Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Why Socialists Oppose Anarchism. Its Fallacies and Dangers Exposed. (1911)

From the August 1911 issue of the Socialist Standard

The Difference is Fundamental
The evils of modern society stand out for all men to see, but the remedy is far less obvious. To arrive at the conclusion that Socialism is the real remedy involves patient study and investigation of the affairs of modern life.

Unfortunately, there are some workers who shun the duty of thinking out these “problems,” and they, therefore, fall a prey to the plausible plea of the Anarchist, who misrepresents, besides misunderstanding, the views of the Socialist.

The idea widely prevails that the difference between Socialism and Anarchism is simply one of methods—the end in view being the same. Far is this from being the case, however. The whole philosophy of the Socialist is at variance with the Anarchist position. A brief survey of the history of the Anarchist theory will make that clear.

The pioneer of Anarchism was Max Stirner, who, in “The Individual .and his Property” (published in 1845), expounded the “philosophy” that lies at the root of all Anarchist teaching. The only “reality” that he recognised was that of the individual. In his own words:
  “Away with everything that is not wholly and solely thy own affair. You think that my own concerns must at least be good ones? A fig for good and evil! I am I, and I am neither good nor evil. Neither has any meaning for me. The godly is the affair of God, the human that of humanity. My concern is neither the Good, the Right, the Free, etc., but simply my own self, and it is not general, it is individual as I myself am individual.”
Stirner’s views may well be summed up as Idealism run mad. For him there was no such process as evolution in society and the majority of the institutions of social life were but phantoms. He starts with a pure abstraction, the individual, but this afterwards stands unmasked as an individual of the bourgeoisie!

Very Much Like Capitalism.
It is in opposing Communism that Stirner — as is inevitable with the logical Anarchist — shows the bourgeois nature of his ideal.
   “Communists think that the Commune should be property owner. On the contrary I am a property owner and can only agree with others as to my property. I am the owner of property but property is not sacred. Should I only be the holder of property? No, hitherto one was only the holder of property, assured of possession of a piece of land, but now everything belongs to me. I am the owner of everything I need and can get hold of. If the Socialist says society gives me what I need the Egoist says I take what I want. If the Communists behave like beggars the Egoist behaves like an owner of property.”
Stirner only objected to the State of his day because it interfered with his freedom as owner of commodities. Individual “rights” and desires were alone to be regarded, and to maintain them he advocated the formation of “Leagues of Egoists.” Shades of Individualism !

Stirner was followed by Proudhon, who took the same Utopian point of view. The whole mechanism of our social life is not the growth of more and more complex relations between man and man—developed through the connection established by industrial operations — but is born of men’s ideas! “The political constitution was conceived and gradually completed in the interest of order for want of a social constitution, the rules and principles of which could only be discovered as a result of long experience, and are even to-day the subject of Socialist controversy.” (“Confessions of a Revolutionist." ) ,

Hence we see that epochs in human history are not viewed as necessary stages in the upward march of men from the time when, faced with only the elemental forces of nature, they slowly but steadily became masters of implements and powers, and by their influence arose the differing and progressing forms of social life. No, the Anarchist says that right down the ages men have been seeking.the perfect society ; but it is only discovered in all its charm and beauty, now — by the Anarchists!

The Utopian Spirit of Anarchism.
Stirner and Proudhon have been dealt with to show the Utopian nature of Anarchism in all its majesty. Go right through the Anarchist writings, from Stirner to Bakunine and Kropotkin and notice the same spirit through it all. Like all Utopians, they start out with an abstract principle, and endeavour to apply it so as to form a perfect society.

Proudhon plainly showed in his “Philosophy of Misery,” the petty bourgeois nature of his “system.” Individual ownership and control of the instruments of industry, with State regulation of prices so as to avoid industrial crises !

This great Anarchist even denounced Trades Unionism as as outrage against “the liberty of the individual.” This is the man whom Kropotkin acclaims as “the founder of Anarchism.”

Proudhon’s theories underwent but slight change at the hands of his successor. Michael Bakunine, “the Apostle of Universal Destruction.” Although claiming to believe in the common ownership of the means of life, his views demonstrated that Individual Anarchism is the only logical alternative to the opponent of Socialism.

At a Congress in Berne in 1869 Bakunine pleaded for ‘'the economical and social equalisation of classes and individuals.” This is the same as Proudhon's theory of the unity of Capital and Labour. Continuing, Bakunine said "I detest Communism because it is the negation of Liberty.” The mental kinship of Bakunine with his Utopian predecessors is well established by his idealistic views. “I desire the radical extirpation of the principle of the authority and tutelage of the State, which has until now enslaved, exploited, oppressed and depraved men. I desire the abolition of property, individually hereditary, which is nothing hut a result of the principle of the State.”

Anarchism Ignores Evolution.
The private ownership of the means of life has its roots, then, in the principle of the State!

Bakunine’s influence is very marked on his follower, the leading living Anarchist, Prince Kropotkin. Like the whole school of Anarchists, be ignores the trend of social evolution and invents a “perfect society” of the future. In the “Conquest of Bread” he says “It is of an Anarchist Communist society that we are about to speak, a society that will recognise the absolute liberty of the individual." (Chap. XII.) In his address to the Jura Federation he said : “This ideal is not the product of the dreams of the study, but flows directly from the popular aspirations, that is in accord with the historical progress of culture and ideas.” This metaphysical vein permeates all Anarchist teaching. Jean Grave, the prominent French Anarchist, in his “Moribund Society and Anarchy," tells us that the conceptions of Anarchists "are in harmony with the physiological and psychological nature of man and in harmony with the observance of natural laws, while our actual organisation has been established in contradiction of all good logic and all good sense.”

