Daniel De Leon, Reform or Revolution
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Reform or Revolution ?
by Daniel De Leon
An address delivered at
Wells' Memorial Hall, Boston, Mass.,
January 26, 1896
Mr. Chairman and Workingmen of Boston:
I have got into the habit of putting two and two together, and
drawing my conclusions. When I was invited to come to Boston, the
invitation reached me at about the same time as an official
information that a reorganization of the party was contemplated in the
city of Boston. I put the two together and I drew the conclusion that
part of the purpose of the invitation was for me to come here to tell
you upon what lines we in New York organized, and upon what lines we
"wicked" Socialists of New York and Brooklyn gave the capitalist class
last November the 16,000-vote black eye.
It has become an axiom that, to accomplish results,
organization is requisite. Nevertheless, there is "organization" and
"organization." That this is so appears clearly from the fact that the
"pure-and-simplers" have been going about saying to the workers:
"Organize! Organize!" and after they have been saying that, and have
been "organizing" and "organizing" for the past thirty or forty years,
we find that they are virtually where they started, if not worse off;
that their "organization" partakes of the nature of the lizard, whose
tail destroys what his foreparts build up.
I think the best thing I can do to aid you in organizing is to
give you the principles upon which the Socialist sections of New York
and Brooklyn are organized. To do that I shall go back to basic
principles, and in explaining to you the difference there is between
reform and revolution, I shall be able, step by step, to point out how
it is we are organized, and how you ought to be.
I shall assume - it is a wise course for a speaker to adopt -
that none in this audience knows what is "reform" and what is
"revolution." Those who are posted will understand me all the better;
those who are not will follow me all the easier.
We hear people talk about the "reform forces," about
"evolution" and about "revolution" in ways that are highly mixed. Let
us clear up our terms.
Reform means a change of externals; revolution - peaceful or
bloody, the peacefulness or the bloodiness of it cuts no figure
whatever in the essence of the question - means a change from within.
Take, for instance, a poodle. You can reform him in a lot of
ways. You can shave his whole body and leave a tassel at the tip of
his tail; you may bore a hole through each ear, and tie a blue bow on
one and a red bow on the other; you may put a brass collar around his
neck with your initials on, and a trim little blanket on his back;
yet, throughout, a poodle he was and a poodle he remains. Each of
these changes probably wrought a corresponding change in the poodle's
life. When shorn of all his hair except a tassel at the tail's tip he
was owned by a wag who probably cared only for the fun he could get
out of his pet; when he appears gaily decked in bows, probably his
young mistress' attachment is of tenderer sort; when later we see him
in the fancier's outfit, the treatment he receives and the uses he is
put to may be yet again and probably are, different. Each of these
transformations or stages may mark a veritable epoch in the poodle's
existence. And yet, essentially, a poodle he was, a poodle he is and
a poodle he will remain.
That is reform.
But when we look back myriads of years, or project ourselves
into far - future physical cataclysms, and trace the development of
animal life from the invertebrate to the vertebrate, from the lizard
to the bird, from the quadruped and mammal till we come to the
prototype of the poodle, and finally reach the poodle himself, and so
forward - then do we find radical changes at each step, changes from
within that alter the very essence of his being, and that put, or will
put, upon him each time a stamp that alters the very system of his
That is revolution.
So with society. Whenever a change leaves the internal
mechanism untouched, we have reform; whenever the internal mechanism
is changed, we have revolution.
Of course, no internal change is possible without external
manifestations. The internal changes denoted by the revolution or
evolution of the lizard into the eagle go accompanied with external
marks. So with society. And therein lies one of the pitfalls into
which dilettantism or "reforms" invariably tumble. They have noticed
that externals change with internals; and they rest satisfied with
mere external changes, without looking behind the curtain. But of
this more presently.
We Socialists are not reformers; we are revolutionists. We
Socialists do not propose to change forms. We care nothing for forms.
We want a change of the inside of the mechanism of society, let the
form take care of itself. We see in England a crowned monarch; we see
in Germany a sceptered emperor; we see in this country an uncrowned
president, and we fail to see the essential difference between
Germany, England or America. That being the case, we are skeptics as
to forms. We are like grown children, in the sense that we like to
look at the inside of things and find out what is there.
One more preliminary explanation. Socialism is lauded by some
as an angelic movement, by others it is decried as a devilish scheme.
Hence you find the Gomperses blowing hot and cold on the subject; and
Harry Lloyd, with whose capers, to your sorrow, you are more familiar
than I, pronouncing himself a Socialist in one place, and in another
running Socialism down. Socialism is neither an aspiration of angels
nor a plot of devils. Socialism moves with its feet firmly planted in
the ground and its head not lost in the clouds; it takes science by
the hand, asks her to lead and goes whithersoever she points. It does
not take science by the hand, saying: "I shall follow you to the end
of the road if it please me." No! It takes her by the hand and says:
"Whithersoever thou leadest, thither am I bound to go." The
Socialists, consequently, move as intelligent men; we do not mutiny
because, instead of having wings, we have arms, and cannot fly as we
What then, with an eye single upon the differences between
reform and revolution, does Socialism mean? To point out that, I
shall take up two or three of what I may style the principal nerve
centers of the movement.
GOVERNMENT - THE STATE
One of these principal nerve centers is the question of
"government" or the question of the "State." How many of you have not
seen upon the shelves of our libraries books that treat upon the
"History of the State"; upon the "Limitations of the State"; upon
"What the State Should do and What It Should Not Do"; upon the
"Legitimate Functions of the State," and so on into infinity?
Nevertheless, there is not one among all of these, the products, as
they all are, of the vulgar and superficial character of capitalist
thought, that fathoms the question or actually defines the "State."
Not until we reach the great works of the American Morgan, of Marx and
Engels, and of other Socialist philosophers, is the matter handled
with that scientific lucidity that proceeds from facts, leads to sound
conclusions and breaks the way to practical work. Not until you know
and understand the history of the "State" and of "government" will you
understand one of the cardinal principles upon which Socialist
organization rests, and will you be in a condition to organize
We are told that "government" has always been as it is today
and always will be. This is the first fundamental error of what Karl
Marx justly calls capitalistic vulgarity of thought.
When man started on his career, after having got beyond the
state of the savage, he realized that cooperation was a necessity to
him. He understood that together with others he could face his
enemies in a better way than alone; he could hunt, fish, fight more
successfully. Following the instructions of the great writer Morgan -
the only great and original American writer upon this question - we
look to the Indian communities, the Indian settlements, as a type of
the social system that our ancestors, all of them, without exception,
went through at some time.
