From the November 1969 issue of the Socialist Standard
Give me your tired, your poor,
your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore,
send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me
I lift my lamp beside the golden door.
These fine words, as I’m sure you are aware, are inscribed on the base of the Statue of Liberty, the New Colossus. The millions of hopes that must have flickered into existence on reading or hearing these philanthropic words were, alas, soon dampened and in many cases, completely extinguished. The greater majority of the American population, as with the majority of the world’s population, are still oppressed and exploited. Such is the nature of this exploitation that many people cannot discern it or its source, and even spring to the defence of the very system that exploits them and condemns them to a lifetime of deprivation and enslavement.
It is high time that the world turned all its resources towards the building of a “New” New Colossus, in the form of Socialism. Socialism is the only way in which the oppressed majority (which constitutes the working class or proletariat of the world) can be freed from their exploitation and enslavement.
Through Socialism, the source of this oppression and exploitation has been discovered, and subsequently the method of removing it. The source is to be found in the present class divisions within society, based upon private property or ownership. On this basis the classes are divided into: the capitalist class, which owns the means of production and distribution and therefore does not have to work to earn the means of subsistence; and the working class or proletariat which, owning none or not enough of the means of production necessary for subsistence, is forced to sell its labour power to the capitalist class for wages. Obviously, it is in the interest of the worker to obtain the highest possible remuneration (in the form of wages) in return for his labour power, but it is in the interest of the capitalist to get the maximum profit from his (i.e. the workers’) produce, which necessarily entails his keeping wages and other costs to a minimum. There is, therefore, a clash of interests between the capitalist and the worker, between the buyer of labour power and the seller. This is the crux of the matter this clash of interests or mutual antagonism at present within society is the cause of all oppression and deprivation.
To remove this antagonism of classes it is necessary to remove the cause of the antagonism, the private property based division of society.
This removal, and the establishment of a society where the means of production and distribution are owned and controlled by and in the interest of the whole world community, are the objectives of Socialism. By abolishing private property the antagonism between classes will disappear, because the division of classes will no longer exist.
Everyone then should strive to erect this “New” New Colossus, the Colossus of Socialism. Not indeed like “the brazen giant of Greek fame”, and not indeed like the mass of metal and empty platitudes erected in New York Harbour, but a Colossus of human endeavour and love for fellow man.