Mary Marcy 1919
First published: by Charles Kerr &Co., 1919.
The Control of Industry.
A few months ago, Mr. Wilson, the Secretary of Labor at Washington, is reported to have said that socialists, members of the I. W. W., and intelligent men everywhere were right in their demand that the workers should receive the full value of their own products. The only question, he said, is, what determines that value? Then he is reported to have added that commodities are the joint product of capitalist and laborer. But that statement is wrong.
Wilson was correctly quoted in the newspapers, but we do know that the big questions occupying the minds of every intelligent workingman and woman in the world today are precisely these:
First: Who produce the things necessary to human life and comfort today?
Second: What determines the value of these things?
Third: What must the productive workers receive in the future in order to make the world a secure, a comfortable and a joyful place to live in?
Fourth: Shall we continue to permit the capitalists, because of their ownership of capital, to appropriate the lion’s share? or ANY share?
Who Produce Things?
To us it seems a very simple matter to discover who make and transport the things human beings need and use every day. We see the farmers raising food, wheat and grain, vegetables, cattle and hogs. And we see these foods being transported to the packing houses and to the cities by railroad men, in cars made by car-builders toiling in car shops, and drawn by engines produced by machinists, fired by coal supplied by miners.
We use cotton and wool, and cloth and clothing, all produced and cleaned and spun and woven into cloth and made up into garments by workingmen and women and little children. We wear shoes which are from the hands of labor, and live in houses, or flats, or tenements built by labor, from the materials produced by workers in the woods and in the mills.
Even gold and silver are mined by workers and made up into coins by other workers. And all bank notes are likewise made by the hands of labor.
All the wonderful machinery which is so rapidly taking over the dirty and unpleasant and heavy work of the world comes from the hands and brains of workingmen. Every shop, mill, factory, warehouse, railroad is the product of laborers and of no one else.
Labor did not put the metals in the depths of the earth, nor form the oil wells. Labor did not grow the forests, nor plant the coal in the mines, nor lay out the rivers and the mountains, the valleys and the fertile soil. But neither may any capitalist claim to have brought them forth. They are the natural resources of the earth and not the product of the brain of any man.
We believe nobody will be foolish enough to question any of these points that labor produces all the commodities necessary to the life and well-being of man, and that the natural resources of the world were not made by any man or group of men.
What Determines Value?
But what about value; what determines the value that workingmen and working women produce in commodities? The value of commodities is determined by the necessary social labor which they represent.
A ‘pair of shoes, for example, is not made nowadays by one man. It is the product of many men, of social labor. A stove may represent eight hours of social labor. Marx speaks continually of this “social” labor because commodities are now the joint product of many men and women working together in shops or factories.
The stove, mentioned above, which it took eight hours of necessary social labor to produce, would be worth four times as much as the pair of shoes, which were produced in two hours of necessary social labor.
This is only a brief statement of the Marxian theory of value. If you are interested in this subject from the stand-point of the wage-worker or from the viewpoint of the farmer send 10 cents to the publishers of this booklet and get a copy of “Shop Talks on Economics, or a copy of “How the Farmer Can Get His.”
Of course the capitalists and their paid servants of the press insist that commodities are the joint product of capital and labor. They say that the capitalist owns the factory, the mill, the packing house plant; that he has invested his money in these institutions and that without the use of the factory, the machinery, the mill, etc., etc., labor would be unable to produce anything. But we are very certain that labor produced goods long before there were any such things. And we have seen that labor produced the factory, the mill, the railroads, the machines, even the money possessed by the capitalist class.
What is Capital?
What, then, is Capital? Capital today is represented, usually, by huge aggregations of commodities : factories, steel mills, railroads, shops, warehouses, in lumber, steel, concrete, bricks, in wheat, cloth, shoes, machinery, clothing, food; in the great machines of production built by labor, in the instruments of distribution, the railroads, wharves, ships, etc. And capital is also represented by gold and silver, mined and refined, transported’ and turned into dollars-all by the hands and brains of the working class.
You hear a capitalist complain that $200,000 is not enough capital to run his business; that he ought to install new and expensive machinery. We hear a man spoken of as a capitalist, not because he possesses much currency, or large credits of deposits at the banks, but because he owns a large automobile factory, or a packing plant or a steel mill wherein he employs laborers, whose power-to-labor he buys for wages, exactly as he buys iron ore or coal or machinery.
Now we know many business men will grant that this is a correct description of what constitutes a capitalist. But when we discuss the origin of capital, we shall soon find ourselves very far apart. For the business man always reasons from the hypothesis that capital is a product of, or reward for, the superior brains or the superior business ability of the capitalist himself. He gets the money and so he argues that he has earned it. Then people maintain that if capital (factories, shops, railroads, money) is necessary to the production of commodities, the capitalist is first of all entitled to a large share in the value produced in the factory, shop, or mill.
They say that capital is the product of capitalists and that therefore it belongs to the capitalists and that it is “right” and “just” that the capitalists should manage their own products (their plants, shops, or mills) as they please, on whatever terms they may determine.
If we look over any history of the United States, no matter how faulty, and read about the conditions that prevailed here a hundred years ago it will occur to almost any one that the great American private fortunes have been acquired, in large measure, during the past fifty or sixty years. We wish the readers of this little book would secure copies of the History of the Great American Fortunes by Mr. Gustavus Myers, published by Charles H. Kerr & Company, and find out just how some of our great financial and industrial kings acquired title to the basis of the fortunes they now possess.