The Indian lived in the community condition. The Indian lived
under a system of common property. As Franklin described it, in a
sketch of the history and alleged sacredness of private property,
there was no such thing as private property among the Indians. They
cooperated, worked together, and they had a central directing
authority among them. In the Indian communities we find that central
directing authority consisting of the "sachems." It makes no
difference how that central directing authority was elected; there it
was. But note this: its function was to direct the cooperative or
collective efforts of the communities and, in so doing, it shared
actively in the productive work of the communities. Without its work,
the work of the communities would not have been done.
When, in the further development of society, the tools of
production grew and developed - grew and developed beyond the point
reached by the Indian; when the art of smelting iron ore was
discovered; when thereby that leading social cataclysm, wrapped in the
mists of ages, yet discernible, took place that rent former communal
society in twain along the line of sex, the males being able, the
females unable, to wield the tool of production - then society was
cast into a new mold; the former community, with its democratic
equality of rights and duties, vanishes and a new social system turns
up, divided into two sections, the one able, the other unable, to work
at production. The line that separated these two sections, being at
first the line of sex, could, in the very nature of things, not yet be
sharp or deep. Yet, notwithstanding, in the very shaping of these two
sections - one able, the other unable, to feed itself - we have the
first premonition of the classes, of class distinctions, of the
division of society into the independent and the dependent, into
master and slaves, ruler and ruled.
Simultaneously, with this revolution we find the first changes
in the nature of the central directing authority, of that body whose
original function was to share in, by directing, production.
Just as soon as economic equality is destroyed and the economic
classes crop up in society, the functions of the central directing
authority gradually begin to change, until finally, when, after a long
range of years, moving slowly at first and then with the present
hurricane velocity under capitalism proper, the tool has developed
further, and further, and still further, and has reached its present
fabulous perfection and magnitude;
-- when, through its private ownership, the tool has wrought a
revolution within a revolution by dividing society, no longer along
the line of sex, but strictly along the line of ownership or
non-ownership of the land on and the tool with which to work;
-- when the privately owned, mammoth tool of today has reduced
more than fifty-two per cent of our population to the state of being
utterly unable to feed without first selling themselves into wage
slavery, while it at the same time saps the ground from under about
thirty-nine per cent of our people, the middle class, whose puny
tools, small capital, render them certain victims of competition with
the large capitalist, and makes them desperate;
-- when the economic law that asserts itself under the system
of private ownership of the tool has concentrated these private owners
into about eight per cent of the nation's inhabitants, has thereby
enabled this small capitalist class to live without toil, and to
compel the majority, the class of the proletariat, to toil without
-- when, finally, it has come to the pass in which our country
now finds itself, that, as was stated in Congress, ninety-four per
cent of the taxes are spent in "protecting property" - the property of
the trivially small capitalist class - and not in protecting life;
-- when, in short, the privately owned tool has wrought this
work, and the classes - the idle rich and the working poor - are in
full bloom - then the central directing authority of old stands
transformed; its pristine functions of aiding in, by directing,
production have been supplanted by the functions of holding down the
dependent, the slave, the ruled, i.e., the working class.
Then, and not before, lo, the State, the modern State, the
capitalist State! Then, lo, the government, the modern government,
the capitalist government - equipped mainly, if not solely, with the
means of suppression, of oppression, of tyranny!
In sight of these manifestations of the modern State, the
anarchist - the rose-water and the dirty-water variety alike - shouts:
"Away with all central directing authority; see what it does; it can
only do mischief; it always did mischief!" But Socialism is not
anarchy. Socialism does not, like the chicken in the fable, just out
of the shell, start with the knowledge of that day. Socialism rejects
the premises and the conclusions of anarchy upon the State and upon
government. What Socialism says is: "Away with the economic system
that alters the beneficent functions of the central directing
authority from an aid to production into a means of oppression." And
it proceeds to show that, when the instruments of production shall be
owned no longer by the minority, but shall be restored to the
Commonwealth; that when, as a result of this, no longer the minority
or any portion of the people shall be in poverty and classes, class
distinctions and class rule shall, as they necessarily must, have
vanished, that then the central directing authority will lose all its
repressive functions and is bound to reassume the functions it had in
the old communities of our ancestors, become again a necessary aid,
and assist in production.
The Socialist, in the brilliant simile of Karl Marx, sees that
a lone fiddler in his room needs no director; he can rap himself to
order, with his fiddle to his shoulder, and start his dancing tune,
and stop whenever he likes. But just as soon as you have an
orchestra, you must also have an orchestra director - a central
directing authority. If you don't, you may have a Salvation Army
powwow, you may have a Louisiana Negro breakdown; you may have an
orthodox Jewish synagogue, where every man sings in whatever key he
likes, but you won't have harmony - impossible.
It needs this central directing authority of the orchestra
master to rap all the players to order at a given moment; to point out
when they shall begin; when to have these play louder, when to have
those play softer; when to put in this instrument, when to silence
that; to regulate the time of all and preserve the accord. The
orchestra director is not an oppressor, nor is his baton an insignia
of tyranny; he is not there to bully anybody; he is as necessary or
important as any or all of the members of the orchestra.
Our system of production is in the nature of an orchestra. No
one man, no one town, no one state, can be said any longer to be
independent of the other; the whole people of the United States, every
individual therein, is dependent and interdependent upon all the
others. The nature of the machinery of production; the subdivision of
labor, which aids cooperation and which cooperation fosters, and which
is necessary to the plentifulness of production that civilization
requires, compel a harmonious working together of all departments of
labor, and thence compel the establishment of a central directing
authority, of an orchestral director, so to speak, of the orchestra of
the cooperative commonwealth.
Such is the State or government that the Socialist revolution
carries in its womb. Today, production is left to anarchy, and only
tyranny, the twin sister of anarchy, is organized.
Socialism, accordingly, implies organization; organization
implies directing authority; and the one and the other are strict
reflections of the revolutions undergone by the tool of production.
Reform, on the other hand, skims the surface, and with "referendums"
and similar devices limits itself to external tinkerings.
MATERIALISM - MORALITY
The second nerve center of Socialism that will serve to
illustrate the difference between reform and revolution is its
Take, for instance, the history of slavery. All of our
ancestors - this may shock some of you, but it is a fact all the same
- all of our ancestors were cannibals at one time. The human race, in
its necessity to seek for food, often found it easier to make a raid
and take from others the food they had gathered. In those olden,
olden days of the barbarism of our ancestors, when they conquered a
people and took away its property, they had no further use for the
conquered; they killed them, spitted them over a good fire, roasted
and ate them up. It was a simple and the only profitable way known of
disposing of prisoners of war. They did with their captives very much
what bees do yet; when they have raided and conquered a hive they
ruthlessly kill every single denizen of the captured hive.
