The New York Comm rial Why Political Democracy Must Go VIII IN a previous article attempted to show the conomic interests behind the Constitution of the United States, and the deliberate expedient: employed by the Colonial ruling class to create a government which would obstruct the will of the majority of the people. Let us now briefly see how the machinery operatm.
Contrary to general belief, the American political democracy is not one of the most advanced de mocratic governments of the world, but one of the moat backward. To indicate a few points in which it lags behind other governments: The President is elected for four years, and cannot be removed except for serious cause, by impeachment; but the Premiers of England, France and Italy, retire when their Party loses power. The Cabinet of the United States Government is not responsible to anyone, and ran only he removed by the President, who appoints it; the Cabinets of England. France and Italy are responsible to the parliaments, and fall with the Premier. Laws passed by Congress may be declared invalid by the Supreme Court; but laws passed by the British Parliament cannot be reviewed by any court, and can only be changed It the ballot box. In the United Statm the form of Government is rigidly fixed by the Constitution, which moreover eternally guarantees the sacredness of property nor can this Constitution be altered except by an overwhelming majority, which practically makes impossible any profound economic change by law; while in England no such her exils to Revolution by law.
However, these apparent difl ercnces in degree of political democracy are not so important as they seem. In all political democratic countries today, under the capitalist system, the Sin e power is more and more turned into an organ of Capital mastery over Labor o public orcr organized or social enslancmcnl, an engine of class despolism. In the United States, however, the methods by which the great capitalists control the State are more apparent to the observer than elsewhere; although here, too, the masses of the people are more blinded by the democratic ideology in which political concepts are phrased, and by what a great Frenchman called the illusion of the ballot box.
It must be admitted that the Constitution has been broadened during the last century that more and more democracy has been introduced into our Government; such amendments as the Income Tax and the Direct Election of Senators testify to this tendmcy. Also the evolution of the State constitutions, removing franchise restrictions;. nd the acts of Congress and the State legislatures, fixing the control and hastening the democratization of the electoral machinery all these signify that larger and larger masses of citizens theoretically participate in the Government. But there democratic advance: exactly correspond with the growth the Invisible Government the autocracy of finance which progressively nullifim the power of the political ballot.
Political democratic ideals grew out of the theory that men were born free and equal; that their interests were ostensibly equal intermts, resulting from frwdom of opportunity and that it was the conflict of these equal but diversified property rights specially their geographical diversity which made it possible to construct a government representing all and satisfying the great majority. Such conditions existed to a greater degree in the American Colonies, with their hinterland of undeveloped continent, and their lack of any indigenous aristocracy, than in other parts of the world, and the Declaration of Independence was the expression of thee aentimaits.
But even at the time of the War of Independence, the capitalist system was well developed, and the Constitution, eleven years lata. embodied the clear class conaciousnas of the Colonial capitalists, rendered palatable by democratic idealistic phraseology.
Madison had warned the Convention to take into account the new and changing forms in which property would manifest itself in the future. In the next century the industfial as broo ht. ism, existence wholly new forms property; and, moreover, Chm both the relations of men to one mother, and the relations of men to their Government. The ownership of the tools of production and the means of distribution by a few, reduced the man of mankind to dqsendenoe upon these few for all the nacgasitiu of life.
Now the State is the exprmaion of the relations of clm propmy rdauom society. The American Government, particularly, was formed to protect property; and since as time t on more and more wealth was concentrated in the hands of the few great capitalists, the Governmmt protected and fostered this capitalist property more and more.
Themauofmankindbecamadependantupontho By John Reed will of the industrial autocrlta for their very existence. When they combined and demanded a larger share of the product of their labor, this constituted an attack upon private property, and the Government was called in to suppress them. In ortant illustrations of this are the calling in of cderal troops during the Pullman strike in 1895; the use of injunctions in industrial disputes, in some cases forbidding strikes end in one important instance, even orbidding the workers to slap working or a corporation; the manipulation of laws directed against the great corporations such as the Sherman Anti Trust Law so as to turn it against the working class as in the case of labor boycotts see the case of the Danbury Hatters. and finally, the interpretation of laws by the Courts.
After all this innovation, unique among political democracies, has turned out to be the easiest and most successful expedient for thwarting the will of the masses, and defending the political power of the capitalist class. Founded with the ostensible.
purpose of interpreting the. Constitution, the Supreme Court has extended powers of interretation until it has become, fact, a legislative body in itself: and being composed largely: of eminent corporation lawyers, it reprsents the most reactionary property interests. or instance, it declared unconstitutional a law passed by the New York State Legislature forbidding bakery ployees to work more than ten hours a day on the ground that this statute infringed the rights and liberties of manufacturers as citizens under the Constitution. lt declared the lncome Tax 13w unconstitutional, and more recently the Child Labor Law both because they were attacks upon property and liberty. On the other hnnd, in spite of the Constitutional provision specifically forbidding Congress to make any law abridging the freedom of speech. the Supremeflourt upheld the conviction of Eugene Debs and Kate Hidiards Hare for exprmsmg their opinions upon political quutions.
The Federal judiciary has been the supreme authority in the Government, even dominating Congress except when Congress fell into the hands of a new dominant clue. For instance. in 18. 66, Congress passed the famous reconstruction acts, some of which were clearly unconstitutional. Congress had then been captured by the Northern Republicans, the new powerful great capitalism, under the leadership of Thaddeus Stevens, the ironmanufacturer of Pennsylvania. In passing these acts, Congrms warned the Supreme Court not to lay its hands on them; and the Supr e Court obeyed.
