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Two Socialist Party of Canada Leaflets

These two leaflets are typical of Socialist Party of Canada propaganda before World War I. They were located and transcribed by Peter Campbell of Queens University.


[Socialist History Project Note: Across the top of this leaflet is written: "'Workers of the World Unite, You have nothing to lose but your chains; you have a world to gain.'--Marx" At the bottom of the second page is: "A vote for a Socialist is a vote for yourself." On the bottom of the third page is: "A vote for a Liberal or a Conservative is a vote for your master."]

The Dominion of Canada covers a vast extent of territory, a very large portion of which is exceedingly prolific in natural resources. Millions of acres are rich with agricultural possibilities, other millions are eminently suitable for fruit-raising, while vast stretches of land are available for grazing purposes. The timber resources of the country would, under anything like proper management, be practically inexhaustible. The hills and mountains are plentifully stored with all kinds of minerals, the coal deposits are almost beyond computation and the waters of lake, river and ocean are teeming with food fish of almost every variety. With all of this vast domain so replete with natural resources and with a population of but little more than 7,000,000, the entire land from the Atlantic to the Pacific appears as though stricken with a plague. Industrial depression is everywhere in evidence. Idle men tramp the highways and byways in the vain search for employment. Factories and shops are closed or working on short time. Miles upon miles of sidetrack have been filled with locomotives and cars that have not turned a wheel for many months. Towns are in many cases half deserted and a general feeling prevails that the near future holds in store experience even more bitter than that which has cursed the land for the past twelve months.

During the summer season just passed approximately one-quarter of the working force of the Dominion has been out of employment. Thousands of workmen will face the rigors of the coming winter without having earned a dollar during the summer season. Right in the great wheat country the middle and western provinces the charity soup kettle had to be requisitioned to keep unemployed workers from starving, and that, too, right in the midst of the harvest season. Thousands of workmen were induced to come to the wheat districts with the expectation of finding employment, only to meet with bitter disappointment. The number on hand to do the work was greatly in excess of the number required.

On railway construction work in the northwest it is an open secret that the wages have been brought so low because of the huge army of idle men pressing for employment, that the workmen employed have practically been working all summer for their bare food.

In the agricultural region good crops have been harvested, but the prices obtained rule very low, and after the crops have been disposed of and the farmer has settled his season’s bill, he, like the wage earners of the city, will be indeed fortunate if he comes out even, as a result of the year’s work.

The city authorities of more than one Canadian city are even now seriously considering what steps to take in order to cope with the unemployed problem during the coming winter, a problem that is continually assuming greater magnitude and becoming more impossible of solution under the rule of capital.

Many industries that have been running during the present season to at least some extent, will be forced to close before many weeks elapse. This will still further aggravate the situation and deepen the gloom that now hangs like a pall over the land. It is safe to assert that the coming winter will be as much worse than last as that was worse than the previous one.

If there is an ignoramus who stands head and shoulders above all other disciples of ignorance, it is the average capitalist politician. He knows nothing. In fact any knowledge of human society, its growth and development and the economic basis upon which social and industrial institutions rest, would be an unnecessary part of his equipment as a capitalist politician. It would be as superfluous as a knowledge of Greek and Latin to an Irish hod-carrier. So long as he is sufficiently loquacious to be able to disguise his lack of knowledge in a flow of words and strictly obey the orders given by the interests responsible for his politics, he is amply qualified to perform the service required by his masters.

As these political worthies just at this particular season will be appealing for support at the polls in order that they may secure those points of vantage from whence the interests they represent may be conserved and protected, they should be questioned closely in regard to existing conditions and compelled either to render a satisfactory explanation or to confess their ignorance. Their silly prattle in regard to "better terms," "our splendid resources," "our destiny," "our immigration policy" and the graft and corruption of the other gang should not be allowed to pass for argument. All such stuff is balderdash and has no bearing upon the cause from which the evils of unemployment, industrial depression and general social stagnation spring. If these political spokesmen of the Capitalist Class can give no valid reason for the unsatisfactory conditions now existing and can offer no remedy therefor, they should be retired to private life instanter. They should be elected to stay at home forever. It is a foregone conclusion that they can give no satisfactory explanation nor offer a remedy. And besides they would not if they could. They would lose their jobs if they did.

The Cause of Industrial Depression

The conditions existing in Canada to-day, and which give excellent promise of being still further aggravated and emphasized in the near future, are due to the fact that the country is afflicted with the same curse that rests upon every country under the sun and that curse is Capital. The resources of the earth and the machinery of production is held as the property of the Capitalist Class. Its ownership is determined and defended by the power of the state, i.e., government. By virtue of its ownership of the means of production the Capitalist Class stands absolute owner of the working class. It is in a position to at all times command the services of the workers in the production of wealth and it is also absolute owner of the wealth brought forth by their labor. Under such circumstances the means of production become the title deeds to the human chattels who are forced to depend upon their labor for their sustenance.