Mr. Myers presents legal documents showing how millions upon millions of acres of farm lands, rich commercial timber lands, mining lands, priceless rights and privileges were literally given away by corrupt public officials, or sold at a nominal price, which was often never paid, and how these large land grants, these early steals and shady transactions form the basis of most of the great American fortunes existing today.
The men who secured these priceless timberlands, these exhaustless mines, these rich acres and teeming kingdoms, produced none of these things; did not even work the land, or the mines. They were merely the piratical crews that got here first and grabbed first. And the descendants of some of these early bandits are today rioting on the incomes of countless millions, the bases of which were thus secured and handed down to them by their grandfathers.
First settlers who have been powerful enough and greedy enough to seize and hold the natural resources of any nation have always been able to make that nation pay continuous tribute to them, until the people revolt.
You never knew a coal baron, even though the title to “his” coal mine came to his ancestors through large early land grants, permitting people to go down into the mine and get out their own coal ; did you? Or a timber king who permitted people to help themselves freely to the timber they might need to build homes with -merely because officials of the United States Government gave them, free, gratis, for nothing, millions of acres of splendid commercial timber; did you? Or a landowner who allowed the landless farmers to work the land for nothing, merely because he, himself, had paid nothing for it? Hardly. One and all the capitalists have held out for their veritable pound of flesh.
But while Mr. Myers proves to us precisely, as shown by legal records and documents, the basis of some of the great American fortunes, he does not discuss the purely Marxian or Socialist theory of the origin of private capital.
Anybody can see that if an owner of vast farm lands, purely by the power of his monopoly of those lands, rents out his farms to tenants year after year, and reinvests these rents in other business enterprises, he will accumulate more and more money capital. But we know who produces the rents paid to him, and we know also that (aside from labor spent in improvements on the land) his capital is obtained through sheer hold-up, and has no foundation on intelligence or “justice” whatsoever. There can be no such thing as democracy, or “justice” or “equality of opportunity'* so long as one group of men own the land and are able to hold up all other men for the privilege of using it. Under such conditions landless men are handicapped at birth. They are taxed for the mere privilege of living upon this earth.
But suppose we consider the man who inherits a $200,000 cotton mill which is running full blast. Suppose the young man possesses no other property, no capital except that tied up in the plant. Usually the youth will be interested in nothing but the profit end of the business. He does not care what sort of machinery is used, or who works in his plant or what sort of a product comes out of the mill so long as he receives his dividends regularly. He engages a manager to run the mill for him while he enjoys himself at some pleasure resort.
Let us then watch the process of the manufacture of the product and see if we can discover the source of capital here.
The manager goes to the banks and borrows-say $50,000 to meet his pay roll and to purchase raw cotton, or machinery to be used in the mill. And, of course, this $50,000 is capital-$50,000 in capital which was produced, say, last year. We can watch the productive processes taking place before our eyes and learn how capital is produced in this particular mill this year. Perhaps we shall be able to discover the source of this $50,000 in the process.
Now, of course, we know that neither the owner nor the manager built the cotton mill. It and all its machinery and the raw cotton worked up in it are the products of past human labor-power. Also we can be pretty certain that a very large part of the $50,000 lent the mill owner by the bank is made up of the past profits of other business men. Wage workers and farmers cannot save much.
Now we see the superintendent of the cotton mill standing in the door with hundreds of bales of cotton stacked up in the plant or warehouse. The concern is ready to do business. So many mill workers apply for jobs that the superintendent is able to buy their labor-power (or strength) at wages that mean barely the cost of a poor living.
In referring to the source of capital in this particular instance, Karl Marx said:
“Does an operator (worker) in a cotton factory produce merely cotton goods? No, he also produces capital. And he went on to explain.
The owner (or his manager) of a cotton mill may pay his “hands” $2.00 a day. The “hands” work throughout the day at the owner’s machines and secure for their employer an added price to the cost of the raw cotton of $4.00. The mill owner does not receive merely the $2.00 he paid in wages, but twice that much-$4.00. The mill hand has produced—over and above his wages-$2.00 additional capital for his employer.
At the end of the year, after deducting a large salary for himself and paying off his loan, the mill owner may discover that he has cleaned up $50,000 (made up of the surplus value produced by his mill hands). He calls this additional capital. And he re-invests this money in -another cotton mill.
And the next year he hires more mill hands whom he pays $2.00 a day and again he sells their products at $4.00 above the cost of the raw material and all other expenses. Again he cleans up $2.00 a day off the labor of his “hands”; once more he adds to his own capital.
Often we say the workers produce commodities and profits for the boss. But these profits are more capital which the owners invest in other or similar industries for the further exploitation of the wage worker. As Marx says:
“The worker not only produces commodities. He produces CAPITAL. He produces values which give the employers fresh command over his labor, and which, by such command, create fresh values.
“Capital can only increase when it is exchanged for labor, that is, when it calls wage-labor into existence.” Men are only hired for wages when they augment capital and every time a man is hired for wages he strengthens the very power whose slave he is.
In other words, when you get a job for wages, you increase the power of your employers because you receive only a small portion of the value of your products. You create more profits, or more capital for your boss.
