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OUT OF WORK!
How Safe Is YOUR Job?
Jobless! Willing and able to work, a family to feed and shelter -- but no work! Such is the tragic plight of millions of Americans today in a land of plenty. Why? What is wrong? The workers of America need a clear and candid answer to this question.
Why are millions of Americans jobless? Why do millions more face the future with fear and trepidation? In the statement that follows, the Socialist Labor Party (founded in 1890) answers these questions forthrightly, with a proper respect for the facts in the hope that everyone will give serious consideration to this analysis and to the Socialist Labor Party's program for bringing to birth a world of freedom, security and plenty for all.
A CRISIS OF "OVERPRODUCTION"
The cause of unemployment is inherent in the capitalist system of society. It is a product of "overproduction." The nation's granaries and warehouses are filled to overflowing. Hard times are here for the workers because they produced too much!
When we say "too much" we mean too much to sell, not too much to use. It is a notorious fact that tens of millions of Americans have basic needs that are unsatisfied. But under capitalism things are not produced to satisfy human needs; they are produced to be sold at a profit. When the capitalists cannot sell what the workers have produced, surpluses pile up, production is curtailed, factories close, and unemployment spreads.
Every worker knows it takes only a few weeks or months of unemployment to wipe out any "gains" from years of employment. Homes, cars and furniture are being repossessed at a rising tempo. Even highly touted "fringe" benefits -- pensions, insurance, hospitalization -- are down the drain.
All this is the inevitable consequence of capitalism -- of a system in which the capitalists, a numerically small class, own the factories, mines, railroads, and land, etc., in short, all the means of social production, while the overwhelming majority, the working class, owns'nothing except its labor power.
Let us emphasize right here that by "workers" we mean teachers as well as truck drivers, scientists as well as stevedores -- indeed, all who perform the mental and manual labors of society.
CAPITALISM'S CENTRAL CONTRADICTION
Recurring depressions are the inevitable result of a central contradiction in the capitalist system.
The capitalists can't stop depressions any more than they can stop earthquakes or hurricanes. Their so-called "built-in stabilizers" are wholly inadequate for coping with the central contradiction in their system.
Consider this central contradiction: A study of the history of wages shows that, while wages tend to rise in good times and fall in bad ones, in the long run and on the average the workers get what is loosely called "a living wage."
As a consequence, the workers can buy back only a fraction of their product. The rest -- the difference between what workers produce and what their wages will buy -- must be either consumed by the capitalists, wasted, used in expanding industry, or exported abroad.
Now, such is the tremendous productivity of the American workers that, despite the extravagances of the capitalists, despite the billions being spent on war preparations, despite the billions being invested abroad, despite the billions in wealth being exported and despite the billions spent in foreign economic aid -- despite all this, surpluses tend to accumulate.
Each new advance in labor-displacing technology (automation) further widens the gap between what the workers produce and what their wages will buy, thus hastening the onset of economic crisis and deepening its intensity.
Defenders of capitalism say "automation makes jobs." But as production is concentrated in highly automated plants, the cruel and devastating effects of automation on workers' jobs become apparent.
CAPITALISM'S "SOLUTION" -- HANDOUTS!
These are the grim realities of capitalism. And all that the capitalists and their politicians can do about them is (a) increase and extend unemployment benefits, (b) give some of the unemployed jobs on public works, (c) let the main body of the unemployed vegetate on welfare or relief.
Let us speak plainly. Capitalist handouts, whatever their form, are degrading. The jobless worker stands in line for long hours to demean himself before some bureaucrat in order to qualify for a "dole." He feels his degradation keenly. If he exhausts his unemployment compensation and goes on welfare or relief, the humiliation to which he is subjected is many times worse. His private affairs are pried into. He and his family are regimented in a kind of purgatory of poverty that erodes his self-respect.
Reforms cannot solve the problem. The New Deal adopted the most elaborate social reform program in history. But, when capitalism "recovered," it was not as a result of reforms but of WAR!
In short, the capitalist system is the cause of mass unemployment. Recurring depression is inherent in the capitalist system. In its present advanced state of decay capitalism's only way of overcoming depression is by the massive destruction of surpluses in war. The interests of the overwhelming majority dictate therefore that capitalism be consigned to the ashbin of history, and that it be replaced by Socialism, a social system capable of guaranteeing security for all.
In America we have everything it takes to make our country a veritable paradise. All that stands in the way is (a) the outmoded system of private ownership of industry and (b) the workers' failure to see themselves for what they are under this system -- namely, wage slaves, enslaved as a class to the capitalists as a class.
To end the curse of unemployment we must eliminate the cause of unemployment. We must replace private ownership of the industries with social ownership (i.e., the industries must be owned by all the people collectively). And we must replace production for sale and profit with a system of production for use.
Then instead of kicking workers out of jobs, automation will shorten the workday, workweek and workyear. Technological progress will no longer be something for us workers to fear, but an unqualified blessing that will insure abundance and leisure for all.
In America we can achieve Socialism peacefully. Thanks to Article V of the Constitution -- the amendment^clause -- we can outlaw capitalism by a democratic decision at the polls, i.e., by supporting the party of our class -- the Socialist Labor Party.
But we must make certain that our democratic decision for Socialism will be obeyed by the outvoted capitalist class. For that purpose we need an irresistible -- but nonviolent -- force to back up the Socialist ballot. Such a force is ours the moment we organize our economic might in one all-embracing Socialist Industrial Union, a union capable of taking possession of the industries and services in the name of society.
The next step is to adjourn the outmoded political or class State. For the Socialist Industrial Union with which we take possession of the industries will also be the framework of an entirely new plan of government. In this government, the Socialist Industrial Union Administration, we, the rank and file of workers, shall have a complete democratic control of our economic life. We shall elect our foremen and managers in the plant, as well as representatives to all higher administrative councils right up to the Socialist Industrial Union Congress that replaces the corrupt, political Congress of capitalism. This new Congress will be under the constant control of the workers and will be at all times fully responsive to the wishes of the majority because the decisive power -- the economic power -- will be firmly in the hands of the rank and file.
Men and women of America, heed this: Mankind is literally in a race with catastrophe. Depression, mass misery, crime and delinquency, mental breakdown, corruption, the terrible threat of annihilation in nuclear war -- all these are signs of social decay and disintegration. They are the warning history is giving us to build a new society consonant with freedom and democracy in the atomic and space age.
Join with us in the great cause of human liberation-and to save civilization from catastrophe.
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