COMMUNISM AND CHRISTIANISM
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TO THE PURCHASER:
Lying Supernaturalism is going; robbing Capitalism is falling; saving Laborism is rising, and leveling Unionism is coming.
This booklet, Communism and Christianism, is a contribution by Bishop and Mrs. Wm. M. Brown, of Galion, Ohio, towards the furtherance of these downward, upward and forward movements, the most fortunate events in the whole history of mankind. We hope that you will read, mark, learn and inwardly digest its extremely revolutionary, comprehensive and salutary teachings concerning both religion and politics with the happy result of becoming an apostle of its illuminating and inspiring interpretation of the scientific gospel of Marx and Engels to wage slaves, the only gospel which points the way to redemption from their body and soul destroying slavery.
You may become a missionary of this gospel in your neighborhood, and as such do more good than all its orthodox preachers, teachers, editors and politicians together at no financial cost to yourself by ordering booklets at our special rates: six copies, $1.00; twenty-five copies, $3.00, prepaid, and selling them to workers at our retail price, 25 cents for one copy. As we make no profit and do no bookkeeping, cash should accompany all orders.
To organizations working for bail, defense, liberation or unemployment funds, Bishop and Mrs. Brown donate twenty-five copies for each twenty-five ordered with remittance.
The Bradford-Brown Educational Company, Inc. Publishers—Galion, Ohio
Editions and Their Dates.
First Edition, 10,000 copies, October 11th, 1920.
Second Edition, 10,000 copies, revised and enlarged from 184 to 204 pages, February 15th, 1921.
Third Edition, 10,000 copies, March 2nd, 1921.
Fourth Edition, 10,000 copies (2,000 in cloth binding), revised and enlarged from 204 to 224 pages, April 9, 1921.
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COMMUNISM AND CHRISTIANISM
Analyzed and Contrasted from the Marxian and Darwinian Points of View
WILLIAM MONTGOMERY BROWN
Banish the Gods from the Skies and Capitalists from the Earth and make the world safe for Industrial Communism.
The Bradford-Brown Educational Company, Inc. Publishers ... Galion, Ohio
This booklet is gratefully dedicated to the Proletariat from whom Bishop and Mrs. Brown are sprung, and to whose unrequited labors (not to the good providence of a divinity) they owe their wealth, leisure and opportunities.
Religion is the opium of the people. The suppression of religion as the happiness of the people is the revindication of its real happiness. The invitation to abandon illusions regarding its situation is an invitation to abandon a situation which has need of illusions. Criticism of religion is therefore the germ of a criticism of the vale of tears, of which religion is the holy aspect.
Not only, indeed, is the struggle against religion intellectually useful, but it cannot conscientiously be avoided, for religion is used against the Socialist movement by the possessing class in every country.
But to abolish religion is not to abolish exploitation, because only one of the enemy's guns will have been silenced. The workers have, above all, to dislodge the capitalist class from power. The religious question, and indeed all else, is secondary to this.
The test of admission to a Socialist Party must be neither more nor less than acceptance of the following seven working principles and the policy of Socialism as a class movement:
1. Society as at present constituted is based upon the ownership of the means of living (i. e., land, factories, railways, etc.) by the capitalist or master class, and the consequent enslavement of the working class, by whose labor alone wealth is produced.
2. In society, therefore, there is an antagonism of interests, manifesting itself as a class struggle, between those who possess but do not produce and those who produce but do not possess.
3. This antagonism can be abolished only by the emancipation of the working class from the domination of the master class by the conversion into the common property of society of the means of production and distribution, and their democratic control by the whole people.
4. As in the order of social evolution the working class is the last to achieve its freedom, the emancipation of the working class will involve the emancipation of all mankind without distinction of race or sex.
5. This emancipation must be the work of the working class itself.
6. As the machinery of capitalist government, including the armed forces of the nation, conserves the monopoly by the capitalist class of the wealth taken from the workers, the working class must organize consciously and politically for acquiring the powers of government, national and local, in order that this machinery, including these forces, may be converted from an instrument of oppression into the agent of emancipation and the overthrow of privilege, aristocratic and plutocratic.[B]
7. As all political parties are but the expression of class interests, and as the interest of the working class is diametrically opposed to the interests of all sections of the master-class, the party seeking working-class emancipation must be hostile to every other party.
If a man supports the church, or in any respect allows religious ideas to stand in the way of the foregoing seven essential principles of socialism or the activity of a Party, he proves thereby that he does not accept Socialism as fundamentally true and of the first importance, and his place is outside.
No man can be consistently both a Socialist and a Christian. It must be either the socialist or the religious principle that is supreme, for the attempt to couple them equally betrays charlatanism or lack of thought. There is, therefore, no need for a specifically anti-religious test.
So surely does the acceptance of Socialism lead to the exclusion of the supernatural, that the Socialist has little need for such terms as Atheist, Free-thinker, or even Materialist; for the word Socialist, rightly understood, implies one who, on all such questions, takes his stand on positive science, explaining all things by purely natural causation, Socialism being not merely a politico-economic creed, but also an integral part of a consistent world philosophy.
So long as the anarchy of modern competitive society exists, the accompanying obscurity and confusion in social life will continue to shelter superstition. This point is illustrated in the following reference by Marx to the United States:
When we see in the very country of complete political emancipation not only that religion exists, but retains its vigour, there is no need, I hope, for other proofs in order to show that the existence of religion is not incompatible with the full political maturity of the State. But if religion exists it is because of a defective social organization, of which it is necessary to seek the cause in the very essence of the State.
Class domination is the essence of the modern State. It is based on competitive anarchy and parasitism—the evidences of a defective social organization. It still leaves room for religion, because it maintains ignorance and confusion by its structure and contradictions, and because religion is fostered as a handmaiden of class rule.
Nevertheless, the growth of the social forces of production within modern society, and the better knowledge the workers obtain of their true relations to each other and to Nature, loosen the chains of ghost worship and mysticism from their limbs and lessen the power of religion as a political weapon in the hands of the ruling class, while they form, at the same time, the material and intellectual preparation for an intelligently organized society. The matter has been put in a nutshell by Marx in the chapter on "Commodities" in "Capital," volume I.
The religious reflex of the real world can, in any case, only then finally vanish, when the practical relations of every-day life offer to man none but perfectly intelligible and reasonable relations with regard to his fellow men and to nature.
The life process of society, which is based on the process of material production, does not strip off its mystical veil until it is treated as production by freely associated men, and is consciously regulated by them in accordance with a settled plan.
This, however, demands for society a certain material groundwork or set of conditions of existence which in their turn are the spontaneous product of a long and painful process of development.
It is, therefore, a profound truth that Socialism is the natural enemy of religion. Through Socialism alone will the relations between men in society, and their relations to Nature, become reasonable, orderly, and completely intelligible, leaving no nook or cranny for superstition. The entry of Socialism is, consequently, the exodus of religion.
[A] From the Official Manifesto by the Socialist Party of Great Britain, showing the Antagonism between Socialism and Religion.
[B] This section has been slightly changed to make sure of guarding against the advocacy of armed insurrection. Socialists throughout the world want a peaceful evolution from capitalism into socialism; but whether or not it will be so in the case of any country is, as Lenin prophesies, to be determined by the dealings of its capitalists with its laborers. In reply to an inquiry on this vexed subject by an English author, Lenin said, in effect, that in England, as elsewhere, the tactics of the capitalist class will determine the program of the labor class.
THE INTERNATIONAL PARTY.
Arise, ye prisoners of starvation! Arise, ye wretched of the earth, For justice thunders condemnation, A better world's in birth. No more tradition's chains shall bind us, Arise, ye slaves! no more in thrall! The earth shall rise on new foundations, We have been naught, we shall be all.
We want no condescending saviors. To rule us from a judgment hall. We workers ask not for their favors, Let us consult for all. To make the thief disgorge his booty, To free the spirit from its cell, We must ourselves decide our duty, We must decide and do it well.
The law oppresses us and tricks us, Taxation drains the victim's blood; The rich are free from obligations, The laws the poor delude. Too long we've languished in subjection, Equality has other laws: "No rights," says she, "without their duties. No claims on equals without cause."
Toilers from shops and fields united, The party we of all who work; The earth belongs to us, the people, No room here for the shirk. How many on our flesh have fattened! But if the noisome birds of prey Shall vanish from the sky some morning, The blessed sunlight still will stay.
Page PROLEGOMENA 5
COMMUNISM: THE NATURALISTIC THIS-WORLDLY GOSPEL FOR THE COMING AGE OF CLASSLESS EQUALITY AND ECONOMIC FREEDOM 13
CHRISTIANISM: A SUPERNATURALISTIC OTHER-WORLDLY GOSPEL FOR THE PASSING AGE OF CLASS INEQUALITY AND ECONOMIC SLAVERY 85
Hitherto, every form of society has been based on the antagonism of oppressing and oppressed classes. But in order to oppress a class, certain conditions must be assured to it under which it can, at least, continue its slavish existence. The serf, in the period of serfdom, raised himself to membership in the commune, just as the petty bourgeois, under the yoke of feudal absolutism, managed to develop into a bourgeois. The modern laborer, on the contrary, instead of rising with the progress of industry, sinks deeper and deeper below the conditions of existence of his own class. He becomes a pauper, and pauperism develops more rapidly than population and wealth. And here it becomes evident that the bourgeoisie is unfit any longer to be the ruling class in society, and to impose its conditions of existence upon society as an over-riding law. It is unfit to rule, because it is incompetent to assure an existence to its slave within his slavery, because it cannot help letting him sink into such a state that it has to feed him, instead of being fed by him. Society can no longer live under this bourgeoisie, in other words, its existence is no longer compatible with society.—Marx and Engels.