All commodities are produced by the workers. Every useful and beautiful thing in the world, made by the hand and brain of man, is the creation of the men and the women who work.
And capital is also the product of labor. No employer hires men to give them a job because his heart is kind. He hires you in order to make profits out of your labor. And profits are-capital.
The $50,000 which the manager of the cotton mill borrowed from the banks, for his employer, mentioned above-was made out of the things produced by labor last year. The profits (or capital) produced in the cotton mill, by the workers this year, will be used next year, or the year after, to start another cotton ‘mill owned by the cotton mill owner. Do you see that this cotton mill will be paid for out of the capital (or profits) which you workers in the cotton mill produced and in which the mill owner had no share of labor or of service whatsoever?
Is this plain? Next year your boss will hire another mill built with the capital you produce (for him) this year. He will hire more workers. And just as he appropriates all the things you produce today (paying you bare wages) so will he take all the goods his employees make next year. He will gain still more capital. But always the wage-workers remain mere wage workers, producing all common
When we think this over sometimes we laugh a little-when we do not weep. And we do not agree with the paid editorial writers who mumble so much about “the rights” of capital, and the “rewards of capital,” etc., etc.
We do not think the capitalist ought to have any share in the products of labor merely because he has appropriated the capital produced by labor.
We do not believe in allowing a mill owner to share in the value produced by labor today, merely because he took most of the value produced by labor LAST YEAR.
Capital is the joint product of the workers. To reward (or pay) the capitalist for the use of this capital means rewarding the non-producer for stealing from you and me. For the capital the boss uses today is the value produced by the workers (and taken away from them) last month or last year.
Capital Is Unproductive.
We heard a prosperous looking business man say on the train one day, as he waved his hand toward the rich un-cleared timberlands through which we were passing:
“Wonderful land! Richest in the world. All waiting the magic wand of Capital!”
This man was typical. He thought just what all capitalists think when they see rich, uncultivated soil, or water-power running to waste, or when they hear of the need of a new factory or mill. But the need is for the hand of labor, for the tools, the machinery produced by labor. The need is -not that capital be invested for private profits, but that free access be given labor to produce for the comfort and happiness of mankind.
In a capitalist society, however, where all the lands and the natural resources of the earth, and all the instruments of production and distribution (railroads, mines, factories, etc.) are already privately owned and controlled, Labor, the world’s true magic-maker, is shut off from the productive processes and from the power of producing a living, or of earning a living, except upon the terms laid down by the capitalist class.
This is true in spite of the fact that all the capital in all the world is incapable of producing one loaf of bread, one pair of shoes, one house, one suit of clothes. Not one wheel would ever turn productively, not one machine would ever operate, not one train would ever move without the hands and brains of labor.
Capital is utterly incapable of increasing itself. Unless he is able to filch the swag from some other capitalist who has exploited labor, the only way a capitalist may force his capital to multiply and bear the fruit of still more capital, is by the employment of labor. Without the hands and brains of labor, capital would remain forever stationary. A one hundred thousand dollar investment would remain one hundred thousand dollars. The increase on this capital is the product of labor alone.
We are not discussing a situation in which another capitalist comes along and invests another hundred thousand dollars in the first capitalist’s plant. What we are trying to explain is how the first capitalist, who possessed a one hundred thousand dollar investment, finds himself at the end of the year, with this same one hundred thousand dollars AND twenty-five or fifty thousand dollars additional capital (or profit).
The only possible increase in capital, in this instance, comes through the exploitation of wage-labor.
A landlord may double the rents he demands of his tenants for his flats or his houses. But this merely doubles the income of the landlord. This does not increase the total commodity, money, or the total capital existing in the world. It merely transfers money from the pockets of your employer (who has to pay you. higher wages in order that you may pay increased rents) INTO the pockets of the landlord. One man will be five hundred dollars “out” and the other will be five hundred ahead in the game. You wageworkers only get a bare living (when you get that) anyway. In this transaction of rent-paying there is no increase in the total capital.
Any particular capitalist investment, of a specific sum, increases only through the employment of labor by the capitalist. For labor produces new values and gives far more than the wages or portion it receives, while the capitalist takes far more than he pays in wages. The capitalist pays wages (determined by the cost of living) for the labor-power, or strength of the workers,
The workers produce commodities of three or four times the value of their wages. The capitalist appropriates the difference between the value of these commodities and the wages of his employees AS HIS SHARE IN THE TRANSACTION.
It is true that he usually has to share this surplus value among other capitalists, with the wholesale, and retail men and brokers, and their employees. Nevertheless the general capital increases just in proportion as he and these other capitalists are able to hold on to that value and add it to their own capital.
The increase in capital comes through the exploitation of labor and there alone. All other transactions are the mere transfer of already existing capital from one account to another and cannot possibly increase the total capital.
So-called increases in the value of unimproved real estate are fictitious and only represent the power of one capitalist to hold up another capitalist. As we said before, the power of one capitalist landlord to raise the rents of shacks inhabited by the employees of other capitalists, for example, is his arbitrary monopolistic power to levy a tribute from the employing capitalists, because the landlord is able to force these employers to pay higher wages to their workers to enable them to pay his increased rents. No value and no capital is added to the total general capital.
The landlord forces the corporation capitalists to divide the surplus value they have already extracted from their own workers, with him.
Who Gets the Increase?