Our ancestors continued cannibals until their social system had
developed sufficiently to enable them to keep their prisoners under
control. From that moment they found it more profitable to keep their
prisoners of war alive and turn them into slaves to work for them,
than it was to kill them off and eat them. With that stage of
material development, cannibalism was dropped. From the higher
material plane on which our ancestors then stood, their moral vision
enlarged and they presently realized that it was immoral to eat up a
Cannibalism disappeared to make room for chattel slavery. And
what do we see? Watch the process of "moral development" in this
country - the classic ground in many ways to study history in, for the
reason that the whole development of mankind can be seen here,
portrayed in a few years, so to speak. You know how, today, the
Northern people put on airs of morality on the score of having
"abolished chattel slavery," the "traffic in human flesh," "gone down
South and fought, and bled, to free the Negro," etc., etc. Yet we
know that just as soon as manufacturing was introduced in the North,
the North found that it was too expensive to own the Negro and take
care of him; that it was much cheaper not to own the worker; and,
consequently, that they "religiously," "humanely" and "morally" sold
their slaves to the South, while they transformed the white people of
the North, who had no means of production in their own hands, into
wage slaves, and mercilessly ground them down. In the North, chattel
slavery disappeared just as soon as the development of machinery
rendered the institution unprofitable. The immorality of chattel
slavery became clear to the North just as soon as, standing upon that
higher plane that its higher material development raised it to, it
acquired a better vision. The benighted South, on the contrary, that
had no machinery, remained with eyes shut, and she stuck to slavery
till the slave was knocked out of her fists.
Guided by the light of this and many similar lessons of
history, Socialism builds upon the principle that the "moral
sentiment," as illustrated by the fate of the slave, is not the cause,
but a powerful aid to revolutions. The moral sentiment is to a
movement as important as the sails are to a ship. Nevertheless,
important though sails are, unless a ship is well laden, unless she is
soundly, properly and scientifically constructed, the more sails you
pile on and spread out, the surer she is to capsize. So with the
organizations that are to carry out a revolution. Unless your
Socialist organizations are as sound as a bell; unless they are as
intolerant as science; unless they will plant themselves squarely on
the principle that two and two make four and under no circumstances
allow that they make five, the more feeling you put into them, the
surer they are to capsize and go down. On the contrary, load your
revolutionary ship with the proper lading of science; hold her
strictly to the lodestar; try no monkeyshines and no dillyings and
dallyings with anything that is not strictly scientific, or with any
man who does not stand on our uncompromisingly scientific platform; do
that, and then unfurl freely the sails of morality; then the more your
sails, the better off your ship; but not unless you do that, will you
be safe, or can you prevail.
Socialism knows that revolutionary upheavals and
transformations proceed from the rock bed of material needs. With a
full appreciation of and veneration for moral impulses that are
balanced with scientific knowledge, it eschews, looks with just
suspicion upon and gives a wide berth to balloon morality, or he it
those malarial fevers that reformers love to dignify with the name of
THE CLASS STRUGGLE
A third nerve center of Socialism by which to distinguish
reform from revolution is its manly, aggressive posture.
The laws that rule sociology run upon lines parallel with and
are the exact counterparts of those that natural science has
established in biology.
In the first place, the central figure in biology is the
species, not the individual specimen. In sociology, the economic
classes take the place of the species in biology. Consequently, that
is the central figure on the field of sociology that corresponds to
and represents the species on the field of biology.
In the second place, struggle, and not piping peace;
assimilation by the ruthless process of the expulsion of all elements
that are not fit for assimilation, and not external coalition - such
are the laws of growth in biology, and such are and needs must be the
laws of growth in sociology.
Hence, Socialism recognizes in modern society the existence of
a struggle of classes, and the line that divides the combatants to be
the economic line that separates the interests of the property-holding
capitalist class from the interests of the propertiless class of the
proletariat. As a final result of this, Socialism, with the Nazarene,
spurns as futile, if not wicked, the method of cajolery and seduction,
or the crying of "Peace, peace, where there is no peace," and cuts a
clean swath, while reform is eternally entangled in its course of
charming, luring, decoying.
Let me now give you a few specific illustrations - based upon
this general sketch - that may help to point out more clearly the
sharp differences there are between reform and revolution, , and the
grave danger there lurks behind confounding the two.
You remember I referred to the fact that internal, i.e.,
revolutionary changes, are always accompanied with external changes of
some sort, and that therein lay a pitfall into which reform invariably
tumbled, inasmuch as reform habitually rests satisfied with externals,
allows itself to be deceived with appearances. For instance:
The Socialist revolution demands, among other things, the
public ownership of all the means of transportation. But, in itself,
the question of ownership affects only external forms: The Post
Office is the common property of the people, and yet the real workers
in that department are mere wage slaves. In the mouth of the
Socialist, of the revolutionist, the internal fact, the cardinal
truth, that for which alone we fight, and which alone is entitled to
all we can give to it - that is the abolition of the system of wage
slavery under which the proletariat is working. Now, up step the
Populists - the dupers, not the duped among them with a plan to
nationalize the railroads. The standpoint from which they proceed is
that of middle class interests as against the interests of the upper
capitalists or monopolists. The railroad monopolists are now fleecing
the middle class; these want to turn the tables upon their exploiters;
they want to abolish them, wipe them out, and appropriate unto
themselves the fleecings of the working class which the railroad
monopolists now monopolize. With this reactionary class interest in
mind, the duper-Populist steps forward and holds this plausible
"We, too, want the nationalization of the roads; we are going
your way; join us!"
The reform straws are regularly taken in by this seeming truth;
they are carried off their feet; and they are drawn heels over head
into the vortex of capitalist conflicts. Not so the revolutionist.
His answer follows sharp and clear:
"Excuse me! Guess you do want to nationalize the railroads,
but only as a reform; we want nationalization as a revolution. You do
not propose, while we are fixedly determined, to relieve the railroad
workers of the yoke of wage slavery under which they now grunt and
sweat. By your scheme of nationalization, you do not propose, on the
contrary, you oppose all relief to the workers, and you have set dogs
at the heels of our propagandists in Chautauqua County, N.Y.,
whenever it was proposed to reduce the hours of work of the
While we, the revolutionists, seek the emancipation of the
working class and the abolition of all exploitation, duper-Populism
seeks to rivet the chains of wage slavery more firmly upon the
proletariat. There is no exploiter like the middle class exploiter.
