Call to Socialism : Part 2: Marxism - Chapter 7
(1870 - 1919) ~ German Social Anarchist, Pacifist, and Leader of the Bavarian Soviet Republic : He dies "In a prison courtyard an officer stepped up and struck him across the face, the signal for a savage massacre. Set upon by the troops, Landauer was beaten with trutcheons and rifle butts, kicked, stomped and trampled upon. 'Kill me, then!' he exclaimed, 'to think that you are human beings!" At that he was shot to death. (From : Anarchist Portraits, Arvich.)
• "True cooperative labor and true community can only exist where individuals are free, and free individuals can only exist where our needs are met by brotherly solidarity." (From : "Anarchism -- Socialism," by Gustav Landauer.)
• "Anarchism is the goal that we pursue: the absence of domination and of the state; the freedom of the individual. Socialism is the means by which we want to reach and secure this freedom: solidarity, sharing, and cooperative labor." (From : "Anarchism -- Socialism," by Gustav Landauer.)
• "Leaving allegories aside, what we need is the following: associations of humankind in affairs that concern the interests of humankind; associations of a particular people in affairs that concern the interests of a particular people; associations of particular social groups in affairs that concern particular social groups; associations of two people in affairs that concern the interests of two people; individualization in affairs that concern the interests of the individual." (From : "Anarchism -- Socialism," by Gustav Landauer.)
Part 2: Marxism - Chapter 7
Times have become different from what Proudhon described in 1848. Dispossession has increased in every way. We have moved further from socialism than sixty years ago.
Sixty years ago Proudhon could in a moment of revolution, of desire to reshape the whole, say to his people what had to be done at that moment.
Today, even if the people should rise up, the point which then was so important is no longer alone decisive. Also in two respects there is no longer a complete people: what is called the proletariat will never by itself be the embodiment of a people, while the nations are so dependent on one another in production and trade that a single people no longer is a people. But mankind is far from being a unity, and will never be until new small units, communities and peoples have again come into being.
Proudhon was completely right, especially at that moment of the elevation of spiritual and psychic life, of communal life, as well as the originality and decisiveness of individuals that accompanies every revolution, and in the particular circumstances of France at that time, which though it was markedly a land of monetary and share-holding capitalism, still was not a land of capitalist big industry and large land-owners. He was right to regard the circulation and abolition of enrichment by interest as the cornerstone of every reform and the point where a start could be made most speedily, thoroughly and painlessly.
Our conditions truly have three points where unjustified enrichment, exploitation, men working not for themselves but for others arise. This type of constant source and permanent cause is what matters everywhere in the movement of the social processes, just as in movements in physics, chemistry or astronomy. It is always wrong and unproductive to inquire about a unique cause in any past or primeval condition: nothing can come about only once, everything is in constant becoming, and there are no original things, only constant movements and constant relations.
The three cardinal points of economic slavery are the following:
First, private ownership of the land. It results in the supplicant, dependent attitude of the unpropertied person, who wants to live, toward the one who deprives him of the possibility to till the soil and to use the products of the soil directly or indirectly. Out of private ownership of the land and its corollary, non-ownership, there arise slavery, subservience, tribute, rent, interest, the proletariat.
Secondly, the circulation of goods in an exchange economy by means of a vehicle of exchange that serves every need non-expirably and unchangeably. A golden gem, though it remain unchanged for centuries, has value only for the person who esteems owning it so highly for the satisfaction of his need for jewelry or vanity that he is willing to give up products of his labor to own it. Most goods also lose materially in value through lying inert or through use and they are quickly destroyed in consumption. They are produced for the purpose of exchange, to obtain objects of use in return, which were produced for the same purpose. Money is a fateful exception, for it is exchanged but not truly used. Statements by monetary theorists to the contrary reflect a bad conscience. If therefore in a just exchange economy, where a product is supposed to be exchanged for one of equal value, a medium of circulation will be necessary corresponding to our money and probably called “money.” However it will not have a decisive quality of our money: the quality of having absolute value and also of serving people who have not earned it, to the detriment of others. It is not the possibility of theft which is to be excluded here; theft of any type of money can occur just as of any other goods, and moreover theft is also a sort of work, in fact a very exhausting and on the whole rather unprofitable one and not very enjoyable in a good society. The intention here is, rather, to point out that the harmfulness of modern money lies not only in its interest-bearing value but also in its non-consumability and permanency and its non-disappearance in consumption. The idea that money would be made harmless if it became a mere work-slip and no longer a commodity, is completely false and could make sense only for state slavery where free trade would be replaced by dependence on bureaucratic authority, determining how much each had to work and consume. But in a free exchange economy money must, on the contrary, become like all other commodities, from which it differs essentially today and still remain a general means of exchange: it must, like every commodity, have the double character of exchange and consumption. The possibility, even in a society of just exchange, if the means for exchange is non-consumable and does not lose its value with time, of attaining harmful ownership of a great amount and thereby achieving tributary rights, cannot be denied offhand, although in known history, inheritances and the like played only a subordinate role compared with power and state protection in the origin of big land ownership and consequently in every type of exploitation. Therefore Silvio Gesell’s suggestion is valuable, namely to find a form of money that does not, like today, gain value with the years, but on the contrary from the beginning progressively loses value, so that the person who obtains a piece of currency in exchange for his commodity will have no more pressing interest than to exchange it again for a product as soon as possible, etc. Silvio Gesell is one of the very few who have learned from Proudhon, recognized his greatness, and, based on him, arrived at further ideas independently. His description of how this new money brings lively movement into the flow of circulation, how each one can have no other interest in production and in obtaining the means of exchange except consumption, sprang completely from the spirit of Proudhon who taught how the rapid monetary circulation would introduce joy and vitality into private and public life, while a stoppage in the market and the slow circulation of permanent money also cause our energies to stop and our soul to stagnate. Here it is not a question of the future, whether an objective means of exchange can be found that does not contain the danger of plundering — a question for which the important thing is that it is asked at all — but whether the money-circulation is or may have been the point-of-departure to affect the other two points decisively. Here it must, however, be said that if at a certain point in history, as was the case in 1848 in France, mutuality had been introduced into the exchange economy, it would have marked the end of big land-ownership and surplus value.
