H.N. Hyndman To-day, August 1884

Revolution or Reform

Source: To-day, August 1884, pp. 180-198;
Transcribed: by Ted Crawford.

That we are in a revolutionary period would now be scarcely disputed, even by those who a few months ago were laughing at the very idea that in this staid, sober, old England of ours the wage-slaves would ever demand that they should have some enjoyment of the wealth they create, and who jeered at the notion that revolution could really be worth consideration on this side of the Channel. Men and women need but look around them to-day to see the change which is taking place. Even the agitation which has been whipped up against the House of Lords depends for its vitality upon the hope that it will lead to the Abolition, not to the Reform, of the hereditary chamber. Yet that would be in itself a small political revolution. It would be a final declaration of the supremacy of the middle class, just at the very moment when that class has reached the point of decay and decrepitude.

“But,” it is said by many, “we have passed through critical times before, notably the era of the French Revolution, the stormy years succeeding the great war, and the Chartist agitation; yet our Constitution and social arrangements withstood those shocks; with some little readjustment the same will be the case now. Besides, we ourselves are against revolution. Revolution is a very terrible business. It means civil war, class against class, bloodshed and anarchy – altogether too horrible to contemplate. No, no; if you Socialists mean that you will stir up revolution we have no sympathy with you at all. We are all for law and order; that is the watchword of all decent, well-to-do, respectable people, fathers of families and the like; no matter what may be their political or religious opinions, when the very existence of society is at stake their views are quite sound. Order and Progress, such even as M. Auguste Comte spoke of, we have no objection to; but, above all, Order. We are most anxious to help the people, who you say, and we quite believe, are living in miserable social conditions, we should be very glad indeed to hear that they were comfortable and contented; it is rather dangerous that they shouldn’t be, we even admit that; but we are, before everything, a law-abiding people – the English, you know, always are, above all, a law-abiding people – and if you go against the law we shall be obliged to give you in charge to the police. That will be using force? Not at all, it will merely be a precautionary measure against your using force. We have a profound belief in the saving virtues of public opinion: move public opinion, that is what you have to do, and leave private property alone. In short we are Social Reformers, not Socialists: we can make the best omelette gourmet ever smacked lips over, without breaking a single egg. That is the way in which all really great advances have been gained. Yes, if you will have it so, our revolution shall be a nice little rose-water revolution, in which nobody shall be called upon to make any real sacrifices and everybody shall be much better off than he was before. We wish to see greater simplicity of life as much as you do, we wish to see the people well-housed, well-clothed, well-fed, well-educated, with plenty of leisure and amusement, as much as you do. It is true that they breed too fast and drink too much beer and spirits; but we won’t enlarge upon those points now. Enough for us that it is quite easy to put everything right gradually, and in a peaceful, pleasant way: it is only violent, crazy, ignorant fanatics like you revolutionary Socialists who can doubt it. Class struggle going on even now? Fiddlesticks! There must always be poor people; there always have been, and there always will be. The land is in too few hands very likely, and we daresay the capitalists are not over-scrupulous. But as to nationalising land and taking capital under the control of the community, well, really we haven’t patience to discuss such utopian nonsense, and we don’t believe that you believe in it yourselves. In short we say again, we are Social Reformers and Practical Politicians. You are Socialists and Dreamers. It’s useless to argue any more.”