The Socialist is a materialist, the Anarchist an idealist. The Socialist recognises social development as a consequence of the evolution of economic forces. The Anarchist view is well stated by Kropotkin in ‘Anarchism: Its Philosophy and Ideal," as follows: “ The fact is that each phase of development of a society is a resultant of all the activities of the intellects which compose that society; it bears the imprint of all those millions of wills."

The Socialist Position
With the materialist conception of history as his guide, the Socialist correctly grasps the relation which prevailing institutions hear to the slavery of the working class. But turn to the bewilderingly vague writings of the Anarchists and you will find them filled with the most vain tirades against the State and every form of authority. “The State," “Authority," and “Law" are held to be the real cause of the workers’ sufferings, and the immediate abolition of the State is said to be "the only way."

Against this the Socialist places the scientific position. The State is not born of a despot's ideas —conceived and built up to do his bidding. Frederick Engels. in his brilliant work “The Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State," shows that the State as we know it, is but the final form of an institution which fulfilled a useful service in the social economy of the past. It arose as a part of the division of labour in early societies, and carried on the administration of public affairs. The advent of private property in the means of producing wealth gradually influenced the form of the State till it became the instrument of the ruling class.

The State has been the State of the chattel-slave owner, the State of the feudal nobility, and now it is the State of the industrial capitalist. It exists to day because there is a class to be kept in subjection. When the present subject class become organised and seize political power, their supremacy will have sounded the death-knell of the State. The working class being the last class to achieve its freedom, its emancipation will end class distinctions: neither a dominant nor a subject class can exist when the ownership of the means of life is vested in the community.

Anarchists are fond of accusing Socialists of wanting to increase the power of the State. Marx and Engels are denounced by Kropotkin (“Conquest of Bread’’ and elsewhere) for this reason. Yet every student of these Socialist pioneers knows that they pointed out that when the toilers triumph the day of the State will be gone for ever. The Anarchist lament about tyranny under Socialism will be seen to be without foundation. Tyranny presupposes power, but when the instruments of production are commonly owned, power to oppress can no longer exist. Further, when wealth is no longer privately owned there is no incentive to tyrannise. There are no clashing interests —the mainspring of tyranny.

All Anarchist conceptions are vitiated by their misunderstanding of the nature of society. W C. Owen, in the pamphlet “Anarchy versus Socialism,’’ says: “Anarchy concentrates its attention on the individual, considering that only when absolute justice is done to him or her will it be possible to have a healthy and happy society. For society is merely the ordinary individual multiplied indefinitely." The Socialist, on the contrary, holds to the view accepted universally in scientific circles to-day, viz., that society is something more than a number of individuals—society is an organism. Even the great anti-Socialist, Herbert Spencer, proved conclusively the organic nature of society.

As the result of their erroneous view, the Anarchists are wholly concerned with the individual. “Absolute liberty of the individual” is their cry. Ever busy discussing the “rights” of the individual and the tyranny of other than individual control of affairs, they lose sight of the importance of the economic necessities of society itself.

Consider the possibilities and needs of modern life. A great population covers the globe. These people need “food, clothing, and shelter” and a hundred and one other things that centuries of economic advance have accustomed them to and made part of their standard needs. How are these things to be supplied ? What are the means at our disposal ? To provide the things required the great machinery, etc., has to be used in accordance with the best and most productive methods. Association of the wealth producers is an imperative necessity of the future. This involves the organisation of industry, the division of labour, and the arrangement of processes in proper sequence. The distribution of wealth has to be organised, too, otherwise chaos and starvation ensue.

This is where Anarchism plainly fails, for it repudiates the very mainspring of organisation. It proclaims each individual a law unto himself. It stands for the universal play of “free agreement.” Apply that to industrial life and see how it would work out.

If the production and distribution of social necessaries were to wait on the “free agreement” of all the industrial population to certain methods being pursued; if industry were to depend upon the whim and caprice of the members of society, then Nemesis would await us. The running of a railroad, the sailing of a ship, the building of a bridge, all these involve centralised control and speedy action.

The Socialist does not advocate Socialism as “the perfect system.” He seeks but to adapt institutions and customs to the changes in the mode of producing wealth. He claims that, subject to evolution, therefore, imperfect though it be, it is the best system possible in the circumstances that face us.

