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Gertrude Shaw

The Facts Speak Clearly: Socialism Points the Way to Progress!

(20 July 1942)

From Labor Action, Vol. 6 No. 29, 20 July 1942, p. 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

Saturday Evening Post Makes a Feeble Effort to Cure Capitalism of Its ‘Guilty Conscience’ – But It Can’t Be Done Because the Rotten Capitalist System IS Guilty and Incurable!

If there is anywhere a boss suffering from an inferiority complex, the average worker has certainly not come in contact with him. The average boss battles labor’s demands for betterment, holds out for his war profits on government contracts, pushes the OPA for higher prices for his commodities, has his dollar-a-year representative in Washington to go-get for him.

But the Saturday Evening Post is of the opinion that “One of the worst handicaps of our system of free enterprise has been the fact that so many of its beneficiaries (meaning the bosses) have inferiority complexes.” In the issue of July 11, one-half of its editorial page is devoted to advising the “beneficiaries” of the capitalist system to “STOP NURSING THAT GUILTY FEELING!”

And why have the “convinced believers in individual initiative and free competition” a guilty feeling? You’d be surprised. They “are disturbed by the fear that there may be something to the charges thrown at them by pinks and collectivists.” These sensitive bosses wonder if they have not “produced for profit and not for use, or been just plain predatory.”

Facts Teach Their Own Lessons

Time was when these “sufferers from an inferiority complex” blamed all their labor troubles on the “reds.”

Everything would be for the best in the very best of all possible worlds, if it weren’t for the socialist trying to give the worker a social goal and the union organizer trying to give the worker the leadership for organization. There was nothing wrong with the “system of free enterprise.” IT WAS ALL PROPAGANDA.

To which nonsense both the socialist and union organizer replied:

“Poverty, unemployment, industrial crises, wars are not the product of the socialist and the union organizer. They are the stink weeds of the capitalist system. They smell to high heaven. Conditions make the workers learn the lessons of industrial unionism and conditions compel the million masses to strive for a better social system.”

Now if, as the Saturday Evening Post claims, the capitalists have acquired an “inferiority complex” about their system of society, it is not the propaganda of the “pinks and collectivists” that has done them in. Conditions have been the workers’ best teacher, and conditions have shaken the faith of capitalists in their own system. If the editorial of the Saturday Evening Post has any meaning at all, it spells fear on its part that the “beneficiaries” of the system of free competition no longer have faith in it. So this smooth-sheet journal engages in a frantic effort to re-sell “good old” capitalism to the faithless capitalists. But before we know it, it is putting sales pressure on the workers.

“After all, it ought not to take unusual powers of observation to note that, if social gain is translated into terms of living standards, food, clothing, shelter, leisure and opportunity for spiritual development, our free enterprise system has produced more social gains than any other yet devised.”

This is definitely meant for the lower crust.

But to the sane human being the above looks like an ill-advised joke at this time. Fires, explosions, destruction, death, maiming, Sickness, want, starvation are running riot over the face of the world in the throes of war – a war as natural and inevitable an outgrowth of capitalism as old age is a natural and inevitable sequence of youth – and the glib editors of capitalist sheets blab about “the social gains” of capitalism.

These spokesmen for an outworn and vicious social system – for their own reasons – make no distinction between the scientific and technological progress of today and the capitalist system. The former sets the mark for production, but the latter determines how that production is used. History proves that the supreme use of capitalist production is total war.

An Argument That Won’t Hold Water

The apologists of every social system that has passed into history have always sought to justify its continuance by saying: “It’s the best yet.” Doubtless the patricians of the doomed Roman Empire used that limping argument, also the feudal lords, and now the whitewashers of capitalism. But human progress continues only by mankind looking forward – not back.

The Post editor tries to give some justification to this reactionary argument by pointing to the “collectivism” of Germany and Russia. Is what exists in these countries better than the system of free competition? he implicitly asks. But this is only giving humanity a choice between different kinds of cancer. The answer is very simple. Humanity wants no kind of social cancer.

Not the totalitarian Nazi dictatorship which is the ultra-ruthless and efficient organization of capitalism, to wage the most daring imperialist war in history. Not the equally ruthless dictatorship of the Stalinist bureaucrats who have betrayed the October Revolution, fastened themselves on the backs of the Russian masses to exploit them, and participate in the imperialist war with no other purpose than to continue their own power. And not the “system of free competition” which has long ago become a myth – the reality is American monopolist capitalism rapidly being transformed by the war into its own brand of totalitarianism.

Really! This Gag Is Too, Too Old!

To the socialist accusation that capitalism “produces for profit,” the Post editor asks: “Who got the real profit from our automobile industry – the stockholders or the owners of 30,000,000 automobiles?” That is so old a gag that it has long flowing whiskers.

The vast capital accumulated by the automobile industry tells the story of who got the “real profit.” It might be mentioned – in passing, – that the 30,000,000 “automobile owners” include millions who own tireless, brakeless, roofless jalopies used by them in their ceaseless hunt for a livelihood which capitalism does not allow them. As if to clinch his case for capitalism, the editor declares:

“Because there have been confusion, stupidity, bad distribution and poverty amid plenty’ under a free economy, we mistakenly assume that such things are not possible, in a socialist economy.”

That all-inclusive “we” will be handled later. But it is no mistake for the workers to assume that the socialist society will make bad distribution and poverty amid plenty impossible.

For under the socialist society the means of production will be free to provide for the needs of the people. The capitalist profit-makers will have passed into the limbo of history. The working people will be in control of industry and government. A little confusion, a little stupidity, there may be. However, not as the characteristics of socialism, as they are the characteristics of capitalism; but merely as the natural mistakes made by human beings on the road to a better life.

The Facts Speak for Socialism

And now to the kernel of this significant editorial. There is purposely a merging of the classes – the use of “we” to indicate both the exploiters and the exploited. There is also the deliberate fusing of all so-called “collective systems” into one. No distinction is made between fascism and socialism. However, out of this studied mishmash emerges the editor’s twofold purpose: To turn the eyes of the workers away from socialism – and the eyes of certain of the “beneficiaries” of “our system of free enterprise” away from fascism.

But the editor himself indicates the futility of his effort. His final cry is for “a new and better propaganda technique.” He concludes:

“It ought not to be beyond the means of a great productive society to make its virtues so apparent that people will stop hankering for socialistic beehives. Up to now, however, the precise means of accomplishing this easy exercise in persuasion has eluded us.”

Precisely. Because history is made by facts, not fictions.” The fact is that “our system of free enterprise” will not survive the war – not because of lack of “a new and better propaganda technique,” but because; it is outworn. Whether fascism or socialism will be the order of society after the war depends on what the working class does. Its struggle for socialism cannot be postponed.

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