se mm. i The New York Communist The Party Congressional Platform for 1918 E Left Wing holds it to be axiomatic that Socialists cannot be made except by teaching Socialism. All that most non Socialists ever see of Socia ist doctrine is thaitawhich is contained in our Socialist platform, ollicial resumes of Socialist doctrine, and interpretations of current issues. it follows hathupon the nature of our platform depends very largely the type of our converts. revolutionary platform will not at the hourgeoisie, and a pail bourgeois platform will never attract the militant section of the working class.
Now the 1911 Congressional Platform of the American Socialist Party is the unadulterated work of its theoreticians, its leaders. unlrtmpered by any suggestion from the rank and file. Written without a. convention, adopted without a referendum, heralded by the Congressional candidates that ran on it for office, welcomed with fulsoine praise by the petitvbourgeois organs, The Nation, The Dial and the New Republic, fathered and mothered in the People llousennder the direction of two bureaus of Socialist research surely this must be a model platform for a Socialist party.
Before we examine its 57 planks, let us sum up the conditions out of which it grew and into which it was launched upon an expectant world. The platform is dated l9l. We may presume that it written in that year or the year previous. Internal evidence proves that it was written after the Russian revolutions had taken place, including the proletarian revolution. The program was launched in the midst of a dying social order. l The Capitalist system was totteriimr. In Russia, the proletariat had raised the standard of international revolution and called upon the workers of the world to unite around it. The war could only end in a relapse into barbarism or a world revolution. Reconstruction of the capitalist order was an impossibility. And the 1918 platform? What else could it be but a summons to the proletariat to fulfill its his»
toric mi sion. ha. looked in rain through its 24! pages of iQ point type for a single mention of Socialism. The word does not occur once. The spirit of the class struggle nay the very word class struggle is missing from its pages. Surplus value snot a suspicion of it. Historic mater ialismtthc program ncier heard of any such docrine. Historic materialism. class struggle. surplus value are these not the three a pe ls the trinity.
the union of which is the Socialist movement. its lllll. its sriem its tartirs. What else is there to Socialism? What is there of Socialism in anfihing else?
Marx severely criticised the Cotha Program of 1875 because it erroneously declared that labor is the source of all wealth instead of saying the source of all. value. He could not criticise the 1918 platform on that score, because it does not hint that labor is the source of anything.
The Russian revolution was proving, the Paris Commune had proved in practise, what Marx and Engels had taught in theoryithat the Bourgeois State must be captured and destroyed, that the Proletarian State, the Dictatorship of the Proletariat must take its place and that the proletarian state would die a natural death.
The 1913 Platform assumes the eternity of the State nay more, the eternity of the present, the bourgeois state. On the first page and in bold type, the 19l8 Platform announces what it believes to be the greatest of all issues with which the world stands faced the state is dominating industry. Who shall dominate the state? On the answer to this question depends the future of mankind.
Engels has patiently explained that the modern State, no matter what its form, is essentially a capitalist machine, the ideal personification of the total national capital. Yet the 1918 Platform does not see the difference between State Capitalist and Socialist measures, between Wilson Parcel»Post banks and Lenin s, between government ownership through bourgeois dictatorship and government ownership through the proletarian dictatorship.
The first step in the Social Revolution is the seizure of the political power by the proletariat. The 1918 platform doesn mention the first step, but demands that the present State take over the railroads, mines, power, natural resources, large scale industries and the like. Says Engels: The more it (the present Statel proceeds to the taking over of productive f0l. s, the more does it actually become the national capitalist, the more izens does it exploit. Engels merely says that the State will have to undertake the direction of industri s, the 1918 platform demands that it do it. Surely, its authors are more revolutionary than Engels.
Space forbids an analysis of the reVotutionary methods by which the Socialist party deBy Bertram Wolfe mantis that the State take over industries. We can only note in pa ng that this process shall be undertaken as speedily as is consistent with public order and security. that the Socialist party demands that the compensation, if any (we wonder why the doubl? l, paid to the original owners is in no case to exceed the original cost of the physical property; and finally, we are so thoroughly bitten by the parliamentary bug of investigation commisi sions which publish reports, that when we come to the State ownership of electric power, our revolutionary program of expropriation culminates in a demand which must be quoted in full lest we miss some of the inspiration it contains. The Socialist Party demands intuit (lime appointment of a Federal Power Commission with adequate rcprcsentatibn of labor Sammy Compers take noticcl Io mnhc an exhaustive (and no doubt exhausting) ilwcs igation into the subject, and lo recommmd legislation to Congress which will embody a comprehensive power development policy.
When we come to the heading, The Structure of Government, we begin to pick up hope. The present structure of government is totally inadequate to assume the additional burden of industrial control. Perhaps we have been hasty in our judgment; perhaps the program warns that none of these things can be accomplished until the state has been revolutionized and the proletarian dictatorship established. Let us examine the measures proposed for therevolutionizing of the State. The system of checks and balances has destroyed efficiency, we complain. Then, in the interests of democracy, we select the most inefficient branch of the government Congress an demand that the other two branches be made responsible to it.
Not content with that, the program sets out to show Capitalism how to perfect bourgeois democran. Tiers follow a startling srfies ofl dernan dsf abolition of the Senate. democratization of Con greasionul procedure. direct election of the President and ice rrsidrnt. to. elm. culminating in two super revolutionary measures that will makilgninc look to his laurels. namely: the arms a ongrrrxmerl lo begin soon ajlrr election and Jrlvf gnx rrnmrnl or the DLsm rl of Columbia.