The common ownership of wealth is decreed as the only alternative to private ownership, and the method of production conditions the method of control. Democratic control is the complement of communal ownership. The Anarchist hates democracy, while the Socialist takes it for his constant guide. The Anarchist rejects the view that the emancipation of the workers must be the work of the masses, and believes that the action of an “intelligent minority” suffices. The rest will be carried along. Autocracy is the logical outcome of his method, and reaction the inevitable aftermath. Majority decisions are anathema to the Anarchist.  He asserts that “the majority have ever erred.” Let us again quote Owen’s pamphlet.
  “If the workers were to come into possession of the means of production tomorrow, the administration, under the most perfect system of universal suffrage—which we attained in this country years ago, and have been vainly trying to doctor into decent shape for generations past —would simply result in the creation of a special class of political managers, professing to act for the welfare of the majority. Were they as honest as the day, which it is folly to expect, they could only carry out the dictates of the majority, and those who did not agree to those dictates would find themselves outcasts.”
How do the Anarchists propose to administer affairs? How are means of production to be controlled? Kropotkin, in “Anarchist Communism, its Basis and Principles," says they "must be managed in common by the producers of wealth.” Though freely denouncing democratic methods the Anarchists never face facts and state how the socially owned means of production are to be “commonly controlled” except through democratic channels (i.e., “under the most perfect system of universal suffrage”). Individualist-Anarchism offers the only retreat for the “Anarchist-Communist,” and this involves the individual ownership and control of wealth producing instruments. In other words, the evolution of industry and the immense amount of wealth now required for our use must be ignored, and we are to return to handicraft and petty enterprise!

Democracy, to the Socialist, does not only mean the counting of heads. It implies opening all the means of knowledge to the entire population; giving access to every source of information and advancement to all — thus ensuring, as far as is humanly possible, that the vote is the deliberate expression of the will of equals. And if all do not agree, then ample justification exists for acting on the decision of the majority in matters of social importance. There is no other way. The minority are ever free to try to change the opinions of the majority, but they must loyally abide by the supreme views in the meantime. Without this all organisation is impossible, whether its ramifications extend to society or are extremely limited.

Though the Anarchists condemn democratic procedure, by stating that nobody can represent us but ourselves, they have to destroy their own theory when they begin to act. Of course, such times are very infrequent, but one such occurred at the last Anarchist congress (Amsterdam, Aug. 1907). There representatives of various bodies in different countries attended, and besides voting, they constituted an International Bureau "composed of five delegates." (“Freedom” report.)

That is the Anarchist tribute to the soundness of Socialist criticism. It must be obvious that great populations cannot come together and discuss and arrange all matters in detail, but must delegate their authority to representatives. 'Though the “Referendum” and “Initiative” are serviceable methods, they must be supplemented by delegation when occasion demands. Even the first two methods turn on majority rule in the last analysis.

In economics the Anarchist rivals the Anti-Socialist in misrepresentation of the Socialist position. Kropotkin attacks Marx (in “The Wage System") for advocating the use of labour notes as a method of paying wages under Socialism, in spite of Marx’s repudiation of them in his "Critique of Political Economy" and the “Poverty of Philosophy.”

Marx and Engels analysed capitalist society and laid bare the process of exploiting the working class. In his three great volumes on the Production and Circulation of Capital, Marx demonstrates the true nature of Value, Price, end Profit, and buttresses his own theories by quotations from the classic writers of the nineteenth century. Yet the Anarchist “economists” continually accuse him of accepting the views of Smith, Ricardo, and others, without independent inquiry!
“It was from Malthus’ supposed law of population that Ricardo deduced his famous theory of rent which Henry George has made familiar to everybody, and on which Marx founded hie ‘Scientific Socialism ’ ” !
Thus the Anarchist pamphlet “Anarchy and Malthus,” by C. L. James, published recently. In it we are also told that “the difference between Anarchism and Socialism as we usually understand the later term is the difference between Malthus and Ricardo."

The whole pamphlet is typical of Anarchist confusion. Malthus’ moonshine is supported, and no praise seems sufficient for the priestly defender of the must inhuman methods capitalism used in its prime. Malthus is commended “with those who abolished slavery, repealed the Corn Laws, put an end to imprisonment for debt,” and “ established the policy of peace.” Apart from this highly imaginative “history,” the Anarchist forgets to remark that Malthus was mainly occupied with such things as opposing Poor law relief “because it fostered the perpetuation of the unfit.”

Kropotkin’s “criticism” of the Marxian Surplus-Value theory is remarkable. He says (“Conquest of Bread"): "The evil of the present organisation is not that the ‘surplus-value' of production passes over to the capitalist—as Robertus and Marx had contended. Surplus value itself is only a consequence of more profound causes. The evil is that there can be any kind of ‘surplus value,' instead of a surplus not consumed by each generation.”

Kropotkin and his followers also attack Marx for his scientific theory that control over capital concentrates into proportionately fewer hands along with its expansion. This is so plainly seen to-day that it is superfluous to deal with the Anarchists denial.

In the foregoing the unscientific and visionary character of Anarchist “philosophy” is established beyond cavil. Anarchism attracts to its ranks a motley gathering. Its lack of cohesion, its individualism and its Utopianism, have enabled it to embrace the most ill assorted set of votaries that ever nestled under one banner. From the proud Prince Kropotkin to the official John Turner, it includes suppliers of every movement but ours. From Malthusians to anti morganatic marriage apostles, advocates of eight-hour and other piece-meal reforms, supporters of the Liberal Government like Morrison Davidson, and of the Labour Party like Edward Carpenter—these are the revolutionary Anarchists!

The Anarchist ranks have steadily dwindled in Britain, and their members apathetically drop away. Its Press makes a sporadic appearance. Accusations of being police spies lead to continual recrimination and permanent distrust among the “comrades." Hence Anarchism’s decline, and its inability to organise the working class.