That is a fair representation of what is commonly said in public and in private by men who pride themselves upon holding what they call “advanced opinions.” Many of them mean well enough. Social Reform too, like adversity, makes very strange bedfellows. When we find a professional Christian like Mr. Samuel Smith, and a professional Atheist like Mr. Charles Bradlaugh, an ambitious ecclesiastic like Cardinal Manning, and a tub-thumping merry-andrew like Mr. Spurgeon, a conventicle-building capitalist like Mr. Samuel Morley, and a free-thinking individualist like Mr.. Herbert Spencer, a Republican sycophant like Sir Charles Dilke, and a Royal voluptuary like the Prince of Wales, all huddled together under this one threadbare coverlet of Social Reform, we must at once admit that some very strong pressure of circumstances could alone have brought this queerly-assorted crew together. Nor can we deny that their views, with plenty of money to back them, still find favour with large numbers even among the workers. Trimming is such an easy business. It needs an effort, to which the common-place bourgeois mind is as at present unequal, to allow that its most cherished economical dogmas are but the shallowest sophisms, and that its most boasted triumphs are but records of increasing incompetence. There is, no doubt, something rather alarming in the phrases “class war,” “social revolution,” “the overthrow of competition,” “the removal of class distinctions,” “the complete revolution of society,” to people with whom compromise and tinkering have become a political religion. Yet if we find that a structure is leaky at the roof, that the timbers are rotten from floor to attic, that the staircases are dangerous, the walls buckling in, the cellars damp and unwholesome, and the basement honeycombed with cesspools, he would be a fool indeed that should recommend the tenants or the owner to patch up such a ramshackle edifice. It must be either pulled down and rebuilt, or abandoned altogether. The only difference with society is, that when such a period of rottenness sets in, destruction and reconstruction go on at one and the same time. Socialists say plainly that mere reform of our existing society is impossible, or if possible, useless. When the foundation is insecure, and the superstructure crumbling, there is nothing for it but to build anew, even if we have to take to our tents in the meantime. Such analogies must not be pushed too far. Enough that we Socialists are Revolutionists, not Reformers; that we have no confidence in any measures of amelioration, even though put forward by ourselves, save in so far as they may help on the period of complete and radical change; that we should prefer to see all our enemies over in one camp, rather than that by quack nostrums and temporising puerilities they should defer the time when each must make his choice between two clearly conflicting sets of principles. This is the reason why Socialists are the only organised party which is gaining ground in England to-day; because we alone look with hope and even exultation to the future, because we alone base our confidence on the assured truths of science and political economy, because we alone can see reconstruction on a sure basis inevitably arising out of the rottenness around us, because we alone chant no patter-song of compromise, but march fearlessly onwards with the set determination that the economical revolution going on all round us shall not find us unprepared to turn it to account for the advantage and enfranchisement of mankind.

Take now any portion of our modem society. What do we find? This surely is strange. By common consent every department needs – what? Reform. But if everything calls for reform at the same time, if the whole social machine is creaking at every turn of the wheel of production, this in itself bears a strange resemblance to a necessity for a revolution. The very uneasiness occasioned by such a universal outcry for reform tends to bring about revolution, and tends also to show that the time for mere reform has gone by. This is true of every great revolutionary period of which we have any record in ancient or modern times. All were due to deep economical causes which had been at work long before, but which were only taken account of by the dominant classes or castes too late to save them from utter overthrow. The cry for reform here, reform there, reform all round, simply betokened that a revolution was upon them, and the moment they tried to reform even a portion of the decaying old society the whole fabric fell and crushed them in its ruins.

Thus it certainly was in the great French Revolution. The monarchy, the nobility, and the clergy were unable any longer to carry on the government; the whole machinery was rusty and worn out; the economical causes which had given power to the middle-class, while the heads of the nation looked on, were not understood; the manner in which progress was hampered by the old forms few saw. Those, therefore, who prophesied smooth things were the “saviours of society,” social reformers like Neckar and Co. carne to the front with their infallible pills against the popular earthquake; reforms were brought forward, old statutes were furbished up, the prettiest constitutional means were tried. All in vain. No sooner did the social reformers begin their political tinkering than the Revolution broke out in earnest. There was no sound basis for reconstruction whatever. The people, goaded on by oppression, misery, and hunger, rose in a tumultuous, unorganised mob, and the rotten superstructure fell before the least formidable rising that ever threatened a ruling class. The very consciousness of their own incapacity seemed to paralyse the aristocracy. A few of their ablest leaders sided with the bourgeoisie, and that class, being the stronger, more dexterous and economically more fully developed, juggled the proletariat out of the victory. Then, and not till then, was it generally understood that the collapse was due to the fact that the ruling class had outlasted its usefulness; that whereas they had been a necessary portion of a feudal society based upon reciprocal personal relations, and received their dues and tithes as a return for definite duties – however much neglected even at the best time – done towards the people on their estates in regular succession up to the king, now tax-gatherers and grasping agents alone reminded the people of their existence; that in times gone by, however tyrannous their rule, the failure of the formidable risings of the jacquerie showed it was still necessary, now it had become more tyrannous and had even ceased to be strong. In short they had become mere rent-chargers living in Paris, revelling in gluttony, debauchery, and obscenity, and rendering themselves more and more contemptible by their ravening greed for gain. Money relations, the ideal of the bourgeoisie, had taken the place of personal relations between the various grades of a feudal society: new forms of production and exchange were taking the place of the old. An overturn was necessary: the Revolution came. Neither Mirabeau nor Robespierre, neither Voltaire nor Rousseau, made the Revolution, or even prepared the way for it. The French Revolution of the eighteenth century, like the English Revolution of the seventeenth century, was due to a long series of economical developments, which, when the time had come for a change, for the emancipation of the class next to be enfranchised, was inevitable. In both cases the relics of feudal times still lingered on as we see a dewclaw on a dog or the remains of the breasts in a man, but the power of real action on their part had passed away.

