Socialist Labor Party leaflet responding to Albert Einstein, Why Socialism?


Scientist Einstein goes Unscientific on Socialism
The text of a leaflet published circa 1950
by the Socialist Labor Party of America

Socialist Labor Party

Scientist Einstein goes Unscientific on Socialism

The Socialist Labor Party, being the only Party of Socialism in America (founded in 1890), has no affiliation or association with the so-called Socialist party, Communist party, American Labor party, nor with any other party or group in this country or abroad.


[The following open letter to Dr. Albert Einstein was published In the WEEKLY PEOPLE, December 31, 1949. It was inspired by an article by the great physicist that was favorable to Socialism, but that expressed apprehension of an "overweening" bureaucracy. Stephen Emery, who answers Dr. Einstein, was the Socialist Labor Party's candidate for Vice President of the United States In 1948.]


December 16. 1949
Dr. Albert Einstein,
Institute for Advanced Study,
Princeton, New Jersey.

Dear Doctor Einstein:

I have read with interest your article, "Why Socialism?" and, in the main, warmly approve the views you express there. It is my conviction, too, that the grave evils disfiguring this age can be eliminated only by the establishment of a Socialist economy.

To my mind, you do not exaggerate when you state that "Clarity about the aims and problems of Socialism is of the greatest significance in our age of transition." For certainly the penalty for failure on the part of at least a substantial number of our contemporaries to achieve this clarity must be a social disaster.


Accordingly, it is the solemn duty of every earnest individual to strive for a clear understanding of Socialism, himself and to aid others to reach it. The more so because the enemies of Socialism, Stalinist and capitalist alike, are doing their utmost to sow confusion on this crucial subject.

In this spirit I venture to deal with some questions which you pose at the close of your article.

The questions referred to indicate sincere and penetrating thought. However, they also indicate that you, Dr. Einstein, have not escaped being infected by one of the most vicious of the many fallacies regarding Socialism in circulation today; the erroneous notion that the governing agency of Socialist society will be political in character -- i.e., a State; and the corollary notion that control of Socialist industry will be vested in a bureaucracy.


Can one infer other than this when you ask: "How is it possible, in view of the far-reaching centralization of political and economic power, to prevent bureaucracy from becoming all powerful nnd overweening? How can the rights of the individual be protected and therewith a democratic counterweight to the power of bureaucracy be assured?"

Let me say in immediate reply to these questions that, given the grotesque caricature of Socialism which they imply, there would be not the slightest possibility of avoiding a bureaucratic tyranny. Such a monstrosity might be a "planned economy," yes. But, as you yourself warn, "it is necessary to remember that a planned economy is not yet Socialism. A planned economy as such may be accompanied by the complete enslavement of the individual."


Now where lies the critical distinction between the type of "planned economy" which totally enslaves a nation and a Socialist economy that will Insure freedom and well-being to everyone? Above all, It lies in the realm of government!

To seek to realize Socialism through the instrumentality of the existing machinery of government, to seek to adapt the present political mechanism to the requirements of Socialist society by even the most radical reforms conceivable -- must fatedly result in a totalitarian "planned economy." Events in Stalin's Russia (as well as elsewhere) speak volumes on this head.


Why is this so? Why cannot the State be bent to Socialist purposes? For the fundamental reason that the political form of government was not designed to serve as the instrument of the popular will. On the contrary, the origin of the political State traces to the desire and the need of a ruling oligarchy to destroy the ancient influence of the people in communal affairs. And down through the centuries of what you aptly term "the predatory phase of human development" -- meaning the period since the advent of so-called civilization, private property and class rule -- the political State has, by a process of adaptation, continued unfailingly to perform its essential function, that of being the organized power through which the majority has been oppressed and a minority's self-interest imposed as the social law. Such has been its role, such will be its role as long as it survives, for such is its central principle.

So much for the State. Socialist society can make no more use of it than of the slavemaster's whip. There remains, however, the larger, question still unanswered: What is to be the structure of government under Socialism?


This problem was solved over forty years ago by the American Socialist, Daniel De Leon, who formulated the ground plan for an industrial representative government, an economic administration democratically constituted by all those engaged in the industries and vocations on which our collective welfare depends.

De Leon's plan is no utopian scheme, no fanciful creation of the mere intellect. This man, of whom Lenin once said that his conception of an industrial democratic government was the single addition to Marxian Socialist science since the death of Marx, was as adamant a realist, as insistent that theory must rest on all the obtainable facts, as you are, Doctor, in your chosen field. And his projection of the proper nature and shape of a Socialist government is the crowning fruit of these traits.

I will not attempt to develop De Leon's magnificent idea at length here since I am addressing one of the world's renowned scholars, a person fully aware thai any question aa profound as this under discussion deserves more than cursory attention, deserves indeed the most thorough investigation.

In lieu of extensive treatment, therefore, I earnestly recommend that you study De Leon's works, and with them the scholarly "Ancient Society" of Lewis Henry Morgan, a masterwork which laid the basis for modern anthropology and deeply influenced De Leon and other eminent Socialist thinkers.

And I close with the fervent hope that "clarity about the aims and problems of Socialism" shall soon become so universal among our fellow mortals that the human family will avert the catastrophe looming before us and enter upon a splendid era of fraternity, tranquility and freedom.

Yours sincerely,




THE SOCIALIST LABOR PARTY wants to abolish poverty, insecurity, unemployment and war; we do not want totalitarianism in any form, be it Stalinist, Nazi or a domestic adaptation of either of these European models.

WE WANT A WORLD freed of the war-breeding struggle for capitalist markets, a world in which goods are produced for the use of the producers and not for sale with a view to profit. We want a world in which machinery will become a blessing to multiply our output and give to the producers leisure In which to study, travel and enjoy the product of our labor. We want to live full lives relieved forever of want and fear of want.

ORGANIZED POLITICALLY, the workers possess the right to agitate freely for the overthrow of the capitalist system that has brought society to its present pass, ard the establishment in its place of the Socialist Cooperative Commonwealth. ORGANIZED ECONOMICALLY into Socialist Industrial Unions, they possess the might to enforce the right that their Socialist ballot proclaims.

SOCIALISM MEANS the abolition of the Political State with its horde of politicians and establishing of the ownership and operation by the workers of tho means of wealth production -- the land, the factories, the railroads, It means the retention by the useful producers of the full social value of their labor. It means an end to exploitation and the inauguration of true democracy, the establishment of Industrial democracy through Socialist Industrial Union Administration over things, as opposed to the capitalist State rule over men.