Survival is the Issue!


Survival is the Issue!




Capitalism has deteriorated to the point where it threatens the existence of civilization and of mankind. Here in America the system faces problems it cannot possibly solve. Most serious of these are escalation of the Vietnam war and the growing threat of nuclear war, poverty, urban chaos and massive, permanent unemployment as a result of automation.

Other problems that defy capitalist solution are: wide displacement and impoverishment of the farm population, mounting corruption, crime and juvenile delinquency, spreading mental illness, flaring racism, and pollution of our air, soil and water.

All these are symptomatic of a doomed system that is taking us toward social catastrophe. They are a plain warning that the single issue before this nation, and the whole world, is: perish with capitalism or survive with Socialism.

In this grave situation, the Socialist Labor Party's views deserve closest attention. For the Socialist Labor Party when founded in 1890 recognized that capitalism was outliving its usefulness to the majority, the workers. And during seven decades the SLP has been proving that this obsolete system breeds ever multiplying evils -- above all, the twin evils of war and depression.


That capitalism does breed wars and depressions is proved by its record, a record crowded with recurrences of these two calamities. When we examine the capitalist system, how it operates, it is easy to see why.

What is capitalism? It is an economic system in which goods are produced to be sold at a profit. The goods are produced by the working class in industries owned by a small class of capitalist parasites. The capitalist owners of industry become the owners of the products. The workers get for their creative efforts a wage (or salary), an amount just sufficient to maintain themselves and their families. It is the relation of this amount to the value of the workers' output that is at the bottom of capitalism's depressions and wars.

For the fact is their capitalist exploiters have always paid the workers only a fraction of the value of their products. Worse still, this fraction keeps growing smaller as technological improvements step up labor's productivity while, at the same time, steadily wiping out jobs. The result is an ever widening gap between the volume of the workers' output and the portion they are able to buy back.

Yet the working class comprises the vast majority of the American people. It represents the domestic mass market. Obviously, therefore, a, large part of what is produced in American industry (including agriculture) cannot find buyers in the normal home market! This is the simple explanation of the accumulating surpluses ("overproduction") that caused the terrible depression of the 1930's, and that will soon cause another to develop.

Naturally, the capitalists are very much afraid of depressions; because, as Karl Marx pointed out more than a century ago, these periodic economic crises put capitalist society on trial for its life. Hence, preventing the accumulation of surpluses by acquiring foreign markets in which to sell them is of vital importance to our capitalist masters.

But every capitalist class in every country is under the same compulsion to unload surplus goods abroad. Consequently, there is hot competition for available markets, and this eventually explodes into -- war! "The seed of war in the modern world," confessed President Woodrow Wilson, "is industrial and commercial rivalry."


Prior to 1914 and to 1939 it was the capitalists of Germany who offered American capitalism the greatest competition in international trade. They were crushed in World Wars I and II. Since 1946 this competition has come from the Russian exploiters of labor. The threat of a thermonuclear war that could destroy the human race thus arises, not from a difference in ideologies, but from an imperialist struggle between the rulers of the United States and Russia for control of the world's markets and areas rich in natural wealth.

"But," say some, "it is no longer true that capitalism would go to war for commercial purposes. After all, the possibility of universal annihilation acts as a powerful deterrent to the outbreak of a new war. Besides, during the past twenty-five years the government has devised means of coping with economic recessions that minimize dependence on overseas markets."

Don't be misled by either of these delusions! While the capitalists and Soviet bureaucrats probably do view with dread the danger that their respective systems of class rule and privilege might perish in an atomic war, this is no guarantee that their jeopardized class interests will not drive one or the other to take the mad gamble.

As for the nonsense that government intervention is able to restore "prosperity," that was thoroughly refuted by the experience of the thirties. Remember that all of the New Deal's "pump priming" failed miserably to bring full production and employment to America. It took a global war to do that!

What is the inescapable conclusion we must face up to? The Socialist Labor Party says this: Depressions and wars are inevitable effects of capitalism, therefore they can never be eliminated as long as the system survives. Only when our economic life has been entirely rebuilt on a new foundation can lasting peace and economic well-being for all be achieved.

Briefly, here is the course we have to follow: Production for private profit must be replaced by production for the common good. Instead of letting a tiny useless class appropriate the lion's share of our collective product, the workers who create it must retain its full social value. Likewise, the existing despotic capitalist control of the national economy must yield to a democratic management of the industries by the workers who run them. And, of course, to permit the foregoing fundamental changes, the industries and natural resources of America must become the social property of all the people.

In short, we must establish a new society -- a Socialist society. Don't, though, get any wrong impression. We mean genuine Marxian Socialism and emphatically not the monstrous counterfeits with which the Russian, Chinese and British workers have been deceived.


Do we have the right to dispossess the capitalist class in order to place the economy under social ownership? The answer is a ringing yes! It is in full harmony with American principles and tradition for society thus to assert its supremacy over property. "Private property," declared Benjamin Franklin, one of the wisest of this nation's founders, "... is a Creature of Society, and is subject to the Calls of that Society, whenever its Necessities shall require it, even to its last Farthing...."

In keeping with Franklin's noble principle we have already twice abolished forms of property in the interest of social progress -- once when we confiscated the property of the British Crown, and again when we outlawed property in human beings nearly a century ago. Now society's next step forward -- indeed, its very salvation -- requires that capitalist ownership follow chattel slavery into the ashbin of history.

How shall we make the change to Socialism? Thanks to the Founding Fathers, we can make it peacefully. For they incorporated in the United States Constitution a clause -- Article V, the amendment clause -- that recognizes the mutability of social institutions. Article V, implemented by the ballot, makes possible the abolition of capitalist ownership by a democratic decision at the polls.

But note this well: It is of crucial importance that the workers be prepared to enforce the majority vote for Socialism with an adequate economic power. To do this, they must scrap the procapitalist unions of the AFL-CIO type and organize one integrated union of their entire class -- a Socialist Industrial Union, the power capable of taking over, holding and administering all the economic facilities of the nation.


The Socialist Industrial Union is to be the structure of the coming Socialist government, a democratic economic administration that will rest on industrial rather than geographic constituencies. For under Socialism there will be no political State, and no political parties either. The workers themselves, through their Socialist Industrial Union councils, will have a democratic mastery of their tools and products -- the indispensable condition of freedom in an industrial age.

There can be no peace or economic security without Socialism! Nor can we solve our other tragic problems until we get rid of their capitalist cause! Put your full influence behind the only movement that can transform this country into a model of peace, abundance, freedom and social sanity.