The Working Class is the only wealth producing factor in human society. It, therefore, becomes from a profit-making standpoint, the only property worth owning. It is the only sort of property that can produce a profit. The wealth and power of a ruling class can only come from the toil of the slaves which it possesses.

Under the rule of capital, industry can only be carried on when a profit can be realized from it. The principal part of the market for goods produced is furnished by the workers themselves. The volume of goods consumed is measured by the wages of workers. Under no circumstances is the slave entitled to anything over and above his keep and the standard of his living is largely determined by his masters. The workingman of today, whether farmer or wage earner, is a slave. He has to do all that a slave was ever required to do, i.e., work for his master. The wage earner has to surrender his power to labor directly into the hands of his capitalist masters. The farmer, working upon what he considers his own farm, first coins his labor power into products, as wheat, corn, beef, etc., and is then compelled to surrender the products into the hands of the same class to which the wage earner surrenders his labor power. Neither has any voice in determining the price he shall receive. The wage earner must accept the price fixed by the market for his labor power. The farmer must accept the market price for his products. When either of them purchase goods in the market they are also compelled to pay a price determined by some power beyond their control. Whenever the wage earner and farmer figure up at the end of the year they consider themselves lucky if they come out square with the world. In the majority of cases they come out in the hole. That is a fate reserved for the modern slave. The chattel slave was always square with the world. This goes to show that chattel slavery was superior to the present form in one respect at least.

The average wage is equal to the average cost of keeping a workingman while in employment. When out of employment he is not even entitled to any keep at all. The more perfect the tools of production become, the greater becomes the productive power of labor. As the worker is entitled to a wage equivalent to the cost of his labor power, i.e., to his keep, the more the productive power of labor is increased the wider the margin between the wage and the value of the product brought forth by the worker, therefore the larger the surplus left upon the market after the worker has spent his wages. This surplus must be disposed of or production must be curtailed, or even completely stopped. Outside of the amount consumed by the Capitalists themselves and their retainers and menials, there is but one way to dispose of this surplus. It must be converted into new or additional capital. This is what is meant by new markets, the extension of "our foreign trade," etc. When the opportunity for the investment of new or additional capital is no longer at hand, when no more new or expanding markets are available, production must be curtailed, stagnation and industrial depression sets in, armies of idle workmen tramp the country and the curse of capitalist rule is felt in every corner of the land. That is what ails Canada now. That is what is the matter with every land over which flies the pirate flags of capitalist rule. That is what has turned England, Germany, France, the United States and even Canada into lands where unemployment, poverty, misery, distress and degradation walk hand in hand with ample natural resources and the most powerful tools of production the world has ever known.

In the face of these awful conditions the present ruling class and its apologists and defenders stand like a lot of gibbering idiots unable to even suggest anything beyond soup houses and repression. In the face of these conditions the political tools of the ruling class will have the effrontery to appeal to the workers for support at the polls in spite of the fact that they possess no knowledge of the problem to be solved and no disposition to solve it even if they understood it.

Workingmen of Canada

It is up to you to solve the problem that presses ever more insistently for solution. It is up to you to wrest from the hands of your capitalist masters that control of industry which they now use so mercilessly against you. It is up to you to stand as men in sold phalanx against your exploiters and strip from their hands the powers of government, the sole means whereby they are enabled to enforce the enslavement and ownership of your class. You have the numbers. You have the franchise. Use your numerical strength and your franchise along the line of your class interests and the curse that rests upon this land today will be removed and Canada become the home of a free people. A people no longer ruled and robbed in order to swell the coffers of a pampered and vulgar ruling class.

The control of the resources of the earth and the instruments of labor must be stripped from the hands of the Capitalist Class and these means of production dedicated to the service of the whole people under the administration and control of those who, by doing the world’s work, make any sort of civilization possible. You workers of the world constitute the only useful part of human society. You have long fed, clothed and sheltered your masters in comfort and luxury while ekeing out a narrow, mean and slavish existence yourselves. The time has now come to stand erect like men and act like men, to the end that you may throw off your shackles and live like men.

The Socialist party of Canada is the political expression of the interests of the working class. It is made up of workingmen, its candidates are working men and they have been nominated by working men. Whether elected or defeated it will be at the hands of workingmen.


Leaflet number Five

One often sees the term, "the working classes," used by capitalist speakers and in the capitalist press.

There are no working classes.

There is a Working CLASS.

Why is there a Working Class?

There is a Working Class because there is a Class which doesn’t work, for the most part, with which the Working Class is compared.

Why does not this class work?

Because they have no need of working, because they are in a position to make the other class work for them.

They are in the position of owners of the means of production, the means of life.

This gives them the power of forcing those who DO NOT own the means of production to beg the owners for the opportunity to produce, and to get the opportunity when it suits the owners to let them have it.

It suits the owners to employ those who do not own when they can receive profit from their labor.

The Class line can only be clearly drawn between those who own and those who do not. It can only be drawn on property lines.

It can not be drawn on organic lines, for all members of the human species are organically the same.