But still the danger exists that those workers who have been sickened by the compromise, confusion, and betrayal of the Labour and pseudo-Socialist parties may succumb to the plea that because the fake political parties have failed to help them and advance their cause, Socialism is useless and Anarchism the only hope. Those who follow in the Anarchists’ footsteps and ramble in the Utopian wilderness, but delay the time when they must inevitably come to see that the Socialist Party of Great Britain alone is sound, for its aims are revolutionary, its methods scientific, and its working democratic.

Loyalty to its principles and devotion to its aims will do far more to hasten the workers’ emancipation than the will-’o-the-wisp notions of Anarchists and the dangerous policy they pursue. But the latter must be dealt with in the next issue.
Adolph Kohn

(To be Concluded.)

Australian Outlook (1967)

From the Seven Days for Socialism! International Supplement (August 1967)

To describe the position in Australia, one could truthfully say, as could be said of most capitalist countries. Socialism is just as near or as far off as the industrial development and the political understanding of the working class will allow it to be.

Not withstanding the promises of the “emancipators” of the last 150 years, there has been no “hot-house” growth of socialist ideas—any more than there have been further developments in Labour or Liberal ideas.

The one great difference is that while the Liberal, Labour, Communist and other parties have chopped and changed—and even stolen each other’s programmes from time to time—without basically improving working class conditions, the Socialist Party has propagated principles based on an understanding of the Socialist teachings of Marx, Engels and others who not only interpreted the world differently but showed the working class how to change it.

To many, these words may sound stale and outmoded (we are often twitted by our opponents on the score of “not being with it politically”) but the basic conditions of capitalism remain the same in Australia as elsewhere. However much the pedlars of vote-catching political slogans and election gimmicks try, they do not improve working class understanding of Socialism by their confusing jargon.

In the so-called affluent society of today, emphasis has been stressed on the comparatively long periods of almost full employment. But in Australia this so-called affluence is marked by many workers having to do two—or even more—jobs, while many wives are working with the children helping occasionally.

And even with these multiple incomes many of their purchases are ‘hire purchase’ with millions owing, much of which will never be paid. Where mum, dad and the kids have to work to obtain sufficient to try and cover the costs involved in the ‘ersatz’ affluence, there is not much of what our masters used to call ‘family life’.

With minds filled with capitalist ideas and bodies geared to the grind of capitalist economy, work is now all that matters to most people; and the fact that they ‘live to work’ rather than work in order to live is soothed by pills, powders and pop singers.

The greater the acceptance of the status quo, the more stagnant the growth of Socialism appears to be. Still, there is always a questioning of the value of the existing political parties and the industrial organisations.

From a country once renowned for its ‘militant’ trade unionism, Australia has now reached a point where the ‘fighting’ ability of the trade union movement is gauged by the amount of money they spend on futile appeals to arbitration courts in an endeavour to retain a basic wage that doesn’t even cover the minimum requirements of the family unit for which it was originally designed.

‘Militant’ seamen, wharf labourers, miners and others who once vigorously eschewed any idea of “carting their grievances to capitalist courts” now seek economic salvation in professional, academic advocates of the Australian Council of Trade Unions.

The ACTU, dubbed by the militants from its inception as “the Graveyard of Industrial Disputes”, like its counterpart in Britain the TUC willingly accepts the working man’s burdens while shepherding its deluded followers into supporting its political reflection — the Australian Labour Party, and the leaders monotonously desert to the political ranks to spread deception still further.

Our self-styled ‘leftists’ still perpetuate the illusion that the salvation of the working class lies in Labour governments. Labourites, communists, humanists, radicals, and other professed emancipators oppose the socialist view that the emancipation of the working class lies in the abolition of the capitalist system.

This, of course, is not confined to Australia. Socialists in all countries are faced with similar ‘intellectual’ opposition, our opponents adorning themselves with attractive political labels in order to suborn unsuspecting workers from socialist parties. The dissemination of socialist knowledge will help workers detect the political fakirs.

Capitalism has provided another subject for a ‘hands off’ slogan — the ‘aggressors’ are on the rampage in the Middle East and by the time it is discovered who the ‘aggressors’ are, thousands of workers’ lives will have been buried in the sands on both sides of the Suez.

And while workers lay down their lives for lands they do not own we have to listen to the leaders of the various political parties telling us that “We must defend ‘our Country’.” The fact that such things can happen is an indication of the need for a better understanding of social and political events. This understanding can come only by the spread of socialist knowledge and it is here where the socialist enters the scene.

When the workers understand the need for socialism they can work for its achievement; while they submit to capitalism they will have to fight to defend it.

Hence the pressing need for the dissemination of socialist ideas. It is a long and difficult task but the reward--“The World for the Workers”—is well worth it!
W. Jacee

The American Scene (1967)

From the Seven Days for Socialism! International Supplement (August 1967)

To properly understand the American scene today, a perspective is necessary that goes deeper than the celebrities and events noted by the newspaper headlines. Superficially, the news seems to be the talk and posturing of the ‘big shots'. When people ask what is going on in the USA they tend to think of these things. Will Bobby Kennedy be able to make enough political capital out of Johnson's slip in popularity to be nominated by the Democrats in 1968? Who will be the Republican nominee; Romney, Scranton, Reagan, or Nixon? These are thought to be the political questions concerning the American political scene. As for the economic scene, that concerns whether there will be a recession or an inflation. The social scene—why that involves whether women’s hemlines are going up or down. Most people in the USA do not care very deeply—and rightly so— for life will go on pretty much the same.