“What, however, has all this to do,” it may be asked, “with the situation in England to-day? History is all very well in its way, but we are far removed from the feudal period; the antagonism of classes, if such antagonism there be, is of a very different character from what it was in the eighteenth century in France, or a hundred years earlier in our own country.” No doubt. But here is precisely the point where we ourselves, we of the dominant middle-class, have something to learn from the downfall of the old French nobility. They fell, not because they were volatile, indifferent, greedy, or vicious, but because they were useless, and, more than that, because they absolutely stood in the way of human progress. Their very ideas could not be made to fit in with the new order of things which had become inevitable; they ground down men, debauched women, and even corrupted children, not because all were ruffians and dissolute, but because the very system of society rendered such results certain. They prevented the development of new industries, and the proper cultivation of the land; the rents they got they spent in Paris or Versailles. They had become mere appendages where before they had been active participators in the life of the nation.

Is there nothing in the present position of our landlord and capitalist class which bears home to the mind irrefragable evidence that they too hamper progress; that their ideas also can no longer accord with the inevitable changes going on around us; that they too crush men, debauch women, and ruin children under their Juggernaut’s car of production for profit; that they further prevent the full development of new industries and have already ruined the culture of the land? – is there not evidence enough and to spare, I say, that they too, the corrupt bourgeoisie of nineteenth-century England, have become mere luxurious parasites who suck the life-blood of our people, and have ceased even to handle themselves the machinery which squeezes profit out of the health and happiness of mankind? I will give proof of their impotence, of their greed, of their brutality, proof of the manifest growth of new forms of production which they cannot manage, and yet whose development they hamper. And then I will ask whether we, who have thrown in our lot with the people in the great class war of modern times, shall waste another moment in considering the contemptible social reforms of silly or self-seeking charlatans, whether we shall not rather brace every nerve and strain every faculty to bring about that great social revolution whose causes we Socialists alone can fully comprehend?

To begin with, it is quite clear that large numbers, if not the majority, of the well-to-do classes no longer directly attend to the business from which they derive their incomes. Certainly, leaving numbers out of the question, by far the greater part of the rents from land and the interests on capital are taken by men and women who exercise no direct supervision, no organising control, over the wage-slaves manual or intellectual, who provide them with the means of living in luxurious idleness. The whole work is done for them by salaried officials, they themselves spending the proceeds of their “investments” in such manner as they think fit, often in countries far remote from those whence their revenues are derived. The shareholders in the railways, in the banks, in the infinite number of limited companies formed for working factories, mines, new inventions, what not, are in no sense organisers of labour, nor even business administrators. They are mere drones who inhabit the best portions of the human hive; the choicest sites in our great cities, the finest scenery in our country, the healthiest air in the lounger-towns along our coasts, fall to their lot; they consume the best and most costly food and wear the richest raiment. Such people are utterly useless in every sense of the word. Nay more, they are a curse to the human race. They are not only idle themselves, but the cause of idleness and wasted labour in others. Their domestic servants, their purveyors of luxuries, their makers of frivolous or even harmful articles to gratify their vitiated tastes – all the innumerable hangers-on of the contemptible appropriators of other men’s labour, are forced to spend their lives to no purpose, often amid hopelessness and squalor, because the arrangements of our society give the landlords, capitalists and middle-class the legal power thus to degrade their brethren and sisters of the human kind.

