What is to be Done with the Remaining Capitalists After the Revolution?

The People
January 1997
Vol. 106 No. 10

QUESTION PERIOD

WHAT IS TO BE DONE WITH THE REMAINING CAPITALISTS AFTER THE REVOLUTION?

John Cassella

Durango, Colo.

It is not possible to offer a definitive answer to the question, of course, because any deliberate decision, if a decision is needed, will be made after socialism is established. However, the possibilities are limited.

Capitalists are capitalists only because they own capital. Socialism will abolish capital. Once that is accomplished, the capitalist class, as we understand the thing today, will cease to exist because the material foundation for it will be gone. What will remain then is a group of people -- former, rather than remaining, capitalists -- stripped of power, but with attitudes that will have been affected by the revolution. How will their attitudes be affected?

Again, we can only speculate. The majority most likely will accept the revolutionary decision and, more or less grudgingly, fade into the new society to take their place among the useful producers. The fate of others may be decided by their conduct during (rather than after) the revolutionary period, i.e., before the revolution is consummated and secured. Some will probably "run." Others may choose to end it all, as many did when the stock market crashed in 1929. Still others may choose to fight, and in fighting commit reprehensible acts worthy of retribution. What their fate might be will depend on how well organized and how well disciplined the working class is at the critical juncture. The better organized and better disciplined the working class at that point, the better the chances will be of completing the revolution quickly and with a minimum of disruption -- and the less opportunity any recalcitrant element of the ruling class will have to commit violent or other culpable acts.

The underlying principle, as De Leon explained, is this: "The Socialist holds capitalist society responsible for Rockefeller [and the Rockefeller class], not Rockefeller for capitalist society; the non-Socialist holds Rockefeller guilty, and acquits capitalist society." ("Socialism and Hatred," May 15, 1913.)