Modern machine methods of production enable fewer and fewer men to produce commodities formerly made by more men. Two or three men, for example, operating an automatic glass-blowing machine, can now produce the same amount of glassware as thirty men produced without machinery, in the same length of time. One man operating a modern machine can often today produce as much as ten men produced without the aid of machinery.
Is the one man on the job any better off than the ten men who formerly produced commodities by hand? We see that the man using modern machinery may be ten times as productive as a man who was producing by hand methods. Does he get any more of the things he produces? Does he receive a larger proportion of the value he creates?
Does the worker, who produces ten times as much, receive ten times more? Not at all. Why not?
The working class has no property, to speak of, and so the workingman has to have a job in order to live. You go around among your working class friends and you will discover that they may own two suits of clothes and a few sticks of furniture and that is about all. They have to have work because most of them are generally only about one week’s pay ahead of Want and Hunger, when they are on the job, and when they are out of work they have to find a master to buy their strength, or labor-power, or they will starve.
And there are thousands of other workingmen and women looking for jobs and the workers compete with each other to see who will sell his strength to a boss. And so the needs and the desperation of the workers enables the capitalist class to “buy labor-power*’ (or get “hands”) at just about the cost of living and reproducing new labor-power (children) to take their places when they are worn out and thrown upon the human scrap pile a few years later.
The capitalist who invests $200,000 in a plant is not content to take 5 per cent profit and live on that sum from year to year. He wants more all the time. He wants more capital to install new machinery, to build bigger plants, to introduce automatic methods so that he can successfully freeze out his competitors. And when he has become part of some great monopoly, and finds his wage-laborers producing ten times as much as they formerly produced, he takes all the increase. He still buys labor-power at the bare cost of living.
The worker never knows when he is going to be turned out of his job with nothing on earth to depend on but the sale of his strength and brains. He never knows when the boss may decide he is not receiving sufficient profits and close the plant. He never knows when he is going to be out of work for months at a time, penniless, friendless, driven from pillar to post, arrested for vagrancy during “hard times.”
The worker never knows when he is going to be turned out of his job with nothing on earth to depend on but the sale of his strength and brains. He never knows when the boss may decide he is not receiving sufficient profits and close the plant. He never knows when he is going to be out of work for months at a time, penniless, friendless, driven from pillar to post, arrested for vagrancy during “hard times.”
Capital, on the contrary, increases by leaps and bounds, year after year, and is concentrated into fewer and fewer hands; and the stronger capitalist groups devour the weaker ones. The capitalist with $100,000 is unable to compete with the $1 000,000 man. He is frozen out by his more powerful competitor. The million dollar man puts up a life and death struggle with the hundred million dollar trust and meets the fate of the canary who met the cat.
But whether capital be in many hands or whether, through the long years of the economic development of capitalism, it be massed in the hands of a few men, the status of the wage-worker has remained just about the same. His hours of labor may have been shortened a little through organization, and his nominal wages may have increased. AS a class he possesses no property worth speaking about. His job is uncertain. He has no way to live save through the sale of his labor-power for wages.
The modern machine process has increased his productivity ten or even a hundred fold. Under all circumstances the employing capitalists receive these increased products and accumulate new, additional capital in proportion as they are able to hold on to the difference between the cost of production and the value of these products.
Every improvement in the instruments of production means the increased productivity and the more intense exploitation of the wage-worker. But no matter how much-he produces the worker continues to receive a bare existence wage. The in-creased productivity of the worker means no increase in comfort, or in security to him and his family or his class. He is only a few dollars removed from actual need and the harder he works and the more commodities he makes, the more powerful does his exploiter become.
The position of the worker has not changed while the capital of the capitalist increases enormously year after year in accordance with the increased productivity and exploitation of the worker.
This reminds us. We want to suggest that next time you go to a public library you ask for a famous book on “Other People’s Money” by Louis Brandeis, now associate judge on the Supreme Court Bench. What he tells us about some of our great captains of industry and their methods of securing control of some of the great industrial organizations in this country, are good things to know when you are talking to somebody who is asking for a “fair return on capital.”
Who Gets First Consideration?
At the first sign of “hard times” when the capitalist finds he cannot sell the commodities produced by the workers in his plant, at what he considers a sufficient profit, he immediately closes the doors of his factory, or mill, or shop, or whatever it may be and proceeds to enjoy himself at some pleasant resort, at home or abroad, living, in the meantime, on previous profits accumulated by him until “times pick up” again.
Not so with the workers who are speedily reduced to actual hunger and desperation if they are unable to find a new job, which may be at a wage still further reduced. During “hard times” the worker who cannot find work must starve, or beg, or steal, or revolt. We all recall the hard times of 19 14 when the police of hundreds of our great centers drove the unemployed workers from the streets of the cities lest their numbers increase to proportions that might prove dangerous to the owners of capital.
If you imagine for a moment that any of our great Captains of Industry are in business for the purpose of satisfying ever-present human needs, you have only to look about you to be swiftly undeceived.
Under the present economic system it is absolutely essential that proletarians have work in order to live. And the wage workers already constitute an enormous percent of our population.
Everybody grants that productive workers are useful and valuable members of society and yet the very moment one multi-millionaire capitalist discovers that he cannot, personally, make a profit on his plant which he deems sufficient, he closes it down even though by so doing he throws tens of thousands of useful members of society out upon the streets to starve. The factory shuts down when the non-productive capitalist is dissatisfied with the dividends he is able to appropriate even though a hundred thousand people actually need the products that come from his plant.