Thus the bourgeoisie, that portion of the capitalist or middle-class who live by their drafts on the labour of others, together with the landlords who are now mere sleeping partners with the direct robbers, are to-day to the full as effete and as injurious as the haughty noblesse of the ancien regime. It is childish to talk of reforming such people as these. Their very existence is at stake. If they turn to useful work they cease to be as a predatory class. They can only be reformed, that is, by being forced to forego their wretched privilege of living in uselessness on the misery and murder of their fellows. This reform means and must mean revolution.

But the capitalists and middle-class, who are now dominant, show daily that they are incapable of handling their own economical, social and political machinery even by proxy. So utterly anarchical has the whole business become, that their ablest salaried employees can but wring their hands in helplessness over the growing disorganisation in the system they are called upon to administer. Competition not only means starvation wages for the workers, but it leads of necessity to underselling, and a perpetual rush to get rich among the “employers.” Such underselling and greed inevitably result in adulteration and other tricks of trade. Adulteration indeed is the great feature of our epoch. In every department the overmastering necessity for making a profit – there is no fair means of making profit; but starvation and adulteration are the foullest means – such overmastering necessity, I say, forces even those who begin by being honest, into a process which, unless checked, must end in the universal rottenness of commodities. The very markets upon which they depend are closed to our manufacturers; and their customers turn in despair in other directions, hoping that other traders may be a trifle less rascally than the English. Here again where do our Social Reformers come in? Stop adulteration? Stop production for profit? Stop competition for gain ground out of half-starved wage-slaves? – why then my worthy generation of trimmers, you have taken in hand surely not a reform but a revolution. I wish you joy of your half-measures and your two-penny-half-penny squirt-ful of rose-water then. Only don’t be surprised if we, who are Revolutionists first and. reformers afterwards, pay no attention to your silly efforts. We have something more important to do.

Again. We are in the midst of a serious financial, commercial and industrial crisis which seems likely to prove the worst of this century. All around us strikes are taking place, men are being discharged, works are being closed; throughout our great centres of industry men and women are being thrown into a state of starvation or semi-starvation, though eager for work. And this is the case not in England alone with free trade, free speech, constitutional monarchy, and the rest of it, but all over the world; in the United States, in France, and in Switzerland, which are all Republics, as much as in Russia, Germany, Italy or Spain; under protective tariffs as under free-trade. Universal suffrage does not check the depression; limited suffrage or despotism has no greater influence. It is a great social dead-lock resulting in absolute anarchy for the workers; and this is the seventh such universal crisis that we have seen in this century since 1825, the date of the first. Everywhere there is over-production; overproduction of iron, over-production of cotton-cloth, overproduction of woollen goods, over-production of boots and shoes, over-production – yes, it has literally come to that -over-production even of food! What is the reason of these recurring periods of crisis and collapse? How is it that although men possess greater command over the forces of nature than at any previous period in the history of the race, can produce an infinitely greater amount of wealth with less labour than ever before, those who do labour and produce all this wealth are thus crushed by the forces they themselves should command? Why is there over-production of wheat and meat? Why are the very necessaries of life unsaleable, as in America to-day, when hundreds of thousands, nay even millions, would gladly exchange their labour-force embodied in useful goods for this very food which they want but cannot get, which the owners wish to exchange for such articles, but cannot sell?

