Urgently Needed - A New Social Order

This is the text of a leaflet published in 1983
by the De Leonist Society of Canada

Urgently Needed -- A New Social Order

The De Leonist Society

Isn't it high time "public opinion" realized that instead of hacking at the branches of evil it had better strike at the root? Haven't decades of government band-aids and aspirin failed to cure or even contain the social ills we grew up with? Unemployment, poverty, inflation, pollution, drug abuse, racism, crime, violence, WAR-who still believes that politicians or their advisors have meaningful solutions for these scourges? Surely there are no two ways about it! Surely the evidence is overwhelming that if society is to experience social well being instead of social catastrophe it must soon remove the root cause of the problems that afflict it! But what is the root?

The De Leonist Society stands foursquare on the solid, time tested ground that the primary and overriding cause of all the grave social problems that confront us today is neither imperfect "human nature" nor explosive technological advance but economic class division. We hold that the root of the trouble is class ownership and/or control of the socially operated industries and services, class management of the huge industrial complexes upon which all of us depend for our lives. Therefore let us not talk about band-aids and aspirin but about economic class division and what can be done about it.

Most of us know that class division implies private, as opposed to social, ownership or control of industry-class property as opposed to social property. It is not so well known that such division invariably translates into subjugation and exploitation of the propertyless class by the class in possession. It seems even less commonly realized that class divided society is a comparatively recent phenomenon in the history of mankind; that its advent, concurrent with the developing tool, spelled the dissolution of eons of the classless, tribal society of our primitive forbears; that commensurate with the gradual appearance of class there also evolved a radically different organ of government, the state, whose primary function was not that of the democratic council of the tribal gens, to aid production by directing it, but to implement the rule of class over class and advance ruling class interests.

The case has been cogently argued that without that pristine economic division, a division that afforded a privileged few the leisure to develop arts and sciences, the whole of mankind would have necessarily remained at a brute level of existence. But even if true, that is no argument for continued division! On the contrary, not only has a privileged minority long since ceased to further social progress but there lies in wage servitude a paradox unknown to earlier forms of class subjugation, a paradox that is today all too quickly converting the technological achievements of civilization into agents of social regression. Thus while it is no secret that the superabundant economic wealth produced and producible by wage labor in modern industry is not being used to free society as a whole from want and insecurity, it is not yet generally understood that unlike the chattel slave of antiquity or the feudal serf of the middle ages, the more the modern wage worker produces the more precarious becomes his future and the future of society -- and that it is this very paradox that now threatens the world with terrifying consequences.

Of course, the wage system is not confined to capitalist political democracies or capitalist military dictatorships but also prevails in the industrialized bureaucratic state despotisms of the so-called communist bloc. The exploitation of wage labor is global and the evil fruits of that exploitation are global also.

Looking closer, it is not hard to see why the system is no longer viable. Appearances to the contrary notwithstanding, the wage (or salary) is not payment in full for work performed but merely payment for the upkeep of workers and their families; that is, the wage represents only a part (a small part at that!) of the value of labor's product, the surplus value being appropriated from labor by the capitalist class or ruling bureaucracy at the point of production. But such appropriation is only part of the story of wage exploitation. That surplus, for which labor is paid nothing, is converted at commodity markets into a pool from which is derived, among other things, funds for the maintenance of class rule, and PROFIT -that elixer of wage exploitation that affords the exploiter a free ticket to the good things of life as well as additional capital for further exploitation of labor and aggrandizement of wealth.

But there is a catch to the conversion; profit, hence that free ticket, cannot be had unless the surplus is sold! And here is the rub: The fact that wage workers are a mainstay of consumer markets; the fact that because wages represent only a part of their total product of goods and services, workers cannot begin to buy back their surplus product; and the fact that the industrial output of the world's working classes has today reached staggering levels -- this is the crux of the matter. Unsold surpluses accumulate and jeopardize profit; this in turn causes widespread economic stagnation, social misery and unrest and, to cap it all, increasingly ruthless international ruling class competition for whatever markets, raw materials and cheap labor remain to be drawn into the orbit of wage servitude and profit.