For those who care about the political questions, it is widely agreed that the answers hinge on the Vietnam war. If, as seems likely, the war continues unabated then Johnson, although he will win the nomination, will lose the election to the Republicans, with Romney a likely standard bearer for the winners. If a truce is reached in Vietnam, then Johnson will win. But insight into the dynamics of American social and political life will not be gained from these ‘newsworthy' events. The vast majority of the American people, the working class, realise this and give only scant attention to the antics of the professional politicians and their games because they are of only minor entertainment value. Changes in the political bosses of workers are of no more concern to them than are changes in the bosses of the corporations for which they work.

Workers feel powerless to deal with the important questions affecting their lives. So they ‘participate’ in politics only to the extent of investing some emotional energy by identifying with some personality whose victory will give them some vicarious satisfaction. The workers’ sense of powerlessness with respect to events also makes them unconcerned with policy issues concerned with proposals for reform. Middle-level bureaucrats, editorial writers, intellectuals, and all species of ‘middle class’ reformers frequently advance proposals that are intended to solve, within the confine of capitalism, such problems as racial conflicts, riots, decaying cities, unemployment, air pollution, and foreign policy dilemmas. Such people often bemoan the lack of interest among workers for these proposals. Workers, through their experience, have developed a cynicism about such promises and they feel “let those who get paid for it worry about it”.

Outside the small strata of the decision-makers for capitalism, little serious attention is given to the stuff that is served up by the news media as the subject matter of politics. Thus, in one sense, the American scene remains unchanged. The frivolities and gossip that pass for political and social issues are discussed by a small number of those concerned, the masses apathetic; businesses keep on making profits that are quietly pocketed by the ruling capitalist class, and everyone continually faces the problems which the capitalist mode of production makes inevitable. From this perspective American capitalism, like capitalism everywhere, has not changed fundamentally in the past hundred years—only the problems have gotten larger. War, for instance, now threatens to annihilate the human race. Political class consciousness, the conscious desire for Socialism, is still all but non-existent. The American scene, for all its noise, is quiet about Socialism.

Yet this discouraging sameness of the American scene is deceptive. Beneath the surface, the forces that shape American society are at work, ceaselessly changing the foundations. It is not merely that machinery improves, workers become more skilled and new commodities are marketed while capital accumulates. Men’s ideas also change as their conditions of life change.

Ideas about social conventions change — customary formal dress and bathing attire are trivial examples. Ideas about right and wrong change—the propriety of chattel slavery, birth control, and tobacco smoking by women are illustrations. However, so far these changes in ideas have stopped short of rejecting the assumptions of capitalist ideology. Before there can be a change in ideas basic to a society, there first must be a crisis of confidence in which the ability of accepted ideas to explain events is disbelieved. There is some evidence that the USA is just starting to enter such a crisis of confidence.

America is the strongest and wealthiest nation in the world—in fact it is the strongest and wealthiest in the history of the world. Its resources and technology are the wonder of the world. By all its own standards US capitalism should be a veritable Utopia. Its propagandists often do talk as if it is a utopia. Yet everywhere there are signs of a growing uneasiness—an increasing realisation that something is deeply wrong. Americans who, in the past, have overwhelming believed that the 'American way of life' was the highest goal possible for humanity are now having second thoughts.

Those who speak for capitalism see a shiny future of more consumer gadgets, more and bigger autos crowding more and wider highways at ever-increasing speeds, hurrying more and more people to more box-like houses in the suburbs. This philosophy of more and more of the same is all capitalist ideologists have to offer. More and more people are beginning to wonder if, even were this continuous spiralling of abundance possible, it will provide the answers.

The truth of the matter is that, however successful and secure American capitalism looks at first glance, it is plagued with deep contradictions. These contradictions revolve around the inability of American capitalism, despite its wealth, technology and power, to satisfy human needs. On one hand there is fabulous wealth, on the other hand the most basic of human needs go unsatisfied. Scientists will eventually put a man on the moon but American society cannot perform the simple ask of getting a hungry man with his face pressed against a shop window into contact with the food he needs. Children die of rat bites within sight of the world's marvels of engineering. The illiteracy rate and the rate of infant mortality of the US are above that of far less advanced nations. Farmers are paid not to produce food while millions in the world are starving.

America is a sick society and this is becoming more apparent with each passing day. An assassin kills a stranger merely because the stranger wanted to help people to vote; the assassin is found guilty, then is given a public welcome as a hero, and then runs for governor of the state! In the world’s most advanced civilisation the city streets are not safe at night. A model ex-marine and boy scout commits mass murder. In spite of massive government effort, rumours concerning the last president's assassination are given widespread credence. Violence and threats of violence are a continuing part of American life. Police savagely assault and even kill poorer citizens with impunity. Desperate men fight back by striking out at anything within their reach. Large scale armies are regularly deployed in the major cities in the summertime to preserve property and 'law and order'—the same law and order which created the conditions in the first place. This capitalist ‘utopia’ is becoming a hell of hatred, despair, and violence. This can no longer be ignored and so people, or at least some people, are beginning to lose confidence in the reasonableness of the system.

One of the phrases that is being heard more frequently is the 'credibility gap'. It originally referred to the disbelief of the government's statements about the Vietnam war and was then extended to refer to the gap between the pretentions of what the capitalist American way of life stands for and the deeds and actions of that same society. The truth about the war, about the Kennedy assassination, about the relation of cancer to cigarette smoking, about CIA involvement in labour and student activities—or about anything, will not be found in what officials say to the public.