The third key feature of economic slavery is, accordingly, surplus value. The first thing that must be said is that a lot of mischief can be played with the concept of value, if one does not explain clearly what one means by it and then hold strictly to one’s definition. Value contains a demand in its meaning; the meaning become clear when one thinks that the answer of the potential purchaser follows upon the naming of the price: the item is not worth that much. Value thus first seeks to avoid arbitrariness. We narrow down the concept still further when we see it in the sense of the right value, the true value. Value is what the price should be, but is not. This relationship is contained in the price-relationship of every commodity. In this meaning the word “value” contains, as everyone notices who pays attention to its use, the ideal, or social, demand that the price be equal to the value, or in other words, that the total sum of all real work-wages be equal to the total sum of the prices for the final states of the commodities. Since, of course, men who stand in opposition as individuals, exploit for profit every advantage, not only that of property, also that of the rareness of the desired products, of demand increased by special causes, of the consumer’s ignorance, etc., in reality the sum of the named price is much, much higher than the sum of the wages. While the workers in certain categories also enjoy a part of these particular advantages under some circumstances in the form of higher “wages,” which in comparison with the wages of their brothers engaged in equally strenuous work is not only wages, but also profit, no detail of the complex economic life can change anything about the fact that work cannot with its wage buy everything that it produces. Instead a considerable part is left over for the purchasing power of profit. As was suggested above, the intermediary stages of production, which already enter the market as commodities, have been left out of consideration here for, if one looks into the matter closely, they are bought neither with wages nor with profit from one capitalist producer by another, but with capital, i.e., as we will soon see in more detail, with something that has sneaked into the place of credit or mutuality. Of course, work is ultimately what must supply the interest for this capital. It is hidden in the prices and was already named above in another form as profit resulting from ownership; for capital is the form of circulation of land-ownership that has been made fluid and mobile and of its products achieved through labor. Even for those who in appearance are not owners of land, it is the means of advancing wages to labor for a product that is still in the process of becoming or of remitting wages to labor during the transition of a product from one state of processing to the other or acquiring products by trading and keeping them in storage. Soon we will deal with these different forms of capital and with the distinction of capital into thing-reality, genuine reality of the spirit, and false capital.
What we call value thus arises only through work to improve the ground and to extract and further process the products of the earth. But if the workers are compelled to hire themselves out, to surrender the results of their work-achievement to others for commercial use, in return for a certain compensation, a disproportion arises between the value of the products they have produced and the price of the products they can buy for their own use. The precise point at which they are robbed can be disregarded here, whether in the payment to them — their wage is too low — or in their purchases — the commodities are too expensive. The main thing is not to think of absolute quantities, but of a relation, which in this case is disproportionate and to remember that all profit of the capitalists arises from the discount which they force the workers to accept, no matter at what point, from the proceeds of their work, because of their difficult situations, i.e., that the discount from the workers’ wages or their lessened value is equal to the capitalists’ profit or surplus value. Here too it is not examined at what point profit flows to the capitalists, nor is a closer investigation made as to whether this question is not falsely posed since again it attempts to place an absolute instead of a correlation, it is only pointed out that profit is distributed at various rates to land-owners, money-capitalists, entrepreneurs, merchants and all their helpers, officials, “mental” workers, and others occupying a privileged position in capitalism. And moreover it must be stressed that it is a question of constructions, which however are completely necessary: not the whole income of persons who have a part in capitalism is profit, they too accomplish work. And not everything that “workers” consume is wages for labor; they too, though often at very slight rates, participate in the profit economy. It would be going too far to divide work into productive and unproductive work; and — which is not the same — separating the produced goods into necessary and luxury commodities. Here it must merely be pointed out in this context that very many people privileged within capitalism not only perform some work but no doubt also productive work, just as on the other hand the workers too perform much completely or partly unproductive work. Secondly, not only necessary but also luxury goods enter into the workers’ consumption. All these details, which are of great significance for the real life of our time, could be mentioned here. Here it is a question of pointing out that the one-sided emphasis on the wage-question by the workers and their unions is related to the false conception of surplus value by the Marxists. We have seen above how wage and price are interconnected; we have now pointed out that the view that the so-called surplus value is an absolute quantity that arises from enterprise and flows from there into the other categories of capital is completely false. Surplus value, like wage or price, is a relation and arises in the entire flow of the economic process, not at a particular spot. Marxism’s whole fateful focus on enterprise, especially on industrial enterprise arises from the error under discussion here. In this they believe they have discovered the Archimedic point of capitalism. The truth is simply that each and every profit is subtracted from work, or in other words: that there is no productivity of property and no productivity of capital but only a productivity of work. Knowledge of this is indeed a basic point of knowledge of socialism and only because of this knowledge, which they share with all other socialists — Proudhon gave it classical expression in his splendid polemics with Bastiat and in many other places — only therefore can the Marxists call themselves socialists, in the broadest sense of the word. They too know this: the profitability of property and of capital are only a deceitful form for something that is in reality robbery against the productivity of labor. From this basic knowledge, however, the Marxists in their theory and the syndicalists in their practice have drawn conclusions of the most audacious falsity. The Marxists believed that because they had a cause, they had a primary, absolute cause. Work, the working conditions, and the process of production were for them from then on the last work, that explained everything; hence the grotesque wrongness of their materialist conception of history, their laws of development, their expectation of constant concentration and of the great crisis and collapse, etc. They would only have had to investigate further, and ever further — from where then does the workers’ hardship come? — and they would have come upon land ownership and the unexpirability and unconsumability of money, and then the state, and the spirit and its ups and downs, and they would have found that the conditions including the state and capital and private property, exist in our attitude and that ultimately everything depended on the relationship of individuals and their energy to the