a few but for the enjoyment of all.

Bosses Try to Belittle Working Class

The capitalist rulers try in every way to keep the workers down and to lessen their self-confidence. They want to prevent the workers from understanding their own organized power and from developing their capacities as a class destined to rule and reorganize the world. Many years ago workers were told they couldn’t build their own trade unions and administer them. Nevertheless the workers went ahead and created powerful, streamlined unions like the United Auto Workers and others.

Now that the trade-union movement has fought its way to recognition and influence, the capitalist spokesmen shift their ground to hold back the workers from further advances. They try to discourage the workers from forming their own independent political organizations in the shape of a Labor Party based upon the trade unions. And if the workers of this country succeed in striking out on their own in the political field, the agents of the bosses will then strive to dissuade them from taking power.

The workers can learn how to answer these reactionary arguments from the history of the capitalists themselves. The feudal monarchs and nobles once regarded the rising bourgeoisie as contemptuously as that boss class now treats the workers. The aristocrats asserted that the divine, hereditary right of managing state affairs and deciding great economic questions belonged to them alone. The merchants and manufacturers were supposed to be fit for nothing but storekeeping and servility. That did not prevent the revolutionary representatives of capitalism from demanding and winning supreme economic and political power.

The Southern slaveholders who dominated the United States before the Civil War thought and taught that the Northern industrialists and financiers should bow before them. These very capitalists crushed the slaveholders during the Civil War and conquered the power they have exercised since.

Only the Workers Can Run Society

The workers of the United States can also learn from the history of them own class. In 1917 the Russian workers demonstrated that the workers can take power, end war, and defend their country against internal enemies. In the succeeding years, despite enormous difficulties and despite their setbacks and sufferings under the Stalinist bureaucratic regime, they managed to lift their economy to new heights and to provide strong defenses for their state. What the Soviet workers of the USSR have accomplished under incredibly hard conditions, the workers of the United States can certainly do under far more favorable circumstances.

Today, it is no longer debatable whether or not the workers should take power and run society. They must do so. For the second time within a generation the imperialists are running amok. If arsonists were running wild in a community, threatening to reduce everything to ashes, people would be obliged and justified to get rid of them. So the imperialist maniacs who are spreading the fires of war must be disarmed and dispossessed by the workers if civilization is to be saved.

Let the organized workers take power and they will learn the art of governing and technique of economic administration no less easily then the capitalists. And they will make social advances that capitalism never dreams of!


Last updated on: 25 March 2019