I have given the explanation often: I will give it once more. The reason is because the workers, who produce by working together as a portion of a great social machine, have no control whatever over the exchange of what they do produce. Manufacturers, mine-owners, iron-masters, & c., & c., compete one with another to take advantage of the period of inflation which has always followed periods of depression. They do not confer even with one another, still less with their “hands.” Their one object is to make as much profit as quickly as possible. The whole is one whirl of competition as to who shall produce most at the lowest price and so “command the market.” This goes on all over the world now, in all departments of trade. There is no orderly cooperation, but anarchical, self-destructive competition from which, in time of crisis, the smaller capitalists themselves suffer by bankruptcy and forced sales. Just at the very moment when all seems going well also, the crash comes. The workers are not allowed to work for their employers, are not allowed to exchange their labour-force embodied in useful articles with the goods produced by their fellows at home and in other countries, because those who own the means of production, the luxurious, the idling, the brutal bourgeoisie will not allow them to produce except at a profit; and this profit, the glut which the capitalists have themselves created, itself prevents. The wage-slaves cannot sell themselves even for the miserable pittance which but yesterday they were forced to accept. So the wheel works round. Inflation, depression – crisis and “boom” succeed one another continually, as if men were helpless to control their own means of creating wealth. The very introduction of new machines, which lessen labour, do but enhance the anarchy and aggravate the uncertainty for the working class.

Once more how is this to be reformed? Where will you begin the reorganisation which shall give the workers control over the exchange of their own products – which will make distribution social as production is already inevitably social? I say that only to state the problem is to show conclusively that mere reform is impossible; that revolution peaceful or bloody, the absolute victory of those who live by labour over those who live upon labour, can alone place the whole community in a position to protect its members against these recurring periods of crisis and ruin. Revolution not reform, is the watchword not of Socialists but of the hard, cruel facts upon which they base their irrefragable conclusions.

Yes that is the truth. The Revolution is upon us even as we reason; and the capitalist “reformers” themselves do but force this truth home to the people, as they chant their incantation of platitudes over the chaos they have made.

Now look at such reforms as are chiefly demanded to-day, and the manner in which the Social Reformers deal with them.

Housing the Poor for instance. It is needless to enlarge upon the farce now being enacted with relation to this important business. When an agitation for a thorough change had once been stirred up, in great part thanks to the work of the Democratic Federation and the Labour Emancipation League, a Royal Hole and Corner Commission was appointed to allow the real as well as the sham excitement to die down. The sensational journalists and the sensational ministers are already nearly forgotten. Slums have almost ceased to be fashionable. As I predicted in the January number of this Review the male and female “mashers” of philanthropic taste have turned to some newer and more enticing form of pretended sympathy. Meretricious charity at the West is pleasanter than bogus solicitude for the welfare of the poor in the East. It has less of calculating hypocrisy about it. But the Commission is collecting evidence. Why so it is – evidence of its own fraudulent intention and deliberate attempt to gull the public. All the other evidence has been collected years ago in official reports of the most elaborate character. A Royal Commission only means a shelving of the question if possible.

Yet even so it is clear – is it not? – that the moment there comes any talk of remedy our present admirable society is, found to be leaking at every seam. It is impossible to get present enactments carried out. Why? Because of the jobbery of officials and the pressure of vested interests. The filth and overcrowding are found to be direct sources of revenue to the Tartufian class that mourns over the degraded, drunken habits of the poor in country and in town. If more land is needed the ground landlord comes in. How are you to deal with him? By full compensation, and thus municipalise or nationalise the urban land? Call Mr. Fawcett into Court, and he will show you, on the most approved huckster principles, that this must be ruinous. Take the land without compensation? Well if that is not Social Revolution then we are – Social Reformers. A step further. Why not use the unoccupied land under the Metropolitan Board of Works, the splendid sites in Tooley Street for instance which have lain desolate for years, in order to erect good dwellings? Why not? because these sites must be sold at high competitive prices in order to reduce the pressure on the ratepayers. And if a sufficient number of good dwellings were erected and rented at cost, what effect would this have but to increase the rates enormously, and at the same time to reduce competitive rents of the very houses which the bourgeoisie themselves let out and gain money from? As members of the Commission, I am informed, themselves admit, it is impossible to touch the present system of housing in our great cities, without finding that any attempt to carry really drastic reform will inevitably shake the all-important basis of private property – for the non-producing classes be it understood. That is, in fact, that good housing for the people is an impossibility in our great industrial centres until the competitive principle is destroyed, until not reform but revolution is brought about. “As long as there are poor they will be poorly housed” as Mr. William Morris well said. As long as profit-mongers rule the roast, profit-providers cannot be materially benefited. Nay, even if the workers got good houses cheap, the difference in rent would go into the pockets of the capitalists, and their improved health would only make them mere competent wage-slaves. No “Social Reformer” can reform them out of that position.