The dreadful social results of the system are now seen to be inseparable from it. No wonder society is sick and in turmoil! No wonder workers suffer tragic absurdities such as "overproduction," unemployment, and poverty in the midst of plenty! No wonder industrial "safety" is a continuing horror! No wonder the stewardship of natural resources and the environment plays second fiddle to profit! No wonder the system engenders militarism, a militarism that in our day is dragging the whole of mankind to the block!

What can be done?

De Leonists hold there is only one answer: If the wage system imperils society, society must abolish the wage system and its organ of oppression, the state. That is, the immense majorities that comprise modern wage working classes must replace class possession and class government with social possession and socialist government -must transform capitalist or state run economies into Socialist Industrial Commonwealths.

If our conclusion is correct, what society desperately needs is not protest demonstrations or "issue-oriented" reform but knowledge of the revolutionary, socialist program. And here we must caution workers to put on their thinking caps.

"Socialism" is a much abused word; however, with an eye on its roof it is not hard to separate the true from the false. SOCIALism necessarily rejects kinship with "social democrats," "democratic socialists," or whoever else advances "government ownership," "state control" or "mixed economy" schemes in its name. In short, genuine socialism completely dissociates itself from wage slavery. No less does the root of the word expose the incompatibility of the wage exploitation and state despotism of Russia with the "Socialist" (U.S.S.R.) designation her rulers deploy.

What is socialism? According to Daniel De Leon, great American socialist pathfinder:

"Socialism is that social system under which the necessaries of production [natural resources, industries and services} are owned, controlled and administered fay 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."

Socialism means industrial democracy, not the counterfeit "democracy in the workplace" whose principal feature is industrial "self-government" under control of the statel It is important to realize that "state socialism" is a contradiction in terms, that socialism cannot be a hybrid of political and industrial administration, that the state evolved as an organ of class rule and is totally unfit to administer an industrial democracy.

The one organ fit for that task is an institution made possible by the evolution of mammoth industrialization, a government form that substitutes industrial constituencies for geographic constituencies, an industrial complex that integrates all local subdivisions of each industry and service into their corresponding national industries and services, and all national industries and services into ONE UNION - a socialist industrial union whose parliament or central directing authority "will consist, not of /politiciansj from geographic districts, but of representatives of /Industries and servicesj throughout the land, and IwhoseJ legislative work will not be the complicated one which a society of conflicting interests, such as capitalism, requires but the easy one which can be summed up in the statistics of the wealth needed, the wealth producible, and the work required - and that any average set of working men's representatives are fully able to ascertain, infinitely better than our modern rhetoricians in [Parliament]."

But that is not all; the one organ fit to administer an industrial democracy is not merely a union that integrates industrial production for social well being but a union that safeguards itself against possible anti-social ambition or incompetence by insisting that all its representatives (formen, superintendents, managers, councillors, etc.) at all levels of government (workplace, plant council, local industry council, national industry council, all industry congress) are not only elected by the rank and file workers but also controlled by them -- responsible to them and subject to immediate recall by them.

The socialist program requires the working class to be of ONE MIND on both the political field and the economic field; it requires working class UNITY on the political field in order to cross swords with the ruling class at the ballot box, and it requires UNIFICATION of the socially useful labor of the land in industrial constituencies, locally and nationally integrated, to take control of industry and the services upon a political mandate for social possession of them; in short, it requires working class unity of political demand and working class economic union to enforce the right of the ballot by implementing an immediate transition to socialism.

And here it should become clear that while the political field affords the ballot, thus gives a chance to the peaceful settlement of the great social question at issue, the ballot is not its sole attribute; in countries like Canada that still enjoy a measure of political democracy, the political field is also THE medium without which it is difficult to see how a revolutionary idea could be brought to the nation's attention. Need it be added that time is running out for political democracy? That in the deepening maelstrom of world economic collapse, the freedom of speech that many westerners take for granted is threatened as never before?

Socialism conveys a plan whereby any time it is so minded the working class majority can take social possession of the socially operated industrial means of life and thus at last redeem mankind from the terrible outrages inflicted upon it by blind, ruthless, ruling class greed. Socialism is truly the one hope of humanity! Dissemination of the socialist program is the urgent need of the hour!