institutions, which as rigid relics of energy and usually of the impotence of individuals of former generations weigh down as a heavy burden on a time. Depending on the point of view and the imagery, one can call the economic conditions, the political relations, religion, etc. as a whole, either the burdensome superstructure, or the basis of life for the individuals of a time; but never can the view be anything but wrong if it regards the economic or social “conditions” as the “material” foundation of a time, and the spirit and its forms as only the “ideological superstructure” or duplication and mirror-image. Of such significance as the knowledge of surplus value was, i.e., the exposé of private property and money-capital as the plunderer of labor, so ruinous was the false belief that the point had been discovered where surplus value “originates.” Surplus value resides in circulation; it originates in the purchase of a commodity as much and as little as in the paying of a worker. Expressed in yet another way — since we can speak only in images, truth must be encircled with attempts at description from various standpoints, and we must make all the more use of this approach, the more complicated and fragmentated are the phenomena that we wish to capture in our comprehensive generalities — : the cause of surplus value is not work, but the hardship of the workers. The hardship of the working people lies, as said above, outside the production process, and all the more so the cause of this hardship, and so on, in the circulation of the entire profit and land ownership economy and then out of these encrustations into their causes, the character of the people who move in them and are moved or let themselves be hindered in their movements by them, and then from these back to the men of former generations. Not the capitalist production-process is the ultimate cause of the origin of surplus value; scholars who need an ultimate cause for human relations should note once and for all that Adam is the next-to-the-last and the very last and wonderfully beautiful absolute is God himself. And even he has become unfaithful to his absolutism, for six whole days, since a real absolutist would consider himself far too good for work. He would sit on his throne, i.e., on himself, and say to himself and by himself: I am the world!
The capitalist production process is a key point for the emancipation of work only in a negative respect. It does not lead to socialism by its own further development and immanent laws; not through the workers’ struggle in their role as producers can it be transformed decisively in favor of labor, but only if the workers stop playing their role as capitalist producers. Whatever any man, even the worker, does within the structure of capitalism, everything draws him only deeper and deeper into capitalist entanglement. In this role the workers too are participants in capitalism, though their interests are not self-selected but are indoctrinated into them by the capitalists and though in every essential they reap not the advantages but the disadvantages of the injustice into which they are placed. Liberation is possible only for those who can step out of capitalism mentally and physically, who cease playing a role in it and begin to be men. One begins to be a man by no longer working for the non-genuine, profit and its market, and by restoring the submerged true relation between need and work, between hunger and the hands. What must be done is to draw the right conclusion from the basic socialist insight: only work creates values, and that conclusion is: away from the interest market! The work market and its spirit, the relationship between work and consumption and the reason for work, still has to be established.
Today the call for socialism is going to all, not in the belief that all could or would answer it, but with the wish to help some to an awareness that they belong together in the league of beginners.
The men who can and will no longer bear it, those are the ones being called here. To the masses, the peoples of mankind, rulers and subjects, heirs and the disinherited, privileged and cheated, must be said: it is a titanic, inextinguishable shame of the times that the economy is run for profit instead of to fill the needs of men united in communities. All your militarism, your system of state, all your repression of freedom, all your class hatred comes from the brutal stupidity that rules over you. If suddenly the great moment of revolution came to you peoples, one and all, what would you do? How would you want to bring it about that in the world, in every country, in every province, in every community no one hungers any more, no one freezes, no man, no woman and no child is undernourished? To speak only of the most elementary needs! And what if the revolution broke out in a single country? What good could it do? What goal could it aim for?
Things are no longer such that one can say to the men of a nation: Your soil produces what you need in food and raw materials of industry: work and exchange! Unite, you poor men, give credit to each other; credit, mutuality is capital; you need no money-capitalists and no entrepreneurial masters; work in city and country: work and exchange!
Things are no longer such, even if the moment could be expected when great, comprehensive measures would affect the whole.
A tremendous confusion, a truly bestial chaos, a childish helplessness would arise at the moment of a revolution. Never were men more dependent and weaker than now when capitalism has reached its height! the world market of profit and the proletariat.
No world statistic and no world republic can help us. Salvation can come only from the rebirth of the peoples out of the spirit of community!
The basic form of socialist culture is the league of communities with independent economies and exchange system.
Our human prosperity, our existence now depends on the fact that the unity of the individual and the unity of the family, which are the only natural groups that have survived, is again intensified to the unity of communities, the basic form of every society.
If we want a society, then we must construct it, we must practice it.
Society is a society of societies of societies; a league of leagues of leagues; a commonwealth of commonwealths of commonwealths; a republic of republics of republics. Only there is freedom and order, only there is spirit, a spirit which is self-sufficiency and community, unity and independence.
The independent individual, who lets no one interfere in his business; for whom the house community of the family, with home and work-place, is his world; the autonomous local community; the county or group of communities, and so on, ever more broadly with the more comprehensive groups that have an ever smaller number of duties — that is what a society looks like, that alone is socialism, which is worth working for, which can save us from our misery. Futile and wrong are the attempts to further expand in states and groups of states the coercive system of government that is today a surrogate for the absent free-spirited unity, and to extend their sphere still further into the field of economics than had previously happened. This police socialism that suffocates every original quality and activity, would seal the complete ruin of our peoples, and would hold together the fully scattered atoms by a mechanically iron ring. A natural unity can be attained by us men only where we are in local proximity, in real contact. In the family, the uniting spirit, the union of several persons for a common task, and for a common purpose, has too narrow and scanty a form for communal life. The family is concerned only with private interests. We need a natural core of the common spirit for public life so that public life will no longer be filled and led exclusively by the state and coldness as till now, but by a warmth akin to family affection. This core of all genuine communal life is the local community, the economic community, whose essence no one can imagine who seeks to judge if, for instance, by what today calls itself “community.”