It can not be drawn on lines of color or race, as we have Anglo-Saxon capitalists, German capitalists, Chinese capitalists, and negro capitalists; we have Anglo-Saxon workers, German workers, Chinese workers and negro workers.

There are capitalists of all races, and workers of all races.

The Class line cannot even (though we use the term "the working class" popularly) be drawn between the idle class and the working class because there are a number of the capitalist class who take part in industry and there are always a number of the non-owning class who are forced to be idle because the jobs will not go round.

Truly, there are a number of those, whom we may term petty capitalists, in society, little business men and the like, those whom Kautsky speaks of as "unclassifiable hybrids, belonging wholly to neither class, and partly to both," those whose lives are a continual worry, who are despairingly but fruitlessly striving to maintain their position, "hanging on by the hair of their eyebrows," but as they are bound to be shook off into the working class before long, they are a negligible factor.

Having endeavored briefly to make the matter clear, I shall now on use the terms "working class" and "capitalist class," or "ruling class" for reasons of brevity and popular usage.

The owning class has always been the ruling class, the dispossessed class has always been the slave class.

The owning class is the master class now.

Our class is the slave class now.

Owing to the improvement in the tools and method of production, the fashions in mastership and slavery have changed from time to time, but though the FASHIONS have changed, the THING has always remained the same.

Mastership consists of the POWER to make and keep others in slavery.

Slavery is the condition of being forced by any means, to work for others.

The first class of slaves were forced to work by means of armed guards. They were chattel slaves, who could be bought and sold just the same as horses and cattle are now.

Sometimes they revolted (read "The Ancient Lowly," by Osborne Ward), but were always put down in the end.

When this system of slavery passed out of date, out of fashion, the slaves were forced to work for their feudal lords because these lords owned the land; this was a modified form of ancient slavery; sometimes the slaves revolted under THIS system, but were always put down in the end, armed force being used by the masters when necessary, as it is now. (Read "Six Centuries of Work and Wages" and "The Economic Interpretation of History," by Thorold Rogers, and "The Industrial History of England," by DeGibbens.)

But, of course, we are free men now under capitalist regime, especially we who live under the sway of the glorious British Vampire; we are not bought and sold at the block; they cannot treat us to a whipping now. (How about the savage sentences of Magistrate Shaw, in Vancouver, of ten and fifteen years and twenty and thirty lashes, awarded to wage slaves driven by unemployment to robbery at the point of the pistol. Did you ever see a flogging and hear the screams? The writer has.)

Of course, all that our masters can do now is to force us to work by "economic pressure," that is, they have the goods and we have not.

So down we go into the mines and dig coal, iron, silver, lead, copper, etc.; we go to the forests and cut logs; we slave in the saw mills and turn the logs into planks, boards and scantlings; we work the land; we work on the sea as seamen and fishermen; we build the houses; we cook the food; we take care of the houses; we make the beds of our lords; we wait on them hand and foot.

Let us take a typical capitalist, one who spends all his life in pleasure, one who does nothing in production.

He gets up in the morning (or afternoon probably), after his breakfast has been brought to him in bed; he has his bath, which has been filled by his valet; very likely his valet helps to wipe him after he has had his bath. His clothes, from hat to boots, have been already laid out by the valet, who assists to put them on.

He goes to his club and is waited on hand and foot.

He has but to say the word and a motor-car, produced by the working class, driven by a member of the working class, is at his disposal instantly.

Every place he goes is built by the working class, every vehicle he rides in is driven by the working class, every pleasure he enjoys is provided by the working class.

He is driven home in the evening to dinner (probably filled with champagne, also produced by the working class), he sits down to a mahogany dining table, covered with snowy linen, sparkling cut glass and silver, choice food and flowers, all produced from source to table, by the working class.

A chair, produced by the working class, is pushed under him, when he gets into position, by a member of the working class, he is waited on by a member of the working class, the table is cleared, when he has finished his meal by a member of the working class.

Eventually, he retires to rest, to a luxurious apartment, to a bed made by a slave-girl – a member of the working class.

Can you deny this? You know you can’t.

Briefly, the capitalist class is the class that is waited upon, hand and foot.

The Working Class waits on the Capitalist Class, hand and foot.

The function of the Capitalist Class is to receive presents.

The function of the Working Class is to give presents.

The Capitalist Class have their stocking hung up all the time.

That good, kind Santa Claus, the Working Class, is filling that stocking all the time.

At times the stocking gets too full, hence "the unemployed problem," which will never be solved while capitalism lasts, but will, on the contrary, become intensified.

Enough said: the only hope of the working class is to turn class property into collective property, by seizing what stands in the way - the powers of government – and using them on its only behalf as long as necessary, and then discarding them.

The immediate future does not look especially bright for the working class. It will grow darker still until the workers rise manfully to the task of removing the curse of capital from the means of production, thus clearing the way for a better, a more decent civilization. The problem of production has been solved by the working class. The task now at hand is the solution of the problem of how to so handle the means of production and dispose of the product as to best conserve the interests of all.

An understanding of the principles and program of the Socialist Party of Canada will point out the solution.

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