Manifesto of the De Leonist Society of Canada


Manifesto of the De Leonist Society of Canada
From THE DE LEONIST REVIEW, March-April 1995
Published by the De Leonist Society of Canada

The De Leonist Society of Canada holds that the very essence of socialism is inherent in the word itself -- a SOCIAL order that, freed from economic class rule, serves the common interests of the people-as-a-whole. A concise definition was given by the great American Socialist, Daniel De Leon, as follows:

"Socialism is that social system under which the necessaries of production [factories, tools, land, etc.] are owned, controlled and administered by the people, for the people, and under which, accordingly, the cause of political and economic despotism having been abolished, class rule is at an end. That is socialism, nothing short of that."

But while many organizations and groups profess socialism, The De Leonist Society of Canada is unique among them in that our concept of socialism is a union of both political and industrial democracy -- a union of two diverse forms of democratic representation and administration that our generation has inherited from past generations.

The essential characteristic of political democracy's form traces back some 2500 years. Evolved in ancient Greece, the political form is based upon geographic constituencies. The essential characteristic of industrial democracy's form is of a more recent origin! Developed by De Leon at the turn of the century, this form is built upon industrial constituencies.

The question of form has long been debated by Socialists. Which form of democracy -- political or industrial -- will be best suited to the dual purpose of conduct of socialist produciton and resolution of social issues? "Political Socialists" have propagated the former, "Industrial Socialists" (De Leonists) the latter. But now The De Leonist Society of Canada has broken with the past by concluding that neither the industrial form alone nor the political form alone, but both the industrial and political, are requisite to complete socialist democracy!

On the one hand the astounding complexity of today's industrial processes has more than ever convinced us that the Industrial, not the Political, in addition to being the vehicle for democracy in the workplace, is the ONE possible form that can afford intelligent management of socialist production and distribution. But on the other hand we have become equally convinced that the social problems which capitalism will undoubtedly throw onto socialism's lap are problems that the industrial organization should not be burdened with, are problems that are not directly concerned with production, therefore lie beyond its purview, and finally, are problems that democracy insists should be resolved by none but the DEMOS -- none but the people-as-a-whole on the political field! Accordingly we hold that the question a socialist ticket should ask the people to agree to should not be devolution of their political powers upon an industrial organization, but delegation of industrial executive authority to an industrial organization responsible to the people through their legislative assemblies.

How to reach the goal is another matter! We are not so naive as to believe all it will take is an electoral mandate! What we have here is not a reform ballot but a revolutionary one, not a mandate to put more patches on the capitalist social order but a mandate to replace capitalism with a fundamentally different order. No one should underestimate the difficulties that must be overcome in order to effect such revolutionary change.

There appear to be two main problems to consider. These are closely dovetailed. First, a socialist ballot will of course outlaw the capitalist class but will the said class honor the ballot? Second, a socialist ballot will of course outlaw the exploitive wages system and its correlative capitalist "market economy" but will the nation's work force be able to effect an immediate transition to socialist production?

As to the first, we would fully expect an outlawed ruling class to use every means at its command, overt and clandestine, to defeat the will of the people. As to the second, it should also be obvious that the workers must be prepared upon a socialist mandate to immediately switch from a capitalist to a socialist economy. The longer the act of transition the greater the danger of anarchy in production and consequent social disaster; also, the longer the transition the more opportunity for capitalist subversion of the revolution.

And here the greatness of De Leon's contribution to the socialist cause again becomes apparent! The Socialist Industrial Union concept not only answers the quesiton of preparation for socialist industrial administration but also the question of how a capitalist reaction against a socialist political victory could be forestalled or defeated. The Socialist Industrial Union, organized by the workers themselves on a workplace, local and national basis, is not merely the ONE organ capable of managing socialist production and distribution, it is at the same time THE workers' power -- integrally organized, a formidable ECONOMIC POWER, their power to implement a political mandate for the socialization of industry, i.e., their power to expropriate the capitalist class by taking control of communications, transportation, farming, mining, factories, services, etc., which together comprise the socially-operated industrial complex upon which all of us today depend for our lives.

In conclusion we would again caution that it is one thing to vote for socialism but quite another to prepare for it. We cannot overemphasize the importance of PREPARATION! Our program calls for working class unification upon both the political and industrial fields, a process wherein workers must acquaint themselves with the form of socialist industrial representation and administration, and a process that on the eve of a socialist revolution must see them ready with both a Socialist Political Agenda and a Socialist Industrial Administration ready to swing into action the moment a socialist political victory is won.