So with the schools. We call for free schools and at least one wholesome meal to be gratuitously provided in those schools. It has become another “topic of the day.” No-one disputes that the pressure of the fees upon poor parents is very heavy; none contest that much of the break-down among the children is due to want of food, which their parents cannot provide. Further, there is scarcely such a fool left even among the middle-class as to say that it is not to the advantage of a State that all its youth should be bought up well-educated and in good health. Yet because such a manifestly beneficial reform would cost the rate-payers a percentage of the income they have robbed from the workers, no such proposal is so much as before the middle-class Debating Club at Westminster. And, even if it were carried, still must we find that the crushing law of competition would decree that these educated, well-fed children should on reaching maturity be only better wage-slaves for capitalists. The class antagonism, the class war, meets us at every turn. At every path we take, the necessity of the abolition of non-producers encounters us, the inevitable class. revolution, in a word, jostles aside the foolish figment of middle-class reform.

Probed to the bottom we find exactly the same with the reduction of the hours of labour. Here again there is a unanimity of sentiment. Men and women working in mines and factories, attendants in shops, drivers and carmen, workers in various trades, agricultural labourers, are all admitted to be suffering from excessive toil. Yet there is no chance whatever of a compulsory eight hours Bill being carried – until when? Until the classes which are now the mere wage-slaves of capital are able to dominate the causes of their own embrutement and injury, that is, – the very repetition becomes wearisome – until the ideas of reform are pushed contemptuously aside, and the necessity for a national revolution, with an international alliance of the workers of the civilised world, is universally recognised.

Thus we arrive at this same point even when touching upon such common-place subjects, such manifestly “social reform” questions, as good housing for the producers of wealth, good education and good food for their children, the limitation of over-work. Conservative measures all, yet not to be attained – or why have they not been attained? – without a class war and a class victory. And, even when obtained, of no permanent value to the producers, unless the present system of competition among propertyless workers for subsistence wages is put an end to. Who could hope even for a minimum wage being made the law, so long as the very essence of our profit-mongering society is to screw the last fraction of labour-force out of the exhausted toiler? It is essential to middle-class supremacy that the workers -should, as a class, be deprived of every vestige of economical freedom, and allowed the fullest “freedom of contract” to pile up more capital for the confiscating class. Change that by vote or by force and the revolution is made.

As it is, though on this I will not now linger, the very power of the State itself, as in the Post Office, is used to screw extra work, more surplus value, out of the competitive wage-slaves, in order to reduce the taxation of the middle-class to the amount of 2,500,000 a year. “Abolish competition,” you say. Certainly, that is what we are striving for; but then you abolish a good deal more than mere misery; you abolish, and therefore do not merely reform, our precious profit-mongering society.

Take the land of which Englishmen have been robbed for more than three centuries. A few thousand people own the agricultural land of our country, and the private ownership, of city land property hampers reform at its very basis. Mr. Chamberlain, the capitalist champion, denounces the landowners as robbers. Do you set to work to “social reform” persistent robbers? Nay, that is not the meaning of such language. The land is “starving for want of labour”; infinitely more food might be grown in England than is grown, at a profit. Yet year after year passes and nothing is done. Are we to have a social reform at the expense of the landlords then, at the call of the monopolist millionaire Mr. Chamberlain, simply for the benefit of the farmers and the capitalist class? No, no, Socialists are not quite so easily gulled as Mr. Henry George, or quite so much in love with the capitalist slave-drivers as Mr. Chamberlain is. We see quite plainly where the “unearned increment” would go to, if the King of the Caucus had his way with it. The rent of land, like the profits of free-trade, would be swept into the capacious pockets of the most infamous class that has ever had control of any people, the class which has murdered children, crushed women, and embruted men simply and solely for the greed of gain. No, back to the land certainly; Let us take up our heritage without one farthing of compensation to the “robbers,” who make us strangers in our own country, The “Land for the People” means in itself a revolution. It shall mean a revolution which will sweep out of existence, not only private property in the soil that is being ruined by the present system, but a revolution which will also render impossible that private property in machinery and capital, that private property in the fruits of other men’s labour, that private property in the results of degradation and deliberate murder, by which the gang of capitalist slave-drivers, have made their own fortunes in the past, and mean to make their children’s fortune in the future.