Carnegie may fleece his workers - he has 20,000 of them - of only
fifty cents a day and yet net, from sunrise to sunset, $10,000
profits; the banker with plenty of money to lend can thrive with a
trifling shaving of each individual note; but the apple woman on the
street corner must make a hundred and five hundred per cent profit to
exist. For the same reason, the middle class, the employer of few
hands, is the worst, the bitterest, the most inveterate, the most
relentless exploiter of the wage slave.
You may now realize what a grave error that man will incur who
will rest satisfied with external appearance. Reform is invariably a
cat's paw for dupers; revolution never.
Take now an illustration of the revolutionary principle that
the material plane on which man stands determines his perception of
morality. One man writes to THE PEOPLE office: "You speak about the
immorality of capitalism, don't you know that it was immoral to
demonetize silver?" Another writes: "How queer to hear you talk about
immorality; don't you know it is a type of immorality to have a
protective tariff?" He wants free trade. A third one writes: "Oh,
sir, I admire the moral sentiment that inspires you, but how can you
make fun of prohibition? Don't you know that if a man is drunk, he
will beat his wife and kill his children?" And so forth. Each of
these looks at morality from the standpoint of his individual or class
interests. The man who owns a silver mine considers it the height of
immorality to demonetize silver. The importer who can be benefited by
free trade thinks it a heinous crime against good morals to set up a
high tariff. The man whose wage slaves come on Monday somewhat boozy,
so that he cannot squeeze, pilfer out of them as much wealth as he
would like to, becomes a pietistic prohibitionist.
One of our great men, a really great man, a man whom I consider
a glory to the United States - Artemus Ward - with that genuine, not
bogus, keen Yankee eye of his saw, and with that master pen of his
excellently illustrated this scientific truth, with one of his yarns.
He claimed, you know, that he traveled through the country with a
collection of wax figures representing the great men and criminals of
the time. On one occasion he was in Maine. At about that time a
little boy, Wilkins, had killed his uncle. Of course, the occurrence
created a good deal of a sensation, and Artemus Ward tells us that,
having an eye to the main chance, he got up a wax figure which he
exhibited as Wilkins, the boy murderer. A few years later, happening
again in the same Maine village, it occurred to him that the boy
Wilkins had proved a great attraction in the place. He hunted around
among his figures, found none small enough to represent a boy, and he
took the wax figure that he used to represent Captain Kidd with,
labeled that "Wilkins, the Boy Murderer," and opened his booth. The
people flocked in, paid their fifteen cents admission, and Artemus
started to explain his figures. When he reached the "Boy Murderer,"
and was expatiating upon the lad's wickedness, a man in the audience
rose, and in a rasping, nasal voice, remarked: "How is that? Three
years ago you showed us the boy, Wilkins, he was a boy then, and died
since; how can he now be a big man?" Thereupon Artemus says: "I was
angry at the rascal, and I should have informed against him, and have
him locked up for treason to the flag."
With the master hand of genius Artemus here exposed the
material bases of capitalist "patriotism," and pointed to the
connection between the two. The material plane, on which the
fraudulent showman stood, determined his moral impulse on patriotism.
The higher the economic plane on which a class stands, and the
sounder its understanding of material conditions, all the broader will
its horizon be, and, consequently, all the purer and truer its
morality. Hence it is that, today, the highest moral vision, and the
truest withal, is found in the camp of the revolutionary proletariat.
Hence, also, you will perceive the danger of the moral cry that goes
not hand in hand with sound knowledge. The morality of reform is the
corruscation of the _ignis fatuus_; the morality of revolution is
lighted by the steady light of science.
Take another illustration, this time on the belligerent poise
of Socialism, to distinguish reform from revolution.
The struggles that mark the movements of man have ever
proceeded from the material interests, not of individuals, but of
classes. The class interests on top, when rotten - ripe for
overthrow, succumbed, when they did succumb, to nothing short of the
class interests below. Individuals from the former class frequently
took leading and invaluable part on the side of the latter, and
individuals of the latter regularly played the role of traitors to
civilization by siding with the former, as did, for instance, the son
of the venerable Franklin when he sided with the British. Yet in both
sets of instances, the combatants stood arrayed upon platforms that
represented opposite class interests. Revolutions triumphed, whenever
they did triumph, by asserting themselves and marching straight upon
their goal. On the other hand, the fate of Wat Tyler ever is the fate
of reform. The rebels, in this instance, were weak enough to allow
themselves to be wheedled into placing their movement into the hands
of Richard II, who promised "relief" - and brought it by marching the
men to the gallows.
You will perceive the danger run by movements that - instead of
accepting no leadership except such as stands squarely upon their own
demands - rest content with and entrust themselves to "promises of
relief." Revolution, accordingly, stands on its own bottom, hence it
cannot be overthrown; reform leans upon others, hence its downfall is
Of all revolutionary epochs, the present draws sharpest the
line between the conflicting class interests. Hence, the
organizations of the revolution of our generation must be the most
uncompromising of any that yet appeared on the stage of history. The
program of this revolution consists not in any one detail. It demands
the unconditional surrender of the capitalist system and its system of
wage slavery; the total extinction of class rule is its object.
Nothing short of that - whether as a first, a temporary, or any other
sort of step can at this late date receive recognition in the camp of
the modern revolution.
Upon these lines we organized in New York and Brooklyn, and
prospered; upon these lines we have compelled the respect of the foe.
And I say unto you, go ye, and do likewise.
THE REFORMER - THE REVOLUTIONIST
And now to come to, in a sense, the most important, surely the
most delicate, of any of the various subdivisions of this address.
We know that movements make men, but men make movements.
Movements cannot exist unless they are carried on by men; in the last
analysis it is the human hand and the human brain that serve as the
instruments of revolutions.
How shall the revolutionist be known? Which are the marks of
the reformer? In New York a reformer cannot come within smelling
distance of us but we can tell him. We know him; we have experienced
him; we know what mischief he can do; and he cannot get within our
ranks if we can help it. He must organize an opposition organization,
and thus fulfill the only good mission he has in the scheme of nature
- pull out from among us whatever reformers may be hiding there.
But you may not yet be familiar with the cut of the reformer's
jib. You may not know the external marks of the revolutionist. Let
me mention them.
The modern revolutionist, i.e., the Socialist, must, in the
first place, by reason of the sketch I presented to you upon the
development of the State, necessarily work in organization, with all
that that implies. In this you have the first characteristic that
distinguishes the revolutionist from the reformer; the reformer spurns
organization; his symbol is "Five Sore Fingers on a Hand" - far apart
from one another.