The capital used for the factories, for the processing of raw materials, the transportation of freight and passengers, is in reality nothing else but common spirit. Hunger, hands and earth — all three are there, they exist by nature: the hands industriously procure for hunger the needed goods out of the earth. In addition there is the special experience of certain regions in centuries-old trades; the particular constitution of the soil, so that certain raw materials can be found only in particular places, the necessity and convenience of trade. Let men exchange from community to community what neither can nor should be produced locally, as within the communities they trade from individual to individual. Let them trade one product for an equivalent product and in every community each one will have as much to consume as he wants, i.e., as he works.
Hunger, hands and earth are there, all three are there by nature. And besides them men need only regulate decently what goes on between them and they will have what they need so that each one can work only for himself; so that they all exploit nature but not one another. That is the task of socialism: to arrange the exchange economy so that each one even under a trading system works only for himself; so that men stand in thousandfold association with one another and yet nothing in this union is taken away from anyone, but to each is given. It will be given not as a gift from one person to another; socialism intends neither renunciation nor robbery; each receives the output of his work and enjoys the strengthening of all by the division of labor, exchange and a working communality in extracting the products of nature.
Hunger, hands and earth are there; all three exist by nature. Strange that men in city and country today must be told as something new that everything that enters into our consumption, except air, stems from the earth and from plants and animals that grow on the earth.
Hunger, hands and earth are there; all three are there by nature.
We feel hunger daily and reach into our pockets to get money, the means to buy and the means to satisfy it. What is here called hunger, is every real need; to satisfy each we reach into our coffers for money.
To obtain money we sell or rent ourselves. We move our hands, and what is here called hands, is the many muscles, nerves and brain, is spirit and body, is work. Work on the soil; work under the earth; work for the further processing of products of the earth; work in exchange and transportation; work to enrich the rich; work for pleasure and instruction; work to educate youth; work that produces harmful, useless and worthless things; work that produces nothing and is done only for the gawkers to see. Many things today are called work; today everything that brings in money is called work.
Hunger, hands and earth are there; all three are there by nature.
Where is the earth? The earth that our hands need to still our hunger.
A few men own the earth, and they have become fewer and fewer.
Capital, as we said, is not a thing but a spirit between us. We have the means for industry and trade, if only we have rediscovered ourselves and our human nature. The earth, however, is a piece of external nature. It is part of nature like air and light; the earth belongs inalienably to all men; and the earth has become private property, owned by only a few!
All ownership of things, all land-ownership is in reality ownership of men. Whoever withholds the earth from others, from the masses, forces these others to work for him. Private ownership is theft and slave-holding.
Through the money-economy, such has become land-ownership that does not appear so. In the just exchange economy, I have, in effect, a share in the soil, even if I own no land; in the money-economy in the land of profit, usury, interest, you are in reality a land-thief even if you own no land, but only money and stocks. In the just economy, where a product is exchanged for an equivalent product, I work daily for myself even if nothing I make enters into my own use; in the money economy in the land of profit, you are a slave-master even if you do not employ a single worker, as long as you live from anything else than the results of your work. And even if someone lives only from the results of his work, he participates in the exploitation of men if his work is a monopolized and privileged one and attains a higher price than it is worth.
Hunger, hands and earth are there; all three are there by nature.
We must have the earth again. The communities of socialism must redistribute the land. The earth is no one’s private property. Let the earth have no masters; then we men are free.
The communities of socialism must redistribute the earth. Does property once again come about thereby?
I know very well that others picture common ownership or non-domination differently. They see everything in a fog: I try to see clearly. They see everything in the perfection of a described ideal; I want to express what can be done now and anytime. Now and anytime things will not go hazily and indefinitely in this world; socialism is the task at hand. Whoever wants to realize it must know what he wants now. Now and anytime the radical transformer will find nothing to transform except what is there. Therefore it will be good now and anytime for the local community to own its common property; that a part be the common land and other parts the family property for house, yard, garden and field.
Even the abolition of private property will essentially be a transformation of our spirit. Out of this rebirth a mighty redistribution of property will follow, and in connection with this redistribution there will be the permanent intention to redistribute the land in future times at definite or indefinite intervals again and again.
Justice will always depend on the spirit that prevails between men, and anyone who thinks that a spirit is now necessary and possible that would so crystallize into form as to attain something permanent and leave nothing for the future does not know the spirit of socialism at all. The spirit is always moving and creating; and what it creates will always be inadequate, and never will perfection become an event except as an image or idea. It would be a futile and misguided effort to want to create standard institutions once and for all, that would automatically exclude every possibility for exploitation and usury. Our times have shown what results when automatically functioning institutions replace the living spirit. Let every generation provide bravely and radically for what corresponds to their spirit. There must still be reason enough for revolutions later; and they become necessary when new spirit must turn against rigid residues of fled spirit. Thus the struggle against private property will probably lead to completely different results than many, e.g., the so-called Communists, probably believe. Private property is not the same thing as ownership; and I see in the future private ownership, cooperative ownership, community ownership in most beautiful flowering; ownership by no means only of the objects of direct use or the simplest tools, but also the so superstitiously feared ownership of means of production of all sorts, houses and land. No final security measures for the millennium or for eternity are to be made, but a great, comprehensive equalization and the creation of the will to repeat this equalization periodically.
“Then you are to sound the trumpet throughout your land on the tenth day of the seventh month as the day of equalization...” And you are to sanctify the fiftieth year and proclaim a free year in the land to all that dwell therein; for it is your year of jubilee; then everyone among you is to come back to his property and to his family.
“That is the jubilee year, when every man is to regain what belongs to him.”
Let him who has ears, hear.
You shall sound the trumpet through all your land!
The voice of the spirit is the trumpet that will sound again and again and again, as long as men are together. Injustice will always seek to perpetuate itself; and always as long as men are truly alive, revolt against it will break out.