This is sheer anarchy in production. It is the individual opposing his private profits to the necessities of tens and hundreds of thousands. This is selfishness enthroned; parasitism made lord over service and usefulness; autocracy gone mad!
And what has the Church to say in such a situation? It closes its ears and its doors to the hungry man, and calls for the police when the unemployed beg shelter at the portals of the old-time “sanctuary.”
And the press? With one voice the capitalist newspapers denounce the hungry and freezing; insists that they be driven from the gates of the cities and dismiss this tragedy and this social crime of supreme anarchy on the part of capitalists with the explanation that “it does not pay them to run their factories.”
Does “not pay” WHOM? The workers who produce? The people who need commodities? Or the parasites who appropriate?
Of course we all know farmers who have lost their farms trying to get their produce to market in the face of the railroad’s refusal to run a branch line in their neighborhood, because it would not “pay.” We have heard the cries of starving workers who could secure no jobs; we have seen the sufferings of the city workers when food is scarce while farmers, Surrounded by mountains of their own produce, so urgently needed by the city dwellers- are shut off from the outside world-the necessities of BOTH groups of productive workers ignored because the * railroad owners claim operating a railway in certain districts would prove “unprofitable” to their own pockets:
Here is no thought of social need, no * thought of service-nothing but stark, greedy capitalist autocracy!
And what say our Laws and our Courts, our statesmen, our brave social problem-solvers to these things? Do they champion the cause of the productive workers, of those who serve, of the useful Many, or do they rally around the support of the parasitic Few?
You know and I know. If you happen to ask one of these seriously what a man who cannot secure work is to do, he will tell you hopelessly that “God knows.” It is certain they do not know, because the Courts and the Laws, and their legal representatives, are so much a part of the warp and woof of the Privileged Classes that they cannot conceive of any remedy, or relief for the working class at the expense of Private Property, to them the one Sacred thing in the whole world.
It never occurs to them that the railroads might be built, or the factories d opened and operated, or the clothing produced merely to satisfy the desperate NEEDS of the people who actually produce these things. The only phase of such a situation that penetrates their minds is whether or not operation will result in greater or less profits for the owners of industry. What though the whole armies of Labor starve so long as it profiteth the profiteer!
Did you know that 90 per cent of the statutes written into the law books of the land are put there for the protection of private property and none at all for the securing of employment or of food for the working class in times of stress?
Do these Laws say that in times of suffering and distress the factories, mills, mines, etc., shall be opened and operated to relieve the suffering of the people, WITHOUT PROFIT to the owning class which does not work?
Not at all. These Laws and the legal representatives of the law, the Courts and our Great Men say that a capitalist may do what he will with his own, and that it is their function to protect him in the doing of it. And “his own” shall consist in whatsoever he may appropriate, take and hold, all he can get, whether it be 20 per cent profits, or 100 per cent profits, or 500 per cent.
Any profit at all, might, to the ordinary mortal, be considered a good return on an “investment” of the kind described by Justice Louis Brandeis in his “Other People’s Money,” where no money at all was “invested” by the financial bandits who secured ownership of some of our great industrial enterprises.
But it matters not how a millionaire “invests,” what miracles of jugglery he may employ, what financial sleight-of hand he may have achieved, whose money he has filched to invest-the income on that investment, and on millions of fictitious investment, is considered first in operating the road, the plant, the mill. Unless the kings of industry feel that operation and production mean a sufficient profit (or additional capital) for themselves, the workers and the people may go to the devil with their needs. Those who built the roads and made the products may eat “straw” until the capitalists are satisfied.
Relation of Wages to Product.
Further, the rewards of labor bear no possible relation to the productivity of labor. A group of workers, by the use of new machinery, or improved methods, may increase the factory output ten-fold in a single year. Do they receive even twice as many products when they spend their wages? The capital of the capitalist who owns the plant may be increased enormously. But if the capitalist closes the plant and lives on his profits next year, what do the productive workers live on?
The capitalist who often never sees his plant, who is ignorant of the first details – .of the processes of manufacture, is made magically richer by the increased output of labor. They double, treble, quadruple “his” investments in one, two or three years, perhaps. His workers make the owner of the plant three times a capitalist, the economic master of three times as many jobs, and therefore, of three times as many “homes” and families. HE REAPS ALL THE REWARD.
What has he done that he should receive any portion of it?
Is it not true that the money he may have invested in this plant last year, or the year before, was the surplus values produced by other workers in the past?
Is it not true that the profits, or capital, you make for your employer this year will probably be used by him to purchase other plants, whereas economic King he will control other jobs and other lives next year ? Will not these new workers be permitted to work only when he is assured of still more dividends, still more capital for the purchase of still more factories?
Capitalists Fetter Production.
We hear people say that “we need capitalists to promote production,” whereas it is precisely capitalist individualism, or anarchy, that fetters and chains production.
For example: you may be a landless farmer. You know the world is going to need an abundance of food next year, and every year. You see farm lands lying idle and you would like to work a farm to produce the wheat and corn and vegetables the peoples of the world are crying for. Who prevents you from working this land? The private owners, of course.