COMMUNISM AND CHRISTIANISM
ANALYZED AND CONTRASTED FROM THE MARXIAN AND DARWINIAN POINTS OF VIEW
Communism: The Naturalistic This-worldly Gospel for the Coming Age of Classless Equality and Economic Freedom—An Open Letter to a Brother Bishop and a Christian Socialist Comrade.
Come over and help us. Abandon Christian Socialism for Marxian Communism.
The concept of God, as an explanation of the Universe, is becoming entirely untenable in this age of scientific inquiry. The laws of the persistence of force and the indestructibility of matter, and the unending interplay of cause and effect, make the attempt to trace the origin of things to an anthropomorphic God who had no cause, as futile as is the Oriental cosmology which holds that the world rests on an elephant, and, as an afterthought, that the elephant stands on a tortoise.
The inflexible laws of the known universe cannot logically be held to cease where our immediate experience ends, to make way for an unscientific concept of an uncaused and creating being. The Creation idea is unsupported by evidence, and is in conflict with every scientific law.
Socialism is consistent only with that monistic view which regards all phenomena as expressions of the underlying matter-force reality and as parts of the unity of Nature which interact according to inviolable laws.
Socialism is the application of science, the archenemy of religion, to human social relationships; and just as the basic principle of the philosophy of Socialism finds itself in conflict with religion, so does it, as a propagandist movement, find religion acting against it.
[C] From the Official Manifesto by the Socialist Party of Great Britain, showing the Antagonism between Socialism and Religion.
COMMUNISM: THE NATURALISTIC THIS-WORLDLY GOSPEL FOR THE COMING AGE OF CLASSLESS EQUALITY AND ECONOMIC FREEDOM.
Make the World safe for Industrialism by turning it upside down with Workers above and Owners below.
My dear Brother and Comrade:
Your letter of June 13th[D] relative to the meeting called for the 27th, in the interest of a more radical socialist movement in our church, came duly to hand, and its invitation to attend, or at least write, was highly appreciated.
My days for attending things are, I fear, past. I did not feel able to go to the Annual Convention of the Socialist Party of Ohio, which met much nearer here on the same date, June 27th, and ended on the 29th with a great picnic—a communion, as real and holy, as was ever celebrated. I cannot even be sure of being with you in the House of Bishops during the meeting of the General Convention in October.
However, I intended you to have a letter and set the 26th aside for the writing of it, but I work slowly now and its hours slipped away while I was making notes until only one was left. It was spent in trying to condense all I wanted to say in the letter into a telegram. What I regard as the best of these efforts was taken to the office at seven p. m. on that day:
Make world safe for democracy by banishing Gods from sky, and capitalists from earth.
Here are four of the many other efforts: (1) Come over and help us. Abandon Christian Socialism for Marxian Communism; (2) Make world safe for democracy by turning it upside down with workers above and owners below; (3) Revolutionize capitalism out of state and orthodoxy out of church; (4) Come over and help us. Abandon reformatory for revolutionary socialism.
What I wanted you to understand is that, in my judgment, there can be no deliverance for the world from the troubles by which it is overwhelmed so long as theism holds the religious field and capitalism the political field.
Religion and politics are the two halves of the sphere in which humanity lives, moves and has its social being. Religion is the ideal and politics the practical half of this sphere. Both halves naturally exist as the result of the same natural law of necessity: the matter-force law which makes it necessary for a man to feed, clothe and shelter his body in order to preserve it and its life.
Marxian socialism is at once this religion and politics, all there is of both of them which is for the good of the world as a whole.
Marxian socialism is a revolutionary movement towards doing away with the existing competitive system for producing and distributing the basic necessities of life (foods, clothes and houses) for the profit of a few parasites, and substituting a system for making and distributing them for the use of all workers.
So far some competing, lying, robbing, enslaving system for the production and distribution of these necessities has been the basis of every religion and politics—of none more than the Christian and American, and they with the rest have been tried in the balance of experience and found utterly wanting. Indeed, they are making a hell, not a heaven, of the earth in general and of our country in particular.
Christianism as a religion has collapsed. It promised to secure to the world peace and good will, but it has never had more of strife and hate. The tremendous English-German (or if you prefer German-English) war was a conflict at arms between the most outstanding among Christian nations and it was solemnly alleged to have been fought for the high purpose of ending such conflicts; but in reality it scattered the hot coals of war throughout the world, several of which were fanned into blazing by its so-called peace conference and others are ominously smouldering.
Americanism as a politics has collapsed. It promised a classless government of all the people, by all the people, for all the people, but has instead given a government of a class, by a class, for a class. This class, comprising not more than one out of every ten of the population, is the capitalist class, which owns the means and machines for the production of the necessities of life and for their distribution, a class which, as such, though bearing no necessary relationship to either one of the branches of this business, yet realizes enormous profits from both, profits which are wholly at the expense of the large class, at least nine out of every ten, which does all the work connected with the making of the machines and the operating of them.
This government was to make the country safe for democracy by securing to it the privilege of free speech and free assemblage, the existence of an independent press and the right of appeal for the redress of grievances; but our fathers did not have any too much of these liberties, we have had less and, if the competitive system for the production and distribution of commodities for the profit of the small owning class is to continue, our children are to have none.
Indeed, this is already true of the overwhelming majority, the working class. Its representatives have little if any real part in the government. They are completely subjected to the rule of the owning class. There never has been a body, mind and soul destroying slavery which equaled theirs, either as to the number of men, women and children involved in it, or as to the degrees of misery to which it doomed its victims.
Nor is the end yet. The world war certainly has taken American slavery out of the frying pan into the fire rather than into the water.
American slaves appeal to their government as Jewish slaves appealed to one of their kings for relief and receive the same answer, not in words but in deeds which speak louder:
Thy father made our yoke grievous; now therefore make thou the grievous service of thy father, and his heavy yoke which he put upon us, lighter, and we will serve thee. And he said unto them, Depart yet for three days, then come again to me. And the people departed. So all the people came the third day as the king had appointed and the king answered them roughly, saying: My father made your yoke heavy, and I will add to your yoke: My father also chastised you with whips, but I will chastise you with scorpions. So when all Israel saw that the king harkened not unto them, the people answered the king, saying, What portion have we in David?
As to details history does not exactly repeat itself and, therefore, I do not believe that the other planets of the universe, of which no doubt there are many billions, are inhabited by human beings of the same type as those of the earth, nor that its men, women and children are to have their bodies reconstructed and resurrected, after they have been disintegrated by death. Such beings on other planets and such reconstructions on this planet would in every case involve a detailed repetition of infinitely numerous processes of evolution which had extended through an eternal past.
Yet in every part of the universe and throughout all eternity, like causes ever have produced and ever shall produce like effect. If, therefore, the course of the Judean masters towards their slaves led to a successful revolt of ten out of twelve tribes, there is every reason for believing that the parallel course which the American masters are pursuing against their slaves will sooner or later issue in a revolution—a revolution which shall do away with both masters and slaves, leaving us with a classless America and a government concerned with the making of provisions for enabling all the people who are able and willing to work to supply themselves in abundance with the necessities of life and with the most desirable among the luxuries, rather than a government which provides that they who produce nothing shall have the cream and top milk of every necessity and the whole bottle of every luxury, leaving of the necessities only the blue milk for the producers of them and of the luxuries, not even the dregs.
Under this government those who can but will not work will be allowed to starve themselves into a better mind and out of their laziness. The young and the old, the sick and crippled will have their rightful maintenance from the state and out of the best of everything.
The deliverance of the world from commercial imperialism and the making of it safe for industrial democracy would prevent most of its unnecessary suffering and this great salvation is above all else dependent upon a knowledge of the truth. "Ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free"—free from all the avoidable ills of life, among them the diabolical trinity of evils, war, poverty and slavery.
The happiness of the world will be promoted in extent and degree in proportion as the knowledge of the truth is disseminated by a twofold revelation: (1) the truth as it is revealed by history according to the Marxian interpretation thereof, a revelation of the truth which is saving the world from the robbing impositions of the capitalistic interpretation of politics, and (2) the truth as it is revealed by nature, according to the Darwinian interpretation thereof, a revelation which is saving the world from the robbing impositions of the supernaturalistic interpretations of religion.
Man has always had as a basis for his thought, belief and action, a system for the production and distribution of the necessities of life. This is the discovery of Karl Marx which is known as the scientific or materialistic interpretation of history.