Revolt as constitution; transformation and revolution as a rule established once and for all; order through the spirit as intention; that was the great and sacred heart of the Mosaic social order.
We need that again: a new rule and transformation by the spirit, which will not establish things and institutions in a final form, but will declare itself as permanently at work in them. Revolution must be a part of our social order, must become the basic rule of our constitution. The spirit will create forms for itself, forms of movement, not of rigidity; ownership that does not become private property, that provides only the possibility to work with security but not the possibility of exploitation and arrogance; a means of exchange that has no value of itself but only in relation to trade, but also contains the conditions for its use; a means of exchange that can expire and precisely therefore can vivify, whereas today it is immortal and murderous.
Instead of having life among us, we have set death between us. Everything was reduced to a thing and an objective idol. Confidence and mutuality degenerated into capital. Common interest was replaced by the state. Our attitude, our relationships became rigid conditions, and with terrible contortions and upheavals here and there after long lapses of time a revolution broke out, which in turn produced death and institutions and firm, unchangeable realities, which it died of before it lived. Let us now do a complete job by establishing in our economy the only principle that can be established, the principle that corresponds to the basic socialist insight: that no greater consumer value shall enter a house than was produced by work in that house, because no value originates in the world of men except through work alone. Whoever wishes to give up or make a present of anything may do so, that is his good right and does not concern the economy, but no one should be forced to do without things because of circumstances. Yet the means for implementing this principle ever anew will always be different everywhere, and the principle will live only as long as it is reapplied again and again.
The Marxists have regarded the earth as a sort of appendage to capital and never quite knew what to do with it. In reality capital is composed of two quite different things: first, land and the products of the soil, lots, buildings, machines, tools, which however should not be called “capital” because they are part of the land; secondly, relationship between men, a uniting spirit. Money, or the means of exchange, is nothing more than a conventional sign for the general commodity with the help of which all particular commodities can be conveniently traded, i.e., in this case, directly for the other.
This does not directly have anything to do with capital. Capital is not a means of exchange and not a sign but a possibility. The particular capital of a working man or a group of working men is their possibility to produce certain products in a certain time. The material realities that are used for this are, first, the materials — the land and the products of the land — from which new products are to be further processed; secondly, the tools, which are worked with, i.e., also products of the land; thirdly, the needs of life which are consumed by the workers during the time of work, again products of the land. As long as one is working only at one product he cannot exchange that product for what he needs during production and for it; but all working men are in this situation of expectation and tension. Capital, now, is merely the anticipation and advance payment of the expected product, is precisely the same as credit or mutuality. In the just exchange economy every person who has work-requests or every production group that has customers receives the material means, the earth and the products of the earth for its hunger and its hands: because all have the corresponding needs and each provides the other with the realities that have themselves resulted from expectation and tension, so that once again possibility and readiness will be changed to reality, and so on. Capital is thus not a thing; the land and its products are the thing. The conventional view is a completely impermissible and bitterly wrong duplication of the world of things, as if besides the one and only world of the land there were also the world of capital as a thing. Thus, possibility, which is only a relationship of tension, is changed into a reality. There is only one objective reality, the land. Everything else that is usually called capital is relation, movement, circulation, possibility, tension, credit or, as we call it, the unifying spirit in its economic function, which will of course not make its appearance amateurishly as love and obligingness, but will use purposeful organs, one of which Proudhon described as an exchange bank.
When we call the present time the capitalist age, this expression means that the unifying spirit no longer prevails in the economy, but that the object-idol rules, i.e., something that is not really a thing, but a nothing, that is mistaken for a thing.
This nothing that is considered to be a thing does bring many concrete realities into the rich man’s house, because what is considered so [Geltung] is money [Geld], and into a position of power, all of which does not stem from nothing but from the land and the work of the poor. For whenever work seeks to approach the land and whenever a product wants to go from one stage of labor to another and before it may enter the consumer sector, false capital inserts itself into the whole process of work and does not take merely the payment for its small services, but on top of this the interest because it was so willing not to lie still but to circulate.
Another nothing that is considered a thing and replaces the missing spirit of unity, is, as was already often mentioned above, the state. It steps in everywhere as a hindrance, pushing, sucking and pressing between men and men, between men and the land, wherever the genuine link between men has been weakened: mutual attraction and relationship, a free spirit. This also has to do with the fact that the ungenuine capital, which has replaced genuine mutual interest and trust could not exercise its vampire-like plundering power, that land-ownership could not impose its tribute, if it were not supported by force, by the power of the state, its laws, its administration and executive. But one should never forget that all this — state, laws, administration and executives — are only names for men, who because they lack the possibilities of life, torment and do violence to one another, i.e., names for force between men.
So we see in this passage, after the right explanation of capital has been given that the term “capital” is not quite accurate, because it designates not genuine capital, but the false one. But it cannot be voided, when one wishes to disentangle the true connections for men, to first use the accepted words, and that is what happened here.
Thus when the workers find that they have no capital, they are right in quite a different sense than they think. They are lacking the capital of capitals, the only capital that is a reality — reality although it is not a thing — they are lacking the spirit. And like all who have become dishabituated from this possibility and precondition of all life, in addition the material condition of all life has been whisked away from under their feet: namely the land.
Land and spirit therefore — that is socialism’s solution.
Men seized by the spirit will first look around for land as the only external condition which they need for society.