The inability of U S capitalism to solve its contradictions is slowly undermining people's confidence in its ideology; this is the first step. In the middle ages, feudalism began to crumble before developing capitalism when men became sceptical about the accuracy of its world-view. Don Quixote, the famous book ridiculing feudal values, marked the stage when feudal ideas were being rejected to prepare the way for capitalism. In a similar way, capitalist values are being first weakened, then disbelieved, and finally ridiculed.

In the middle ages it was segments of the intellectuals, lower clergy, and tradesmen who first became disenchanted; today it is mainly segments of the youth. One small stratum, those known as 'hippies', have openly rejected, in their disgust, most of the traditional values of bourgeois society. A somewhat larger segment, the 'new left’, has undertaken political action avowedly against the system; although, unfortunately, it does not understand the system well enough to take effective action against it. But beyond those observedly alienated from capitalist ideology, there are widespread misgivings among almost all youth. There is a growing crisis of confidence about capitalist ideology.

This is not to say that all these doubts have led any significant numbers of people to explicitly reject capitalism and to become socialists. This is where we American socialists come in. The great challenge of the times is in hastening the development of a socialist consciousness that is the prerequisite of Socialism. The SEVEN DAYS FOR SOCIALISM will find us carrying on as usual with our propaganda activities in Boston, New York, and a few other scattered areas. We have accomplished no momentuous things, nor do we expect to do so in the near future. We take heart with the thought that, although our numbers are insignificant, our ideas will triumph. The intellectual bankruptcy of capitalism— and its phoney ‘radical’ critics—assure our success.
William Jerome

The Canadian Scene (1967)

From the Seven Days for Socialism! International Supplement (August 1967)

Like all nations that dazzle the world with their riches, Canada is well to the fore in such displays—and less forward in showing its poverty.

But riches and poverty go together, as also do the defenders of the one and the champions of the other, who are in fact less far apart than they suspect.

No less so in Canada than elsewhere, Mr. Diefenbaker, the ex-prime minister, waxed eloquently on Canada’s greatness—and raised the old age pension. Mr. Pearson, the present prime minister, is not less rapturous in flag-flapping and boosted the pension a bit more. Mr. Douglas, the aspiring Prime Minister, would keep profits in Canada away from Americans and give the old age pension another hoist.

Only Mr. Thompson, erstwhile top banana of social credit, fond of his country though he is, had nary a mite for the pensioners —and was dumped by the wayside. Canada then is just another capitalist country. It is a giant in size, in industry and agriculture. It ranks among the first half-dozen producing nations, despite a sparse population of twenty million. But it exploits its wage slaves as much as the traffic will bear, searches the world for outlets for its commodities, and takes sides in international squabbles, having been involved in nearly all the talking and fighting adventures of this century.

It has its demands for higher wages and better working conditions which are sometimes made to stick; a wearisome burden to government and industry, whose appeals for moderation in the national interest have not always convinced workers that low wages are a mark of distinction.

It has its mods, its diggers, its hippies, its peace meetings, freedom marches, petitions to Parliament and all the churning, raging, futile produce of a world turned away from the vital need to really know its own nature.

It is just another capitalist country.

French Canada
Canada was originally taken from the Indians by the French and English, the latter then dispossessing the former, the descendants of both presently snarling at one another over their respective tongues’, ‘cultures’ and other ‘differences’ as vital as the output of the representative ‘love-in’. French Canada, located almost entirely in Quebec, has been prodded by the church and Quebec capital for many years for reasons less than altruistic, and has been belted and catered to by English Canada with motives of no greater merit.

Traditionally, the Quebec political scene has been dominated by the Liberal Party which has had to tread warily to offset the work of ‘nationalistic’ elements in the province. Liberal influence has waned in recent years, provincial politics becoming dominated by the Union Nationale Party, an organisation existing entirely in Quebec and aiming at almost every kind of ‘independence’ for the province, short of complete separation from the rest of Canada. On the federal field the Quebec Liberals have been weakened by the rise of a group originally part of the National Social Credit Party which broke away from the parent body and established itself as an independent social credit party. The reason for the breakaway is believed to be the need to reflect Quebec nationalism, a must these days for all parties searching for votes in Quebec.

None of Canada’s five social credit groups having federal or provincial representation is interested in social credit, or even talks about it.

Liberals and Conservatives
The Liberal Party, patterned after the Liberals of Great Britain, controls the Ottawa Government but without an overall majority and can retain hold on power only with the support of one of the other parties. Sometimes this support comes from one or both of the social credit parties and sometimes from the New Democratic Party. Its hold on power has not been seriously threatened, opinion being that no other party feels confident of strengthening its position in another election.

The Conservative Party (or Progressive-Conservative Party, as it has preferred to be called for some years now) is the Canadian equivalent of the Conservative Party in Britain. It is the leading contender for power if this should be lost by the Liberals. These two parties, in fact, have alternated in power since confederation, surviving a number of political windstorms without damage.

There is little to distinguish between the Liberal and Conservative parties. With minor differences on how best to run the affairs of the capitalist class, they have never been divided when these affairs have conflicted with the interests of workers—who have suffered this unity and have so far learned little from it.

