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London Anarchist Communist Alliance, “An Anarchist Manifesto” (1895)

FELLOW WORKERS,

WE come before you as Anarchist Communists to explain our principles. We are aware that the minds of many of you have been poisoned by the lies which all parties have diligently spread about us. But surely the persecutions to which we have been and are subjected by the governing classes of all countries should open the eyes of those who love fair play. Thousands of our comrades are suffering in prison or are driven homeless from one country to the other. Free speech—almost the only part of British liberty that can be of any use to the people—is denied to us in many instances, as the events of the last few years have shown.

The misery around us is increasing year by year. And yet there was never so much talk about labor as there is now, labor, for the welfare of which all professional politicians profess to work day and night. A very few sincere and honest but impracticable reformers, in company with a multitude of mere quacks, ambitious place-hunters, etc., say they are able to benefit labor, if labor will only follow their useless advice. All this does not lessen the misery in the least: look at the unemployed, the victims of hunger and cold, who die every year in the streets of our rich cities, where wealth of every description is stored up.

Not only do they suffer who are actually out of work and starving, but every working man who is forced to go through the same dreary routine day by day—the slavery and toil in the factory or workshop—the cheerless home, if the places where they are forced to herd together can be called homes. Is this life worth living? What becomes of the intellectual faculties, the artistic inclinations, nay, the ordinary human feeling and dignity of the greater part of the workers? All these are warped and wasted, without any chance of development, making the wretched worker nothing but a human tool to be exploited until more profitably replaced by some new invention or machine.

Is all this misery necessary? It is not if you, the wealth producers, knew that there is enough and to spare of food and of the necessaries of life for all, if all would work. But now, in order to keep the rich in idleness and luxury, all the workers must lead a life of perpetual misery and exploitation. As to these facts we are all agreed; but as to the remedy most of you, unfortunately, have not given up trust in Parliament and the State. We shall explain how the very nature of the State prevents anything good coming from it. What does the State do? It protects the rich and their ill-gotten wealth; it suppresses the attempts of the workers to recover their rights, if these attempts are thought dangerous to the rich. Thus idle electioneering, labor politics etc. are not suppressed, but any effective popular demonstration, vigorous strikes as at Featherstone and Hull, Anarchist propaganda, etc., are suppressed or fought against by the vilest means. Moreover, the State, pretending thereby to alleviate the sufferings of the poor, grants Royal Commissions on the Sweating System, the Aged Poor, on Labor in general, or Select Committees on the Unemployed—which produce heaps of Blue Books, and give an opportunity to the politicians and labor leaders, “to show themselves off.” And that is about all. If the workers demand more—there is the workhouse; and if not satisfied with that, the truncheons of the police and the bullets and bayonets of the soldiers face them:—not bread, but lead!

All political promises are of the same value: either they are not kept, even if it could be, or they involve social changes which can only be effected by a revolution, and not by mere votes cast in Parliament. This applies to the promises of Socialist candidates, even if it could be admitted that these candidates could remain uncorrupted by the demoralising influence of Parliament.

There can be no true humanity, no true self-respect, without self-reliance. No one can help you if you do not help yourselves. We do not promise to do anything for you, we do not want anything from you, we only appeal to you to co-operate with us to bring about a state of society which will make freedom, well-being possible for all.

To do this efficiently, we must all be imbued with the spirit of freedom, and this—freedom, and freedom alone—is the fundamental principle of Anarchy.

Freedom is a necessary condition to, and the only guarantee of, the proper development of mankind. Nature is most beautiful when unfettered by the artificial interference of man. Wild animals are stronger and more harmoniously developed than their domesticated kind, which the exploiting mind of man makes mere instruments of profit by developing chiefly those parts of them which are of use to him. The same threatens to be the case with the human victims of exploitation, if an end is not put to the system which allows the rich and crafty exploiters to reduce the greater part of mankind to a position resembling that of domestic animals—working machines, only fit to do mechanically a certain kind of work, but becoming intellectually wrecked and ruined.

All who acknowledge this to be the great danger to human progress should carefully ponder over it, and if they believe that it is necessary to ensure by every means the free development of humanity, and to remove by all means every obstacle placed in its path, they should join us and adopt the principles of Anarchism.

Belief in and submission to authority is the root cause of all our misery. The remedy we recommend:—struggle unto death against all authority, whether it be that of physical force identical with the State or that of doctrine and theories, the product of ages of ignorance and superstition inculcated into the workers’ minds from their childhood—such as religion, patriotism, obedience to the law, belief in the State, submission to the rich and titled, etc., generally speaking, the absence of any critical spirit in face of all the humbugs who victimise the workers again and again. We can only deal here briefly with all these subjects, and must limit ourselves to touch only on the chief points.

Economic exploitation—the result of the monopolisation of the land, raw materials and means of production by the capitalists and landlords—is at the bottom of the present misery. But the system which produces it would have long ago broken down if it were not upheld on one hand by the State, with its armies of officials, soldiers and police—the whole machinery of government, in one word; and on the other hand by the workers themselves, who tamely submit to their own spoliation and degradation, because they think it right, owing to a superstitious belief in a divine providence inculcated by their masters, or because they desire, by sneaking means, to be exploiters themselves—an object which only one in a thousand can succeed in—or because they have not lost faith in political action or the capacity of the State to do for them that which they are too ignorant to do for themselves. Under these protections the rich classes are enjoying their spoil in safety and comfort.

It is evident that this system, if to be destroyed at all, must be attacked by the workers themselves, as we cannot expect those who profit by it to cut their own throats, so to say.

Many still consider the State a necessity. Is this so in reality? The State, being only a machine for the protection and preservation of property, can only obstruct freedom and free development, being bound to keep up the law and every statute law is an obstacle to progress and freedom.

Laws are of two kinds. They are either simple formulæ, derived from the observation of phenomena as the so-called laws of nature, the phrasing of which is open to revision with the progress of human knowledge and the accumulation of fresh material to draw deductions from. No authority is required to enforce them, they exist; and every being arranges his conduct in conformity with his knowledge of their action. The phenomenon of fire burning is the result of such a natural law, and all pay attention to it though there is no policeman posted behind every match and fireplace. Here again Nature gives us an example of free development and Anarchy, and in a free society all social facts and necessities would be equally well recognised and acted upon.

But there is the other kind of law. That which is the expression of the will of an unscrupulous minority, who, owing to the apathy and ignorance of the majority, have been able to usurp the means of power and purport to represent the whole people at the time of the enaction of the laws.

The fact that a great number of persons is in favor of something is evidently no guarantee that it is right. Experience, on the contrary, shows that progress is usually brought about by individuals. New discoveries, new lines of human activity are first found and practised by a few, and only gradually adopted by the many. The majority that makes the laws or abides to them will almost always lag behind progress, and the laws made by it will be reactionary from the very beginning. How much more so as time proceeds and new progress is made!

Of course, progress itself laughs at the puny efforts of the usurpers of power to stop its triumphant march. But its apostles and advocates have to suffer much and severely for the enthusiasm and the hope that is within them. Prison and often death itself is their doom, the penalty for having raised the standard of revolt against authority and law, the embodiment of the spirit of oppression.