We know very well that when men exchange their products in their world economy and their national economy, land too is thereby made mobile. Land has long since been converted into a stock-market object, into paper. We also know that if men would, in their world market and their national market, exchange one product for an equivalent one, i.e., if large groups would enable themselves, by uniting their consumption and the extraordinary credit that would, no doubt, result, they would be able to produce an ever increasing quantity of industrial products for their own use from new materials without resorting to the capitalist market. We know that they then would, in the course of time, be able to buy not only products of the land, but, increasingly, the land itself. We know that such mighty consumer-producer-associations would dispose not only over their own mutual credit, but finally also over considerable monetary capital. But if men were satisfied with only that, they would have merely postponed the final decision. The land-owners have a monopoly of everything that grows on the land or is obtained from under the land: on the food of the entire people and the industrial raw materials. The foundations of the state and of an ever larger part of money-capital are undermined when private ownership of the land is abolished and mutuality introduced as the socialist form of capital, but before this point is reached, the more capitalist trade and industry are eliminated by the consumer-producer-cooperatives, the more strongly the state and money-capitalism will side with the land-magnates. The landed sector will not automatically supply the cooperatives working for their own consumption, rather it will raise the price of its products to almost prohibitive levels. For land is only apparently fluid or paper, just as vise versa capital is a real magnitude only fictionally At the moment of decision, land becomes what it really is: a piece of physical nature that is owned and withheld.
Socialists cannot avoid the struggle against landowner ship. The struggle for socialism is a struggle for the land; the social question is an agrarian question.
Now it can be seen what an enormous mistake the Marxists’ theory of the proletariat is. If the revolution came today, no stratum of the population would have less idea of what to do than our industrial proletarians. Very attractive, of course, to their longing for release — for they do long for release and rest, but they have little idea of what new relationships and conditions they want to establish — is Herwegh’s old slogan: “Man of work, wake up! Know your strength! All wheels stand still, if your strong arm will.” This saying is enticing, as is everything that gives a general expression to facts, and so is logical. That the general strike would have to produce a terrible chaos, that the capitalists would have to surrender if the workers could endure even for a very short time, is quite true.
But that is a big “if,” and the workers today hardly have a clear enough picture of the tremendous difficulties of providing themselves with food in case of a revolutionary general strike. Still, a sudden, comprehensive, general strike with violent thrust could unquestionably give decisive power to the revolutionary unions. On the day after the revolution, the unions would occupy the factories and workshops in the big industrial cities, and would have to continue producing the identical products for the world profit-market, they would divide the savings and profits among themselves — and be surprised that the only result was a worsening of their situation, a stoppage of production and complete impossibility.
It has become completely impossible to transfer the exchange economy of profit-capitalism directly into the socialist exchange economy. That it cannot be done all at once is self-evident; if an attempt were made to implement it gradually, the results would be a most terrible fragmentation of the revolution, the wildest struggles between the rapidly ensuing parties, economic chaos, and political despotism.
We are much too far removed from justice and reason in the manufacturing and distribution of products. Every consumer is today dependent on the entire world economy, because the profit economy has been interposed between him and his needs. The eggs I eat come from Galicia, the butter from Denmark, the meat from Argentina, and the grain for my bread also from America, the wool for my suit from Australia, the cotton of my shirt, the leather and the necessary tanning materials for my boots, the wood for table, chairs and desks, etc. all from America.
The men of our time have lost their relationships and become irresponsible. Relationship is an attraction that brings people together and enables them to work together to supply their needs. This relationship, without which we are not living men, has been externalized and reified. The merchant doesn’t care who buys his products; the proletarian doesn’t care what he makes or works at; the enterprise does not have the natural purpose of satisfying needs, but the artificial one of acquiring things, in as big quantities as possible, without consideration of, and as much as possible without work, i.e., through the work of other subjected people, through money, which can satisfy all needs. Money has swallowed up relationships and is therefore much more than a thing. The mark of a purposeful thing, that was processed artificially out of nature, is that it no longer grows, that it cannot draw materials or energies out of the surrounding world, but that it calmly waits for consumption and spoils sooner or later, if it is not used. What grows has self-movement, and self-generation, is an organism. And so money is an artificial organism; it grows, it produces offspring, it multiplies wherever it is, and is immortal.
Fritz Mauthner (Dictionary of Philosophy) has shown that the word “God” was originally identical with “idol” and that both mean “poured (metal).” God is a product made by men that comes to life, draws the life of men to itself and finally becomes more powerful than all mankind.
The only “poured metal,” the only idol, the only God that men have ever created physically is money. Money is artificial and alive, money breeds money, and money and money and money has all power on earth.
Who however fails to see, still fails to see today that money, this God, is nothing else but spirit that has exited from man and become a living thing, an un-thing, that it is the meaning of life changed to madness? Money does not create wealth, money is wealth; wealth per se; there is no one rich except money. Money gets its powers and its life from somewhere; it can get them only from us; and as rich and generatively productive as we have made money, we have impoverished and sapped ourselves, all of us. It has almost become literally true that human women by the hundreds of thousands can no longer become mothers because hideous money bears offspring and hard metal like a vampire sucks the animal warmth out of men and women and the blood out of their veins. We are all beggars and poor wretches and fools, because money is God, and because money has become cannibalistic.
Socialism is a reversal of this. Socialism is a new beginning. Socialism is a return to nature, a re-endowment with spirit, a regaining of relationships.
There is no other way to socialism than for us to learn and practice why we are working. We are not working for the God or devil to whom the men of today have sold their souls, but for our needs. The restoration of the link between work and consumption: that is socialism. The God has now become so powerful and almighty that it no longer can be abolished by a mere technical change, by a reform of the exchange system.
Socialists therefore must form new communities that produce what their members need.
We cannot wait for mankind, nor can we wait until mankind is united, for a common economy and a just exchange system, as long as we have not found and re-created humanity in us as individuals.
Everything begins with the individual, and everything depends on the individual. Compared with what surrounds and shackles us today, socialism is the most gigantic task men have ever undertaken. It cannot be realized by external cures involving coercion or cleverness.