The modern revolutionist knows full well that man is not
superior to principle, that principle is superior to man, but he does
not fly off the handle with the maxim and thus turn the maxim into
absurdity. He firmly couples the maxim with this other that no
principle is superior to the movement or organization that puts it and
upholds it in the field.
The engineer knows that steam is a powerful thing, but he also
knows that unless the steam is in the boiler, and unless there is a
knowing hand at the throttle, the steam will either evaporate or the
boiler will burst. Hence, you will never hear an engineer say:
"Steam is the thing," and then kick the locomotive off the track.
Similarly, the revolutionist recognizes that the organization that is
propelled by correct principles is as the boiler that must hold the
steam, or the steam will amount to nothing. He knows that in the
revolution demanded by our age, organization must be the incarnation
of principle. Just the reverse of the reformer, who will ever be seen
mocking at science, the revolutionist will not make a distinction
between the organization and the principle. He will say: "The
principle and the organization are one."
A Western judge, on one occasion, had to do with a quibbling
lawyer, who was defending a burglar - you know what a burglar is - and
rendered a decision that was supremely wise. The prisoner was charged
with having stuck his hand and arm through a window and stolen
something, whatever it was. The judge sentenced the man to the
penitentiary. Said the lawyer: "I demur; the whole of the man did
not break through the window; it was only his arm." "Well," said the
judge, "I will sentence the arm; let him do with the body what he
likes." As the man and his arm were certainly one, and as the man
would not wrench his arm out of its socket and separate it from the
body, he quietly went to the penitentiary, and I hope is there yet to
serve as a permanent warning against "reform science."
Again, the modern revolutionist knows that in order to
accomplish results or promote principle, there must be unity of
action. He knows that, if we do not go in a body and hang together,
we are bound to hang separate. Hence, you will ever see the
revolutionist submit to the will of the majority; you will always see
him readiest to obey; he recognizes that obedience is the badge of
civilized man. The savage does not know the word. The word
"obedience" does not exist in the vocabulary of any language until its
people got beyond the stage of savagery. Hence, also, you will never
find the revolutionist putting himself above the organization. The
opposite conduct is an unmistakable earmark of reformers.
The revolutionist recognizes that the present machinery and
methods of production render impossible - and well it is they do - the
individual freedom of man such as our savage ancestors knew the thing;
that today, the highest individual freedom must go hand in hand with
collective freedom; and none such is possible without a central
directing authority. Standing upon this vigor - imparting high plane
of civilization, the revolutionist is virile and self-reliant, in
striking contrast with the mentally sickly and, therefore, suspicious
reformer. Hence the cry of "Bossism!" is as absent from the
revolutionist's lips as it is a feature on those of the reformer.
Another leading mark of the revolutionist, which is paralleled
with the opposite mark on the reformer, is the consistency, hence
morality, of the former, and the inconsistency, hence immorality, of
the latter. As the revolutionist proceeds upon facts, he is truthful
and his course is steady; on the other hand, the reformer will ever be
found prevaricating and in perpetual contradiction of himself. The
reformer, for instance, is ever vaporing against "tyranny," and yet
watch him; give him rope enough and you will always see him straining
to be the top man in the shebang, the man on horseback, the autocrat,
whose whim shall be law. The reformer is ever prating about
"morality," but just give him a chance, and you will catch him every
time committing the most immoral acts, as, for instance, sitting in
judgment on cases in which he himself is a _particeps criminis_, or
countenancing and profiting by such acts. The reformer's mouth is
ever full with the words "individual freedom," yet in the whole
catalogue of defiers of individual freedom, the reformer vies with the
Finally, you will find the reformer ever flying off at a
tangent, while the revolutionist sticks to the point. The
scatterbrained reformer is ruled by a centrifugal, the revolutionist
by a centripetal force.
Somebody has aptly said that in social movements an evil
principle is like a scorpion; it carries the poison that will kill it.
So with the reformers; they carry the poison of disintegration that
breaks them up into twos and ones and thus deprives them in the end of
all power for mischief; while the power of the revolutionist to
accomplish results grows with the gathering strength that its posture
insures to him.
The lines upon which we organize in New York and Brooklyn are,
accordingly, directly opposed to those of reformers. We recognize the
need of organization with all that that implies - of organization,
whose scientific basis and uncompromising posture inspire respect in
the foe, and confidence in those who belong with us. This is the
_sine qua non_ for success.
Right here allow me to digress for a moment. Keep in mind
where I break off that we may hitch on again all the easier.
Did you ever stop to consider why it is that in this country
where opportunities are so infinitely superior, the working class
movement is so far behind, whereas in Europe, despite the
disadvantages there, it is so far ahead of us? Let me tell you.
In the first place, the tablets of the minds of our working
class are scribbled all over by every charlatan who has let himself
loose. In Europe, somehow or other, the men who were able to speak
respected and respect themselves a good deal more than most of our
public speakers do here. They studied first; they first drank deep at
the fountain of science; and not until they felt their feet firmly
planted on the rock bed of fact and reason, did they go before the
masses. So it happens that the tablets of the minds of the European,
especially the Continental working classes, have lines traced upon
them by the master hands of the ages. Hence every succeeding new
movement brought forward by the tides of time found its work paved for
and easier. But here, one charlatan after another who could speak
glibly, and who could get money from this, that, or the other
political party, would go among the people and upon the tablets of the
minds of the working classes he scribbled his crude text. So it
happens that today, when the apostle of Socialism goes before our
people, he cannot do what his compeers in Europe do, take a pencil and
draw upon the minds of his hearers the letters of science; no, he must
first clutch a sponge, a stout one, and wipe clean the pot-hooks that
the charlatans have left there. Not until he has done that can he
begin to preach and teach successfully.
Then, again, with this evil of miseducation, the working class
of this country suffers from another. The charlatans, one after the
other, set up movements that proceeded upon lines of ignorance;
movements that were denials of scientific facts; movements that bred
hopes in the hearts of the people; yet movements that had to collapse.
A movement must be perfectly sound, and scientifically based or it
cannot stand. A falsely based movement is like a lie, and a lie
cannot survive. All these false movements came to grief, and what was
the result? - disappointment, stagnation, diffidence, hopelessness in
The Knights of Labor, meant by Uriah Stephens, as he himself
admitted, to be reared upon the scientific principles of Socialism -
principles found today in no central or national organization of labor
outside of the Socialist Trade & Labor Alliance - sank into the mire.