And the very makers of these laws are forced to admit that their work is useless. Is not the continuous manufacture of new laws going on in the Parliaments of all countries throughout the greater part of this century, and in England for many centuries, a proof of the fact that the laws never satisfy anybody, not even those who make them. They know, however, that their legislating is mere mockery and hypocrisy, having no other object but to make the people believe that something is being done for them, and that the public interest is well looked after. The people obey all these laws, whilst the State, in the alleged interest of all, in reality in the interest of the property owners and of its own power, violates them all and commits numberless crimes—which are glorified as deeds of valor committed in the interest of civilisation.

This principle, kept in the background in time of peace, is paraded before the eyes of so-called “rights” in some savage territory, plunders and provokes the natives until they return force by force. Then the State steps in, in the pretended interest of religion and civilisation, slaughters them and annexes their land. The greater the slaughter, the greater the glory for these “heroic” pioneers. Or it may be in a war on a greater scale with a European State, when the workers of one country are let loose against those of another, to murder, plunder and burn homes and villages, and perform such like patriotic deeds of valor and chivalry.

We Anarchists are internationalists, we acknowledge no distinction of nationality or color. The workers of all countries suffer as we do here, and our comrades have everywhere to fight the same battle for freedom and justice. The capitalists are internationally unanimous in persecuting the defenders of freedom and in fleecing the workers. Even England is brought more and more under the sway of a continental police system, the dangers of which the British masses do not see at present, as it is used chiefly against friendless foreign refugees. They are regardless of the fact that it is but the forerunner of an attack on their own liberties.

The workers as a rule are filled with an unreasoning dislike to the workers of other countries, whom their masters have succeeded in representing to them as their natural enemies, and herein lies one of the main sources of the strength of the capitalist system; a strength which has no other foundation than the weakness and the helplessness of the people. It is in the interests of all governments to uphold patriotism, to have their own people ready to fly at the throats of their fellow workers of other nationalities whenever it suits the interests of the employers to open up new markets, or draw the attention of the people away from the contemplation of their own misery, which might drive them to revolt.

Patriotism and religion have always been the first and last refuges and strongholds of scoundrels. The meek and lowly servants of the one blessing—in the name of their God—the infamies committed for the sake of the other, and cursing in the same name the deeds they just now blessed if committed by the enemy.

Religion is mankind’s greatest curse! It is absurd to expect that science, in the few years that the State and the priests have left it to a certain extent alone—the stake or the prison has been too often the reward of its pioneers—should have discovered everything. It would not be worth living in a world where everything had been discovered, analysed and registered. One fact is certain: all so-called religions are the products of human ignorance, mere phantastical efforts of barbarous people to reason out matters which they could not possibly understand without some knowledge of science and scientific methods. The opinion of the savage on the power that works a steam engine, or produces the electric light, is evidently worthless and could be refuted by anyone possessing elementary knowledge. In the same worthless way our forefathers, savages also, reasoned about the phenomena of nature, and came to the naive conclusion that somebody behind the curtains of the sky pulled the strings. This supposed individual they called God and the organic force of man the soul, and endowed it with a separate entity, although that organic force does not possess any more separate entity than that working a clock or a steam hammer. A dim consciousness of this has permeated the mind of most in spite of the fact that religion has been bolstered up by all the forces of authority, because it teaches submission to the law, and as a reward gives cheques drawn on the bank of heaven, which are not more likely to be met than the politician’s promises of what he will do when he is returned for Parliament. Religion is the most deadly enemy to human progress. It has always been used to poison the mind and deaden the judgment of the young, thus making grown up people accept all its absurdities because they are familiarised with them in their youth.

Unfortunately, religion is not kept out of the labor movement. Priests and parsons, who should be a horror to mankind, as their presence adds an additional element of corruption, sneak into it, and labor politicians use their services as the Liberals and Tories do. There is actually in existence a body of persons who prostitute the noble word “Labor” by coupling it with the disgusting word “Church,” forming the “Labor Church,” which is looked upon favorably by most of the prominent labor leaders. Why not start a “Labor Police”?

We are Atheists[1] and believe that man cannot be free if he does not shake off the fetters of the authority of the absurd as well as those of every other authority. Authority assumes numerous shapes and disguises, and it will take a long period of development under freedom to get rid of all. To do this two things are wanted, to rid ourselves of all superstition and to root out the stronghold of all authority, the State.

We shall be asked what we intend to put in place of the State. We reply, “Nothing whatever!” The State is simply an obstacle to progress; this obstacle once removed we do not want to erect a fresh obstruction.

In this we differ essentially from the various schools of State Socialists, who either want to transform the present State into a benevolent public-spirited institution (just as easy to transform a wolf into a lamb), or to create a new centralised organisation for the regulation of all production and consumption, the so-called Socialist society. In reality this is only the old State in disguise, with enormously strengthened powers. It would interfere with everything and would be the essence of tyranny and slavery, if it could be brought about. But, thanks to the tendency of the ways and means of production—which will lead to Anarchy—it cannot.

But whilst State Socialism is impracticable as a system of real Socialism, it is indeed possible if its advocates had their way, that all matters of general interest and more and more of private interest too would pass under the control of the State; whether it be a little more democratised or not, it does not matter, for we reject Democracy as well as Absolutism. Authority is equally hateful to us whether exercised by many, or by few, or by one. The last remnant of free initiative and self-reliance would be crushed under the heels of the State, and the emancipation of the workers would be as far off as ever. State Socialism has indeed strengthened the decaying faith in, and renewed the prestige of, the State.

All we Anarchists want is equal freedom for all. The workers to provide for their own affairs by voluntary arrangements amongst themselves. This leads us to a consideration of the economic basis of the state of things we desire to bring about, and here we avow ourselves Communists.

Everybody has different faculties and abilities for work, and different wants and desires for the various necessities of life and leisure. These inclinations and wants require full satisfaction, but can only receive it in a state of freedom. Everybody supposing his faculties to be properly developed can best judge what is best for himself. Rules and regulations would hinder and make him a fettered, incomplete being who necessarily finds no pleasure in work forced upon him. But under Anarchy he would associate voluntarily with others to do the work he is best fitted to do, and would satisfy his wants in proportion to his needs from the common stock, the result of their common labor.

Cut-throat competition for the bare necessities of life would be done away with, leaving many matters of a more individual, private and intimate character, in which the free man would find opportunity for peaceful and harmonious emulation, and thereby develop his faculties in the highest possible degree.

One of the stock objections against Anarchist Communism is that no one would work. We reply that to-day work is viewed with disfavor and neglected by all who can possibly exist without it because it has to be carried on under the most disadvantageous conditions and is, moreover, looked upon as degrading. The worker earning his food by hard labor and ceaseless toil is a pariah, the outcast of society, while the idler who never does an hour’s work in his life is admired and glorified, and spends his days in luxurious ease amongst pleasant surroundings. We believe that under Anarchism everybody would be willing to work; work being freed from the badge of dishonor now associated with it will have become a labor of love, and the free man will feel ashamed to eat food he has not earned. But as to some atavistic remnants of modern capitalist society that would only work if forced? Well, nobody would want us to retard the emancipation of the immense mass of mankind on account of these few unsocial beings who may or may not exist then. Left to themselves and scorned by everyone they would soon come to their senses and work.

We cannot further enter here into the arguments which show the tendency of a development into Free Communism, and we refer to our literature on the subject. (See Kropotkin’s “Anarchism: its Basis and Principles.” Freedom Pamphlets, No. 4, etc.)