As write. out of the past comes an insistent echo of Marx thunderous denunciation: of the Gotho platform: lint the platform applies neither in the latter (revolutionary dicwlorshipl nor In the fpIure organization of communist society. lts political demands contain nothing but the old democratic litany known to all the world, universal suffrage, direct legislation (for the district of Columbia? l, popular rights, protection of the people, etc. They are a mere echo of the middle class Populist party.
Next comes a section on Civil Liberties utterly ridiculous if addressed to the present reactionary bourgeois State. The outstanding feature of this bourgeois bill of rights is a demand that mob violence be suppressed through the power of the federal government. most dangerous demand to be made upon a reactionary government by a revolutionary party which depends upon mob violence (mass action) as a necessary weapon to overthrow the present State! Never fear, you needn demand that the government suppress mob violence! It surely will, and American Noskes rallying around these very slogans of the 1918 platform will lead the suppression.
The next section deals with taxation. It contains a heartreuding preamble to the effect that capitalism. poor capitalism, is tottering as a result of the colossal war debt and that (the Socialist party and the 1918 platform to the rescue. we are going to show capitalism how to solve the problems of the public debt and the ever menacing problem of wealth concentration. Which Marx foolishly thought inevitable under the present system inevitable and the inevitable cause of the Revolution. To this end we favor f0r we are treading on bourgeois ground and therefore we no longer demand an excess profits tax of approximately 100 per cent (a manifest impossibility under Capitalism. a progressive income tax; a progressive inheritance tax rising to 100 in large estates; taxation of the unearned increment of land (is there an earned inerement ll; and a more adequate cor porations tax. will forbear to inquire what the authors of this great document meant by more adequate. by a comfortable and secure livelihood which is not to be touched by the income tax or by approximately 100. But trust will be pardoned if quote the words of the now obviously antiquated Marx, who seemed to believe that. Taxes are the foundation of the governmental machinery and of nothing else. An income tax presupposes the different sources of income of the different social clasées, hence capitalist society. Poor Marx seemed to think that taxation under Capitalism was no concern of the revolutionary proletariat.
But since 1918 we know better!
of course, modern finance is based on credit, and if that should break down, Heaven help us! the financial system might collapse; hence our program must needs concern itself with restoration of our shaky credit system, wherefore we elaborate a plan upon which need not cemment, except to note that we have succeeded in finding a scheme whereby, under Capitalism, we can eliminate entirely the necessity of maintaining a gold reserve! Isn that a splendid contribution to the saving of civilization, at a time when it is threatened by the over.
cipitalization of a pitifully inadequate gold slipp y.
Upon the Non Partisan League platform, which has found its way into the 1913 program under the head of Agriculture, shall not dwell, except to quote our revolutionary demands for Public insurance against diseases of animals, diseases of plants, insect pests, hail, flood, drought, storm and fire; and to delay any further analysis until we come to the general subject of sops and pallia tives.
There is a chapter on Conservation of Natural Resources in which we urge, in place of demanding for we modestly feel that we are not experts in conservation as we are in high finance, and must therefore confine our services to mere advice. There is a chapter op Criminology which seems to be a combination of Enrico Ferri and August Claessens, with the caption, Prisons. There is a section on the Negro, which, peculiarly enough, demands industrial citizenship for the Negro (we vaguely wonder why the white wasn included. Why does the program want to give him political citizenship, and exactly what do our leaders mean by educational citizenship for the same op pressed Negro? if it is worth anything, we should like it too; if not, why wish it on the downtrodden black man. We will not turn back to the one section whidi mentions the proletariat. enti led IAbor legislation. It is a compound of old Bismuckiu formulae long ago introduced into Germany, end: as minimum wage, unemployment immune laid the like. lnd this brings us to the subject of cops and palliativee in general. have used the familiar division of dorms hula sops and palliatives because in these two words are implied the nature and purpose of two distinct kinds of reforms. Palliatives are reforms ianded down by the bourgeoisie organized as the ruling class, to make industry more bearable in order that labor power may not thereby be impaired. Of such nature was the shortening of the working day to prevent the rapid deterioration of labor power resulting from the long working day of the early capitalist epoch.
If a dog demands meat, arid his demand becomes more and more insistent until he threatens to take it out of the calf of your leg, and you do not wish to give him meat, you may dip a piece of bread in gravy and throw him thatia sop.
As the working class becomes more and more conscious of its revolutionary aims, sops are thrown more and more frequently, to divert the workers from these same revolutionary aims. If the Socialist party, the most advanced section of the working class, turns aside for these sops when the goal is close at hand; if it goes further and issues a platform declaring that it is fighting for these sops, and neglects to mention anything but sops among its demands; if finally, it pretends to have won what capitalism has in self defense handed down to it it thereby diverts the working class from its classconscious revolutionary aims, plays into the hands of capitalism, falling for sop and palliative alike, ceases to teach Socialism and make Socialists, and produces the 1918 Congressional Platform of the Socialist Party. INTERNATIONALISM IN THE PLATFORM.
There remain two more things to consider: International Reconstruction and Conclusion, in which last we may perhaps expect to find a statement of Socialist principles.
The very title, reconstruction, is an index to the bourgeois character of the platform attitude.
Capitalism is on the verge of collapse. In Russia a portion of the mighty edifice has been overthrown.
The most truly advanced section of the working class in other countries is preparing to tear it down section by section till the whole edifice is destroyed.
The revolutionary American proletariat, organized into the American Socialist Party, seeing Capitalism desperate straits, willhelp to stave off the collapse of civilization, will reconstruct the shaky structure, will keep alive the dying order.
And so the Platform demands a League of Nations. Of course, we call it a Federation of Peo(Continued on page 8)