Australian Socialist League 1904

Report of the Australian Socialist League to the International Socialist Congress at Amsterdam

by James O. Moroney

Source: "Reason in Revolt", Source documents of Australian Radicalism;
First Published: by the Australian Socialist League. 251 Castlereagh St., Sydney. August 14, 1904;
Transcribed: by Chris Clayton;
Proofed: and corrected by Nicole McKenzie.

To the International Socialists, In Congress Assembled.

Comrades: — We, members of the Australian Socialist League, located in the City of Sydney, State of New South Wales, Australia, being unable on account of distance and lack of funds to send delegates to the Congress, forward by letter greetings to all organized Socialists in Congress met, and a brief history and statement of the Socialist Movement here as we see and know it since Congress last met.

The Australian Socialist League is the only political organization — with its party, the Socialist Labor Party — standing definitely for uncompromising Socialism, having within the last three years contested two Federal and one State election, and, at the time of writing, preparing for a coming State election.

In 1901 the first elections under the Federal constitution were held, and under the constitution the States were one electorate, each returning to the Senate six Senators and it being mandatory for each voter to record a vote for six of the candidates or his vote would be informal. The League placed six candidates in the field with the following result: A. Thomson, 5,823; J. O. Moroney, 4,257; H. E. Holland, 4,771; J. Neill, 5,032; J. J. Monish, 3,109; T. Melling, 3,405.

The State of New South Wales was, until 1904, divided into 125 electorates, each electorate returning one member to its State Parliament. The League contested five electorates with this result: J. Neill, 30; A. Thomson, 24; H. E. Holland, 33; J. Monish, 58; J. O. Moroney, 180.

In December of last year — 1903 — the Federal elections took place and the League placed three candidates in the field for the Senate, the conditions being similar, the State one electorate, and mandatory on the part of the voter to record his or her vote for three of the candidates to render his or her vote formal.

But the first Federal had passed an electoral act which contained a penalising clause compelling each candidate to deposit with his or her nomination paper a sum of 225 to be forfeited in the event of the candidate not polling one-fifth of the votes polled by the lowest successful candidate. This to us meant a fine of 275 for placing our candidates in the field to uphold Socialist principles.

The Socialist Labor Party’s vote was: A. Thomson, 25,975; J. O. Moroney; 25,924; F. H. Drake, 17,870; and after making deduction it is safe to assert that fully 8,000 of the votes polled by our lowest candidate were those of convinced Socialists. The Capitalist Class nominees polled: First, 192,987; second, 191,170; third, 188,860; so that we forfeited our 275 deposit.

The Australian Socialist League owns and issues weekly a four page newspaper, “The People,” which is the only Socialist paper published in the Australian Commonwealth.

In the other Australian States there exist organizations more or less socialistic, under such names as International Socialist, Vanguard, Fellowship, and Social Democratic clubs. None of them take definite political action, being mere adherents of the existing Parliamentary Labor Parties of the different States, who endeavor not to overthrow the capitalist system, but to make such system bearable, being destitute of any revolutionary aim.

In Australia, notwithstanding what newspaper men and others have written about the socialistic nature of the laws, there IS NO SOCIALISM. We are faced with exactly the same economic conditions as obtain in all capitalist countries. Thousands lack employment, and poverty, with its attendant misery and degradation is always with us.

In most of the Australian States the railways, and in some the tramways, are owned and managed by the government on strictly commercial principles. In other directions the State has extended its functions and employs labor direct. But the worker remains in Australia, whether employed by the State government or the individual private employer, and exploited wage slave, as is his exploited fellow wage slave in other countries.

In conclusion, the appended manifesto sets out clearly our economic, industrial and political attitude. For years to come our primary work must be the making of Socialists, and, isolated as we are, to some extent we must carry on that work in our own way. In other words, we must “develop the capacity to abolish Australian Capitalism,” aided by the experience of our comrades in other countries when that experience fits Australian industrial, economic and political conditions.

On behalf of the Central Executive Committee,

James O. Moroney,
General Secretary.
May 11, 1904.

Manifesto of the Australian Socialist League.

To the mental and manual Working Class and all other honest Citizens of the Australian Commonwealth, we Socialists [...] to organize with us in the Australian Socialist League, because we are face to face with conditions that require united action of our class at the ballot box. It is to point out those conditions that we have prepared this Manifesto, and we hope that every member of the Working Class into whose hands it may fall read it carefully. For it is only by careful reading and close investigation that we (the Working Class) can learn the cause of our industrial and economic enslavement and how to free ourselves.

The Present Form of Society.

The present form of Society rests on ownership of the land and the tools of production.

The owners of most of the land and the tools of production constitute what are economically known as the Capitalist Class. Hence the use of the term: The Capitalist form of Society.

Two Classes in the Australian Commonwealth.

Ownership divides Society in the Australian Commonwealth as in all capitalistic countries into two distinct classes.