Anarchist society will consist of a great number of groups devoted each to the production of certain commodities free of access to all, and in local and interlocal contact with other groups to agree and make arrangements for purposes of exchange. With regard to the first necessities of life, food, clothes, shelter, education, Free Communism would be carried out thoroughly. All secondary matters would be left to a mutual agreement in the most varied ways. There would remain in such a society full freedom for the Individualist as long as he did not develop any monopolistic tendencies.

These are our principles; let us consider the means to realise them.

Here we are met by the cry “Dynamiters,” “Assassins,” “Fiends,” etc. Let us see who chiefly utter these cries.

The same people who, by colliery disasters, the ensuring of rotten ships, fires in death-trap-houses, railway accidents caused by overwork, etc., daily massacre more people than the Anarchists of all countries ever killed. The same people who are ready at any moment to have the natives of any country slaughtered, simply to rob them, who are overjoyed at the butchery of the Chinese war, which will enable them to make fresh profit, who are slowly starving and killing the millions of workers, whose lives are shortened by overwork, adulterated food, and overcrowding slums. These people have, in our eyes, no voice when the question of Humanity is considered. They may abuse and insult us just as they like. The worst thing that could happen to us, indeed, would be to win their approbation, to be petted by them as the respectable labor politicians are.

Some well-meaning, but rather weak-minded people too, are misled by these cries. To these we say come and study our movement and gain a knowledge of its history and personalities, and you will find that every act of revolt is but a reply to a hundred, nay, a thousand villainous crimes committed by the governing classes against us and against the workers in general. You will find that those who did these acts were the very best, the most human, unselfish, self-sacrificing of our comrades, who threw their lives away, meeting death or imprisonment in the hope that their acts would sow the seed of revolt, that they might show the way and wake an echo, by their deeds of rebellion, in the victims of the present system.

With the specific mode of action of anyone we have nothing to do. Anarchists advocate the propagation of their ideas by all means that lead to that end, and everyone is the best judge of his own actions. No one is required to do anything that is against his own inclination. Experience is in this as in other matters the best teacher, and the necessary experience can only be gained through entire freedom of action.

Thus the means which we would adopt embrace all that furthers our cause, and exclude all that will damage it. The decision of what is good or harmful must be left to persons or groups who choose to work together.

Nothing is more contrary to the real spirit of Anarchy than uniformity and intolerance. Freedom of development implies difference of development, hence difference of ideas and actions. Every person is likely to be open to a different kind of argument, so propaganda cannot be diversified enough if we want to touch all. We want it to pervade and penetrate all the utterances of life, social and political, domestic and artistic, educational and recreational. There should be propaganda by word and action, the platform and the press, the street corner, the workshop, and the domestic circle, acts of revolt, and the example of our own lives as free men. Those who agree with each other may co-operate; otherwise they should prefer to work each on his own lines to trying to persuade one the other of the superiority of his own method.

Organisation arises from the consciousness that, for a certain purpose, the co-operation of several forces is necessary. When this purpose is achieved the necessity for co-operation has ceased, and each force reassumes its previous independence ready for other co-operation and combination if necessary. This is organisation in the Anarchist sense—ever varying, or, if necessary, continuous combinations of the elements that are considered to be the most suitable for the particular purpose on hand, and refers not only to the economical and industrial relations between man and man, but also to the sexual relations between man and woman, without which a harmonious social life is impossible.

These views differ immensely from those held by the believers in authority, who advocate permanent organisations with chiefs or councils elected by the majority, and who put all their trust in these institutions. The more they centralise these organisations and introduce stringent rules and regulations to preserve order and discipline, the more they will fail to achieve their object. In such organisations we see only obstacles to the free initiative and action of individuals, hot-beds of ambition, self-seeking and rotten beliefs in authority etc. That means, we see in them agents of reaction to keep the people in continued ignorance of their own interests.

We do not therefore discourage workingmen from organisation, but such organisations could only be free groups of men and women with the same aims for identical purposes, disbanding when the object in view is achieved.

This brings us to the question of the advisability of Anarchists to join Trade Unions, not the question of the membership of Unions which may be a necessity for them as the case stands, but the question of propaganda in them. Anarchists do not wish to isolate themselves and Unions may be useful as a place to meet their fellow workers. But whether Unions should be formed by Anarchists is entirely dependent on the particular case. For we do not consider Trades Unionism as at present constituted as a serious force to overthrow the system, but only as a means to get a little better provision for the workers under the present conditions. Therefore they cannot be carried on without dealing with immediate so-called practical questions, which are never settled without compromises, as all members are not Anarchists.

In Unions the General Strike might form a proper subject to start the propaganda, and such a strike, though in itself not effective as a remedy, would probably bring about revolutionary situations which would advance the march of events in an unprecedented way. To speak plainly, we advocate the General Strike as a means to set the ball rolling: who knows whether it may not lead to the Social Revolution, which we all desire as the only thing that can help us.

The Social Revolution, as we conceive it, would consist in the paralysation of all existing authoritarian institutions and organisations, the prevention of new organisations of this character, the expropriation of the present exploiters of labor, and in the rearrangement of relations between men on the basis of voluntary agreements. This will appear to some to be rather a large program, but logical thinking will convince them of the fact that every one of these points is the necessary consequence of the others, and that they can only be carried out altogether, or not at all. For what is really impracticable are not full measures, but those half-hearted measures—so-called reforms—which pretend to do away with a part of the existing misery, whilst the root remains intact and makes the whole reform futile and useless.

These then are our means of propaganda, and we trust they are manifold enough to allow everybody full scope for his energies who chooses his place amongst us. The leading idea of our propaganda must always be defiance and destruction of the principle of authority in all its forms and disguises—full scope for freedom, the basis and condition of all human development and progress.

In conclusion, let us consider briefly the remedies proposed by the other parties—useless as they are, as the ever-increasing misery around us abundantly shows.

The State Socialist parties, apart from a few Socialists pure and simple who, if they were true to the foundations of their opinions, would come over to us, have of late become entirely parties for advocating political action. They believe in sending the right man to Parliament, and we have the choice between the chosen of the I.L.P., of the Fabians, and of the S.D.F. We do not consider their minor differences: what is the principle of political action worth?—is the question we ask. It is intended to bring pressure on the governing classes to effect social changes. We maintain that no amount of pressure exercised through political action can bring about these social changes. Some palliatives may be adopted, but the system will continue to exist; for these labor parties make the workers believe in constitutional means, in the leadership and worship of men; in short, they will destroy their self-reliance and self-respect, and do for them that which religion does—make them expect everything from others, nothing from themselves. The history of the labor movement in Europe and America shows the greater these parties become the less advanced their leaders grow and the less is achieved by these bulky, cast-iron organisations with no room for freedom left in them.

We have no more belief in Trades Unions as such than in political action, yet we prefer those Unionists, who rely upon their own action to those who cry for State help. Our propaganda might sometimes use this question as a starting point.

The Co-operative movement can only benefit a few who remain unnoticed among the general misery. Productive Co-operation on a large scale would have to compete with capitalism, which ruthlessly cuts down wages and gets a supply of cheap labor from the unemployed. Co-operators would have to work on similar lines, those of the greatest possible exploitation of labor and that will be no remedy for the needs of labor, or they would be crushed by the capitalist competition, being in fact the first victims of a commercial crisis. Thus on a large scale Co-operation is impracticable, and those who take part in it in its present form are only too often estranged from the general labor movement. So we consider Co-operators as workers who are no essential factor in the coming struggle.

