From the July 1916 issue of the Socialist Standard
The statement always made by the Socialist that the capitalist system is responsible for the horrors of modern society still awaits the bold economist to explode it. The basis of society, the private ownership of the means of life, breeds the most hideous manifestations. The capitalist class, who own and control the means of wealth production and distribution, force the working class in order to live to operate those instruments for the profit of the former class. The wealth filched from the producers is sold upon the open market, and the workers, because they only receive a portion thereof as wages in return for their labour-power, cannot buy back the whole of their product. The result is the inevitable congestion of the market, with the consequent stagnation and crisis.
The capitalist class — national and international—being in possession of the wealth stolen from the workers, compete with each other for the control of the world’s markets. This capitalist class, split into warring factions, are continually embroiled in trouble over the disposal of the wealth on the markets, but they present a solid front to the workers whenever the latter get out of hand in the endeavour to better their conditions of life. We have just witnessed in Ireland an example, where, as a result of an incorrect conception of their position in society, thousands of working men and women flocked into the Sinn Fein movement, only to be butchered by their oppressors in control of the armed forces of the Skate.
It is true that the Irish workers have a fearful struggle to live, like the rest of their class the world over. But an anti-social movement like theirs, with “Ireland for Irishmen” for its slogan, was doomed to failure from the start. We, the working men and women who form the Socialist Party of Great Britain, sympathise with our fellow workers in Ireland in their struggle against the hideously squalid conditions that prevail among them, but must record our hostility to any movement that is not based upon the class struggle.
The blood-thirsty gang known as the international capitalist class know full well the horrible conditions that are rampant among the wealth producers, but while they pretend to condole with them, they do not intend to ease by a fraction the exploitation to which they subject them. Just at the moment when the various European governments are proclaiming that the war is being waged in the interests of their workers, it is well not to forget the awful conditions that are the lot of the toiling masses. Whether in London, Paris, Berlin, or Rome, in spite of the plausible tales of the reptile Press, millions of working men, women, and children are without even the bare necessaries of life. Writing on the Irish revolt one of the retired prize-fighters of the master class, while giving HIS opinion why the workers were led to the shambles, incidentally showed the state of things that prevail in one of OUR possessions.
The glorious British Empire! Such conditions as the above prevail wherever you care to travel in the much-vaunted, world wide dominions. Nor are these conditions confined to the British Empire, but they prevail wherever the private ownership in the means of life obtains.
Until the working class understand the class struggle, and recognise that the capitalist system and its parasitic class are alone responsible for the whole of the horrors we now witness, the common anomalies always prevalent, i.e., abject poverty and misery on one hand and riotous luxury and affluence on the other; international trade wars for markets and sea routes with their attendant bloodshed, will run concurrently with the cruel and ceaseless slaughter of the workers from the prolongation of the worst of all wars—the Class War.
The only hope lies in the deluded, toiling masses of wealth producers mustering under the crimson banner of Socialism, determined to gain control of the machinery of government, including the armed forces, to use it as the agent of emancipation, and to usher in the system of society based upon the common ownership of the means of life; the social system wherein the interests of the human family shall form a harmonious whole.
C. F. Carter