The Impossibilists by
Larry Gambone (continued)
Selected articles from the press of the
Socialist Party of Canada and the One Big Union, 1906-1938
[Return to Part One]
Next Act In World Drama foretells the evolution toward state
capitalism and how socialism would be pushed aside by its statist
simulacra. This was almost ten years before Nicholai Bukharin developed
the same concept of state capitalism.
The Next Act In World Drama by Warren
Atkinson, Western Clarion, December 15, 1906
The conflict over the distribution of labor’s
product is irrepressible, and in this conflict the only vantage ground
from which any lasting success can be forced by either side is control of
the tools and natural resources. So the conflict is developing itself into
one for ownership of the means of production and distribution. That its
conclusion ultimately is the common ownership of things is not in doubt.
It is a question of when and how it will be.
Public opinion of a nation turns as a great ship
turns, imperceptibly to those who strain at the ropes. But the growing
sentiment for public ownership shows that the public opinion yields to
physical necessities and the incessant Socialist agitation. Yet its
advocates protest truly, that they are not Socialists. Mr. Hearst says,
“we are not opposed to capitalism small or large.” Socialists regard this
radical movement with hostility because by it alone can the time be
delayed when more will be gained than state capitalism.
But the campaign thunder of the Socialist Party has
been stolen it seems. Does the Socialist Party possess any great principle
distinguishing it from other political parties which the professional
politician cannot steal? The Socialist movement was born in revolt against
the horrors of poverty. It gets its whole philosophy by analyzing the
modern industrial and financial system in search of the cause of poverty.
Its aim, namely, to make the conditions of all employments prohibit the
incomes which able bodied idlers draw through the ownership of the means
of production, is opposed to capitalist business and capitalist politics
as light is to darkness.
This principle no professional politician will
adopt; and it is the only one worth stealing. But government ownership
will not in itself secure labor’s product to those who produce it. This is
sustained by experience with government ownership abroad, of which there
is much more established in European countries than is even proposed here.
Nevertheless it is expected that the movement for government ownership now
being organized will swallow up the Socialist Party by becoming more and
more radical as though they would defeat it in the end by counterfeiting
That public ownership after the fashion of the
capitalist should be corrupt is inherent in the nature of it. It will be
corrupt not only as capitalist business is corrupt, but even as measured
by the moral standards of the trading class themselves. The public may
expect no mercy and should deserve none. Government industries
administered by politicians are often disgracefully inefficient and
usually unprogressive, resisting the introduction of improved methods and
devices. But these things will be learned by experience.
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