The meanest and most repulsive “friends” of the workers are the Teetotalers, Malthusianists, and advocates of thrift and saving, who propound each his particular crochet as an infallible remedy for poverty. They want the workers to give up the small mites of, however adulterated and paltry, pleasure and enjoyment that are left to them. “Hypocrisy is the compliment vice pays to virtue,” the proverb says, and the other parties make at any rate promises of better things, but these want to make life still more dreary and cheerless. Economically they are utterly wrong. If all were content to live as Coolies do, on a handful of rice per day, wages would be lowered by competition down to the level of Coolie wages—a few pence per day. We want the standard of the workers’ living raised, not lowered, and all the things to which these “friends” object belong to a real, full, human life.

We need not dwell on all the cranks who have cut and dried remedies like the Free Currency advocates, who ignore the principle of every society with private property: “No property, no credit.” To be benefited by money cheques, it would be necessary to possess some kind of portable or realisable property to be given in exchange for the cheques or to have them secured on. Nothing would be altered by them, they could simply perpetuate the worst evils of the present system in a more aggravated form. To the worker who has no property but his labor to dispose of, in times when work is slack and labor therefore not in demand, they would offer no resource whatever, and he would still be obliged to suffer and to starve. To make the remedy proportionate to the evil proposed to be cured, it would be requisite to abolish all private property and make the land and all it contains, together with all the implements of production, common property—that is, to introduce Communism, where money and money cheques will become equally useless.

As you will have seen, Anarchism does not preach anything contrary to the principles which have always inspired men to strive for freedom and right. It would indeed be absurd to try and impose something new upon mankind. No! Anarchism is nothing but the full acknowledgment of the realisation of the principle that freedom is at the root of sound natural development. Nature knows no outside laws, no external powers, and only follows her own inward forces of attraction or repulsion. Everything is the result of the existing forces and tendencies, and this result becomes again in turn the cause of the next thing following. In its childhood, humanity suffered from ignorance of this cause, and suffers still by being trodden under the heel of imaginary celestial and human authority (both arising from the same sources—ignorance and the fear of the unknown). All progress has been made by fighting and defying authority. Great men in history—men who have done real work, that is, work useful for the progress of the human race by breaking and defying laws and regulations apparently made for everlasting time—showed mankind new roads, opened new ground. These were rebels, and the last in this series—those who wish not only to be free themselves but who saw that which before them men did not see so clearly, that to be free ourselves we must be surrounded by free men; that the slavery of the meanest human being is our own slavery. Those last rebels for freedom and progress are the Anarchists of all countries, and in solidarity with them we appeal to you.

Study our principles, our movement, and if they convince you join us in our struggle against authority and exploitation, for freedom and happiness for all.

London, May 1st, 1895.

[1] This open statement of our convictions does not imply any spirit of persecution on our part against those who believe in the absurdities of the different religions. Persecution is essential to authority and religion, and fatal to freedom; we should destroy the basis of our own hopes and ideals, if we were ever carried away by the spirit of persecution, bigotry and intolerance, which is so commonly raised against us.

 

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Filed under 1895, anarchist communism, London Anarchist Communist Alliance, manifestos, Max Nettlau, The Era of Anarchism

Joseph Lane, “An Anti-Statist Communist Manifesto” (1887)

“In vain you tell me that Artificial Government is good, but that I fall out only with its abuse. The thing – the thing itself is the abuse !” – Burke

GENERAL PRINCIPLES

Human society can only be organized upon the basis of one or the other of the two principles of authority or of liberty. From these two principles are derived two political systems, equally broad and far reaching, though diametrically opposite in their effects, that of the one being the happiness, and of the other the misery of mankind. Beyond these two there is no political system capable of contending for supremacy in this 19th century of ours. All intermediary systems are powerless in equal degree, and can only occasion transient perturbations.

Such has been our situation for a century past, authority losing prestige on the one hand and freedom gaining on the other, but still scarcely understood. Vain attempts have, indeed, been made to reconcile the two, but being by nature incompatible the admixture has only resulted in a yet more debased blend of the two theories, in a conflict of jarring interests which only rend and damage one another.

Thus either liberty or authority each by itself and at issue with each other, must organise society. Where authority flourishes, we shall find the structure of society based upon a fundamental plan of Absolutism. Entirely ignoring the various stages through which humanity has already passed, authority affirms that the world is immutable in its primordial principles; it proceeds from God in the direct line, God the beginning and the end of all things, who has delegated to his representative on earth, Priest or Monarch ( both are kings ) a portion of his might and power.

The power of king or priest must not be counterbalanced by any other, he is responsible to God alone, and any attempt against his majestic authority is a direct invasion of the prerogatives of the source of all things. Heedless of the fact that the theological and metaphysical phases are spent and exhausted, authority still boldly takes up tradition and appeals to God, who by his grace directly intervenes in the ordering of things human. God, King and Nationalism, the symbols of the most formidable reaction, such is the cry and motto of authority. It believes in God, without whom it would not exist itself; in the King, who is an emanation from God, and in Nationalism, which is a mere jingo sentiment, belonging to the God idea. It has no faith or belief in the people, whose existence alone is a reality, and whose emancipation and enfranchisement it dare not permit on pain of suicide.

In order to its maintenance, the system of authority needs a religion above all. Be it what it may, religion teaches the renunciation of earthly possessions, and a love for the heavenly beatitudes. It causes uncertainty to predominate over certainty, fiction over reality, things imaginary over things palpable, falsehood over truth. It proclaims the doctrine that misery is of divine institution; that it ever has existed and ever must continue to exist in God’s ordinance, who will therefore inevitably punish as a crime, any popular insurrection caused by starvation.

After the Church, the army more directly representative of the monarch’s power, the mainstay of law and order, and after it, the centralised State uniting in itself all the reactionary forces required to enable it to govern, such are the natural products of authority. Freedom, with such a system, becomes illusory, since it can only exist by dint of the constant abridgement of force and of the progressive annihilation of the powers that be, whereas the whole machinery of the state is devised on the contrary to render the enfranchisement of the people impossible, and to make the power of the government crushing. War, as a matter of course, becomes an indispensable ailment for this type of Society, with which arms, diplomacy and the tribune – the three phases of war – are necessary phenomena. It is in the shade of such a political system that financial and capitalistic feudality will flourish, since God has decreed in his infinite wisdom that the rich and the poor shall for ever form two distinct castes, one of which was created to exploit the other. This flagrant inequality borrows from its source a semblance of justice, and a sanction against which it would ill become us to protest. If the political system of Authority prevails now, the policy of Liberty will henceforth rule the destinies of the world; there is no middle path between these two extremes. Today we must have all or nothing, nothing but freedom and its creations can avail any longer to satisfy us. In the system of Liberty, God is deposed, society is the work of man, who is himself its beginning and end, and the distribution or division of earthly goods shall proceed according to the will of man, regulated by reason and justice. There shall no longer be a class to rule and dominate over another class; each member of society working for himself and for all fulfils his social duties.

All useful forces are necessary to the development of Society, and no one shall be at liberty to deprive it of any of these. God, no longer the supreme regulator of human destinies, becomes useless and misery ceases to be irremedial, for labour and intelligence must of necessity triumph over it. The Church, deriving its power from the Absolute, will disappear with it. It is no longer the State, the Army, the Church or God that will preside over the government of the world; it is labour represented by the people that will organise all things.

Religion annihilated, the people will arise from their degradation, intellectual and moral. Politics being eliminated they will emerge from their state of economical servitude, and with these will disappear the finacial industrial proprietorial and capitalistic feudalism. Social science appears teaching us the uselessness and the nuisance of politics and government. The economic equilibrium realised, there will be no need of force to maintain it, war, by its nature, being a huge parasite, could only disturb and not consolidate it. Peace is the necessary resultant and sublime crowning of all the social forces directed towards labour. The latter being essentially a peace maker, the people being emancipated by the Revolution, will endeavour to guarantee the fruits of their labour and consequently the fruits of the labour of all; instead of creating as must inevitably occur nowadays new monopolies for the benefit of the few, it will extend on the contrary, these guarantees and confederate from town to town, from country to country, internationally. It makes all working men unite together, and creates what is called the life of relationship in the economical order. Is it conceivable that politics and war could find room, be it ever so small, in a Society so transformed? No, and when the constitution of labour shall have definitely replaced the constitution of the old world, the advent of the working classes will be realised with a character so imperious and fateful that the most severe justice must acknowledge its legitimacy.

II

The object of socialism is to constitute a Society founded on labour and science, on liberty, equality and solidarity of all human beings. It is consequently a mortal foe to all oppressors, of whatsoever kind, of all speculators and exploiters, be their name what it may. The first form in which oppression is manifested in organised society is the religious oppression, the divine exploitation. Religion seeks to enslave the human intelligence, the God idea is the generator of all despotism. Man will never be free in any of the manifestations of his activity, so long as he shall not have expelled from his brain the notion of God, the product of ignorance, sustained by the exploiting priests. So long as a mystic vision of a divinity shall darken the world, it will be impossible for men to know that world, and as a consequence to possess it. It is by the aid of this notion of a God governing the world, that all forms of servitude, moral and social, have come into existence and been established religion’s despotism, classes, property, and the exploitation of man by man. To enable men, therefore, to attain to freedom and to knowledge, that is to realise the object of the Revolution he must first expel God from the domain of knowledge and consequently from Society itself. We can therefore only consider as true revolutionary socialists, conscious of the object they pursue, those who, like ourselves, declare themselves Atheists and do whatever in their power lies to destroy this corrupting notion of God in the mind of the masses. The struggle, therefore, against every kind of religion, and the propagation of Atheism must form a part of every socialistic programme that pretends to give a logical exposition of the ideas, the aspirations and the object of the adepts of the Social Revolution.

III

Politics properly so-called, that is the science of government or the art of directing men gathered in social community, is entirely based upon the principle of authority, and, it being so, we oppose with all our might the reactionary notion which consists in the pretence that the revolutionary socialists must seek to seize upon the political machine, and to acquire power for themselves. We decline to recognise a divine absolutism because it can only give rise to the enslavery of reason and intelligence. Why, then, should we recognise a human absolutism, that can only engender the material exploitation of the ruled by the rulers? In this argument we are not specially concerned with any particular form of government, for all without distinction had their rise from the same source: Autocratic, Oligarchic systems, constitutional monarchy, plutocracy, the republic, as governmental forms, are all antagonistic to human freedom, and it is because of this that we are opposed to every form of government. If it be admitted that individual man has no right to govern, we cannot admit that a number of men should have this right, be they a minority or a majority. It is claimed that the theory of government is the outcome of the tacit agreement between all of the citizens for the acceptance of some form of government, but this theory is inadmissible, for such tacit agreement cannot exist since men have never been consulted anywhere upon the abdication of their own freedom.

A certain school of socialists, while sharing our ideas upon the majority of forms of government, seeks nevertheless to defend what they call the democratic state, ruling nations by means of a parliamentary system, but we argue just precisely that freedom does not exist any more in this system than in any of the others, and it is for this reason that we oppose it. Act as it will, this popular state will nevertheless require for its maintenance to appeal to the reactionary forces, which are the natural allies of authority – the army, diplomacy, war, centralisation of all the powers which operate in restraint of freedom, and the initiative of individuals and social groups. Once launched upon this arbitrary career, it is an inevitable necessity to mount up round after round of the ladder, there being no resting place. On the contrary they must be ever trenching more and more upon the freedom and autonomy of the individual until these undergo a process of complete absorption and annihilation. In opposition therefore to those who desire by means of parliamentarianism to achieve a conquest of political power, we say for ourselves that we wish to forgo power and monopoly alike, which means that we seek to bring out from the very bosom of the people, from the depths of labour a factor more potent, that shall deal with capital and the state and subdue them. This powerful factor will be realised by the organisation of industrial and agricultural groups, having studied and being able to apply the laws of exchange possessing the key and secret of the contradictions and antagonism of the bourgeois political economy, standing possessed, in a word, of social science. And what does social science teach to those who consult it? It teaches that political reforms, as a preliminary to social reforms, are a Utopia or a mere trick and an eternal mystification, by which the radicals of every shade, including parliamentary socialists have up till now deceived the workers. Social science protests against these subterfuges and palliatives; it repudiates every alliance with the policy of parliaments. Far from expecting any succour from them, it begins its work of exclusion by eliminating politics and parliamentarianism. We revolutionary socialists desire to organise ourselves in such a manner as to render politics useless and the powers that be superfluous, i.e., that we aim at the abolition of the State in every form and variety. We are waging a battle of labour against capital i.e., against the State proprietary, financial and industrial. We pursue a warfare of freedom against authority, i.e., against the State, the respecter of religion and the master of all systems of teaching. We champion the cause of the producers as arrayed against that of the non-producers, i.e., we combat the State in its military and civil functionaries. We fight the battle of equality against privilege, i.e., we oppose the State, having all monopolies industrial, bankocratic, agricultural, etc. Now in order to subdue capital, to subjugate the powers that be, and destroy them, we in no way need to win by means of a parliamentary system that political power which as a matter of fact we seek to destroy, we do not wish, by acquiring power, to increase the number of non-producers that our socialistic organisation is meant to reduce more and more until none are left, i.e., until the complete annihilation of power, until the abolition of the State whatever its form, monarchical or democratic.

We need not waste time over those Socialists who while condemning the political action of the proletariat, at the same time wish to avail themselves of parliamentary action as a means of propaganda; such socialists are wanting in logic. If the participation of socialists in the policy of governments be condemned as fatal to the interests of the proletariat, then a propaganda in favour of parliamentary action on behalf of the proletariat can be neither good in itself nor serviceable in the development of socialism. On the other hand, as regards socialistic propaganda in times of election, all the good achieved by a candidate for parliamentary honours would be counter-balanced by the evil which he would otherwise cause, by filling the minds of the workers with notions false and reactionary, thus creating complete confusion among those who are struggling for the emancipation of mankind. The only means in our view of making the most of a period of political excitement, such as may be an electoral contest, would be to take advantage of it, to disseminate among the masses revolutionary papers, pamphlets leaflets, etc., got up specially for the occasion, and showing the people that it is not by Parliamentary means but by social revolution, that their lot will be ameliorated materially, morally and socially. Summing up we may, therefore, say that as far as politics are concerned we are Anti-Statists, and as such we abstain from taking any part whatsoever in parliamentary action, whatever be the end assigned to such action.

IV

If we are Atheists in point of philosophy, and Anti-Statists in point of politics, we are communists as regards the economic development of human society. And whereas in the elaboration of all our conceptions, we always start from the principle of liberty, we are free communists as opposed to state communists. The society that we assail has for its basis of existence the private property of all raw materials, of the soil, of the wealth below the soil, all tools, and machinery, and all capital. Private property in its turn is the direct emanation from the principle of authority, and is based upon the theory of remuneration, or reward for individual efforts. Now it is absolutely certain that there is no isolated individual effort, there can only be efforts, general and collective or common; consequently neither should there be individual remuneration or reward, and we may thus logically be allowed to declare that property is robbery.

Social wealth has a threefold source: the forces of nature, the instruments of labour, and labour itself. An individual does not create the forces of nature, and therefore he can not appropriate them to his own use; at most they are the common property of all men. An individual does not create the plant and machinery of work. He therefore cannot appropriate them to his own use. It is the generations of men that from century to century have transformed the raw materials into tools of production, and consequently the theory of plant and machinery being regarded as a stock of property held in common must be the only principle accordant with equity and justice. The individual works it is true, but his personal work, his particular endeavour, would, as it were, have no value in the immense field of activity of modern production, did he not constitute an integral portion of the work and of the endeavour collective or common of all men.

It follows therefore that private property cannot be regarded as legitimate from any point of view. Society as under its present constitution, which makes of it a pivot of its organisation, political and economical, thus merely becomes an immense financial industrial, agricultural, and mercantile Feudalism, exploiting mercilessly the countless masses of the proletariat. Everything in the regime of individual property belongs to the bourgeoisie, even including thanks to the iron law of wages, the worker himself. In the proprietary system the majority of men are condemned to work for the sustenance and enjoyment of a handful of masters and parasites.

As the ultimate expression of all other forms of servitude, the bourgeois domination has at last divested the exploitation of labour of the mystic veil that obscured it; governments, family, law, institutions of the past, as of the present have at last shown themselves in this system of society, reduced to the simple terms of wage slaves and capitalists, as the instruments of oppression by means of which the bourgeoisie maintains its predominance and holds in check the proletariat. Reserving for itself, in order to increase its wealth, all the surplus of the product of labour, the capitalist leaves for the workman only just the scanty store he needs to keep him from starvation.

Forcibly held down in this hell of capitalist and proprietorial production, it would seem as though the working classes are powerless to break their fetters, but the proletariat has at length become alive to its own condition, it is sensible that within it, exists the elements of a new society, that its deliverance shall be the price of its victory over the bourgeoisie and that this class destroyed, the classes will be abolished altogether, and the object of the revolution attained. We desire to reach this object i.e., the triumph of the revolution without stopping at any middle paths which are mere compromises putting off victory and prolonging slavery.

By destroying individual property the Communist overthrows one after another all the institutions of which property is the pivot. Driven from his property, garrisoned by himself and family as though it were a citadel, the rich man will no longer find an asylum for his selfishness and his privileges. With the annihilation of the classes will disappear all the institutions that cause the oppression of the individual and of the social group, the only reason for which has been the maintenance of these very classes – the subjugation of the working man to his master.

Education open to all and equally placed at the disposal of all will produce that intellectual equality, without which material equality would be without value and without charm. No more wage slaves, victims of misery and wretchedness, of want of solidarity, of competition, but a free association of working men with equal rights, distributing the work among themselves, to procure the greater development of the community, the greater sum of well-being for each of its members. For every citizen will find the most extended freedom, the largest expansion of his individuality in the greater expansion of the Community.

It is hardly necessary for us to add that we fight against ( on the same principle of the abolition of private property ), the institution of the family, such as it exists nowadays. Thoroughly convinced partisans of the free union of the sexes, we repel the thought of marriage which institutes for the benefit of the man a new and exorbitant proprietorial right, namely the right of ownership of the woman, but in order to ensure a possible establishment of the free union of the sexes, it is necessary that both the man and the woman shall enjoy the same right in society as well as have the same duties imposed on them, that is, they must be equal, a thing that is impossible, unless private property be done away with.

In the same way it seems to us superfluous to state that recognising neither boundaries nor frontiers we are concerned in working out the realisation of our aspirations, wherever the lottery of events has placed us, regarding each revolutionary associate, no matter whence he comes, as a brother, and each exploiter of humanity, whatever tongue he may speak, as an enemy. And lastly we do not believe in the advent of the new order for which we are struggling by means of legal and pacific methods, and that is why we are revolutionary socialists. The study of history has taught us that the noblest conquests of man are written on a blood-stained book. To give birth to justice, humanity suffers a thousand tortures. Ours be then the force, so often employed against us, ours the force the heritage of the people which has been wrested from it by a coalition of the clever, and from its own want of energy, ours the force less as a desideratum than a consummation, regretfully sought less as a choice than as a necessity. Ours the force as the only means of breaking asunder the iron chains that bind us!

But at the same time let also prudence and caution guide us, the caution that determines the hour for the employment of force, and the firmness that preserves and directs it, unvanquished through all obstacles. Let us mature our ideas and our aspirations. Away with reckless and useless struggles; but no more hesitation nor armistice on the day of the battle, and once having commenced the final struggle let it be no longer merely with the hope of success, but with the certainty of triumph!

So, comrades, we finish by saying we are Atheists, Anti-Statists and Free Communists or International Revolutionary Socialists.

POLICY

Having stated our principles I will now briefly state what should be our policy in accordance with our principles, which can be summed up shortly as educate, educate, educate, that an organisation may spring from the body of the people prepared for action, this action to be the destruction and not reform of Government, Authority, and Monopoly, of every description.

OUR ATTITUDE TOWARDS OTHER BODIES

To the individualists (anarchists or otherwise) we are opposed. We contend that capital is the result not of any one individual’s labour, but of all the workers combined, not only of this but of many past generations. Therefore it would be unjust that it should be held as Individual Property. We are also opposed to the idea of every one receiving according to his deeds, that the strong, the able bodied, those well endowed by nature, are to have all they can procure, while the halt, the lame, and the blind are to be left to their own resources, or at best depend on the charity of those better off. Again, so long as private property exists, there can be no freedom for women, all the advantages of co-operative labour are lost, and an enormous amount of labour wasted in providing for separate homes, farms and what not.

STATE SOCIALISTS

These believe that the state should be all powerful, that it should own the land, mines, railways, machinery and means of exchange, in fact own all things and organise labour in all its branches, that their policy should be to gain possession of the state machine and then arrange everything for the people. The bureaucracy and officialism of today is not to be compared to what it must be when the state undertakes these manifold duties.

The representative farce would have to be resorted to. These representatives at once become the Authority, the Government, superior to the body of the people, and would have to be prepared with force to defend their authority against any rebellious minority.

The march of progress is against isolation and individualism on one hand, and on the other against centralisation and authority of every description. We, the Anti-Statist Communists are the pioneers of that future state of society towards which all progress tends, namely, the free association of groups of workers ( call them Towns, Villages, Communes or what you will ) holding the land and capital, in common, working it on true co-operative principles, federated with each other for mutual assistance, every member working according to his ability and receiving according to his needs, man and woman being then equally free, would form connections through love alone. Connections of this description would not require a State or Priest to endorse or enforce it. The bond of love would be sufficient, when it was not it would naturally be dissolved. This would be done without injury to anyone, the children being fed, clothed and cared for by the Community.

TRADES UNIONS

Trades Unionism like Socialism, is the outcome of the greed, tyranny, and oppression of the Capitalist class. The Capitalists at first thought the unions meant fighting, and that they would be successful, they became frightened, fearing that this would mean less profits if not the total extinction of their monopoly and privileges, they roundly abused and denounced Trades Unions, and passed laws against combination; but now that the development of the commercial system and the invention of new machinery has placed the workers in a more dependent position, and the Trades Unions are becoming little better than Benefit Societies, with an ever increasing subscription and decreasing reserve funds, helpless in the meshes of capitalism, they now tolerate and even occasionally say a good word for Trades Unions. But with the practical breakdown of Trades Unions Socialism springs forth and says the day for this unequal and losing battle between the bloated Capitalist and the starving workman for a mere increase or to prevent a decrease of wage is past. Today and from henceforth, the battle is by the workers as a whole, for the destruction of monopoly and tyranny of every description, as the only means of emancipating themselves.

As commerce grew and expanded, as fresh markets were found for commodities even faster than they could be manufactured, trade went up by leaps and bounds, when a comparative small amount of machinery was used, a large portion of the working population was employed in tilling the soil, this was the time of the prosperity of Trades Unions. Then, though the workers did not get all they wanted or were entitled to, they did by combination get some improvement in their position. But how do they stand today with depopulation of the rural districts, crowding in to the towns, an increase of population? The increased use of machinery, the ever growing force of foreign competition are all adding to the number of the unemployed. With all these forces against Trade Unions, is it possible for them to be otherwise than mere benefit Societies.

Our policy towards the Trades Union then, is to show them how this evolution has gone on in the past and will in the future; that as the commercial system expands and new machinery is invented, wealth can be produced to an unlimited extent, and comparatively independent of manual labour; the capitalists reaping all the benefit, the workers becoming more helpless and enslaved in their economical toils. That as the policy and tactics of the Trade Unions have failed to alter this in the past, so still more will they, in the future, their only hope being by developing their organisation, becoming Socialists and rebelling against a system that enslaves them, using their organisations not for a mere increase or to prevent a decrease of wage, but for the destruction of the capitalist system and the emancipation of the whole of the workers

EIGHT HOURS LABOUR MOVEMENT

With reference to this, the most prominent proposal put forward by the Social Democrats. In the first place what all socialists protest against is the exploitation of the labourers by the capitalist, whatever the hours of the working day may be. So long as labour has to pay a tribute to capital and is not free we have not achieved our end, moreover, an eight hours bill or even less would not in the long run absorb the reserve army of labourers even if it was carried. Competition at home and abroad would force on the invention and use of new machinery in order to dispense with human labour; capital and machinery would be removed to other countries where cheap labour could be obtained for the benefit of the capitalists. Labour would also be intensified so that an hour’s labour would mean much more wear and tear than it does now, as it does now more than it did fifty years since. For a large part of the workers, an act of this kind would be inoperative as the Factory Acts are for many women and children today, in short there would still be an ever growing army of unemployed, and the employed would be in much the same position as now. Seeing this so clearly it is not our business to advocate this palliative measure, but to criticise the action of those who do so.

THE UNEMPLOYED

This question of the unemployed is one of great difficulty. Our sympathy is naturally with these starving people. But there is no special unemployed class. It is the workers, some of whom are employed, others unemployed, these constantly changing places, employed today, unemployed tomorrow; therefore, it is a question for the whole of the workers. The question is, what can we do for the unemployed portion of the workers. It appears hard to call meetings specially of the unemployed and tell them that they cannot be permanently benefited until the Revolution, and that they must starve in the meantime. The only alternative is to advocate relief works, which no Revolutionist can do. These relief works must be unproductive or productive. If unproductive, it will be task labour, with just sufficient food for the workers to keep life in their bodies until the capitalist requires their services for fresh exploitation; and even at this no society could keep an ever-increasing army of unproductive workers for any length of time.

If on productive works, they are unemployed because wealth is produced for sale at a profit, and at present no profit can be made on their labour. We have wealth, the results of labour, in abundance, and no market for it; therefore, there is no demand for their labour; and if they are set to work producing other wealth, it will cause a still greater abundance for the world’s markets. This will mean a fall in prices and a reduction in wages, and the throwing out of work those at present employed. We hear even now of the unfair competition of prison labour, and this employment of the surplus labourers of our commercial system on productive works would have the same effect, only in a much greater degree. The most likely thing to occur by calling meetings specially of the unemployed is that, having their passions aroused by our denunciations of the thieving class, they will destroy a few windows. The paltry bill will be paid by an insurance company, and we lose some of our best advocates as a result. We Socialists do not want to see the aimless destruction of property, but the destruction of the property holders. In the meantime, let the starving people steal, sack shops, or what not, in preference to starving, if they so choose, it is a sign of discontent and of a determination to die fighting rather than starving. We may regard this as a sure forerunner of Revolution, but we must not let it be supposed that it is Socialism. Meetings specially of the unemployed, therefore, should not be called, but meetings of the workers as a whole should be held on every possible occasion. The principles of Socialism should be put plainly before them, and they must be told that the only remedy for their misery, poverty and constant unemployment is the destruction of a system that puts it in the power of an idle class to employ and enslave the workers, and at best to dole out a small portion of their stolen wealth as charity to those who have produced it all when starving, and that no permanent good can be done for them by relief works, charity, or, in fact, anything under our competitive commercial system, with all the means of producing wealth monopolised.

RADICALISM

The official and recognised Radical party is based on what they are pleased to call liberty and freedom. Freedom meaning to them Free Trade, Free Contract, and Free Competition; and Liberty to them is the liberty to fleece the destitute and starving workers to their heart’s content by the aid of these three Fs.

They will not admit that there is a class struggle going on, but contend that with the aid of these three Fs all the workers have to do is to be more temperate and thrifty, and that under this splendid arrangement there is a chance for everyone to rise, blinding the workers to the fact that only a few can do this, and that they then leave their class and become exploiters in one way or another.

But there is an advanced wing of Radicalism formed by the workmen who having found that Toryism and liberalism were of no use to them, have gone as far as they could see or understand. They have no clearly defined principles, and, after all, only agitate for mere superficial reforms. The election of governors and the extension of the suffrage these have been agitated for about 120 years, and more strongly at the commencement than the finish. In 1770, part of the programme was adult suffrage and annual parliaments, but now it is not the question of a useless vote but food in the stomach. This question will not wait a hundred years for settlement, before this social problem the Radical stands helpless, shouting loudly about the cost of Monarchy and the pension list. This is as far as he can grasp at present, failing to see that this is a drop in the ocean compared to the robbery of the landlord and capitalist class. It is from this wing of the Radical party only that we can expect to make converts. We must, then, lay before them our principles, show them that any mere reform is useless. Urge upon them the necessity of studying this social problem, work with them when possible, but make no alliances that would cause us to sacrifice our principles in the least.

TEMPERANCE, VEGETARIANISM AND THRIFT

Many people belong to Temperance Societies, and think they have found the cure for poverty and misery by the mere abstention from drink. No greater delusion could enter the mind of man. As Socialists we admit that if people give way to drink they cannot have a clear head to understand the Social problem, and until a large part at least of the people understand this, we shall have the misery and poverty, but if a man becomes a blue ribbonite and nothing more he has done nothing towards the emancipation of the workers.

