De Leonist Society of Canada - True or False?


This is the text of a leaflet published in 1989
by the De Leonist Society of Canada.


(Reprinted from the De Leonist Society Bulletin)

-- October, 1989 --

The editorial "Labor Day 1989," published in the August 26 issue of the People, organ of the Socialist Labor Party, contains as choice morsels of labor-misdirecting socialist revisionism as could be found anywhere this side of the Atlantic. Is the charge true or false?

Not that the editorial fails to state the problem; it does state it, and in commendable language, to wit:

"To say that the American workers this Labor Day face a grim and precarious future is an understatement. . . .

"The present state of affairs in the nation is both tragic and menacing....The real tragedy and danger result from the fact that the majority of workers do not yet recognize the true cause or the far-reaching nature of the current crisis. They remain oblivious to the fact that it reflects the critical and advanced stage of dissolution of the capitalist system. They fail to note both the revolutionary demand and the revolutionary potentialities of the current capitalist crisis."

That is well said. However, when the People speaks of the socialist solution it puts its foot in its mouth! Having rightly stated that "the direction of our thinking must be changed"; having rightly stated that "the worker majority must shed the illusions fostered by union leaders and politicians"; having rightly stated that "We must see the capitalist system for what it is -- an outmoded social system based on class rule and the exploitation of labor"; having rightly stated that "We must organize classconscious political and economic organizations that will enable us to abolish it"; having rightly stated that "a completely new goal [is] needed" -- in short, having described the essential nature of the problem and having set forth the essential premises of the socialist solution, how does the People now comport itself? By letting fly with the following bilge:

"By uniting all workers and basing itself on modern productive forces, the SIU [the Socialist Industrial Union] not only mobilizes labor's power for its daily struggles, it begins building the structure of a democratic socialist society.

"A socialist industrial union movement would be the most powerful weapon of the exploited working class in its battle with capital. It would use the collective strength of its membership to wrest every possible concession and win every possible victory from the capitalist owners. Where the SIU's strength was not sufficient to win all of its demands, it would openly tell its members that the only way to win more of what they rightfully deserve is to organize on a wider, more effective basis. Thus, it would fight all immediate struggles without negating its ulti-mate[!] goal of overthrowing capitalism and building a new socialist society."

So the People thinks workers should organize on a "wider, more efficient basis" in order "to win more of what they rightfully deserve," does it? So doing it continues to exhibit the opportunism that in the mid-seventies began the destruction of the once bona-fide revolutionary Socialist Labor Party, turning it into a revisionist outfit irretrievably lost in a web of contradictions.

If the history of the labor movement on this continent has proved anything it has proved that contrary to the claim advanced by the People, the struggle for "immediate demands" (for higher wages, job security, better working conditions, etc.) does just what the People says it will NOT do! -- DOES "negate" the "ultimate"[sic!] goal, DOES in fact inhibit the labor movement from maturing into a socialist movement! Of all the painful lessons mastered by Socialism in America none is more crucial to socialist victory than the lesson taught by the painful I.W.W. experience. That lesson was, and remains, that ORGANIZATION FOR HIGHER WAGES, ETC., IS INCOMPATIBLE WITH ORGANIZATION FOR SOCIALISM!

Workers who organize for "MORE of what they rightfully deserve" do not organize for ALL they produce; they are only dimly, if at all, aware of the bedrock question of capitalist proprietorship of the industries and services that they build and operate for the capitalist. Their uppermost thought, the thought that invariably takes precedence, is how to win capitalist concessions.

Not so with revolutionary thought! Workers who organize to take ALL will of course have rejected capitalist right to ANY! Their uppermost thought, the thought that will invariably take precedence, will be unification not for "improved conditions" under capitalism but for removal of the capitalist class from their industrial and political thrones.

Industrial unionism that organizes for Socialism is Socialist Industrial Unionism. Industrial unionism that organizes for higher wages, etc., tho it may amuse itself with a socialist label, locks itself into the capitalist regime with conservative habits of thought and is henceforth Capitalist Industrial Unionism.

The People says "the direction of our collective thinking must be changed" -- and promotes such change by helping capitalism's labor lieutenants and politicians keep the said thinking in the rut it is mired in.

The People says "we must organize classconscious political and economic organizations that will enable us to abolish it" (Capitalism) -- and gives earnestness to its plea by promoting wage-consciousness, the bane of class-consciousness.

The People says "a completely new goal is needed" -- and advances such goal by making it an "ultimate"[sic!] goal; that is, by putting it on indefinite hold in favor of "immediate struggles" for higher wages, etc.

The People says workers "fail to note both the revolutionary demand and the revolutionary potentialities of the current capitalist crisis" -- and proceeds to divert them from the revolutionary demand with talk of palliatives! -- "MORE of what they rightfully deserve"!

Finally, by advocating organization for palliatives (higher wages, etc.) the People not only diverts workers from the revolutionary demand, it fosters unrealistic expectations among workers as to how much "MORE" the capitalist (or State) employer can or will concede -- fails to warn workers of evil side-effects stemming from pursuit of "immediate demands." Specifically, the People has turned a stone-deaf ear to that canon of the proletarian revolution (see The Warning of the Gracchi in Daniel De Leon's masterwork, TWO PAGES FROM ROMAN HISTORY) which warns that the palliative not merely "ever steels the wrong that is palliationed" but also "works the evil of inoculating The Revolutionary Force with a fundamental misconception of the nature of the foe it has to deal with" -- that is, warns that recourse to palliatives (higher wages, etc.) "proceeds from the theory that the Capitalist 'Class will allow itself to be 'pared off to death. A fatal illusion."


But we have not yet done; we must in conclusion note for the record the shameful twist the renegade People interjects in the concluding remarks of its shameful "Labor Day 1989" editorial. It is contained in the following allegation:

"At this stage, the principles of this [Socialist Industrial Union] program for working-class organization are being kept alive and propagated only by the Socialist Labor Party."

The allegation cannot stand. It is doubly false. First, as already shown, what the revisionist SLP is keeping alive and propagating is not Socialist Industrial Unionism but Capitalist Industrial Unionism! Second, the SLP's desertion of the revolutionary field cried out for some organization, however small, to fill the vacuum thus created. That vacuum was filled by former SLP members who refused to be a party to reformism-revisionism and, being outnumbered, resigned from the SLP, founded The De Leonist Society, and have ever since kept alive and propagated the principles and program of Marxism-De Leonism, the principles and program of bona fide Socialist Industrial Unionism

The revisionist Socialist Labor Party cannot escape from the record of its apostasy. That record bears ample testimony to the truth that beginning in the mid-seventies the SLP abandoned hard-won socialist positions and slid off the revolutionary plane. Seeking to ingratiate itself with workers it began making common cause with their struggles for "a fair day's wage," and what is more, began associating with all manner of "issue-oriented" reform organizations. At that juncture the SLP was totally unable to explain how Socialism is advanced by shelving the revolutionary demand. It is obviously even less able today!


"The program of revolution is revolution. Palliatives are props to that which the revolution intends to overthrow. No such prop can be within the contemplation, hence part of the program, of Socialism."

-- De Leon