According to the scientific interpretation of history which is taught by naturalistic socialism, man is what he is, and his institutions are what they are, because he has fed, clothed and housed himself as he has.
According to the traditional interpretation of history, which is taught by supernaturalistic Christianism, man is what he is because of his thinking, believing and acting with reference to a revelation of a god, as it has been interpreted by his inspired representatives, the great prophets and statesmen, like Isaiah and Luther, Moses and Washington.
Perhaps the best proof of the correctness of the scientific or naturalistic explanation of the career of man and of the incorrectness of the traditional or supernaturalistic one is afforded by the history of morals, the soul of both religion and politics, without which neither could have any existence.
Before the discovery of the art of agriculture, man was dependent for his food upon fruits and nuts, game and fish. When these sources of sustenance failed, the tribes living in the same neighborhood fought with each other in order that the victorious might eat the vanquished.
During this period cannibalism was morally right, and it probably extended through at least two hundred thousand years, even into the Old Testament times. So righteous and holy was it that, in the course of time, the victims were recognized as saviour gods and the drinking of their blood and eating of their flesh constituted a Lord's Supper in which the god was eaten.
Cannibalism is the basis of our sacrament of the holy communion of bread and wine. As a connecting link between these extremes there was the form of communion which consisted in the eating of animal sacrifices.
By a sacrament with such an origin, you and I render our highest act of worship, though yours is still directed towards one among the supernaturalistic divinities and mine is now directed towards humanity. You say of a divinity: Thou, Lord, hast made me after thine own image and my heart cannot be at rest until I find rest in thee. I say of humanity: Thou, Lord, hast made me after thine own image and my heart cannot be at rest until it find rest in thee.
Within the social realm humanity is my new divinity, and your divinity (my old one) is a symbol of it, or else, so I think, he is at best a fiction and at worst a superstition.
You will be surprised, and I do not expect you to understand me, when I tell you that by translating the services and hymns from the language of my old literalism into that of my new symbolism, I am getting as much good out of them as ever and indeed more. I love the services, especially that great one, the Holy Communion, and the hymns, especially those great ones, Guide Me O Thou Great Jehovah; Lead, Kindly Light; Abide With Me; and Jesus, Lover of My Soul.
My experience has convinced me that the sentimental and poetical elements in religion, to which I attach as much importance as ever, are as readily excited and securely sustained by fixing thought and sympathy upon the martyred human savior, the working class, as upon a crucified divine saviour, who after all, as the suffering son of God, is but a symbol of the suffering sons and daughters of man, the workers, from whom all good things come.
If grace at dinner means anything, it is addressed to a god who is the symbol of the many workers who did the innumerable things necessary to the producing and serving of it, without whom there would be nothing of all the good things on the table.
In the representation about my pleasure in the services of the church and their value to me, and in many representations scattered throughout this letter, I have in mind the question of an unanswered letter of yours, bearing date, February 25th, 1919, the one in which you ask, in effect, by what right a man can remain in an institution after he has, as I have, abandoned its chief doctrines and aims as they are authoritatively interpreted.
The right of revolution is the one by which I justify my course, and surely no consistent Protestant Christian or American citizen will doubt the solidity of this ground; for Protestantism and Americanism had their origin in revolutions.
Our national declaration of independence contains this famous justification of political revolutions, and it is equally applicable to religious ones, for religion and politics are but the ideal and practical halves of the same social reality:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights; that among these, are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed: that, whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute a new government, laying its foundation on such principles, and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that governments long established, should not be changed for light and transient causes; and, accordingly, all experience hath shown, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But, when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object, evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their right—and it is their duty—to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their security.
Jesus was nothing if he was not a revolutionist. Anyhow, his alleged mother is authoritatively represented as believing him to have been foreordained as one, for this song is put into her mouth:
He hath showed strength with his arm: he hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.
He hath put down the mighty from their seat: and hath exalted the humble and meek.
He hath filled the hungry with good things: and the rich he hath sent empty away.
This Christian socialism, like Bolshevik socialism, turns the idle rich empty away; but, whereas the Christian gives them no chance to get anything to eat, the Bolshevik allows them to have as much as the poor, if they will work as hard.
Assuming for the sake of argument, that there may have been an historical Jesus who taught some of the doctrines, in accordance with the representations of the gospel, which are attributed to him, I am nevertheless justified in claiming that he was quite as heretical touching the faith of orthodox Judaism as I am touching that of orthodox Christianism.
As to the Jewish faith he said, in effect, of himself what I say of myself: I have all of the potentialities of my own life within myself. I and my god are one. He dwells in me and I in him, and we are on the earth, not in the sky.
As to the Jewish church and state, Jesus taught that they had become utterly antiquated and that it was the mission of himself and disciples to establish a new heaven, that is to remodel the church; and a new earth, that is, to remodel the state; both remodelings being with reference to the service of humanity by enlightening its darkness and alleviating its misery here and now, rather than teaching it to look for light and happiness elsewhere and elsewhen.[E]
As for the faith and church of orthodox Christianism there is no reason for believing that he would be any more loyal to either than am I. His loyalty was to the truth and to the proletarian, and they (this faith and church) are disloyal to both, being ever on the side of tradition against science, and on the side of the owner against the worker.
Jesus remained in the Jewish church, in spite of his many and great heresies, until he was put out by death.
My contention is that in view of this example, whether it be, as you think, of an historical or, as I think, of a dramatic character, there is no reason why I should voluntarily go out of the Christian church.
Religion in general and Christianity in particular are nothing unless they are embodiments of morality, and morality does not consist in professions of belief in a god and his revelations as they are recorded in a bible and condensed in a creed, but in a desire and effort to acquire a knowledge of the laws of nature in order that, by conformity to them, life may be made longer and happier.
When this desire exists and this effort is made with reference to one's own self, they constitute morality; when with reference to one's own family and associates, they constitute religion, and when with reference to all others of contemporary and future generations, they constitute Christianity.
But in making such distinctions the fact should not be lost sight of that at bottom there is no difference between morality, religion and Christianity. They are synonyms for the same virtues, the desire and effort to know and live the truth as it is revealed in the doings of nature. There are no other revelations of the truth, nor is there any other morality, religion or Christianity.
Socialism is for me the one comprehensive term which is a synonym at once of morality, religion and Christianity. Marxian and Bolshevikian socialism are two halves of one thing, the theoretical half and the practical half. Marxism is socialism in theory. Bolshevism is (perhaps imperfectly as yet) socialism in practice.
As long as gods dominate the sky and capitalists prevail upon the earth, the world will be safe for commercial imperialism, having a small heaven for the few rich masters and a large hell for the many poor slaves.
Come over and help us make the world safe for industrial democracy by banishing the personal, conscious gods from the sky and the lying, robbing capitalists from the earth.
But in coming there is no need for leaving your church any more than there is for leaving your state. During the short time which is for me, before the night cometh in which no man can work, I shall remain in both as long as the powers that be allow it, and do what little I can to revolutionize them—revolutionize the church into a school for the teaching of truth instead of lies, and revolutionize the state into a hive for the making of commodities for the use of all instead of for the profit of a few. In doing this I shall be following in the very footsteps of the human Jesus.
After it was discovered that the ground, by planting and cultivating, would produce the necessities of life, when a tribe found that it had too little of it for its growing population, it would go to war with the weaker among adjacent tribes for the purpose of securing its territory; but from this on the vanquished were not eaten, and it was morally wrong to eat them. They were kept alive and put to work at raising harvests for their conquerors, hence arose the institution of slavery, and hence its moral rightness even in this country of the free, down to the beginning of the generation to which I belong.
However, human slavery has never ended, nor will it ever end while the competitive system for the production of the necessities of life for profit rather than use continues. Human slavery is, so to speak, the basic ingredient of this system.
Speaking broadly, there have been three forms of human slavery—the chattel, feudal and wage slaveries—the third much worse than the first, and the second intermediary between them.
The chattel slave, as the adjective signifies, was the property of his master, as much so as were the horse or the mule with which he worked, and he was cared for in much the same way and for about the same reason.
The feudal slave was as really a chattel as was his predecessor, only he had to look out for himself to a greater extent; and, more was expected from him of accomplishment for the opulence and glory of the master, especially insofar as these depended upon the success of his wars.
The wage slave is, likewise, as really owned by his master as was the chattel or the feudal slave; but, if the master has no need for his service, he is altogether down and out, as the feudal slave was not and still less the chattel, and he has accomplished at least ten times more for his master than did either of his predecessors.
So far man has produced and distributed the necessities of life by a competitive system. The existing form of this competition is known as capitalism. It has supplanted, or at least overshadowed, every other form and is, so to speak, monarch of all it surveys.
The system as it now stands divides the world into two spheres—a small one, in which a few live surfeitingly by owning, and a large one, in which the many live starvingly by working; and, yet, ultimately, absolutely everything for both depends upon the worker and nothing at all on the owner.
Yes, the worker is indispensable to the owner, as much so as (to use the classical illustration) the dog to the flea; but the owner is no more indispensable to the worker than a flea to a dog. As dogs would be much better off without fleas, so would workers without owners.
The discovery that the itch is caused by a parasite was of an epoch making character because it led to the discovery that many, if not most of the diseases by which mankind and also animal kind are afflicted are of a parasitical character. This is as true of the social organism as of the physical. Capitalism is the tape worm of society.
The existence of the master and slave classes inevitably gives rise to four struggles: (1) the struggle of the slaves with the master for better conditions, issuing in rebellions; (2) the struggle between masters for advantages in markets, issuing in wars; (3) the struggle between the slaves for jobs, issuing in a body and soul destroying poverty; and (4) the struggle of the slaves with the master for a reversal of conditions, issuing in revolutions.
All this struggling between the classes and within them tends towards two results with both classes.
In the case of the master class, these results are the making of the rich fewer and the remaining few richer.
In the case of the slave class, these results are the making of the miserable poor more numerous and all less happy.
While capitalism stands, all talk about peace on earth and good will among men will be so much hypocrisy; for, until it falls, the world will be divided into the slave and master classes and these four contentions with these results will continue to fill it with hatred and strife.
The overthrow of capitalism in Russia is the greatest event in the history of the world and it has converted International Socialism (the Marxian revolutionary kind) from a theory into a condition.
Theories come and go. Conditions remain and work. From this on revolutionary socialism will be working, night and day, with might and main, here and there, everywhen and everywhere, and its three herculean tasks are: (1) to dethrone the great imperialist, competitive capitalism; (2) to enthrone the great democrat, co-operative industrialism; and (3) to make the world safe for an industrial classless democracy.
In less than three years revolutionary socialism in Russia has accomplished more of these three tasks for the world, than all the states and all the churches with all their wars have done in the whole course of man's career, extending through at least two hundred thousand years. Indeed they never did anything to these ends. On the contrary, what progress has been made towards them was made in spite of their strenuous opposition at every step.
Revolutionary socialism is a world movement towards the deliverance of the producing slave from the non-producing master who has robbed him of the fruits of his toil and left him half dead on the wayside—the only effective movement to this humanitarian end.
Revolutionary socialism is the Good Samaritan of the despoiled and wounded laborer. The reformatory kinds of socialism are so many priests and Levites who pass by on the other side.
Of no reformatory socialism is this more true than of the Christian kind. Christian socialism is absolutely worthless, and its utter worthlessness is due to the essentially parasitic character of supernaturalistic or orthodox Christianity.
Until the reformation, Christianity was dominated by monks—parasites who lived by begging, lying, and persecuting; and since then by capitalists—parasites who live by robbing, lying and warring.
Monks and capitalists have this in common, that they are natives of the realm of parasitism.
We shall never have peace on earth and good will among men until we have a parasiteless humanity, and we must wait for this until we have a classless world. Parasitism is a boon companion of classism.
Nor can the earth ever be rid of its parasites until the celestial world is rid of the class gods which capitalists have made in their own image and likeness, nor until the terrestrial world is rid of the class states and codes, churches and gospels which their respective class kings or presidents and their class priests or preachers have had the gods of their making impose upon this world, in accordance with their interests and in the furtherance of their lying, robbing, warring schemes for the promotion of them.
Neither capitalism nor Christianism is anything except insofar as it is a system of parasitism and as parasitic systems they have striking resemblances, nearly as many and close as indistinguishable twins.
Both have gods, churches and priesthoods and these are in each case nothing but symbols.
However, the god of capitalism, though only a symbol, is nevertheless real gold, below a real vault, and nearly all the world sincerely worships it.
But the god of Christianism, though none the less symbolic, but rather more so, is an unreal imaginary spirit, a magnified man without a body, above an imaginary vault, and only a very small part of the world sincerely worships him.
International socialism of the Marxian or Russian type, is for those who starvingly live by working, the most uplifting thing in the world, and for those who surfeitingly live by owning, it is the most depressing thing in the world.
Wise people consider theories without losing too much, if any, sleep on their account, but they study conditions and lie awake nights over them.
Millions of wise Americans have, in the past, been studying socialism as a theory but, in the future, they will study it as a condition, in the only way by which it can rightly and adequately be studied—the way of reading its official documents, accredited periodicals and books. Of all such, the most notable is the Communist Manifesto by Marx and Engels.
This Manifesto is the Marxian gospel. I read two pages in it every day as faithfully as ever I read a chapter in the Jesuine gospel, and with much greater profit; for, whereas the gospel of Marx is exclusively concerned with this terrestrial world, about which I know much and for which I can do a little, the gospel of Jesus is as exclusively concerned with a celestial world, about which I know nothing and for which I cannot do the least. Here, as a sample of this gospel, I give half of yesterday's reading and most of today's:
The immediate aim of the Communists (Socialists) is the same as that of all the other proletarian parties; formation of the proletariat into a class, overthrow of the bourgeois supremacy, conquest of political power by the proletariat.
The theoretical conclusions of the Communists are in no way based on ideas or principles that have been invented, or discovered, by this or that would-be universal reformer.
They merely express, in general terms, actual relations springing from an existing class struggle, from a historical movement going on under our very eyes. The abolition of existing property relations is not at all a distinctive feature of Communism.
All property relations in the past have continually been subject to historical change consequent upon the change in historical conditions.
The French Revolution, for example, abolished feudal property in favor of bourgeois property.
The distinguishing feature of Communism is not the abolition of property generally, but the abolition of bourgeois property. But modern bourgeois private property is the final and most complete expression of the system of producing and appropriating products, that is based on class antagonism, on the exploitation of the many by the few.
In this sense, the theory of the Communists may be summed up in the single sentence: Abolition of private property.
We Communists have been reproached with the desire of abolishing the right of personally acquiring property as the fruit of a man's own labor, which property is alleged to be the groundwork of all personal freedom, activity and independence.
Hard-won, self-acquired, self-earned property! Do you mean the property of the petty artisan and of the small peasant, a form of property that preceded the bourgeois form? There is no need to abolish that; the development of industry has, to a great extent, already destroyed it, and is still destroying it daily.
Or do you mean modern bourgeois private property?
But does wage-labor create any property for the laborer? Not a bit. It creates capital, i. e., that kind of property which exploits wage-labor, and which cannot increase except upon condition of getting a new supply of wage-labor for fresh exploitation. Property, in its present form, is based on the antagonism of capital and wage-labor. Let us examine both sides of this antagonism.
To be a capitalist, is to have not only a purely personal, but a social status in production. Capital is a collective product, and only by the united action of many members, nay, in the last resort, only by the united action of all members of society, can it be set in motion.
Capital is therefore not a personal, it is a social power.
When, therefore, capital is converted into common property, into the property of all members of society, personal property is not thereby transformed into social property. It is only the social character of the property that is changed. It loses its class-character.
Let us now take wage-labor:
The average price of wage-labor is the minimum wage, i. e., that quantum of the means of subsistence, which is absolutely requisite to keep the laborer in bare existence, as his labor merely suffices to prolong and reproduce a bare existence. We by no means intend to abolish this personal appropriation of the products of labor, an appropriation that is made for the maintenance and reproduction of human life, and that leaves no surplus wherewith to command the labor of others. All that we want to do away with is the miserable character of this appropriation, under which the laborer lives merely to increase capital, and is allowed to live only insofar as the interest of the ruling class requires it.
In bourgeois society, living labor is but a means to increase accumulated labor. In Communist society, accumulated labor is but a means to widen, to enrich, to promote the existence of the laborer.
In bourgeois society, therefore, the past dominates the present; in Communist society, the present dominates the past. In bourgeois society capital is independent and has individuality, while the living person is dependent and has no individuality.
And the abolition of this state of things is called by the bourgeois, abolition of individuality and freedom! And rightly so. The abolition of bourgeois individuality, bourgeois independence, and bourgeois freedom is undoubtedly aimed at.
The version of the Marxian gospel which we have in the Manifesto is among the first of its versions. It was published about the middle of the last century. Within the short period which has intervened, it has changed nearly all of the ideas of a large and rapidly growing part of every nation about almost everything social; and before the middle of the present century, it will revolutionize all nations as it has Russia.
Ludendorff, the greatest among the military authorities in Germany, saw and terribly feared this, and called Europe to arms to prevent it. In his almost frantic appeal he said:
Bolshevism is advancing now and in a gradual progress from east to west and is crushing everything between the midland sea and the Atlantic ocean. It was easy to foresee that the Bolshevist armies would attack toward the middle of May and defeat the Poles, as they have now done. The world at large must, therefore, figure with a Bolshevist advance in Poland toward Berlin and Prague.
Poland's fall will entail the fall of Germany and Czecho-Slovakia. Their neighbors to the north and south will follow. Fate steps along with elementary force. Let no one believe it will come to a stand without enveloping Italy, France and England. Not even the Seven Seas can stop it.
Under the capitalist system most people are and must continue to be slaves. If you are a slave (all wage earners, as such, are slaves) the socialist literature, the greatest of all literatures, will thrill you with the hope of liberty. Read, note and inwardly digest it. No wage earner who does this will ever again vote either the Democratic or the Republican ticket. As a whole this literature is a brilliantly illuminating and almost resistlessly persuasive explanation of the most sane, the most salutary and withal the most promising movement towards the freeing of all toiling men, women and children (nine of every ten) from their body and soul destroying slavery.
Both Socrates and Jesus are recorded as teaching that the saviour of the world is truth. Among saving truths (there is no truth without some saving efficacy) the greatest is the one which was discovered and formulated concurrently by Karl Marx and Frederick Engels and it is in substance this: all which makes for the good of mankind ultimately depends wholly upon the laborious constructors and operators of the machines for the cultivation, production and distribution of the necessities of life, not at all upon the owners of these machines, who at best are idlers and at worst schemers, and in any case parasites.
In the beginning was Work. All things were made by it; and without it was not anything made that was made. In it was life; and the life was the light of men.
The opening verses of the gospel according to John have been thus interpreted. The commentator acknowledges that they do not read so now, but contends for good and sufficient reasons, that, if there ever was any truth in them, something to this effect must have been their original reading. Certainly there is no truth in them as they have come down to us.
This representation to the effect that productive labor is the saviour of the world, its real god, the divinity in which we live, move and have our being, is the great truth, the gospel of International Socialism, the greatest of all movements, the movement which carries the only rational hope for the freeing of mankind from all its unnecessary suffering—and the most poignant sufferings, those imposed by the great trinity of evils: (war, poverty and slavery) are not necessary.
Capitalism and Christianism are alike not only in having gods which are symbols, but also in having great buildings set apart for the worshipping of them.
The representatives of the god below the vault worship him in banks under the leadership of a threefold ministry: presidents, cashiers and bookkeepers.
The representatives of the god above the vault worship him in churches under the leadership of a threefold ministry: bishops, priests and deacons.
Speaking particularly of Christianity and America the trouble is not at all with our Brother Jesus and Uncle Sam divinities, but wholly with what they symbolize, capitalism—the god of liars, robbers and warriors.
What our Brother Jesus and Uncle Sam should alike symbolize are the classless divinities: (1) law, the king of the physical realm, and (2) truth, the queen of the moral realm.
Law is what nature does. There is no other law, and this law is the god of the physical realm. The gods of the supernaturalistic interpretations of religion (Jesus, Jehovah, Allah, Buddha, and all the rest) are personifications, or symbols, of this god, or else they are superstitions.
This representation is proved in practice to be true, on the one hand, by the fact that no one needs to live with reference to any among those gods, not even the god, Jesus; and, on the other hand, by the fact that none who fail to live with reference to this god, law, lives at all.
Every act of nature, that is, every physical and psychical phenomenon which enters into the constitution of the universe, is a word of the revelation of this god, and there is no other revelation. All men must constantly live with reference to it or else immediately die.
Truth is the interpretation of this law in the light of human experience, reason and investigation with the view of making human life, that of self and of all who come or can be brought within the range of one's influence, as long and happy as possible.
Any one who desires and endeavors rightly to learn, interpret and live this law to these ends is moral. In everything is he wholly good and in nothing at all bad.
Religion is not anything good, except only as it is a synonym of such morality, and this is equally true of politics.
War shortens much life and fills more with misery, hence it is utterly immoral, and this is equally true of poverty and slavery.
In what I say here and in some other places about war being essentially evil, the wars referred to are those by which the world has been cursed through all the ages—wars between different groups of owners with conflicting interests, not the war between owners and workers which is now on. This war will bless, not curse, the world, because it is for the emancipation of the slave class, not for the enrichment of one group of the masters at the expense of another group, at the cost of increased misery to all the slaves on both sides.
If there is any truth in the representation that real religion and real politics alike consist in desiring and endeavoring to make terrestrial life (there is no celestial life of which aught is known) long and happy, the advocate of war is the worst of heretics against Christianism and the worst of traitors against Americanism.
War is a necessary characteristic of vegetables and animals, because they cannot make and operate machines for the supplying of their needs.
Peace is the necessary characteristic of humans, because they can make and operate machines for the supplying of their needs.
Wars between capitalists are inevitabilities, as much so as the wars between two hungry dogs, when one has a bone upon which the lives of both depend. The only difference between capitalists and dogs is, that dogs do their own fighting, whereas capitalists first rob the laborers who produce their commodities, and then persuade or compel them to fight their battles with fellow capitalists in their competitive efforts to distribute them.
On the one hand it is true that a few capitalists do lose money in wars, and still fewer their lives, but on the other hand it is equally true that the majority of them are made richer and that producing and distributing laborers ultimately bear every cent of the enormous financial burden, and that for every machine owning master who is killed or wounded there are a hundred wage earning slaves.
Yet neither the making nor operating of machines constitutes a man a human. It is co-operation which does this. Nor will co-operation in itself suffice. Bees and ants co-operate and even capitalists do so, yet with all their co-operating bees and ants remain animals and so do capitalists. The co-operation which converts animals into humans is the one which is purposely inaugurated and sustained with the view of securing to each one the fruits of his labor while at the same time increasing them for all—that deliberate co-operation which consists in conscious living, letting live and helping to live.
It is this co-operation which constitutes the most essential difference between the animal and the human. Only animalism can exist and flourish on a competitive basis, yet this is the basis upon which men who falsely claim to be humans are living.
Until mankind begins the construction of a civilization on a foundation of co-operation in the production and distribution of the necessities of life, it should not set up a claim to humanism for itself, because meantime it cannot sustain such a claim.
It is perfectly natural and absolutely necessary for dogs to have belligerent contentions for bones, because they cannot peacefully co-operate in the making of them; and yet men who can do this are more fierce by far in their competitive struggles for the bones which are necessities to their lives.
Revolutionary socialists of the Marxian or Bolshevikian type offer the only solution of the two great questions of the world at this time: (1) how to save it from its intermittent and lesser hell of suffering by the bloody wars between rival sets of capitalists, and (2) how to save it from its perpetual and greater hell of suffering by the bloodless wars between the machine owning masters and the machine operating slaves, which wars, if less excruciating, are yet more destructive of both life and happiness.
1. As to the bloody wars, a league of nations could prevent them only while the dogs are sleeping off their exhaustion.
Nor could government ownership be depended upon for protection. It would increase the armies and navies, making it next to impossible that more than a decade or two should pass before our children must suffer as much as, or more than, we have by the recent war between the bull dog and the blood hound.
We are not at all indebted to the victory of the bull dog (England) over the blood hound (Germany) for what we have in the way of a guarantee against future wars, but wholly to the presumption of the Newfoundland dog (Russia) which has quietly walked off with the bone of contention while the belligerents were scrapping over it.
Notwithstanding all appearances and impressions to the contrary, this bone never was really Paris or Berlin, but first one and then another country—the Balkan States, Mexico, Persia, Morocco and Russia.
Of late Russia has been the chief bone of contention. Hence all the snarling against Russian Bolshevism, one of a large litter of puppies born to the Newfoundland since the beginning of the war, representatives of which have already made their way to several countries of Europe, and the prospects are that they or their offspring will soon be in evidence everywhere throughout the world.
When all these Bolsheviki are grown-ups, they will make the world safe for democracy sure enough—not the competitive democracy of the bull dogs and blood hounds, but the co-operative democracy of the Newfoundland dog. Then, and not before, will the world be safe against war.
Since the beginning of the armistice there has been, every now and then, a widespread fear that it might not be permanent, because of a successful effort on the part of the bull dog to put over another war on account of the Russian bone; but for many this fear has now been almost quieted by the total collapse of the Kolchak, Denikin, Yudenich and Wrangel uprisings from within, which were strongly supported by the Allies; and by the repulsion of the Polish invasion which had England, France and the United States behind it.
An astonishing illustration of the truth of the Marxian theory concerning the materialistic or economic determination of history, is furnished by the melancholy fact that the representatives of big business in the allied countries would gladly respond to Gen. Ludendorff's call to join the junkers, against whom they so recently fought, in a war against Russia, of which war Germany would be the battle field. A concerted effort was made to organize such a war, but the wisdom learned in the school of the world war by the working-men of all the countries to which the call was made and their consequent opposition to the effort caused it to fail.
2. But great as the suffering of the world is on account of the bloody wars of capitalists with each other, it is but a drop in the bucket of sorrow as compared with its suffering on account of the bloodless wars between masters and slaves—between the machine owners and operators. When this bloodless war ceases, as it will with the triumph of international socialism, the bloody wars will cease and not until then.
Under the capitalist system every institution (state, church, school, legislature, court, business, yes, even charity) is necessarily a robbing instrumentality by which a small class of non-producers, fat masters, rob a large class of producers, lean slaves, and rob them twice, each time thrice:
1. The master non-producers rob the slave producers of the three great necessities of physical (body) life—food, clothing and houses.
Even in the United States of America, "the land of plenty," at this time and at all times, seventy-five out of every one hundred are insufficiently fed, clothed and housed.
2. The master non-producers rob the slave producers of the necessities of psychical (soul) life—the liberty to learn the facts of nature, the liberty to humanly interpret and live them and the liberty to teach their discoveries and interpretations.
Even in the United States of America, "the home of political and religious freedom," there is not one who can learn, live and teach the truth without danger of being put out of a synagogue and into a penitentiary; and this will continue until imperialistic capitalism and supernaturalistic Christianism, the father and mother of the whole brood of robbers, liars, persecutors and warriors, have been dethroned.
The gods of the capitalistic interpretations of politics and the gods of the supernaturalistic interpretations of religion, symbolize the same reality, parasitic robbery.
Yet within the religious realm the trouble is not with the Jehovahs any more than within the political realm it is with the Sams, but only with what they symbolize.
For one I should feel that both the religious and political realms, which are but halves of the same realm—religion the ideal half, and politics the practical half—would be poorer without their respective Jehovahs and Sams, even as the realm of childhood would be without its Santa Claus.
If symbols are not absolute necessities to the religious and political realms, nevertheless they always have been, now are and probably ever shall be ornaments of them; I hope for their continuance, but as subjectivities, not objectivities.
All the imperialistic interpretations of politics and all the supernaturalistic interpretations of religion must be overthrown, else the world will be lost. The omnipotent, omnipresent saviour who can and will deliver us from them is already in the world. His name is International Communism, the greatest and holiest name which has ever been framed and pronounced; and the gospel of this saviour as it is translated by Thomas Carlyle is written on every wall so that it may be read by all:
Understand that well, it is the deep commandment, dimmer or clearer, of our whole being, to be freed. Freedom is the one purpose, wisely aimed at, or unwisely, of all man's struggles, toilings, and sufferings, on this earth.
Morality is the greatest thing in the world because without it human life would not be worth the living, or even possible; but, paradoxical as the assertion may seem, freedom or liberty is greater because without it morality would be an impossibility.
One can attain to the very highest standard of morality, religion and sainthood without the least necessity of the slightest reference to what the gods of the supernaturalistic religions said or did, and this is quite as true of Jesus as of any other among such gods, but no man can reach even the lowest standard of morality, and so of course not of religion or sainthood, without constant reference to the god of truth.
Yet there is a difference between a law and a truth. The law is a doing or act of nature, and as such it is a fact or revelation. There are no other facts or revelations.
According to the traditional superstitious conception, a truth is the revelation of the will of a god, involving a service to be rendered directly or indirectly to him, and morality consists in a fulfillment of it.
According to the modern scientific conception, a truth is the interpretation of a fact involving a service to be rendered to men. On the scientific theory each man must have what truth he has, either by his own interpretation or by the adoption for himself of another's interpretation.
No man can live the moral part of his psychical (soul) life on the truth of another any more than he can live his physical (body) life on the meals of another. Every one must have his own truths, even as he must have his own meals.
Hence the necessity of freedom to morality. Hence, too, the impossibility of the moral life under restraint, such as is imposed by orthodox churches in their official dogmas, and such as is imposed by belligerent states in their espionage laws.
Capitalism is essentially competitive and therefore necessarily belligerent in character: hence a complete, an ideal moral life is an utter impossibility under it, but even the little of moral life which otherwise might be possible is lessened to one-half by official dogmas and espionage laws; if, then, the governments of churches and nations have any regard for the morality of their memberships and citizenships they will at once repeal them, and never enact others.
The democracy which means freedom to learn the laws of the physical realm of nature and to interpret them into laws for the regulation of human life (a democracy which will secure to each one the longest and happiest life which, under the most favorable of conditions, would be within the range of possibilities for him) must wait until the competitive system of capitalism for the production and distribution of the necessities has been universally and completely supplanted by the co-operative system of socialism.
The conclusion of the whole matter, as it is well put by an able contributor to the excellent Proletarian, is this:
What is needed is a complete revolution of the economic system. Private ownership of the tools of wealth production stands in the way of further peaceful social development and private ownership must be eliminated. The capitalists themselves will not eliminate it. That is certain. It remains for the working class to do so. In order to accomplish this task it will be necessary for the workers to take control of the institution by which the capitalists maintain their ownership of the tools of production—the political state. That is the historic mission of the working class. The mission of the Socialist is to organize and train the workers for this "conquest of political power."
Among the signs of the times which unmistakably point to the great day of the happy consummation of the movement towards the proletarian revolution, and the glorious sky is full of them, is the fact that the world has recently learned from the great war that man must work out his own salvation without the least help from the gods of the supernaturalistic interpretations of religion:
And that inverted Bowl they call the Sky, Whereunder crawling coop'd we live and die, Lift not your hands to It for help—for It As impotently moves as you or I.
Yes, and a god moves more impotently than a man; for, whereas the god is driven hither and thither by the laws of matter and force, according to which they co-exist and co-operate through evolutionary processes to the making of the universe what it is, and the god cannot help himself by making it or conditioning himself otherwise, the man, if only he will learn those laws, may combine, guide and ride them to almost any predetermined destination, even out of the class hell of competitive capitalism to the classless heaven of co-operative socialism.
The salvation of the world from its unnecessary sufferings is dependent upon such an equitable sharing of the labor involved in the making and operating of the machines of production and distribution, and upon such an equitable sharing of the products as shall issue in a classless mankind by doing away, through a revolution, with the class which lives by owning the means and machines of production and distribution.
It is this advocacy of classless levelism which constitutes the theoretical core of revolutionary socialism. Those who oppose this socialism proceed upon the assumption of the permanency of existing religious and political institutions, the most ruinous of all heresies.
What this heresy is and the fatal policy to which it gives rise has its classic expression, so far as religion is concerned, in the exhortation—"earnestly contend for the faith once for all delivered to the saints"—and, so far as politics is concerned, in the representation—"the laws of the Medes and Persians which altereth not."
There is no such faith in religion, and cannot be, for as a creed becomes stereotyped it loses the religious character and degenerates into superstition.
There are no such laws in politics, and cannot be, for as a law becomes stereotyped it loses the political character and degenerates into tyranny.
Religion, which is the ideal half, and politics, which is the practical half, of the same reality, human socialism, are like all else in the universe, constantly changing, and necessarily so, because life and progress are dependent upon change.
Orthodoxy in religion and politics is the blight of the ages, because of its assumption that the great institutions, the family, state and church with their customs, laws and doctrines, as they exist for the time being, constitute the foundation of society, without which it could not exist; that these institutions are almost if not altogether what they should be, and that, therefore, the welfare of society, if not indeed its existence, is dependent upon their continuance with but little if any change.
But the foundation of society always has been a system for the production and distribution of the necessities of life, and hence social institutions, customs, laws and creeds are what they are at any time because an economic system is what it is.
If we compare an economic system for the production of the primary necessities of life (foods, clothes and houses) to a king or bishop (we may well do so, for in all ages such systems have been the power behind every regal and episcopal throne) we shall see that states, with their rulers, codes and police, armies and jails; and churches, with their gods, revelations, heavens and hells, are but so many expediencies for the protection of the system from change.
What is true in this respect of the state and church is equally so of the family, the school, the press, the lodge, the club, the library, the theater, the chautauqua and, in short, every institution.
Why all these age-long safeguards against change? Because, so far, every economic system has divided society into two classes, a comparatively small class who own things and a large one who make things, and if the few honest owners are to hold their own as divinely favored "grab-it-alls," they must be protected at every point against the many dishonest makers who are diabolically tempted to be "keep-somes!"
These rounded out children of god have nothing in common with these caved in imps of the devil, no more than the flea and the dog, or the tapeworm and the man.
David hastily said: All men are liars. He might leisurely have said this of every representative of any religious or political orthodoxy, for they insist that their religion and politics are the permanent elements in social truth which remain unchanged from generation to generation through all ages, whereas no religion or politics continues the same during one decade, nor even a single year.
Orthodox Christians say that Jesus founded their sectarian churches, though each sect insists that he had to do with only one church, theirs. I doubt that he lived. In any case, I am certain that if he did live and founded a church in the first century and were to come to earth again in this twentieth century, he could not if he would and would not if he could become a member of it, because of its changes.
Our own country is different by the width of the whole space of the heavens from what it was before the war, and it is destined to a much wider change.
So far are churches with their doctrines, and states with their laws from being changeless, that they are more or less modified by every development in the economic system to which they owe their existence and of which they are servants.
In the case of every nation its king, the economic system, has always been a robber and enslaver of the overwhelming majority of the people, and the church and state have been the hands by which he accomplished the robbing and enslaving.
Insofar as they differ, Roman orthodoxy is what it is because of its starting out as the religious product of the feudal system of economics; and Protestant orthodoxy is what it is because of its starting out as the religious product of the capitalistic system of economics.
Protestantism is preferred before Romanism by most of the leading people in the financial world, because it is the child of capitalism, their sister, so to speak, whereas its rival is only a cousin.
As to the Roman and Protestant orthodoxies they are on the same footing. I would not turn my hand over for the difference between them. If literally interpreted in the light of modern science, both are utterly antiquated and irrational.
Orthodox Romanists and Protestants have essentially the same bible and creed. In my opinion, as in that of all Marxian and Darwinian socialists, every supernaturalistic representation in both must be regarded as having either a figurative or a superstitious character, for there is not one among them which can endure a scientific and rational analysis; yet, this is an age of science and reason.
The difference between Romanism and Protestantism is not at all a question of relative supernaturalism, nor of rightness and wrongness, but wholly one of the difference between the systems of economics which gave them birth.
If you ask, is not this difference at least partly a question of the age in which they took their rise, I reply, yes; but the age itself depends upon the system.
However, it is a fact that while an economic system does constitute the foundation of every religious and political superstructure, yet below the foundation itself there is always a bed rock upon which it ultimately rests, and this is a question of machinery by which the necessities of life are produced and distributed.
The age of feudalism was essentially traditional or theoretical in its character.
The age of capitalism is essentially scientific or experimental in its character.
This difference between these ages is due to the fact that during the earlier age things were made with hand tools, and during the later one with machine tools.
Machinery in a theoretical or traditional age would be an anachronism. It must have an experimental or scientific age for its development, and, paradoxical as it may seem, this the machinery must make for itself. Every period in human history has had its determining character from the tools which brought it into being.
Supernaturalism has no place in the observations, investigations or experimentations which are necessary to the invention, construction and operation of a great machine and, hence, the machines have banished the gods from the roof of the earth and the devils from its cellar, leaving it to us to make of it what we please, a heaven or a hell without reference to them. In his brilliant work entitled "Social and Philosophical Studies", translated by Charles H. Kerr, Paul Lafargue writes:
The labour of the mechanical factory puts the wage-worker in touch with terrible natural forces unknown to the peasant, but instead of being mastered by them he controls them. The gigantic mechanism of iron and steel which fills the factory, which makes him move like an automaton, which sometimes clutches him, bruises him, mutilates him, does not engender in him a superstitious terror as the thunder does in the peasant, but leaves him unmoved, for he knows that the limbs of the mechanical monster were fashioned and mounted by his comrades, and that he has but to push a lever to set it in motion or stop it. The machine, in spite of its miraculous power and productiveness, has no mystery for him. The labourer in the electrical works, who has but to turn a crank on a dial to send miles of motive power to tramways, or light the lamps of a city, has but to say, like the God of Genesis, "let there be light," and there is light. Never sorcery more fantastic was imagined, yet for him this sorcery is a simple and natural thing. He would be greatly surprised if one were to come and tell him that a certain god might, if he chose, stop the machines and extinguish the lights when the electricity had been turned on; he would reply that this anarchistic god would be simply a misplaced gearing or a broken wire, and that it would be easy for him to seek and find this disturbing god. The practice of the modern factory teaches scientific determinism to the wage-worker, without it being necessary for him to pass through the theoretic study of the sciences.
Earth must be a hell as long as we allow the capitalist system to continue on it and to enslave the vast majority of its inhabitants. Marxian socialism will ring out the old era with its hell of human slavery and ring in the new era with its heaven of machine slavery.
One point must be grasped and held by all who would understand the changes which take place within the social realm and it is this: they are due to the differences in the instrumentalities or machines by which the necessities of life are produced.
Man has risen above the lower animals which have common ancestors with his own, because of the superiority of the hand by which he does things to the hands by which they do things. If a man's body in general and hand in particular were not a great improvement over the bodies and hands of the apes, his mind and morality would differ but little from theirs.
The superiority of the civilization of this age over its predecessors is a question of instrumentalities by which the efficiency of the hand is increased.
If all the modern machinery were taken from this generation and replaced by the implements of the stone age the civilization of the next generation would begin to sink, and within a century it would reach the ancient level.
Strong expression is also given to the great truth upon which we are here dwelling by the Socialist Party of Great Britain in its noteworthy Manifesto:
Obviously, in order that there may be ideas and human history, two material things must first be present: human beings, and food and shelter for them. And the fundamental fact that is so seldom realized is, that where, by what means, and how much, food and shelter can be obtained, determines if, where, and how, man shall live, and the forms his social institutions and ideas shall take.
It is, indeed, the very basis of Socialist philosophy that, in the words of Frederick Engels:
"In every historical epoch the prevailing mode of economic production and exchange, and the social organization necessarily following from it, form the basis upon which is built up, and from which, alone can be explained, the political and intellectual history of that epoch."
This materialist concept is the Socialist key to history. It is the first principle of a science of society, and, being directly antagonistic to all religious philosophy, it is destined to drive this "philosophy" and all its superstitions from their last ditch.
Civilization will not die with the death of the capitalist system of production any more than it did with the feudal system. It improved under capitalism, because of the improvement in the machinery of production, and it is destined to continue its progress so long as new and better machines are made and this will be to the end.
Marxian socialism is a machine optimism. Under this socialism the number and efficiency of machines would increase more rapidly than they have under capitalism and feudalism, because its aim will be the production of commodities for use within the shortest time by the least exertion at the slightest risk of injury.
Up to the point of over production, that is, of glutting the markets, it is to the interest of capitalism to encourage improvements in machinery, but the ability to do this has been reached, as is evident from what we hear at increasingly frequent intervals about an over production of commodities.
What machinery we now have renders it possible to produce more commodities than can be sold without employing all the labor power. But the idle, starving slave is a danger to the idle, surfeiting master. Hence, under capitalism there can be no further development of machinery, at least not on a large scale.
An industrial government would have for its aim to produce enough of everything for all with the least expenditure of energy and time. Hence, the greatest benefactors and heroes under socialism would be the inventors of labor saving, leisure giving machinery.
We hear much about the mental superiority of the representatives of the master class over those of the slave class, but there is little or no truth in it.
On the contrary, it can be shown that the invention of a great labor saving, rapid-producing machine is, upon the whole, the greatest triumph of the human mind and that nearly all among such machines are invented, made, operated, kept in order and improved by the laborer.
Masters may be more cunning than slaves, but cunningness is not an evidence of a high order of intellectual power. Many of the lower animals are quite the equals, if not indeed the superiors, of capitalists in this quality, but no animal is the equal of any man, not to speak of the exceptionally skilled laborer, in the power to produce efficient machines for the production and distribution of the necessities of life.
Romanism began its career as a child of the feudal system for the production and distribution of commodities for the profit of the owners of the land and the means for its cultivation. The mission to which it was born was the assistance of its father, feudalism, in robbing and enslaving the workers who tilled the soil, and never did a servant more faithfully or efficiently perform a task during a longer period.
Protestantism began its career as a child of the capitalistic system for the production and distribution of commodities for the profit of the owners of the means and machines for their manufacturing. The mission to which it was born was the assistance of its father, capitalism, in robbing and enslaving the workers, who make and operate the machines, and never did a servant more faithfully and efficiently perform a task in a larger or more fruitful field.
Hitherto all systems of economics have had the same soul, competition; and, because of it, every one among them has been a diabolical trinity of which lying is the father; robbing is the son, who proceeds from the father; and murder is the spirit, who proceeds from the father and the son.
Labor, "the certain man" of every nation, is half dead lying in the ditch by the wayside, despoiled and wounded, the victim of capitalism, the greatest liar, robber and murderer of all the ages.
The church is the archangel or prime minister through which this Beelzebub, capitalism, has done most of his lying, though within the last hundred years the business has become so great that the office of coadjutor to this archangel was created, and the press appointed to it.
The state is the archangel or prime minister through which this prince of devils, capitalism, has done most of his robbing and killing, though the church has often taken a helpful hand in these departments of the devil's work, the great work of converting earth into a hell.
Nearly all of the backwardness of the world and more than half of its unnecessary sufferings have been due to efforts to prevent changes in religion and politics. Our nation is passing through the darkest period of its history because of such efforts on the part of the powers which be in the state, and they are supported by those in the church.
Speaking of the change with which we are here especially concerned, the one involved in the supplanting of an old economic system by a new, there have been several revolutions due to such changes, and another is inevitable and imminent.
When an economic system fails, as the capitalistic one is failing, to feed, clothe and house the workers of the world who produce all foods, clothes and houses, the time when it must give place to another is manifestly near at hand.
Capitalism is failing in this, the only legitimate mission of an economic system. It has indeed over-supplied the needs of about one in ten, but in doing this it has shown partiality, for the remaining nine are left more or less foodless, clotheless and houseless, and this notwithstanding they have done all the feeding, clothing and housing. Those favored by the system will not be able to prevent its overthrow by those who are wronged.
With our materials, factories, railroads and skill, all should have enough and to spare of every necessity, but so far is this from being the case that millions are insufficiently fed, clothed, housed and warmed, and are doomed to a perpetual and exhaustive drudgery which leaves neither leisure nor energy for the cultivation of their soul life.
The economical and statistical experts of our government's Department of Labor represent that the bare necessities of a comfortable and efficient life for a family of five require an annual income of $1,500, and that the simple luxuries, which are next to being indispensable, require an additional $1,000, in all $2,500, per year.
How many American families of five have even the smaller of these sums at their disposal? The overwhelming majority have less than $1,000. Let us be honest with the peoples of other nations by ceasing to speak of our country as "the land of plenty and the home of the free," until there is a great change for the better.
Wage slavery may be prolonged by a military coercion but it cannot have a successor in any other form of human slavery. Military coercion prolonged chattel slavery, and by so doing brought what is known as the dark ages upon the world. If wage slavery is to be prolonged by military coercion the world must pass through a second dark age. The league of nations is fixing for this; but let us hope that this coalition will not stand and that wage slavery will soon be followed by machine slavery, the form of slavery which will end human slavery; not until then shall we have peace on earth and good will among men.
Then they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.
Do you not now see with me that the christ of the world is not a conscious, personal god, but an unconscious, impersonal machine? It is the machine of man, not a lamb of god, to which we may hopefully look for the taking away of the sins of the world.
Ignorance is the great misfortune of the world, its devil, and slavery is his hell. The machine is the redeemer who shall save man from this devil and hell.
Yes, strange, even blasphemous, as the representation may seem, it is nevertheless true, the machine is the only name given under heaven whereby the world can be saved.
Civilization is salvation. The civilization which is salvation depends on leisure and it on slavery, but so long as leisure is dependent upon the slavery of man, civilization must be limited to a diminishing few.
Marxian socialism is a movement towards the equalization and universalization of leisure by doing away with the master and slave classes, through transference of slavery from man to machine.
If there is any truth in my naturalistic representation about the dependence of morality upon a system for the production of the necessities of life, there is none in the supernaturalistic one, which makes it dependent on any among the gods; and, what is true of the realm of morality is equally so of the realm of history, and this whether it be the history of the universe in general or man in particular.
Lavoisier and Mayer showed that no god (Jesus, Jehovah, Allah, Buddha) created the universe out of nothing, for the matter and force which enter into its constitution are eternalities and universalities.
Kant and Laplace showed that the earth and the heavenly bodies were not created by any god at all, but evolved from gaseous nebulae.
Kepler and Newton showed that these bodies were not governed in their motions by a god but by the law of gravitation.
Darwin and Wallace showed that the species of animal and vegetable life were not created by any among the gods, but evolved from a common protoplasm.
Marx and Engels showed that man's career has not been determined by any among the gods, but by his systems for producing and distributing the necessities of life.
These ten men are the greatest teachers the world has had, and this is the sum of all their great teachings: The universe is self-existing, self-sustaining and self-governing, having all the potentialities of its own life within itself, and what is true of it in general is equally so of all the phenomena which enter into its constitution, including man; who, though he is the highest among them, is only a phenomenon, on a level with all the rest, not excepting the lowest. A microbe and a man are on the same footing, both as to their origin and destiny, and as to their having within themselves all power which is available for making the most of their respective lives.
"We are part Of every rock and bird and beast and hill, One with the things that prey on us, And one with what we kill."
Darwinism and Marxism constitute one gospel, the only true, comprehensive and sufficient gospel which the world has ever had or can have, and there is no hope for the future of mankind except in it. If it fails the world is lost, but it shall not and indeed cannot fail, for its words are so many acts or facts of nature.
There is no fact which is not such an act, and every such fact is a part of the one only law upon the knowing and doing of which terrestrial life and its happiness are wholly and solely dependent.
Yes, life, long life, happy life, all there is of such human life, or divine life, (if there be any), depends entirely upon a knowledge of and conformity to this law which is the doing of nature, and not at all upon any law which is the willing of a god, if indeed there is such a law.
Neither the religion nor the politics which enters into the constitution of Marxian or proletarian socialism is at all concerned about the heaven above or the hell below the earth, if there are such places: but the concern of both is wholly to ring out a hell from the earth and to ring in a heaven upon it.
Nor have the religion and politics which constitute this socialism the least concern about the service of a celestial divinity (Jesus, Jehovah, Allah, Buddha or any other) by doing his will; but both are much concerned with the service of humanity, which consists in rightly learning, interpreting and using the laws of nature, wholly for the purpose of making the terrestrial lives of men, women and children as long and happy as possible, and with absolutely no reference to any celestial life which may be either above or below the earth.
Religion and politics are the complementary and inseparable halves of the social sphere, religion being its idealism and politics its practicalism.
Religious idealism is a social soul of which the church should be the embodiment.
Political practicalism is a social soul of which the state should be the embodiment.
Contrary to the representations of orthodox Christianism it is impossible for any soul to exist without an embodiment.
In truth the body produces the soul, not the soul the body. We must have the church and state in order that we may have their souls, idealism and practicalism.
Why, if the Soul can fling the Dust aside And naked on the Air of Heaven ride, Were't not a Shame—were't not a Shame for him In this clay carcass crippled to abide?
The church and the state are on the same level as to their origin and importance. Both are human institutions and each is indispensable to the other. It is not at all desirable or possible to rid the world of either, but it is absolutely necessary that both should be revolutionized, the church by having its bible and creed rewritten or at least reinterpreted, on the basis of truth as it is revealed by nature, and the state by having its institutions reorganized on the basis of service to all instead of only to those of a small class, the owner or master class.
All the idealistic aims of churches and all the practical undertakings of states should be directly concerned with the answer to three questions: (1) the question as to how to reach the goal where terrestrial life shall in the case of each man, woman and child be as long and happy as it is within the range of possibilities to make it, by the fullest of attainable knowledge concerning the laws of nature; (2) the question as to how to make the most successful endeavor universally to disseminate such knowledge, and (3) the question as to how resistlessly to persuade to the living of it.
These are the only concerns and aims of Marxian socialism and they cannot be promoted or even avowed by Christian socialists.
The great crime of the ages is the robbing of the producer of the basic necessities of human life by the non-producer.
Capitalism is the robber, and the politics and religion of the old states and churches are the right and left hands by which he has been and is doing the robbing.
Marxian socialism is an undertaking which has for its task the overthrow of the system which makes it possible for those who produce nothing to live surfeitingly, and renders it necessary for those who produce everything to live starvingly.
Poverty is a disease caused by the unjust wage system of competitive capitalism for producing and distributing the necessities of life (food, clothing and shelter) for the profit of capitalists, the few who live by owning the materials and machines of production and distribution; and this blighting malady cannot be cured by charity, but it will spread until this system is supplanted by the just one of co-operative industrialism, a system by which these necessities shall be produced and distributed for the use of laborers, those who live by making and operating the machines.
Every gift to charity by a rich man is a robbery of a poor man. You will not see this at once, if ever, and I shall not blame you for the failure to do so. It was not seen by me until I was much older than you; but I am now seeing it as clearly as I ever saw the sun on a cloudless noonday, and this is true of rapidly growing millions who are resolutely resolved to do away with the prevailing conception of charity, according to which capitalists may rob laborers of the fruit of their toil, giving them of it barely enough to keep body and soul together and to raise up children who are doomed to follow in their footsteps; and then, when the strength of their victim fails, to make amends for the robberies, by giving the most highly favored among them beds in hospitals, poor-houses in which to die prematurely, and nameless graves in potter's fields in which to await hopefully a resurrection and ascension to an inheritance of happiness in a sky, which was denied them on the earth.
The time is at hand when everywhere the unemployed and the underpaid shall begin a resistless march towards the goal of economic levelism under a banner containing this slogan: We want no charity but the right to work and the fruits of our labors that we and our helpless dependents may have every necessity to the fullest life for body and soul.
During more than a whole generation Mrs. Brown and I have not produced a spoonful of any food, a thread of any garment or a shingle of any house; and yet we have had foods, garments and houses in abundance with some to spare, while their producers have had them in scarcity with much to want.
While the world war was on, an ill wind for the producers blew a thousand dollars to us and an ill wind for us blew it into the hands of a committee, ostensibly for investment on behalf of a hospital of which we approved, but really for the purchase of a bond in the interest of a war of which we disapproved.
The fathers of the present generation of producers and distributors of the necessities of life were robbed in order that we might inherit the property from which our income is derived; the sons and daughters are being robbed over and over again and again, year after year, in order that the property may continue to yield this income to us.
We therefore paid nothing of our own for this bond. What we gave for it was of the spoils which the great robber, capitalism, has bestowed upon us, its favorite children, from what it has taken from its unfortunate victims.
The same persons or their children and successors were or shall be robbed first to create our property, then to pay the income of it, next to buy the bond, and now they are being robbed to meet the interest on it and finally they will be robbed to pay its face value. If capitalism stands, of course the victims of the last of these robberies will belong, probably, to a remote generation; but this delay is a misfortune in store for many of all intervening generations.
If the robbery connected with this bond were limited to its original cost, one thousand dollars, and to its accruing interest, which is likely in time to aggregate several thousand dollars, it would indeed be bad enough, yet not nearly as much so as it is under the melancholy circumstances; for the money paid on account of the bond goes towards killing or wrecking its producers, if not those who produced this particular thousand dollars, yet others of their class to whom the world owes all of its wealth; therefore the thousand dollars which went into this bond has been devoted to the robbery of those who were robbed of it and of the most precious of all things: life and limb.
You will ask: how can you and Mrs Brown, in the face of your theory, according to which all who live by owning are robbers of those who live by working, consistently receive and expend the income of your inheritance?