From the March 1929 issue of the Socialist Standard
The Socialist's view of life is essentially historical. That is to say, he takes the widest possible view of human experience, seeing in the past the raw material which the present is constantly converting into the future.
Old facts and new facts alike provide food for his mind, and having inwardly digested them, he reviews ideas, both new and old, in the light of the knowledge so obtained. In all this he follows the scientific method.
The stage of social life is his laboratory. By abstract analysis he discovers the inner forces of that life and, having traced their laws, he comprehends the play; but he is not an inactive spectator merely. He is also one of the players, and his understanding is necessary to the effective performance of his part.
For the drama of human development has reached a crisis. Men and women are about to become the masters of things which have used them hitherto as puppets. “From slavery to freedom'' is the battle cry taken up by an ever-increasing number of the players.
What is this slavery? And what, this freedom? For ages the primary and fundamental activity of mankind has been work, work! To win from Nature a firmer footing for the race. To develop the powers slumbering in human nerve and sinew. To construct an artificial substitute for the crude, merciless, “God-given” arena of savage strife.
Few have lived to enjoy the fruits of their toil. Fewer still have managed to live upon the toil of others. The many have toiled under varying conditions, that these few, the brave, the powerful and the crafty should fight and govern and scheme to enjoy the wealth and leisure so created. For who, given the choice, would prefer toil to the life of ease?
The whip of the slave-driver, the sword of the baron, and the menace of hunger. These have been, and are, the weapons which have flogged, prodded and terrified men and women to their daily task; and, as each weapon has given way in turn to a more effective one, so the productivity of toil has grown till even the most gigantic scheme of waste cannot rid the markets of the wares which glut them. So numbers now know idleness, indeed, but starve!
They may not work! Refinement of slavery—even the slave’s first need is denied them. They must not feed and clothe and house themselves, for much of the food, clothing and housing in existence cannot be sold!
Money, devised to circulate commodities, gravitates in narrowing circles and decrees stagnation. Choked with wealth, the masters condemn their slaves to poverty.
“Enough! Cease toil!"
“Cease toil?" the workers cry. “Is this some sudden freak, or mockery of Fate, that, not having won the ease for which we strive, we yield its only pledge?" And yet there is no cloud but has its lining of shining silver. Let but the toilers turn the cloud of oppression about and they will see the answer to their riddle.
Mankind has won the age-long battle with external Nature. Security for all is ours for the taking. There, in the idle factories, pits and deserted fields lie the means to feed and clothe and house the human race. Here are our hands, brains and muscles ready, willing and eager for the task.
What holds them back? The Law!
Framed through centuries by the rich and mighty, by the aid of their hirelings to fetter the creative giant.
Yet even the guns which thunder at their bidding, the swords they rattle, the latest fiend's device of prostituted science, they, too, are the products of our toil. What we produce shall we not control? Do we lack the will to struggle and endure till victory be ours, who all our lives have known nought else but ceaseless struggle and grim endurance with empty pockets for our pains?