As a starting point we can use many things that still contain some life, external forms of living spirit. Village communities with remnants of the old common property, with the farmers’ and field workers’ memories of the original common property which passed into private ownership centuries ago as well as customs recalling the common economy for work in the fields and in the crafts. Farmer’s blood still flows in the veins of many urban proletarians; they should learn to listen to it again. The goal, the still very remote goal is what is today called the general strike, i.e., the refusal to work for others, for the rich, for the idols and the monstrosity. The general strike — but of course a different one than the passive general strike with arms crossed, which is proclaimed today and with a defiance whose momentary success is very uncertain and whose ultimate failure is absolutely certain, calls to the capitalists: “Let us see who can hold out the longest!” A general strike, yes! but an active one, with a very different activity than is sometimes associated with the revolutionary general strike, which in plain language is called “plundering.” The active general strike will be victorious only when the working men are able to refuse to give one bit of their activity, their work, to others, but work only for their own needs, their real needs. That is still a long way off — but who is not aware that we are still far from socialism, but just beginning a long, long road? That is why we are mortal enemies of Marxism: because it has kept the working men from beginning with socialism. The magic word that leads us out of the petrified world of greed and hardship is not “strike” — but “work.”
Agriculture, industry and crafts, mental and physical work, teaching and apprenticeship system must be re-united; Peter Kropotkin has said very valuable things about the methods for achieving this in his book, Field, Factory and Workshop.
We must not give up our hope in the people, the whole people, all our peoples. Of course, there are today no peoples. The state and money have replaced the people, i.e., men united by spirit, while individuals have been reduced to disjunct human fragments.
The people can be restored to existence, only when individuals, progressive and spiritual, again are filled with the spirit of the people, when a preliminary form of the people lives in creative men and demands realization in reality by their hearts, heads, and hands.
Socialism is not a science, although it does require all sorts of knowledge — a necessary condition of giving up superstition and false living in favor of treading the right path. However, socialism is certainly an art, a new art that seeks to build with living material.
Men and women of all classes are now called upon to leave the people in order to come to the people.
For that is the task: not to despair of the people, but also not to wait for the people. Whoever does justice to the quintessence of the people he bears inside him, whoever joins together with others like himself for the sake of this unborn seed and pressing, imaginary form to transform into reality whatever can be done to realize the socialist order, leaves the people to go to the people.
Socialism will become a different reality depending on the number that join together for it, people who feel the deepest repugnance for existing injustice and have the strongest desire and yearning for a true formation of society.
So let us unite to establish socialist households, socialist villages, socialist communities.
Culture is not based on any particular forms of technology or satisfaction of needs, but on the spirit of justice.
Whoever wants to do something for socialism, must set to work out of a premonition of an intuited, yet unknown joy and happiness. We still have everything to learn: the joy of work, of common interest, of mutual forbearance. We have forgotten everything, yet we still sense it all in us.
These settlements in which socialists cut themselves off as much as possible from the capitalist market and export only as much value as still has to come in from the outside are only small beginnings and trials. They should shine out over the country, so that the masses of men will be overcome by envy of the new primeval bliss of satisfaction with oneself, of joyfulness in the heart of the community.
Socialism as reality can only be learned; socialism is, like all life, an attempt. Everything that we try to frame poetically in words and descriptions: variety in work, the role of mental work, the form of the most convenient and least questionable means of exchange, the introduction of the contract instead of law, the renewal of education, all that will become reality in the act of being realized and by no means will be arranged according to a predetermined pattern.
Conceivably we will then remember those who in thought and imagination anticipated and foresaw communities and lands of socialism in articulated forms. Reality will look different than their individual formations, but reality will stem from these images of theirs.
Let us here recall Proudhon and all his sharply defined, never nebulous visions from the land of freedom and the contract. Let us remember many good things seen and described by Henry George, Michael Flürscheim, Silvio Gesell, Ernst Busch, Peter Kropotkin, Elisee Reclus, and many others.
We are the heirs of the past, whether we like it or not; let us muster the will to have coming generations be our heirs, so that in all our life and actions we influence the coming generations and the masses of men around us.
This is a completely new socialism, one that is new again; new for our time, new in expression, new in its view of the past, new also in many of its moods. We also have to take a new look at what exists: we must look again at the classes of men, the institutions and traditions. We now see the peasants in a completely new light and we know what an enormous task has been left to us, to speak to them, live among them, and revive and resuscitate in them what has wilted and atrophied: religion, not faith in any external or higher power, but faith in their own strength and in the perfectibility of the individual human being as long as he lives. How the peasant and his love for ownership of the soil has been feared: the peasants do not have too much land, but too little, and it must not be taken away but given to them. But, of course, what they, like everyone else, need most of all is a common, communal spirit. However this spirit is not buried over so much in them as it is in the urban workers. Socialist settlers need only go and live in the existing villages and it will be seen that they can be revived and the spirit that was in them in the fifteenth and sixteenth centureis can re-awaken even today.
One must speak of this socialism to men, with new tongues. Here a first, initial attempt is made. We will learn to do it better, we and others. We want to bring to socialism the cooperatives, which are socialist form without spirit, and to the trade unions, which are courage without a goal.
Whether we want to or not, we will not stop with talk; we will go further. We no longer believe in a gap between the present and the future; we know: America is here or nowhere!” What we do not do now, at this moment, we do not do at all.
We can unite our consumption and eliminate all sorts of parasites. We can establish a great number of crafts and industries to produce goods for our own consumption. We can go much further in this than the cooperatives have gone until now, for they still cannot get rid of the idea of competing with capitalist-managed enterprise. They are bureaucratic, they are centralistic; and they cannot help themselves except by becoming employers and closing contracts with their employes through the medium of the trade unions. It does not occur to them that in the consumer-producer-cooperative each one works for himself in a genuine exchange economy; that in it not the profitability but the productivity of work is decisive; that many forms of enterprise, e.g., the small enterprise, are thoroughly productive and welcome in socialism, though unprofitable under capitalism.
We can establish settlements, though they will not escape completely from capitalism at one stroke. But we now know that socialism is a road, a road away from capitalism, and that every road has a beginning. Socialism will not grow out of capitalism, but away from it; it will barricade itself off from it.