The New Democratic Party
The ‘party of labor’ is the New Democratic Party. It is the result of a deal between the former Co-operative Commonwealth Federation and the trade union movement, the latter deciding a few years ago that the time was ripe for labor to come to power. Successive elections, despite considerable trade union support, did not bring ‘labor’ to power and trade union enthusiasm, even, interest, has declined. The initial gain through trade union support was matched by the loss in farmer support that had formerly gone to the CCF, leaving the NDP parliamentary representation practically unchanged from that of the CCF.

Socialists were critical of the CCF through all the years of its existence. Coming on the scene professing Socialism as its aim, it spread a number of wrong ideas in the name of socialism. In its later years it came to the view that its advocacy of ‘socialism’ did not help its election chances and it dropped the use of the term and all suggestions that it held any aims that could not be approved by Liberal and Conservative supporters. It was then ripe for a complete break with its rebellious past and the New Democratic Party was born. This body, if anything, is an even more watery collection than the British Labour Party, reaching its odious depth in the 1963 anti-American crusading of its leader Mr. Douglas.

There are other parties that run candidates for Parliament, two social credit groups being among the successful one, although their combined representation is less than that of the NDP. All in all, the ruling class has little to grumble about, being represented one way or another by every member in Parliament.

The Socialist Party of Canada
The Socialist Party is of course also on deck, working always to keep the message of Socialism to the fore. Its membership now reaches from Montreal to Victoria and although still not numerous we would record the reply of the lion when told brashly by the rabbit of its numerous offspring, “But each of my progeny is a lion”.
Jim Milne

The Irish: Scene—yesterday and today (1967)

From the Seven Days for Socialism! International Supplement (August 1967)

At the turn of the century the ruling class in Ireland were united in the classical sense in which capitalists are united throughout the world: North and South of the country Catholic and Protestant capitalists found unanimity in their desire to promote and maintain that system of economic organisation based on the exploitation of the country’s wealth producers, the working class.

Unionist and Nationalist, Sinn Fein and Labour, ALL stood UNITED on this issue: capitalism would be the way of life irrespective of the Party that administered it, or the colour of the rag that flew at its political masthead.

As far as the working class were concerned they were not offered a choice nor had they then (or now) the degree of political understanding to make a choice. But, as elsewhere in the domain of capitalism, they were given the fiction that the personnel and location of their government had some bearing on their way of life—that life under Paddy Murphy’s lash was preferable to life under John Bull’s whip, or vice versa.

Real Issues
Needless to say, the Action was suitably embellished with promises on one hand and threats on the other. The ‘British way of life’ vied with a ‘prosperous Ireland controlling its own destiny'; ‘Popish plots’ opposed ‘Orange tyranny’. The seeds of hatred were cast around with abandon of necessity and hatred and violence were necessary weapons in the real issues, AND THE ONLY ISSUES WHICH WERE REAL WERE THOSE THAT DIVIDED THE CAPITALIST CLASS.

Here was the real motive behind the bigotry, viciousness and carnage, the hate propaganda, the ‘national’ struggle and the baloney over flags: Irish capitalism, UNITED in its purpose was DIVIDED in its means.

As the nineteenth century, with its memories of struggle and famine, retreated into the sad past of Ireland’s history it left its peculiarly malformed economic off-spring in the form of a native capitalism, healthy and virile (for the capitalists, of course!) in the north-eastern portion of the country, faltering and weak throughout the rest of Ireland. In north-east Ulster some prosperous descendants of earlier English and Scottish ‘planters’, using the wealth derived from their conquest of the native resources and their direct affinity with their class cousins in Great Britain, had accomplished a high degree of industrialisation.

The Belfast shipyards and the Ulster textile industry (which included the manufacture of textile machinery) was on a par with anything found elsewhere and, of course, other ‘service' industries had developed accordingly. The owners of these resources were culturally, economically and politically at one with British capitalism, enjoying the benefits of a parliament skilled in the artifice of class deception and the markets accruing from Britain’s position as a world power.

In the rest of the country the position was different. Those who had been the victims of earlier English tyranny, allegedly because of their religion, had, after years of struggle, thrown off the yoke that militated against their accumulation of wealth. By the turn of the century the Catholic ‘businessman’ had ‘arrived’ in sufficient numbers to engage in political struggle against ‘English domination’ that enabled their ‘favourably placed’ English competitors (including the powerful and entrenched Northern Irish industrialists) to keep them, the fledging entrepreneurs of the south, in a disadvantageous position.

One of their chief spokesmen, Arthur Griffith, founder member and leader of Sinn Fein, states the motive behind their ‘principles' quite simply:
   “It is a comparatively simple matter for English capitalists to crush out their Irish competitors and we must know that this is too often the fate of Irishmen striving to promote the manufactures of this country.
  “Under Sinn Fein policy such a deplorable error could not occur . . . and no possibility would be left as far as Sinn Fein were concerned for a syndicate of English capitalists to crush out the home manufacturer and home trader.” Arthur Griffith, Sinn Fein Policy; 1917.
Double Dealing Diplomacy
Thus, briefly, the conflict between the rival sections of the capitalist class: in the North industry was sufficiently strong to resist the encroachments of English competition, while enjoying the wider market and system of economic preference resulting from their association with Great Britain. In the South a fledgling capitalism needed the exercise of protectionist policies in the exploitation of the limited home market—against the time when it could meet competition on a wider field.