In other cases the capitalists have used the Praident against Congress. In 2801. Lincoln, and the most far seeing of the great industrial capitalists of the North, determined to abolish slavery both as a military measure against the South and as a way of destroying the economic competition of slave labor. The Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution was about to be lubmitted to the States for ratification, against a very determined opposition. It was seen that one more state was necessary for the ratification. and three votes were needed in Congress to admit Nevada into the Union.
Lincoln did not hesitate to bribe three Congressmen by appointing them to hederal ofitces.
In 1906, the revolt of the small property owners against the headlong career of capitalist trustification and monopolization ad reached a stage when the small property owners had got control of Congress and placed on the statute books the Sherman Anti Trust Law. The Supreme Court, after its experience with popular wrath awakened by the rejection of the Income Tax Law in 1905, did not dare to declare the Sherman Law unconstitutional. Here was a clear one of political democracy at »work the will of the majority.
Blocked in its plan of absorbing the Tennessee Coal and Iron Company by this law, the great financiers who were forming the United States Steel Corporation deliberately recipitated the Panic of 1907.
President Boole vet was forced to beg for mercy from the great capitalists, who consented to atop the panic on condition of being permitted to proceed with their lam. In 1907 08, than, the Tennessee Coa an Iron Company was absorbed, in direct violation of the law. In 1909, the Senate dunanded that the Attorney General inform it whether be bad instituted proceedings against the Steel Trust. and if not, why not. Preaidmt Roost velt directed the Attorney Gated not to answer the Senate; and further declared that the Cabinet was responsible to himself alone.
In spite of the will of the vast majority of you: b: the country, expressed in the election of Wilson, and the passage of the Shaman and the Clayton Acts, the aggregation of vast groups of capital baa gone on a ace, untouched by the law; or what the great inationa have bani forced to dissolve such as the Standard Oil they have done so in appearance only, and the result has been, as evm yone knows, merely to strengthen their monopolistic hold upon the resourm of the country.
The war corn leted the abject aurrenda of the Government to e great financiers. The country tlie voting majority of small property owners elected the Democratic administration in 1916, primarily because it had kept us out of war. But y the spring of 1917, the United States Government was at war. It had been clearly prove: for almost two years that the forces which wee push ing the country toward war were the great mun tions interests, the bankers who had floated Alli!
loans, and the imperialist corporations anxious share in the redistribution of foreign markets. The United States was by this time, through the action of private bankeru, heavily involved in the Allied cause; the Allied blockade had cut off Gin man commerce, and a vast trade had up with England, France and Russia. Allied defeat would have proven disastrous to Wall Street, which, at the very moment that the Allied strength wavered, plunged America into the struggle.
Never had there appeared so clearly the almost complete control of the prss and all agencies of publicity by the capitalist class; with one voice they bayed for blood shed, repeating unanimously every rumor of German atrocitim. German propagandista here were outlawed; British and rench propsgandists bought, corrupted threat.
ened, pleaded without hindranoe. Congressmen who dared to oppos: war in the interest of their constituents were lashed with a bitter fury by press and pulpit and the President. was at that time in Washington, lobbying against the war and against conscription. Threefourths of the Congressmen admitted to me that they did not want war, that their constituents were against it; but almost all of them were terrified of the Chambers of Commerce (the business men, bankers, etc. of their districts, and dared not brook the wrath of the great newspapers.
And when once the country had gathered way toward the great decision, and conscription had been passed, the great capitalists deliver ultimatum to the cowering Government ington. The Anti Trust legislation nu nst nena ur pended; the bankers and business man themselves must run the war. Hence we had the amazing spectacle of the Council of National Defense made up of speculators, manufacturers and merchants.
awarding Government Contracts at onuageou: prices in the morning, and in the evening accepting dime same contracts as private individuals. But not only this: all through the country, Gumbel a of Commerce and Boards of Trade formed organizations of armed detectives and police, composed of business men and bankers, who used the power delegated to than by the Department of Justice to wage the class war against the Labor Movuncn.
And an arbitrary War Labor Board legislated it all difl erences betweui capital and labor. whose decisions were binding and backed by the pow. the Federal Governman. The workers wee force.
to obey these decisions or forced into the army; the great corporation; most of them, eitha rdnaed to obey decisions they did not like, or like the manufacturers of Bridgeport, Conn, took advantage of the war situation to destroy the defenses of organ iaed labor.
Advocates of lian mtary action after poi to the mass of r legislation passed by Congi and the state Iegislatum, auch as eight hour lavworlanen a compensation statutes, minimum wage regulations and factory laws in general. like the increase in olitica democracy, the increase in industrial emocraey is also in exact ratio to the growth of knowledge among the great laborernployen that the more labor is protected, the more efficientitil; and themoreitcan and the more it can be exploited The speeding up of machinery consequent upon mechanical pafectitm and scientific managuuent now make it poaaible to exploit labor more thoroughly in eight hours, than in twelve hours. Lord Inert ulna, the Engi mb anployar, now advocates the Six Hour Day, beat it is productive of largu rotita for the manufacmmtbantlmiigbt Hour ay.
But when the capitalist do. not feel it to Ha interest toobey the law, he does not obey it; and the State backs him in his disoheliatoe. For examplq in Color dome has been an dght honr law on the Statute boob for twanty years or more; and yet, in 1913. that law was delibcalel bub intheeoal mineaoftbeatatainndkad for ta: years. All mph of the men titer elves to organize for its mforvement was frustrated by armed force. The unions were mashed by anned thugs, who killed and deported miners at will. At election time the ballot born were placed on oompmyyomdgwdedbyarmedhinlinpoffim amt: