Part 2, Chapter 8 : The Social Revolution

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Part 2, Chapter 8

Parsons, A.R. (1887). Anarchism: Its Philosophy and Scientific Basis.


"The theory of politics, which has possessed the minds of men, and which they have expressed the best they could in their laws and their resolutions, consider persons and property as the two objects for whose protection government exists. Of persons, all have equal rights, in virtue of being identical in nature. This interest, of course, with its whole power demands a democracy. Whilst the rights of all as persons are equal, in virtue of their access to reason, their rights in property are very unequal. One man owns his clothes, and another owns country. This accident, depending primarily on the skill and virtue of the parties, of which there is every degree, and, secondarily, on patrimony falls unequally, and its rights, of course, are unequal. Personal rights, universally the same, demand a government framed on the ratio of the census: property demands a government framed on the ratio of owners and the owning.

"Every actual State is corrupt. Good men must not obey the laws too well. What satire on government can equal the severity of censure conveyed in the word politic , which now for ages has signified cunning, intimating that the State is a trick?--Ralph Waldo Emerson.

"The achievements of liberty are the epochs of history. Villanage, serfdom, and chattel slavery-the past system of labor have forever disappeared. The laborers of the civilized world have gained the right to starve." The existing wage-system though it began to supersede other labor systems in the fifteenth century has by the recent discovery of steam and electricity applied to machinery been developed enormously. Production en masse has supplanted the feeble powers of hand labor until the powers of production and distribution have increased during the past decade a thousand fold. But the poverty of the producers remains not only unchanged but intensified. Millions of human beings die yearly of cold, hunger or exposure. The workers are forced to subsist upon !heir wages, and when unable to procure employment become objects of capitalist charity. Therein the wage-system differs from those systems which preceded it. Villanage, serfage, and chattel slavery secured the laborer his daily bread. The master class were impelled by pecuniary interest to provide for the existence of their laborers. The person of the laborer was held as property and his sickness or death entailed a pecuniary loss upon the owner. Hence, as property they were cared for, provided for not by themselves, but by their owners. The wage-system changed the relationship by making the laborer a "free" man, dependent upon his wage for subsistence. It also forced him to compete with his fellow-laborer for the chance to earn wages--a competition that constantly tended to reduce wages to a bare. subsistence. The competition among the capitalist class--employers for control of markets also tended constantly to reduce wages to the subsistence point. Out of this double competition,--from above and below--arose the combinations, pools, trusts, syndicates etc, of capital which has for its object first,--control of markets by regulating prices, and secondly protection against demands of laborors for better pay and shorter hours. So likewise, the laborers formed combinations, unions, etc., their object being to dull the edge of competition among themselves for opportunities to work and earn wages, and secondly to check the demands of employers for large profits through reduced wages and increased working hours. On these lines, the capital and labor conflict is always waged sometimes openly, at other times covertly, but never ceasing. These antagonisms, inherent to, the wage system creates the class struggle, and throws race in conflict with race, and nations are by their necessities driven to retard the progress of their fellows. Each machine, each device added to the processes of production and distribution to simplify its methods or increase its power only serves to intensify the class struggle by sharpening competition. Monopoly, the first of competition, is the triumph on the economic battle-field of the best armed, equipped and officered army. The workers of the whole world constitute the rank and file, and the captains of industry reap the honors and rewards. The wage-system has now reached that development where vast numbers of homeless outcasts in every country, (estimated in the United States alone at more than a million persons) are driven to steal, beg or starve.

Under the pressure of enforced poverty, the workers engage in strikes, boycotts and riots. But the vast herd of the proletariat being unorganized, suffer on, mutely, patiently. The bourgeois (capitalist) class are compelled to employ force to suppress the demands of the laborers for work., or better pay , etc. Thus to-day, in every civilized country, the wage-system is propped and maintained by bayonets. Never before in the world's history was society divided into classes upon the question of economic freedom. The contentions of the past arose out of interest affecting the ruling class alone, such as foreign or civil war, forms of government, religious worship, etc. But, now, there is the one question-economic liberty-arraying upon one side the privileged class and their hired retainers, while upon the other side gathers the countless host of the disinherited-the wage-workers.

The labor question, growing out of the wage-system of labor is, therefore, a social, not a political or local or national question., but international and affecting the whole human race.

The capitalist or wage-system cannot provide for or take care of the mendicants it creates. Having reached its full growth, that is to say, having concentrated all the means of existence into the hands of a

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February 08, 2017 19:24:49 :
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