But, lastly, the supremacy of the middle-class hampers the progress of mankind, and prevents the use of new forms of production which, properly handled, would benefit the entire human race. This is so at this very hour. We have seen how it will need a social revolution to bring about the simplest social reforms; how impossible it is to conceive of any real improvement without revolution in relation to the land and machinery. Now we can note that this very necessity for revolution is due to the changes which are taking place in machinery and the increasing power of the productive forces. In every direction we see that small machines adapted to individual use, and vast industrial appliances which can only be handled by enormous armies of men, are being simultaneously developed. Sewing machines, tricycles moved by electricity, the type writers and printers, the small electric engines, are evidences of the movement in the one direction; the vast accumulation of power in factories, the growing ability to store and apply electrical force on a large scale show what is going on in the other. A mere list of inventions would give no idea of what is being done. But – and here is the important point – the individual ownership, the profit-mongering system in vogue, the want of any real social combination, limit the use of the small machines, and render them of no social advantage to the workers; while the greater developments are positively hindered because of the system of production for profit, which prevents the mass of mankind from having any say in the business. Just as women are used to tug barges along our canals because their starvation wages are cheaper than the food for a horse or the coal for an engine, just as the introduction of mechanical coal-cutting appliances is kept back by the low wages of miners; so in instance after instance the application of forces which, in the interests of society at large, could be easily and profitably used, is rendered impossible by individual ownership and vested interests. New forms of production, new powers of man over nature are kept from being used on the land, in the mines, in the factories, on the railroads, on board ship, in every department of human industry, in short, by the very system of society which at present exists. Electricity is to steam all, and more than all, that steam is to the old motive powers; but it cannot be fully applied under our happy-go-lucky, individualist, anarchical system. Society, as now arranged, creates trammels upon progress. It is necessary that those trammels should be burst asunder; burst asunder they will be from below, and society itself will be revolutionised, by the revolution in the forms of production themselves.

Thus I have shown that the landlords, the middle class, the capitalists, the bourgeoisie are useless, are harmful, are incapable of handling their own social system; I have proved that even their own “social reforms” cannot be carried without social revolution, that they and their methods stand directly in the path of human progress, preventing the adoption of new developments by reason of the very system they use to degrade their fellow men. In political affairs we trace the same brutal selfishness and hopeless incapacity. Ireland, India, Egypt, the Colonies afford perpetual evidence of their greed and cowardice, while their own favourite Chamber, the House of Hucksters at Westminster, is rapidly becoming the laughing-stock of the world.

In proclaiming therefore that Revolution not Reform is the object of organised democratic Socialism, I do but give voice to the inevitable movement that is going on below the surface of our Society. Socialists know right well that all existing parties arc banded together against them, they know that Tory, Conservative, Whig, Liberal and Radical form but one party when the power to enslave the workers is definitely denounced. But that makes no difference. The forces of to-day and of the future are with us, the cause we fight for is the noblest that ever inspired a people. We take up the battle of the proletariat in England where it was left by the great Chartist leaders. From generation to generation the noblest of our countrymen have fought for the people as we are fighting to-day. We inherit the results of their self-sacrifice and glorious heroism. It is for us then, as revolutionary Socialists, to appeal to our fellows in all lands to work for the interests of themselves and of others, in order to bring about, even in our own day, that great International Social Revolution which can alone give freedom and happiness to mankind.

July 24th