Uriah Stephens was swept aside; ignoramuses took hold of the
organization; a million and a half men went into it, hoping for
salvation; but, instead of salvation, there came from the veils of the
K. of L. Local, District and General Assemblies the developed
ignoramuses, that is to say, the labor fakers, riding the workingman
and selling him out to the exploiter. Disappointed, the masses fell
Thereupon bubbled up another wondrous concern, another
idiosyncrasy - the American Federation of Labor, appropriately called
by its numerous English organizers the American Federation of Hell.
Ignoramuses again took hold and the lead. They failed to seek below
the surface for the cause of the failure of the K. of L.; like
genuine ignoramuses, they fluttered over the surface. They saw on the
surface excessive concentration of power in the K. of L., and they
swung to the other extreme - they built a tapeworm. I call it a
tapeworm, because a tapeworm is no organism; it is an aggregation of
links with no cohesive powers worth mentioning. The fate of the K.
of L. overtook the A. F. of L. Like causes brought on like
results, false foundations brought on ruin and failure. Strike upon
strike proved disastrous in all concentrated industries; wages and the
standard of living of the working class at large went down; the
unemployed multiplied; and again the ignorant leaders naturally and
inevitably developed into approved labor fakers; the workers found
themselves shot, clubbed, indicted, imprisoned by the identical
Presidents, governors, mayors, judges, etc. - Republican and
Democratic - whom their misleaders had corruptly induced them to
Today there is no A. F. of L. - not even the tapeworm - any
more. If you reckon it up, you will find that if the 250,000 members
which it claims paid dues regularly every quarter, it must have four
times as large a fund as it reports. The fact is the dues are paid
for the last quarter only; the fakers see to this to the end that they
may attend the annual rowdidow called the "A. F. of L. Convention"
- and advertise themselves to the politicians. That's all there is
left of it. It is a ship, never seaworthy, but now stranded and
captured by a handful of pirates; a tapeworn pulled to pieces,
condemned by the rank and file of the American proletariat. Its
career only filled still fuller the workers' measure of
disappointment, diffidence, helplessness.
The Henry George movement was another of these charlatan booms
that only helped still more to dispirit people in the end. The
"single tax," with its half-antiquated, half-idiotic reasoning, took
the field. Again great expectations were raised all over the country
- for a while. Again a semi-economic lie proved a broken reed to lean
on. Down came Humpty Dumpty, and all the king's horses and all the
king's men could not now put Humpty Dumpty together again. Thus the
volume of popular disappointment and diffidence received a further
Most recently there came along the People's Party movement.
Oh, how fine it talked! It was going to emancipate the workers. Did
it not say so in its preamble, however reactionary its platform? If
bluff and blarney could save a movement, the People's Party would have
been imperishable. But it went up like a rocket, and is now fast
coming down a stick. In New York State it set itself up against us
when we already had 14,000 votes, and had an official standing. It
was going to teach us "dreamers" a lesson in "practical American
politics." Well, its vote never reached ours, and last November when
we rose to 21,000 votes, it dropped to barely 5,000, lost its official
standing as a party in the state, and as far as New York and Brooklyn
are concerned, we simply mopped the floor with it.
These false movements, and many more kindred circumstances that
I could mention, have confused the judgment of our people, weakened
the spring of their hope, and abashed their courage. Hence the
existing popular apathy in the midst of popular misery; hence
despondency despite unequaled opportunities for redress; hence the
backwardness of the movement here when compared with that of Europe.
To return now where I broke off. The Socialist Labor Party
cannot, in our country, fulfill its mission - here less than anywhere
else - without it takes a stand, the scientific soundness of whose
position renders growth certain, failure impossible, and without its
disciplinary firmness earns for it the unqualified confidence of the
now eagerly onlooking masses both in its integrity of purpose and its
capacity to enforce order. It is only thus that we can hope to
rekindle the now low-burning spark of manhood and womanhood in our
American working class, and reconjure up the Spirit of '76.
We know full well that the race or class that is not virile
enough to strike an intelligent blow for itself, is not fit for
emancipation. If emancipated by others, it will need constant
propping, or will collapse like a dish-clout. While that is true,
this other is true also: In all revolutionary movements, as in the
storming of fortresses, the thing depends upon the head of the column
- upon that minority that is so intense in its convictions, so soundly
based on its principles, so determined in its action, that it carries
the masses with it, storms the breastworks and captures the fort.
Such a head of the column must be our Socialist organization to the
whole column of the American proletariat.
Again our American history furnishes a striking illustration.
When Pizarro landed on the western slope of the Andes, he had with him
about 115 men. Beyond the mountains was an empire - the best
organized empire of the aborigines that had been found in America. It
had its departments; it had its classes; it was managed as one body
numbering hundreds of thousands to the Spaniards' hundred. That body
the small army of determined men were to capture. What did Pizzaro
do? Did he say, "Let us wait till we get some more?" Or did he say,
"Now, boys, I need every one of you 115 men"? No, he said to them:
"Brave men of Spain, yonder lies an empire that is a delight to live
in, full of gold, full of wealth, full of heathens that we ought to
convert. They are as the sands of the sea, compared with us, and they
are entrenched behind their mountain fastnesses. It needs the
staunchest among you to undertake the conquest. If any, through the
hardships of travel, feel unequal to the hardships of the enterprise,
I shall not consider him a coward; let him stand back to protect our
ships. Let only those stay with me who are determined to fight, and
who are determined to conquer." About twenty men stood aside, about
ninety-five remained; with ninety-five determined men he scaled those
mountains and conquered that empire.
That empire of the Incas is today capitalism, both in point of
its own inherent weakness and the strength of its position. The army
that is to conquer it is the army of the proletariat, the head of
whose column must consist of the intrepid Socialist organization that
has earned their love, their respect, their confidence.
What do we see today? At every recent election, the country
puts me in mind of a jar of water - turn the jar and all the water
comes out. One election, all the Democratic vote drops out and goes
over to the Republicans; the next year all the Republican vote drops
out and goes over to the Democrats. The workers are moving backward
and forward; they are dissatisfied; they have lost confidence in the
existing parties they know of, and they are seeking desperately for
the party of their class. At such a season, it is the duty of us
revolutionists to conduct ourselves in such manner as to cause our
organization to be better and better known, its principles more and
more clearly understood, its integrity and firmness more and more
respected and trusted - then, when we shall have stood that ground
well and grown steadily, the masses will in due time flock over to us.
In the crash that is sure to come and is now just ahead of us, our
steadfast Socialist organization will alone stand out intact above the
ruins; there will then be a stampede to our party - but only upon
revolutionary lines can it achieve this; upon lines of reform it can
never be victorious.
As the chairman said that time would be allowed for questions,
I shall close at this point, but not before - you will pardon the
assumption - not before I call upon you, in the name of the 6,000
"wicked," revolutionary Socialists of New York and Brooklyn, to
organize, here in Boston, upon the genuinely revolutionary plan. Your
state is a large manufacturing state; there can be no reason why your
vote should not grow, except that, somehow or other, you have not
acted as revolutionists. Every year that goes by in this way is a
Never forget that every incident that takes place within your,
within our, ranks is noted by a large number of workers on the
outside. Tamper with discipline, allow this member to do as he likes,
that member to slap the Party constitution in the face, yonder member
to fuse with reformers, this other to forget the nature of the class
struggle and to act up to his forgetfulness - allow that, keep such
"reformers" in your ranks and you have stabbed your movement at its
vitals. With malice toward none, with charity to all, you must
enforce discipline if you mean to reorganize to a purpose. We know
that in struggles of this kind, personal feelings, unfortunately, play
a part; you cannot prevent that; let the other side, the reformer,
fill the role of malice that its weak intellect drives it to; do you
fill the role of the square-jointed revolutionist - and if there must
be amputation, do it nobly, but firmly. Remember the adage that the
tenderhanded surgeon makes stinging wounds, and lengthens the period
of suffering and pain. The surgeon that has a firm hand to push the
knife as deep as it ought to go, and pulls it out, and lets the pus
flow out, that surgeon makes clean wounds, shortens pain, brings cure
No organization will inspire the outside masses with respect
that will not insist upon and enforce discipline within its own ranks.
If you allow your own members to play monkeyshines with the party, the
lookers-on, who belong in this camp, will justly believe that you will
at some critical moment allow capitalism to play monkeyshines with
you; they will not respect you, and their accession to your ranks will
There is, indeed, no social or economic reason why the vote of
Boston should not be one of the pillars of our movement. And yet that
vote is weak and virtually stationary, while in New York and Brooklyn
it has on the whole been leaping forward. If you realize the
importance of the revolutionary construction of our army; if you
comprehend the situation of the country - that there is a popular
tidal wave coming; that, in order to bring it our way and render it
effective, we must be deserving thereof, whereas, if we are not, the
wave will recede with disastrous results; if you properly appreciate
the fact that every year that passes over our heads brings to our
lives greater danger, throws a heavier load upon the shoulders of our
wives, makes darker the prospects of our sons, exposes still more the
honor of our daughters - if you understand that, then for their sakes,
for our country's sake, for the sake of the proletarians of Boston,
organize upon the New York and Brooklyn plan.
I would like to inquire what it is proposed shall replace
wages? How are men to be supported when wages are done away with?
Upon the answer to that question will depend largely whether the
middle class will support Socialism.
I must disagree with the gentleman that the middle class is
going to be brought into this movement by any information upon what is
going to be substituted for wages. The middle class will have to be
sold at auction by the sheriff. That alone will enlighten it as a
class. When it has lost its property, whereby it is now skinning some
unhappy devils, and its members have themselves become wage slaves,
then it will see what this whole question of wages amounts to, and
what should "substitute wages."
Individuals among the middle class may, however, be intelligent
enough to study the question and, in that way, to learn, before they
become wage slaves, the secret of the wages question.
Now, what are wages?
Wages are that part of the product of labor which the
capitalist pays to the workingman out of the proceeds of the
workingman's own products. Say that a workingman produces $4 a day,
and that $1 is paid him for his labor. That $1 is taken out of the
wealth that he himself produces, and it is kindly given back to him by
the capitalist, who pockets the other $3. That is one feature of
Another is that wages are the price of labor in the labor
market, and that in the labor market, labor stands on the same footing
as any other commodity. It is governed by the law of supply and
demand, its price, the same as that of anything else hairpins, shoes
or cast-off clothing, is determined by the law of supply and demand -
the more there is of these, the cheaper their price. Likewise with
labor. Under the capitalist system, labor is a commodity in the
market. The workingman must sell his labor, which he gets paid for
with the thing called wages, at the market price. If the supply of
labor is so much larger than the demand, then, instead of getting his
one dollar out of the four that he produces in the illustration above
given, he may get only ninety-five cents; if the demand for labor goes
down further, he may get ninety cents as the price of his labor; and
if it goes still further below the supply, still further down would go
the price of labor, i.e., wages. The price of labor may sink to I
don't know how low a level.
Some of you may say that the workingman has to live, and there
is a limit. No, there is no limit. The only limit that there is is a
limit to the rapidity of the decline. Wages cannot fall from a
hundred cents to ten cents, but they can fall by easy gradations even
below ten cents.
We have, for instance, this story about the Chinese that in
some places they live only upon the rats they catch; that in other
places, their stomachs having been squeezed still more, they live upon
the tails of rats that others ate; and that in still other places
there are Chinamen who live upon the smell of the tail of the rats.
This may sound like a joke, and yet there is more truth than poetry
In the history of France we have it reported that large masses
of the population lived, in the eighteenth century, during the ancient
regime, upon herbs, the price of which for the whole year would not
have been five francs. The human stomach is like an India rubber
ball; you can squeeze it, and squeeze it, and squeeze it, and you can
shave off and pare off the wants of the workingman till his wants are
merely those of the beast.
Wages, then, are the part of the product of labor which the
capitalist allows the workingman to keep, and which the capitalist
does not steal, along with the other three parts.
Now, then, for the same reason that wages are what I have said,
there can be, under Socialism, no "wages," because sticking to my
previous illustration, under Socialism that workingman must get all
the four dollars which he produces.
What are the things which compel the workingman today to
First - the capitalist class owns all the things necessary to
produce with; it holds the land, the railroads and the machinery with
which to labor. The working class owns none of these necessities, all
of which it needs to labor with; hence it must sell itself.