The means to purchase land and the first operating funds for these settlements will be obtained by pooling together our consumption, through trade unions and worker groups that join with us, and through such rich men as either join us completely or at least contribute to our cause. I do not hesitate to expect all this and to proclaim this expectation. Socialism is the cause of all who suffer under the terrible conditions in and around us; and many of all classes will soon endure far greater suffering than anyone suspects today. No one, including the workers’ associations, can do anything better in the sense of decency and his own redemption, with his money, than to give it away once and for all and liberate the land with it for the beginning of socialism. Once the land is free, no one will be able to tell — it itself won’t even feel it — that it has been bought. Don’t be squeamish, you workers: you buy shoes, pants, potatoes, herrings; wouldn’t it be a beautiful beginning if you, working and suffering men, no matter what roles have been your lot til now, would pool together your strength, to purchase your own liberation from injustice and from now on to make what you need, for your own community, on your own land?
Let us not forget: if we are in the right spirit, then we have everything we need for society except one thing: land. Hunger for land must come over you, you men of the big city!
Once socialist colonies with their own culture are scattered everywhere in the land, north, south, east and west, in all provinces amid the baseness of the profit-economy, and they are seen, their joy in life, in its inexpressible though quiet manner, is felt, then envy will become greater and greater. Then, I believe, the people will move. The people will begin to see, to know, to be certain. Only one thing is missing in externals, to live socialistically, prosperously, blissfully: the land. And then the peoples will set the land free and no longer work for the false god but for men. Then! Just begin; start on the smallest scale and with the smallest number of men.
The state, i.e., the still ignorant masses, the privileged classes, and the representatives of both, the executive and administrative caste, will place the greatest and smallest obstacles in the way of the beginners. We know that.
All these impediments, if they are real ones, will be destroyed if we stand so close together that not the tiniest space is left between them and ourselves. Now they are only obstacles in anticipation, imagination, fear. We see it now: when the time comes they will barricade our path with all sorts of obstacles — and so in the meantime we choose to do nothing.
We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it! Let us move ahead, so that we will become many.
No one can do violence to the people, except this people itself.
And great parts of our people side with injustice and what harms them in body and soul, because our spirit is not strong and convincing enough.
Our spirit must ignite, illuminate, entice and attract.
Talk alone never does this; even the mightiest, angriest or gentlest talk does not.
Only example can do it.
We must give the example and lead the way.
Example and spirit of sacrifice! In the past, today and tomorrow, sacrifice upon sacrifice will be made to the idea, always in revolt due to the impossibility of continuing to live this way.
Now it is necessary to make other kinds of sacrifices, not heroic ones, but quiet, unimpressive sacrifices in order to give an example for the right way of life.
Then the few will become many, and the many will also become few. Hundreds, thousands, hundreds of thousands — too few, too few!
Still the obstacles will be overcome; for whoever builds in the right spirit, destroys the strongest obstacles by building.
And finally, finally socialism, which has glowed and flamed for so long, finally it will cast light. And men and peoples will know with great certainty: they have socialism and the means to realize it, completely and totally in themselves, among them, and they lack only one thing: land! And they will set the land free; for no one impedes the people anymore, since the people no longer stands in its own way.
I call on all those who want to do what they can to build this socialism. Only the present is real, and what men do not do now, do not begin to do immediately they will not do in all eternity. The objective is people, society, community, freedom, beauty, and joy of life. We need men to give the battle-cry; we need all who are filled with this creative desire; we need men of action. This call to socialism is addressed to men of action who want to make the first beginning.
Whoever has not already heard it in the hours when these words and the feeling behind them were addressed to him, let it now be said to him in parting: just as we have voiced many a familiar idea in order for men to be able to understand us, and then rejected such provisory, current words as falsely applied or inadequate, the same may happen to this word: socialism. Perhaps this call is also the beginning of a way to find a better, deeper, and more promising word. Each one ought to know already: our socialism has nothing in common with sumptuous ease or the desire for a pastoral, idyllic peace and a broad life devoted only to the economy and to working only for the needs of life. There was much talk here of the economy; it is the basis of our very life and should become so much so that less talk about it will be needed. Greetings, you restless wanderers, hobos and vagabonds, who can bear no economy and no place in this our time. Greetings, you artists, whose creativity transcends the time. Greetings, you warriors of old, who did not want life to shrivel up in the stove-pipe! What there is in the world today of war, saber-rattling and wildness is almost entirely only the grotesque mask of desolation and greed; stature, fidelity and knightliness have become preciously scanty. Greetings, you stammerers, you silent ones, who have an intimation deep in your hearts, where no word rolls out: unknown greatness, unspoken struggles, deep suffering of soul, wild joys and sorrows will from now on be mankind’s lot, both for individuals and peoples.
You painters, poets, musicians, you know of it and the voices of power and ardor and sweetness that will bloom forth from new peoples already speak from you. Scattered in all our desolation, young men live, solid men, old men, tried and tested, noble women; more than they themselves know, men live here and there who have childlike hearts. In all of them there lives faith and the certainty of great joy and great suffering that will one day seize men anew and shape them and drive them forwards. Pain, holy pain: come o come into our hearts! where you are not, there can never be peace. All you — or are you then so few? — all in whom the dream smiles and weeps, all who breathe action, who feel jubilation deep within you, all who wish to despair for cause and madness and real distress, not for the slovenly nonsense and baseness around us today, that are called misery and hardship, all who are lonesome today and contain an inner form, image and rhythm of pent-up creative energy in you, all who can give the command from your hearts: in the name of eternity, in the name of spirit, in the name of the image that seeks to become a true path, mankind shall not perish. The gray-green, thick mud that is today sometimes called proletariat, sometimes bourgeois, sometimes the ruling caste, and everywhere, above and below is nothing but a disgusting mass, this horribly repulsive human distortion of greed, satiety, degradation, shall no longer twist and turn, shall no longer be allowed to dirty and suffocate us: they all are called to socialism.
This is a first word. Much still has to be said. It shall be said. By me and by others who are called here.
From : TheAnarchistLibrary.org
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