Poverty and Unemployment - Their Cause and Cure


This is the text of a leaflet published in 1987
by the De Leonist Society of Canada


The De Leonist Society

What is POVERTY? It represents a lack of the necessities for physical and mental well being. It means having to skimp on food and clothing to pay a mortgage or the rent, and having to gravitate toward substandard housing. Poverty can ill afford the necessities of life or the "luxury" of a vacation from the tension-filled daily routine. Fear of poverty robs the day of joy and the night of sleep. Government figures place millions below government-drawn poverty lines and despite politicians' recurring pledges of "war against poverty" the number of poor continues to grow.

UNEMPLOYMENT, like poverty, is found everywhere. It strikes the salaried as well as the hourly paid workers, skilled as well as unskilled, professional as well as non-professional, affluent workers as well as the working poor, with devastating results, unemployment soon confronts many of its victims with extreme poverty, shatters morale and breaks many a home. Increasing numbers of workers are not merely finding that "job security" is a myth but through no fault of their own are joining the ranks of the permanently unemployed.Increasing numbers of youth are learning that their help is not needed.

Of course, the question is not whether poverty and unemployment are widespread-everyone knows they are. The question is whether these ills will retain a permanent hold on society. To this the De Leonist Society answers YES-provided the working class continues to accept "a living wage" as its goal! N0 -- if the workers question and examine the root cause of their plight and unite to uproot it!

At this point readers may suspect we are attacking the economy itself as responsible for the above social evils. That is exactly what we are doing! We hold that although it may have once aided social progress, the wages system-usually called "free enterprise" or "democracy" in the west, and in its Russian form accurately termed bureaucratic state despotism-has long become obsolete and hostile to society as a whole.

Inevitably, Karl Marx enters the picture. It was Marx who laid bare for all time the truth that the employing class is a parasite class, that it sponges up the wealth produced by the wage working class, moreover that this exploitation is a built-in feature of the wages system resulting in mass working class misery.

No wonder that bona fide Marxism is everywhere hated by the exploiters of wage labor. The capitalist class hires its "intellectuals" to denigrate Marx, teach the economic absurdity that capital creates wealth, and spread the infamous lie that the U.S.S.R. represents real Socialism. Nothing could be further from the truth! But the capitalist class are not the only falsifiers of Marx; the Kremlin ruling elite mask their anti-Marxist ride on the Russian working class with lip-service to Marx while they siphon off the major portion of the wealth Russian workers create.

Wage exploitation is the most subtle form of slavery. The chattel slave and feudal serf knew full well they toiled in bondage but wage exploitation is hidden and modern workers seldom suspect they are being had. The fact is, both the capitalist class and the soviet ruling bureaucracy take possession of labor's product at the point of production in return for which workers on average get in wages or salaries just enough to maintain their families and keep themselves in exploitable condition. Despite the most intricate evasions invented by "economic experts" the case has long been proved that profit is simply unpaid labor and nothing but unpaid labor!

At the same time there is a cruel paradox in the process of wage exploitation inseparable from competition among aggregates of capital. It is that the more workers produce, the more they sink in poverty and joblessness! This paradox of the system ridicules all the schemes advanced to improve the worsening condi- tions of the working class. Under this head can be placed the rosy election promises by the major political parties, the empty rhetoric from the various so-called socialists of a "social democratic" persuasion (whose only aspiration is increased state regulation of the capitalist economy for more "welfare" band-aids to ease the misery and suffering among the exploited), also pseudo-Marxists (who compromise the socialist goal by pandering to workers' illusions they can get "something now" under capitalism). Here, also, can be placed the many "issue-oriented" organizations that serve as catch-alls to help diffuse and misdirect working class discontent.

The cure for poverty and unemployment is SOCIALISM -- bona fide Socialism! Opposed to either "socialistic" measures to reform Capitalism or pseudo-Marxist diversion, the De Leonist Society urges workers to make Socialism their priority-urges the working class to establish collective ownership of industry and services thus abolish economic classes and wage servitude.

Socialism is Industrial Democracy, the most complete democracy yet conceived. Its form-a Socialist Industrial Union-was projected at the beginning of this century by the genius of America's foremost Marxist, Daniel De Leon. The Socialist Industrial Union is a classless administrative organ that replaces the political state of class rule. It unites all useful producers in the socially-operated industries and services throughout the land in ONE UNION, with local and national subdivisions according to industry. It affords rank and file workers industrial constituencies through which they will elect (and at any time replace) their industrial representatives-shop foremen or school principals, plant or hospital administrative councils, local and national councils of each industry and service, and finally, an all-industry congress or parliament-to administer industry and the services nationwide for the good of all.

By replacing production for sale and profit with production for the needs of the population, and by harnessing our ability to produce an abundance with a minimum of labor, Socialism will cure poverty! By kicking hours out of the working day instead of kicking workers out of jobs, Socialism will cure unemployment! This infinitely superior social order waits only upon the understanding and determination of the working class majority to build it!

Are you, the reader, concerned about the future? Concerned enough to question the economic class foundation of today's social order? Concerned enough to look into the De Leonist Society's program for the Socialist Reconstruction of society?