Interwoven into the fabric of lies and deceit used by the political manipulators on both sides to gain the power of the working class to their cause, was the double-dealing diplomacy of the political flunkeys of the British ruling class. Concerned with their direct economic interests, their allegiance to their fellow-robbers in ‘Ulster’ and the (then) strategic importance of Ireland as an Atlantic base in the event of war, they used all the dirty weapons in the arsenal of capitalism in pursuit of their ends.

The only issues which were real were those differences that divided the opposing sections of the master class. Aside, however, from their differences there was a unanimity of purpose that revealed itself in the miserable exploitation of the working class THROUGHOUT IRELAND and in the manner in which Unionist and Nationalist elements of capitalism closed ranks to prosecute and persecute the working class and its organisations.

The outcome of the struggle is well known to us today. The investment in blood of the Irish workers—for, as always, it was the workers who gave and the masters who got—is seen in the reality of the two statelets in Ireland.

Since their inception both statelets have shown a marked similarity: the governments of both areas have scarce failed to conceal their detestation of organised labour and both have introduced legislation frankly loaded against the working class. Both, each from its respective point of view, have used the ‘partition’ of the country as a propaganda gimmick to arrest the attention of their electorates from such issues as poverty, slums and unemployment. Spokesmen for each area rebut criticism by drawing attention to the same conditions in the other area!

Things Are Changing!
But things are changing! Changing with a rapidity! that would have seemed almost indecent a decade ago. Now we are in the era of ‘bridge building’, of forgetting yesterday. Now we are advised about the importance of a ‘public image’. Why?

The short answer is that the factors that divided our masters, the factors that demanded the sacrifice of workers’ blood, have now changed.

Industry in the Republic of Ireland, nurtured behind tariff walls and import quotas and infused with ‘foreign’ capital, now feels the need for an expanding market at a time when the convenient European market is trying to introduce a super-protectionist policy.

Similarly in the North, with the decline of the traditional industries and the growth of the light export- orientated industries—often financed by the same companies or corporations which have invested heavily in the South (in both instances, as a springboard, so to speak, to Europe)—there is the need for the expanding continental market.

Yet, more important still—despite ‘principles’ and the resulting struggles of yester-year—is the fact that the economy of the country, NORTH AND SOUTH, is still tied to the British market and with that country begging an entry to the Common Market, the ‘principles’ of both sections of Irish capitalism must be scrapped—under, of course, a smoke screen of new ‘principles’!

Unfortunately for the governmental servants of capitalism in both areas, the change, necessarily rapid, has brought about its problems. After sowing the seeds of bitterness and bigotry—instruments of policy in the North, inevitable consequences of policies in the South— for half a century it is too much to expect, even from a docile populace, an immediate unanimous response to the new policies of the ‘bridges builders’.

The Protestant bigot, Reverend ‘Dr’ Paisley, and those of his kind, have no difficulty sanctifying their actions with suitable quotations from the government spokesmen of yesterday—even if such spokesmen now sing a different tune—and the Irish Republican Army, likewise, can quote political scripture from the gospel written yesterday in blood by the now ‘great men’ of the Southern Irish’Government.

For the working class the whole game is as irrelevant today as it was in the past. Yesterday they had the example of workers in other countries with their ‘own’ government sharing the same poverty problems as the Irish workers. Today we have the example of European workers STILL WITH THE SAME WORKING CLASS PROBLEMS living in the Common Market. As Socialists, knowing full well the nature of capitalism, knowing that that system cannot operate IN ANY CIRCUMSTANCES in the interests of the working class, we feel safe in prophesying that our problems, the problems of the working class, will remain with us whatever the demarcations of capitalism’s market.

Political Parties
Space does not permit an examination of the records and attitudes of the political parties in Ireland. At any rate we are not too concerned in the niceties of their political separation. Suffice to say that they have all lent support to one or other side in the political chess of capitalism.

Whatever their title, Unionist, Fianna Fail, Sinn Fein, Labour or ‘Communist’, they have all put forward the ignorant assumption that they possess the policies and personnel to make a buying-and-selling system, a capitalist system, operate in the interests of ‘the people’.

The fact that it has not worked in the interest of the working class ANYWHERE, under ANY government or ANY political party, whether in the guise of ‘western democracy’ or ‘peoples' democracy’, bears eloquent testimony to their ignorance of the nature of capitalism.

Unlike our opponents we in the World Socialist Party have no plans for running—or being run by—Irish capitalism, petitioned, united, inside or outside the Common Market. We have no urge for taking over the role of government, nor can we claim that, given the opportunity of ‘taking over the government’ (or governments) of Ireland, we could administer capitalism fairly and in the interests of all.

Banish Government 
On the contrary, we affirm that no political party, irrespective of its title or aspirations, can run a system BASED ON THE EXPLOITATION OF THE WORKING CLASS THROUGH THE WAGES-MONEY SYSTEM IN THE INTERESTS OF ALL.

That is why our role in the political cocktail of Irish politics is the political education of our fellow members of the working class to the end of achieving mass understanding of why capitalism must always operate against us and why we must choose the Socialist alternative—a wageless, classless society of production for use.

With such understanding achieved, our purpose will not be to ‘take over the government’ but, rather, to gain, democratically, the use of its executive authority and, in concert with our fellow workers throughout the world, to banish such government—along with the system of class privilege that gave rise to it.
Richard Montague