Second - The reason why the wageworker must put up with so
small a return is that under this system he is not treated as a human
being, Christianity to the contrary notwithstanding. The capitalists
are refined cannibals; they look at the workingman in no other light
than a horse; in fact, in a worse light; they will take care of a
horse, but let the workingmen die. Labor is cheap, and is treated
that way under capitalism. Under Socialism, standing upon that high
scientific plane, we see a higher morality. We see that labor should
not be treated as a chattel; it should not be treated as a commodity;
it should not be treated as shoes, and potatoes and hairpins and
cast-off clothing, but as a human being capable of the highest
intellectual development. So treating him, the wageworker of today
becomes a part owner in the machinery of production, and being part
owner in the machinery of production he then gets the full return of
his labor; he is then free from the shackles that compel him to accept
wages; he becomes the boss of the machine, whereas today he is its
Under Socialism, we don't need potato bugs, as a friend puts
it, to raise potatoes. Some people think that the wageworker class
must carry the capitalist on its back. As well say that you must have
potato bugs, or you won't have any potatoes. If you remove the potato
bugs, you will have all the more potatoes; remove the capitalist class
and you will have the whole of your product; there will not then be
any potato bug, i.e., capitalist, to sponge up the bulk of your
JOHN F. O'SULLIVAN:
I should like to ask the speaker if the four dollars, as per
the illustration, given to the worker - in other words, if he gets the
full product of his labor or work - wouldn't that be wages all the
If you choose to call water Paris green, that's your business.
Suppose I came to you and said: "Paris green is not poisonous, it is
an excellent thing for the human system"; and suppose I went on
saying: "See here, I am taking Paris green, look at me. You see, it
refreshes and does not kill me!" What ,would you think of that? You
would he justified to say I was juggling with words. And that is what
I tell you. You have no right to call water Paris green; it is known
all the world over as water, and Paris green is known as Paris green,
Now in the same way "wages" is a technical term. The term
means in political economy that portion of the product of labor that
the workingman is allowed to keep, and that is not stolen from him by
Now you may say, "Well, granted; but suppose we call the
revenue of a man his wages, and I mean by that the full proceeds of
his labor - wouldn't that be the same?"
Yes, it would be the same if you mean the right thing, but here
I would warn you - and in that consists one of the "wickednesses" of
us New York and Brooklyn Socialists - we insist upon strict, technical
terms, because if you juggle with terms in that way you will have a
Tower of Babel confusion.
The Bible, which I recommend to you to read carefully,
furnishes in its Tower of Babel story a warning worth taking to heart.
When the Lord wanted to confuse the Jews so that they shouldn't build
that tower and get into heaven by that route, he introduced the
confusion of language among them. Thereupon, when a man said, "Bring
me a brick," they brought him a chair, and when a man said, "Bring me
a chair," they struck him over the head with a crowbar; and so, not
being able to understand one another, the building of the tower was
given up, and the people scattered to the four winds.
Now, we Socialists brace ourselves against all Tower of Babel
confusion. When we say "wages," we mean the thing that is so styled
by scientific political economy, and we won't allow its well marked
and sharply drawn character to be blurred. Wages are what they are
understood to be technically, and we call them by no other name.
The four dollars your workingmen would get would not be
"wages." Those four dollars would be the proceeds of labor. Today he
gets wages, and wages mean only that part of his product, as I said
before, which capital does not steal away from him.
Unless you define wages in that way, you will not be able to
have a clear, scientific understanding of what profits are, namely,
that portion of the product of labor which the capitalist does steal
from the worker. The worker produces a certain amount of wealth, and
that is divided into two parts. One small part is called wages; the
big part is called profits. Now, by sticking to scientific
definitions, we are aided in the understanding of the nature of
capitalism, and the relations that exist between the capitalist class
and the workmen's class. We are aided in understanding that capital,
i.e., the capitalist class, and labor are enemies born.
Since wages are a part of the product of labor, and profits are
another part, it follows that you cannot increase profits without
reducing wages, and you cannot increase wages without reducing
profits. It follows that the interests of the man who gets profits
are dead against the interests of the working class. In other words,
the two are enemies born, and the fight between them cannot be patched
up; it must be fought to a finish.
You will now understand the danger of a loose use of the word
"wages"; it simply aids the labor fakers --
[Applause, during which the speaker is informed that the questioner is
the president of the Boston Central Labor Union.]
It seems that I hit the nail more squarely on the head than I
knew. Well, as I was saying:
Such loose use of the term "wages" positively aids the labor
faker in his work of bunco-steering you into the political shambles of
The Democratic and Republican capitalists, at election time,
seem to be enemies; but, after they get into their offices, shake
hands and have a good laugh. Now, in order that these gentlemen
should laugh, the political agents of their class must have been kept
in office, and the representatives of the working class must have been
kept out. To have that, the workingmen must have voted for the
capitalist candidates - it matters not whether Democratic or
Republican, that is all one - and to induce the workers to cut their
own throats in that way. They must be made to believe that "Capital
and labor are brothers." This is the important work for which the
labor faker is commissioned by the capitalists. He must make it
plausible to the workers that they and their skinners are brothers.
So long as a workingman imagines capital is his brother, he
will expect something from his "brother." When the Irish worker first
arrived in this conntry, they thought an Irishman all the world over
was his brother, and united with him against the "iron heel of
England," and thus he trusted the Irishman capitalist. But his
"brother," the Irishman capitalist, while patting him on the back,
skinned and bled and used him in the approved capitalist way. It was
the same with the Jewish workingmen. They came to this country, and
imagined that the Jewish capitalist was their brother - all of the
seed of Abraham. The Jewish capitalist fostered the profitable
delusion and rode on tie backs of his Abrahamic brothers. And so with
the American capitalist and the American workingman, down to the end
of the list of nationalities.
By insisting upon a strict use of the terms "wages," "profits,"
etc., we enable the working class to understand and proceed from the
fundamental truth that the interests of the workingmen bind these
together, and are opposed to those of the capitalist - whether Jew or
Gentile, Irishman or American, Democrat or Republican, silver bug or
gold bug or bed bug. And, by doing that, we lame the arm of the labor
faker that is sent to tell the workingman: "The capitalist is your
brother; and I am your brother; so come to your dear brother, and get
QUESTION (no name):
The social question is an economic question. Why should not an
economic organization be enough?
The social question and all such questions are essentially
political. If you have an economic organization alone, you have a
duck flying with one wing. You must have a political organization or
you are nowhere.
Watch the capitalist closely, and see whether the social
question is exclusively an economic one, or whether the political wing
is not a very necessary one. The capitalist rules in the shop. Is he
satisfied with that? Watch him at election time, it is then he works;
he has also another workshop, not an economic one - the legislatures
and capitols in the nation. He buzzes around them and accomplishes
political results. He gets the laws passed that will protect his
economic class interests, and he pulls the wires when these interests
are in danger, bringing down the strong arm of political power over
the heads of the striking workingmen, who have the notion that the
wages or social question is only an economic question.
Make no mistake: The organization of the working class must be
both economic and political. The capitalist is organized upon both
lines. You must attack him on both.