Where we Socialists fall foul of the temperance thrift and vegetarian advocates is with the iron law of wages argument. We contend, and all political economists agree with us that under a capitalist system of society, with monopoly and competition, wages are ruled by the standard of comfort, adopted by the people of a country, and always have a tendency to fall to the minimum rate or starvation point, therefore a reduction in the standard of comfort by a majority, or even a large minority, would only result in a reduction of the standard rate of wages, and be of benefit only to the capitalist class, being only of benefit to those who practise it so long as they are a small minority, if it can only affect the individual or small minority for good, and the majority for evil, it is a proof that it is no remedy for the workers as a whole.

As a proof of this argument we have only to refer to Ireland with a potato-standard, Russia black-bread, India rice, Germany and Italy with their cheap soups, and wages in all these countries accordingly low. The English workers are now complaining of the competition of other countries, particularly Germany. They are told that they are losing their trade because the German is content to work longer hours for less wages than an Englishman. This means that his standard of living is lower than an Englishman’s. Are we, then, to take the advice of the capitalists, vegetarians and temperance advocates, and reduce our standard of comfort to the level of the Germans?, or, rather, should we not tell these people that so long as they advocate their doctrines as a remedy for poverty we shall oppose them? That we are determined not to lower our standard of comfort, but rather to increase it, and at the first opportunity overthrow the system of monopoly as the only cure for poverty and misery.

SECULARISM

We are in accord with the Freethought party in their battle against superstition and authority divine. The people must be free both economically and mentally. Tyranny, oppression and pea-soup philanthropy on one side, and cringing poverty and hypocrisy on the other, must be put to an end. This, however, can only be done by the destruction of monopoly and authority of every description. Priestcraft is, after all, only one of the effective weapons used for keeping the workers in slavery. Freedom of thought is of small avail without freedom for all to live as freely as they think.

LAND NATIONALISATION

We are in agreement with the Land Nationalisers so far as they advocate the abolition of private property in land; but we contend that if we had land nationalisation alone it would be the capitalists’ class, who would benefit by a reduction in taxation, so long as private property in the means of production, transit, and exchange exist, the iron law of wages comes into force, and the workers will only get a bare subsistence wage. We are entirely opposed to the idea of giving compensation to the present holders, believing that their having robbed and enslaved us and our forefathers in the past does not give them a title to further enslave our children for generations to come in the form of usury, which compensation would mean. Being opposed to centralisation and authority, we are not in favour of the central state under any name or form holding the land and demanding a rent for it, but believe that it should be in the hands of the local communes or towns, and cultivated on co-operative principles, without payment of any compensation or rent whatsoever.

CO-OPERATION
The co-operative movement started with a noble ideal: the overthrow of the commercial system by the co-operative and self-employment of the workers. This has been found impossible, and the co-operators have degenerated into mere joint stock companies or distributive agencies, with agents in all parts of the world buying in the cheapest market, which means beating down the wages of the producer for the benefit of those with capital to spare to invest in these societies and, like Building Societies, are a very good investment for those better off, but for the poverty-stricken proletariat this co-operation is not only useless, but often used for their exploitation. Our duty, then, is, while always advocating co-operative effort to show these people that their movement, so far as it effects the condition of the people as a whole, has been a failure, and must be so as long as they attempt to plant it down in the midst of a competitive commercial system, and that until usury and monopoly of every description is destroyed there can be no real co-operation that shall benefit the workers, and unless they are prepared to do their duty and assist in this destruction, they, in the times coming, will be swept away as part and parcel of the old system of Society.

IMPERIAL FEDERATION

To Imperialism and Jingoism of every form we, as international Revolutionary Socialists, are bitterly opposed it being entirely in contradistinction to our idea of the brotherhood of man and of the principles of liberty and freedom. This policy is upheld by the capitalists for the purpose of finding markets for their shoddy wares. They are responsible for the wars in which many people are slaughtered or enslaved which are the outcome of this policy. It is not the Tory, Liberal or Radical, but the Capitalists, the Property and Bond holders who are responsible, as let the Soudan, Afghanistan and Burmah testify.

New markets are a necessity of the Capitalist system of production. They must be got in some way, for as soon as the capitalist system ceases to expand, it begins to fall to pieces. The latest move, Imperial Federation, simply means an attempt on the part of the Capitalists of this country to get a monopoly of the trade with the colonies to the exclusion of other countries and that the resources of these colonies shall be used for the defence of the present markets and gaining of new ones in any and every direction, and not only this but that these united forces of the whole shall be used for keeping the workers in bondage to the Capitalists in every part.

EMIGRATION
As socialists, we contend that emigration is no remedy for poverty. We are opposed to the forcing of our fellow workers by their economical condition, to flee from the land of their birth to other countries to escape from removable evils, and which they are sure to find in large or small degree in any country to which they may go; even if they were sure of finding a paradise in a distant land it would be cowardly on their part to go without striking a blow for freedom, leaving their fellow workers in slavery at home.

THE MALTHUSIAN

Man, unlike animals and plants, does not depend entirely on the nourishment provided by nature, but as he consumes he produces not only an equivalent but a far larger quantity, or we should not have the enormous accumulation of wealth in all civilised nations, more particularly in the more densely populated ones.

The fecundity of individuals, of females especially, is in direct proportion to the intensity of the causes which tend to destroy them, or what amounts to the same thing, inversely in proportion to the causes tending to their preservation, that is, inversely proportional to their well being and improvement.

This apparent paradoxical proposition can be easily proved by the argument that flowers and fruits on which you bestow most care produce fewer seeds as they are more perfected.

Horse, oxen, sheep, pigs, dogs, fowls and other domestic animals of improved breeds are comparatively unfruitful, whence it happens that their price is always high. Hens stop laying when they get too fat.

Children are less numerous in opulent families than in poor ones. Weak, diseased, unhealthy women have generally more children than strong healthy women, especially if the minds of the latter are cultivated.

In this country nine out of ten marriages have children, but in the nobility only eight out of ten. Our Malthusian friends cannot say that this is caused by the check because the end and aim of this class is to accumulate wealth and perpetuate the family name and title.

We Socialists do not recognise any particular part of the wealth produced as being a wage fund, but contend that all wealth is produced by the labourers, and they, and they only, have a right to it. Until this right is recognised and acted upon, and every available means used for the production of wealth, it is rank nonsense to talk about a wage fund, to which they must keep their numbers down.

The aim of the Capitalists is to keep down the numbers of the labour class to their requirements; to have enough for competition in the labour market to keep wages down, but not enough to be a tax on the poor rates or a danger to Capitalism. If the reduction in the number of labourers was too great, and wages rose, i.e.: the cost of production increased, at once new machinery would be invented to supplant manual labour and again reduce the cost of production.

Has a decrease of population ever tended to increase the comfort and happiness of mankind? Let Spain, Turkey, France, Ireland, and even Sutherlandshire, after the Highland clearances, testify!

This Malthusian theory is the first article of the capitalist creed today. The large capitalists swallow up the small ones; joint stock companies swallow up the individual capitalists; there is not room for all. The large landed estates swallow up and consolidate the small ones; there is not room for all. Machinery supersedes manual labour; there is not room for man and machine; man must, or according to Malthus, will be, starved out of existence; there is no need of him; Nature has not provided for him, therefore he must depart.

Lastly, this Malthusian doctrine is the embodiment of capitalism.

The right to labour and live is the principle of Revolutionary Socialism.

 

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