One is the class of Employers, and the other is the class of Wageworkers.

The employers are the Capitalist Class; and the Wageworkers are the Working Class.

The Working Class Sustain Society.

While the Working Class, by their labor, produce to-day — as in the past — the wealth that sustains Society, they lack economic and industrial security, suffer from overwork, enforced idleness, and their attendant miseries, all of which are due to the present capitalist form of Society.

The Capitalist Class.

The Capitalist Class, through the ownership of most of the land and the tools of production — which are necessary for the production of food, clothing, shelter and fuel — hold the Working Class in complete economic and industrial subjection, and thus live on the labor of the Working Class.

The Working Class.

The Working Class, in order to secure food, clothing, shelter and fuel, must sell their labor-power to the owning Capitalist Class — that is to say, they must work for the Capitalist Class. The Working Class do all the useful work of Society, they are the producers of all the wealth of the world, while the Capitalist Class are the exploiters who live on the wealth produced by the Working Class.

Class Interests.

As the Capitalist Class live out of the product of the Working Class, the interest of the Working Class is diametrically opposed to the interest of the Capitalist Class. The Capitalist Class — owning as they do, most of the land and the tools of production — employ the Working Class, buy their labor-power, and return to them in the form of wages, only part of the wealth they have produced. The rest of the wealth produced by the Working Class the Capitalist Class keep; it constitutes their profit — i.e., rent, interest, and dividends.

Thus the Working Class produce their own wages as well as the profits of the Capitalist Class. In other words, the Working Class work a part only of each day to produce their wages, and the rest of the day to produce surplus (profits) for the owning Capitalist Class.

The interest of the Capitalist Class is to get all the surplus (profits) possible out of the labor of the Working Class. The interest of the Working Class is to get the full product of their labor.

The Class Struggle.

Hence there is a struggle between these two classes. This struggle is called the “Class Struggle.” It is a struggle between the owning Capitalist Class — which must continue to exploit the Working Class in order to live — and the non-owning Working Class, who, in order to live must work for the owners of the land and the tools of production. To win Economic Freedom the non-owning Working Class must force this struggle into the political field and use their political power (the ballot) to abolish Capitalist Class ownership, and thus revolutionize in the interests of the Working Class the entire structure of industrial Society.

The Use of Political Power.

The Capitalist Class, who own most of the land and the tools of production, own the Government and govern the Working Class, not for the well-being of the Working Class but for the well-being and profit of the Capitalist Class.

It is only by using their political power that the Capitalist Class make their exploitation of the Working Class legal and the oppression of their system constitutional. And it is only by using their political power that the Working Class can make their own exploitation illegal and their own oppression unconstitutional. It is only by the use of their political power that the Working Class can abolish Capitalist Class rule and privilege, and establish a planful form of Society based on the Collective Ownership of all the land and the tools of production, in which equal industrial right shall be the share of all.

The Middle Class.

There exists between the Capitalist Class and the Working Class a number of small farmers, small manufacturers, small storekeepers, and self-employed workers, who together constitute what is called the Middle Class; all of whom do business on a small scale, generally with out-of-date machinery, or no machinery and who are therefore unable to compete with the Capitalist Class whose gigantic factories, farms, and shops are equipped with the best labor-and-wage-saving machinery, which lowers the cost of production and thus forces the small Middle Class outside the margin of profit. The Capitalist Class system of concentration in Company, Syndicate, Combine and Trust absorbs a few of the small Middle Class, but thrusts by far the greater part of them into the ranks of the Wageworking Class, to there intensify the existing struggle. As a class, the Middle Class are being assimilated by the evolution of the Capitalist System.

The Future.

We, Socialists, organized in the Australian Socialist League declare that to the Working Class belong the future. Organized in the political party of the League — the Socialist Labor Party — the Working Class (and all other honest persons in the Commonwealth) can, through the ballot box, abolish the Capitalist System of Ownership with its accompanying Class Rule and Class Oppression, and establish in its place Socialism — an Industrial Democracy — wherein all the land and the tools of production shall be the Collective property of the whole people, to be operated by the whole people for the production of commodities for use and not for profit. We ask the Working Class of the Australian Commonwealth to organize with us and the Socialist forces of the world to end the domination of Private Ownership — with its poverty-breeding system of planless production — and substitute in its place the Socialist Co-operative Commonwealth in which every worker shall have the free exercise and full benefit of his or her faculties, multiplied by all the modern factors of civilization.

The following is the Australian Socialist Labor Party’s full Ticket for the Senate:


If you believe in Socialism VOTE the FULL Ticket.

Presented to the International Socialist Congress of Amsterdam, August 14, 1904, by the delegate of the Socialist Labor Party of the United States of America, with credentials from the Australian Socialist League empowering him to act on its behalf.

Daniel De Leon,
Delegate of the Socialist Labor Party
of the United States of America.