Saturday, January 28, 2017

Letters To A Man (1917)

From the July 1917 issue of the Socialist Standard

Mr. Worker, - as your masters’ political agents are so fond of calling you at election times I may presume, by reason of your reading this paper, that you have at least a passing interest in “the things that matter.’’ viz., the eternal fight for existence. Being anything but a Socialist you are biased against Socialism. It doesn’t require a Sherlock Holmes to discover this fact, for if it were not so you would have joined the Socialist ranks long ago, because, as you will see, the Socialist Party is the only party, political or otherwise, which is fighting for the freedom of the working class.

Preposterous! I hear you say. But I have just cause for saying this. If a man in the street gave you a sovereign you would stay and listen with an interested mind to his explanation of why he did so. Socialism is not such a substance, to he bartered in the markets of the world, but it can assure even you and your children a life more pleasant than you can ever dream of.

As so many do, you admit, no doubt, that there is “something wrong,” and imagine that things will get better when party polities are once more the order of the day and the Liberals or the Conservatives get in—but will they?

You have been told, perhaps, that Socialism as an event is inconceivable. Was not a steam engine also “inconceivable” to the minds of men a thousand years ago?

Here are a few whys and wherefores for your digestion. Ponder over them and try, if you can, to disprove these statements.

Religion: An institution founded and resting upon the superstitions of mankind; a means whereby the superstitions regarding the unfathomable uncertainty of what is “beyond space,” is harboured and exploited to the end of keeping the people in subjection.

Army and Navy: Armed forces composed of, but nevertheless used for the suppression of, the working class; a means whereby the capitalist is enabled to exploit the people, and when the exploitation is so severe that the workers strike, to force them to submission; a weapon also to keep his markets in ether countries safe from brother capitalists, and to seize every opportunity that may be presented of extending his markets by force.

Capitalism: The present social system, based on private ownership of the tools and implements of production and the natural resources of the land, whereby the worker is forced to sell his labour-power for a pittance in order to obtain the necessaries of life. The improvements in machinery' and methods tending in all normal times to produce an army of unemployed, the capitalists are enabled to exploit the labourers to such an extent that the workers are crushed and beaten until their one absorbing reality is the struggle for existence.

Now Mr. Worker, ponder over these facts out in the “free and open” (but mind you are not standing on a landlord’s preserves) and ask yourself, not whether it is right—for with that we are not concerned but whether it agrees with your idea of the fitness of things that you should toil all your days for a bare subsistence, until age makes you no longer able to compete with your fellow workers in the labour market, when you are assisted out of this world through the medium of the workhouse or a dollar old age pension.

Not even then is exploitation complete, for a Board of Guardians has just found out that the soil in their cemetery, where the graves have been levelled off, is very fertile, and that potatoes should be grown there—"in the interest of the nation.”

Mr. Worker, it is to your interest, if you understand the position, to increase the membership of the only Socialist party in this country—the Socialist Party of Great Britain-- by yourself becoming a member of it.
A. J. Stuart

No comments: