Daniel De Leon editorial : Yelling for Themselves


Yelling for Themselves
by Daniel De Leon
_The Daily People_, December 17, 1907

Web site comment: In the following editorial, the reference to Booth is a reference to William Booth (1829-1912), co-founder of the Salvation Army. -- M.L.]

So scorching hot is the prairie fire that is singeing the backs of the menials of the capitalist class, that they periodically forget their cue, and utter language, and promulgate facts that are at sad variance with the lessons their masters teach them. Just now these menials are at it, on the occasion of Christmas.

Every careful observer of things knows that "charities", so-called, are but schemes whereby the capitalist class seeks to provide for its menial dependents. From every dollar collected for "charity", 75 cents go to the "runners" of the "charitable" concerns. It is the secretaries, wardens, treasurers, and what-nots of the concerns who are the real beneficiaries. And these are but the dependents whom the capitalists must provide for, and are too stingy to keep in food and clothing out of their own wealth. Occasionally, as is conspicuously the case with the Salvation Army, the "charity" is intended to do something else besides providing for the capitalists' dependents. It is also intended to raise to the dignity of the banker the arch-Booth-schemer of the scheme.

At any rate, "charities" are not for those who need them; they are mainly for those pickets and outposts of the capitalist whom the capitalist needs in order to prove the biblical passage that "the poor ye will always have with ye" -- consequently, that poverty is a divine institution.

Now, then, it is one of the lessons that capitalist menials are made to learn by heart -- that "socialism is paternalism"; and this other, that "only foreigners need assistance. The good old American stock is above that." These two lessons are reeled off by the employees of the "charities" at every opportunity -- except when they forget themselves.

They are now forgetting themselves.

The plea for cash for Christmas gifts, always thrilling, have a peculiar ring this year. All years, one can catch the note of self-interest in the menials' "appeals for others." This year, that note is the dominant one. The anxiety is genuine. "Thousands upon thousands are in dire distress," we are told; "the applicants are not foreigners, they are natives, sons of farmers, driven to the cities for work"; "give, give plentifully, it is good to give"; one of the appeals declares: "Generous gifts now may save thousands from temptation!", etc., etc.

What became of the slander against socialism that it would degrade the people through its paternal government, and that only foreigners thought of such a thing?

The hour of trial, like the hour of drunkenness, wrings the truth from the breasts of frauds. Themselves greatly in need of funds to pay their salaries with, the runners of "charities" are now making the most dangerous admissions. Even if socialism were paternalism, its paternalism must be angelical to that which capitalism breeds as a social institution.

The cat is out of the bag. 'Tis capitalism that is paternal -- step-paternal. It scourages the people with its scorpion rod of exploitation, thereby pauperizes them, and then seeks to coin such pauperism into salaries for its menials.

The paternalism of socialism that ordains that all shall have equal opportunities to earn their living, and that none shall live who do not work -- that paternalism, a blessing to the industrious masses, is undoubtedly a curse to the menials.

How much of a curse, their present yells for "charitable" donations may give an idea of.