Daniel De Leon editorial : Impregnable Socialism


Impregnable Socialism
by Daniel De Leon
from THE DAILY PEOPLE, Oct. 22, 1901

The original, of which the below is a literal transcript, speaks for itself:

"Jersey City, Sept. 29, 1901.

"Editor, The Sun:


"In your issue of Friday, Sept. 27, 1901, the leading editorial, entitled 'The German Socialists Changing Ground,' contains the following statement:

"'As for Karl Marx's theory of value, a theory which represents value as the product of labor alone, and as being, indeed, nothing but the quantity of labor communicated to a commodity and preserved in it, this was thrown over by Marx himself before he died. In the third volume of his work on Capital, which was published by his friend Engels in 1894, he acknowledged that his theory was not really true of value, as value is constituted in this world, however, it might be true of value as it ought to be constituted in some other world.'

"This is to me highly interesting. Would you refer me, either by letter or through your columns, to the passages in Marx that substantiate your statement, that Marx himself threw over his theory of value,

"And oblige,

"Yours very truly,


The letter was accompanied with a pre-paid envelope bearing the name and address of the writer in full, and was mailed in Jersey City on Sunday morning of last September 29.

Three full weeks have since passed; and no answer. Of course, not. The statement made by the Sun was a fabrication. Marx never did "throw over" that fundamental law of value, that is to scientific economics what Galileo's postulate was to scientific astronomy. Galileo, living in an age such as the Sun's class would re-introduce, was tortured beyond physical endurance to recant; but even his recantation was promptly recanted and had the effect of emphatic reiteration. In the instance of Marx and the theory of values, however, it never underwent even theoretic recantation. On the contrary. Like one of those great truths that are imperishable, once announced, it has grown and gathered strength, and, like a pillar of smoke by day and of fire by night, it is guiding the Working Class of this generation out of the plague-ridden Egyptian darkness of Capitalism, in which the Sun figures in the capacity of a burglar's "dark-lantern."

Impregnable Socialism! As an army gathers courage and marches with increased resolution upon the breastworks that are capable of firing only blank cartridges against it, so does Socialism gather courage and march with increased resolution upon the breastworks of the Capitalist Class that are capable of combating it only with the blank cartridges of falsehood. Such blank cartridges may scare only the weak and the foolish; in that sense such ammunition fired at Socialism from behind the ramparts of Capitalism redounds doubly to the benefit of the camp of the Socialist Labor Party: by cleansing the camp of the weaklings, the modern Gideon's band becomes ever more invincible; by serving as proof of the imbecility of Capitalism, the modern Gideon's band grows ever more enthusiastic and aggressive.

Impregnable Socialism! The law of values utters a Truth that can never down. Labor and labor alone produces all wealth; the only source of value in society is the quantity of labor communicated to the commodity, and socially necessary for its reproduction. Against that square-jointed Truth Capitalism has for over a generation been firing its blank cartridges in rageful despair. And no wonder. From that truth flows the sentence of death to the Capitalist system. Labor being the source of all values in society, the idle capitalist stands branded as, not a VALUES-IMPARTER, but a VALUES-SPONGER. Once launched, a Truth of such dimensions and significance takes care of itself. In its own deliberate way, first slowly then with increasing celerity, it plows its way forward and crushes the social class whose condemnation it has decreed.

Impregnable Socialism! The fusillade against it is growing weaker: from the blank cartridges of bogus science, the fusillade has come down to the Sun's devices, that, as in this instance, are easily turned against that paper, and leave it in the unenviable plight of standing under the glare of its own dark-lantern, a convicted fool-falsifier.