They say: pay me so much for the use of my land or you may not cultivate it. 1 You have no money, no tools, you cannot pay the sum he demands. The anarchy of private ownership forces you to remain idle; leaves the land idle and prevents the production of food that we need. The capitalist autocrat hinders production; turns his back upon human necessity; and the laws and the courts uphold him.
Take the railroads. Do they build new lines into rich farming territory because the farmers in it have produce which the people need? Hardly. They say: unless a new branch line will pay us sufficient dividends on our stock we will not permit the railroad builders to construct them, nor the farmers to use them.
And what is this sacred railroad stock because of which the railroad owners hold up the world for dividends? Water! Seventy-five per cent of it; nothing but water. When the railway kings juggled the roads out of the hands of the original owners and into their own pockets they evolved the happy little custom of increasing issues of stock and taking most of it themselves as a reward for their “industry'* and “foresight” and “business ability.” If a line cost $10,000,000 originally, they issued a hundred million shares of stock, and presto! There was just that much more to demand dividends on from the public. Thenceforth, there was nothing doing in the way of railway service until the “stockholders” were assured of their stock dividends. Capitalist anarchy hindering production again!
Then there was the coal mines. I read a report somewhere recently that showed that 60 per cent of the American coal supply was controlled by half a dozen men. Everybody has to have coal; almost every factory has to burn coal. In most of the states of the union people need coal for heating purposes if they are to survive the rigors of winter. Nobody has ever claimed that there are not enough miners and would-be miners in this country to get out all the coal we can possibly use. And yet there are always useful people who have to go without coal. The coal is here; the miners are here; the need is universal. What keeps them all apart? Why the good old capitalist anarchy which permits a few parasitical owners to say upon what terms the men shall mine coal and the price we all must pay for it.
In the old, crude days the Kings and nobles had to send around their tax collectors to pry the serfs away from “their tithes.” Our splendid modern way is a great improvement for Our Kaisers. They possess what we all have to have in order to live. We are shut off from these necessities by capitalist anarchy. They name the price at which we are permitted to produce; they say what we shall pay.
When we want coal we carry our own tithes to the industrial autocrats of today. Or we freeze!
But how did the owners of the priceless coal mines in America get their coal lands anyway? As Custavus Myers shows in his History of the Great American Fortunes, many of these were given to individuals outright, or sold for a song to early American adventurers by corrupt public officials. No college professor has been clever enough, up to this time, to prove that the mine owners put the coal in the mines, or actually made the coal themselves.
We all know there are almost always a large number of idle carpenters, plasterer’s, and builders in this broad land. And we know there are innumerable workers who have no homes and need them. There are untold millions of feet of commercial timber ready for .the ax of the timberjacks who often want work and cannot get it. Millions of acres of these timberlands were given outright to the owners of these lands, but they will not permit us to use this timber in making things we need unless they first get a proper profit on their “investment.” They are equally unfavorable toward allowing anybody to take timber for building factories, or shops, or mills.- This is another striking example of how private ownership and private capital OBSTRUCT production ; another example of capitalist autocracy in America today !
We could go on and present examples indefinitely, but these will suffice to show how the individualism, selfishness, or anarchy that prevails in capitalist production and distribution is the great fetter on vital human activities.
Abolish private ownership in the land; make the USER of the land the titleholder of what he produces on it; let the railroad workers cut off the parasites; have the miners retain the value of the coal, copper and iron they mine, and the workers everywhere receive the value of the things they produce-and we will see an era of peace and production, of comfort, joy and security such as this old “civilized” world_ has never witnessed before.
There is a great deal of talk about Reconstruction these days. The capitalist newspapers are filled with talk about the wonderful things the capitalists are going to “do for labor” and for the soldier. The magazines give much space to this subject and the mouths of the politicians are again filled with big words. And that is all the capitalist autocrats propose to give to labor-words, talk, and still more talk.
Secretary Lane suggested opening the lands to the returning soldiers on easy payments. But from all we can gather the first desire of the young man who knows anything about the burdens under which the small farmers have to struggle, is to get as far away from farming as possible. They will not emulate the failures of their elders. Besides the lands have not been opened to them.
Young Mr. Rockefeller tells us that the right sort of reconstruction means permitting the employees in a plant or factory to elect a member of a shop committee, which will, in turn, be permitted to present their grievances to the lords of the Autocrats of Industry. We read a report in one of the Wall Street journals in which this suggestion was favorably reviewed since it promised to crush unionism and to do, away with strikes. It was hinted that if the workers fancy they have something to say about the job they work on they may be so puffed up with pride that they will overlook the facts of long hours and low wages and forget to investigate the pregnant questions of profits and parasitism.
The Chicago Tribune of January 28th, 1919 printed a story of the effect that a large automobile company had decided to give its workers a 50-50 share in the profits, as an excellent example of the new business theory that such promises as this will keep the workers contented and industrious.
The story reads:
“The distribution will run into hundreds of thousands of dollars. Profit-sharing will be based upon the length of time the employee has been with the company. It is estimated that the share of no employee will be less than $100 a year.” A statement issued by one of the company representatives was to the effect that:
After permanent capital and permanent labor had been “justly” compensated, having due regard to the cost of each (“the ‘ cost of capital and the cost of living”), then the additional profits accruing from the joint employment of permanent capital and permanent labor shall be divided equally among them fifty-fifty. Said the company representative *
“The detailed plan, when ready to present, will recognize and reward individual efficiency and increasing reward for continuous service. “I want it distinctly understood,” he told his employees when making the above announcement to them, in which he “took occasion to slam the I. W. W., the socialists and the bolshevists” that “I do not believe in or have any sympathy with any phase of bolshevism or radicalism of any type.”
Now we want you to remember that the capitalist who practices “profit-sharing” can always hire men at lower wages than he who gives no “bonus.” He can crush any signs of discontent with threats of dismissal -and the consequent loss of a worker’s yearly “share.”
This scheme has the further merit, in the eyes of the boss, of isolating his employees from the workers in like or smaller industries and dealing a knock-out blow to working class solidarity and unionism.
The “profit-sharing” plant always holds a club over the heads of its employees. It makes them believe they possess an interest in the business. Men work harder, more faithfully, produce more, interest themselves less in the welfare of workers in other industries and other plants when they imagine “they have an interest in the concern.”
Profit-sharing divides the workers who keep their minds fixed on shop interests and shop “profits” rather than on wages, working conditions, hours of labor, or of the interests of the working class. And, as a matter of fact, these workers soon find themselves far worse off than any of their fellows, for, having worked for what they imagine are alone their own interests, having cut themselves off from their crafts and their own class, having perhaps scabbed when their comrades in other plants went out on strike, they are compelled to carry on any struggle which may arise with their own employers, wholly alone. Even the men in the plant where they are employed will never act together. Some will always kow tow to the boss, endure all manner of servitude rather than lose a petty hundred dollars held out before them, like a box of feed held before a balky mule to tease him to toil on.
If “profit-sharing” capitalists actually offer their employees’ wages PLUS profits that amount to- substantially more than workers are getting in similar industries, these capitalists will usually be unable to compete with their competitors unless they are able to force their employees to produce a substantial increase over the output of similar plants that do not offer the same. In such a situation the “profit sharing,” workers would have to subordinate their whole energies and their entire lives to producing more and more commodities (and more and more profits, or capital, for the capitalists). They would need to become the mere slaves of the machines, to endure unutterable hardship and toil in order to gain a pittance of the extra products they would produce themselves. They would need literally to “live to work.”
Always there are innumerable workers who compete with other workers for better-paying jobs and in order to hold a “superior'* place the worker must need relinquish one by one all the advantages he has been promised and all he has struggled to secure. At last he sees his job stripped of all inducements, himself isolated from his comrades bound hand and foot from year to year to secure what becomes mere withheld WAGES at the end of the year. The capitalist still makes the rules of this game and you must never imagine for a moment that he is going to change them to benefit you in any way. THAT TASK IS UP TO YOU AND ME AND THE OTHER MEMBERS OF THE WORKING CLASS.
What Autocracy ‘in Industry Has Brought Us.
For a hundred years we have lived in a world where the capitalists were the Kaisers in Industry. They have been responsible to no one. And the autocrats in industry are lords over all other social institutions.
They say when railroads and ships shall be built and where ships may sail and trains may run; and on what terms these shall be built and operated.
They are saying now in their press that they must send an army into Mexico to protec.t their investments in oil lands or in mines. According to Frazier Hunt in the Chicago Tribune, the soldiers in Russia say they were sent at the commands of the French capitalists to become “their Collection Agency” in Russia.
The capitalist autocrats say when clothing shall be produced and houses shall be built and food raised and transported. They say what shall be paid the landlords and on what terms the workers of the world shall be permitted to labor, and they say when the factories, and mills, and mines shall be closed and millions of wageworkers be thrown out of work, hungry, upon the streets.
Theirs has been the last word in everything concerning our jobs and hence our lives. They are irresponsible industrial Kaisers, more dangerous to the world’s workers than was the German Emperor.
And to what has this capitalist anarchy, or autocracy, brought us after a hundred years of rule? It has brought us nearly five years of the most devastating and annihilating violence the world has ever seen. For it was the desire of the capitalists of Germany and Austria to take from the capitalists of the whole world that precipitated this war. The capitalist system has been the cause of the death of twenty millions of the earth’s young manhood upon the fields of battle, or of their being crippled for life. It has destroyed hundreds of thousands of homes, of farms, of factories and machines. It has brought untold hunger and suffering and scarcity, billions of dollars of debts, and a disintegrating banking system.
What has the rule of capitalist autocrats brought to us?
In a broad land, fertile enough to feed the whole world, by their private ownership, and anarchistic control, they have given us thousands upon thousands of underfed school children, constant need, everlasting insecurity against hunger for the majority of the people.
The rule of capitalist anarchy has given us increasing unemployment next door to, closed factories and desperate need of factory products.
Capitalist rule has brought poverty and despair to the productive Many, and idleness and power to the unproductive Few.
It has filled our prisons and our jails with those who opposed autocracy and who proposed democracy in industry, and with those who have been forced down into “crime” through poverty and despair!
It has fostered the prostitution of women who could not earn a living through work. It has closed the avenues of real education to the working class.
But, thanks to the contradictions in the capitalist system, amid all the ruin it has wrought, the system itself is collapsing over the whole world today. The foundations of its institutions are crumbling before our eyes. It is arraying the whole world into two vast hostile camps-of makers against takers, and it has drawn the curtains on the last act of the vile drama of Industrial Autocracy.
In order to stave off the last great struggle between the capitalist class and the working class, the present crisis is being discussed in British financial circles, writes Boersianer in the Chicago Herald Examiner of Feb. 4th, 1919. We quote:
“Class conservative publications, like the Statist, have urged finance to concede permanently higher wages and better conditions for the workers in England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland.
“One of the largest employers of the so-called day-labor is Lord Leverhulme. He advocates, not an eight-hour day, but a six-hour day. The financial journalistic attitude is exemplified by the Statist, which declares:
“We want a united people, a highly educated people, a hard-working people who feel that in danger they can count upon the rest of the people standing shoulder to shoulder with them.
‘Hitherto, we have acted as if the idle rich, who, unfortunately, we trusted with the management of our affairs, delighted in setting religion against religion and neighbor against neighbor, as if they were conscious of the little title they had for all the grandiose positions they held, and desired to maintain them by setting the rest of the population by the ears.
The surest way of ending that is to get rid of the idle rich. Remember that everything that man uses is produced by man. True, Nature gives him the mater. But with exceptions hardly worth counting, the materials are useless to him. They have to be altered greatly to fit them for human use. Consequently everything that man enjoys, from the food he eats down to the coffin and the shroud in which he is buried, is the work of human hands and human brains.
‘Consequently, it ought to be the law in every country that no male capable of working shall be allowed to live in that country except he earns his daily bread by work. The case of women is different, for women are the mothers of the coming generation.
‘But no man ought to be allowed to live who does not produce at least as much as he consumes.
“Second, there ought to be no private ownership of land.’
“These views, coming from the staid Statist, are startling. But they clarify the current agitation in the United Kingdom of Great Britain.”
The modern worker has become so productive that he can produce four, or five, six, seven or eight times as much value as he can buy with his wages. And since more and more people are being forced into the wage-earning class, their total products equal several times as much as they are able to buy, or consume, with their wages. This is becoming the case in every “modern” country. So the capitalists will find it hard to sell our products. Twenty-five billion dollars in wages, for example, will not enable us to buy a hundred billion dollars’ worth of our products. Of course, if the workers received the value of their products, they would be able to consume them, but this would leave no profits for the autocrats, so, until they find some way out of this dilemma they prefer to close their mills, and their factories.
And we find an increasing army of unemployed.
This situation combined with the growing consciousness of the workers of their own power, and their growing needs, is going to mean the early end of all exploitation upon the face of this earth!
Socialism, or Industrial Democracy.
Frank P. Walsh of the War Labor Board recently said that political democracy without industrial democracy is not worth anything to the working class. This is true. And the workers all over the world- are beginning to realize that this is true.
What good does it do the wage worker if he may say something at the ballot box every four years when conditions in the shop or mill or factory where he works are changing every week? What good will it do the returned soldier who has a family to support today to vote on present conditions three years from now?
Until a few years ago almost nobody ever questioned the Divine Right of the Industrial Kaisers to close their factories, or open their mills, to cause unemployment, or make employment whenever it pleased their own selfish desire. THEY did not wait four years till election and then ask Congress to permit them to lower wages, or fire men, or close the shop. They were not even responsible to Congress or anybody else on earth. They could shut up shop on a moment’s notice whenever they wanted to and cause untold suffering, poverty and crime, and all the public officials did was to lock up the hungry and homeless in horrible jails. They never considered locking up the Kaisers of Industry, or making them responsible to anybody, or opening the factories and shops to save the lives of the working people.
Nobody today tells the autocrats of industry to consult Congress when they want to do anything with their plants. And after all, we will have to admit that it would be a difficult job for Congress to know and be sufficiently well informed to be able to tell the capitalists what to do if they asked them. Industrial matters should be settled by those IN INDUSTRY, because they are the only people who actually know about the production of goods, in that factory or mill.
But what we intend to have in the very near future is not autocracy, but democracy in industry. We intend to have a rule of the workers in the packing plant, in the steel mills, in the mines, on the railroads-in every industry in the world.
The workers in England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales are today beginning to introduce democracy in industry. They are asking every man who performs any useful function in an industry to vote on what shall be done in it to help themselves AND the soldiers who are coming back home and finding no jobs. Everybody has a voice in what shall be done in that industry who does something useful to make the wheels go round, from the superintendents to the janitor and the office boy.
In some industries the workers are striking for a thirty-six hour work week in order to make jobs for the soldiers and they say they will make it a five hour day if that is necessary to make a job for every man in Great Britain.
Industrial democracy means the rule of the workers as opposed to what we have known all our lives-the rule of autocracy, or the rule of the capitalist Few.
From the way the workers in Great Britain are taking more and more of the value of their products, we suspect it will be only a short time before it will take a microscope to find any share left for those who perform no useful function in industry.
Nothing has ever been done for the working class until the workers began to exercise power to force these things. Nobody but yourselves is going to do anything for you now. You must organize industrially, as well as politically, and carry on the work of education as you have never done before. And what you want done you will have to do yourselves.
There is only one thing that will cure the world of wars, of poverty, of unemployment, insecurity and parasitism, and that is Industrial Democracy, when men shall give labor for labor, service for service, value for value. Then they who sow shall also reap, and the workers who make shall also enjoy. Then social planning and system shall take the place of the capitalist anarchy that has brought the foundations of the social structure tumbling in chaos about our ears today.