Fellow workers and comrades. I was struck by the number of unusually pessimistic reports on the deplorable state of the American and world capitalist economy in the July 20, 2008 New York Times. But in the days following, the bad news only got worse.
The first of these reports was a front-page story bearing the title, “Given a Shove, Digging Deeper into Debt,” by Gretchen Morgenson. Her story focused on the human side of the housing crisis as personified by Diane McLeod, a typical victim of the mortgage mess who is now awaiting eviction from her small, two-bedroom ranch house in suburban Philadelphia.
The author describes her as having been “a dream customer for lenders; until she hit the wall financially, she juggled not one but two mortgages, both with interest rates that rose over time, and a car loan and high-cost credit cards debt.”
This story gets down to the nitty-gritty tale of woe suffered by a growing numbers of working people faced with a major assault on their dream of finally getting a home of their own.
Later Morgenson also takes up the larger economic picture underlying her report on the life-wrecking impact of the mortgage fiasco on ordinary working people. In a piece titled, “Work Out Problems with Lenders? Try to Find Them,” she explains why they can’t:
“In times past, when a borrower fell behind on a mortgage, the lender was likely to try to help work out the delinquency.
“But as many troubled borrowers are discovering, today’s lenders often sell the loans they make to investors, making it nearly impossible for homeowners to discover whom they should contact for a work-it-out solution.
“And the companies to which borrowers send their mortgage payments—known as loan servicers—are often hard to reach or unwilling to modify a loan that is delinquent.
“As a result, one missed mortgage payment can quickly generate so many extra fees and charges that within a few months, a borrower can fall far behind and ultimately lose his home.”
Another report by Morgenson titled, “Borrowers and Bankers: A Great Divide,” appeared on the front page of the National section of the same edition of the Times. This one went a lot further than most toward putting the lion’s share of the blame where it belongs—on the bankers who make sub-prime and other risky loans that they would not make if they could not package them and sell them to other, larger banks to worry about the likelihood of borrowers defaulting.
This situation began when it first became legal and acceptable for governments to systematically print enough purely paper dollars to balance their budgets and keep the wheels of the global capitalist economy turning. Thus, every worthless dollar, pound or euro, put into circulation, dilutes the value of the given currency. And, of course, it results in the mass of public and private debt growing at a much higher rate—generating new loans and multiplying total indebtedness.
Making bad matters worse, the American superpower, with the largest and richest economy in the world, is able to sell its growing mountain of debt to the rest of the world, seemingly to an endless extent.
But there’s a limit to everything: Thus, presently, when a debtor is forced to take out new loans to pay interest on his debts, the debtor is in big trouble.
Even with the printing presses running fast enough to provide enough new money to be added to both public and private debt for seemingly limitless investment opportunities, there inevitably comes a time when most available capital gets tied up in an ever-growing number of mortgages. Thus, “collateralized mortgages” are piled on top of millions of existing mortgages. But there is not nearly enough real new wealth to keep the cycles of investment, production, profits and sales going. Thus, the economy, which has been expanding for more than 60 years, is no longer growing.
That’s why Congress created the government-backed, trillion-dollar for-private-profit lending institutions to keep the profit-driven capitalist economy running at top speed. This was for the benefit of Fannie Mae’s and Freddy Mac’s stockholders and the managers with their multi-million-dollar salaries, bonuses and other benefits.
But for it to work for maximum effect, the government was forced to leave unchallenged the implication that the profitability and solvency of the two government-sponsored enterprises were guaranteed by the U.S. Treasury and its taxpayers—leading inexorably to today’s credit crunch!
However, it did the job for which it was created. It enabled Fannie Mae and Freddy Mac to create more trillions of dollars of credit, adding more than $5 trillion to the now, 12 trillion-dollar total U.S. mortgage debt. But this debt was accrued without sufficient capital reserves to finance the possibility of hundreds of billions of dollars in losses which will also inevitably result in a staggeringly larger bailout—perhaps in the trillions.
Thus, “the two financial giants who now own or underwrite nearly 80 percent of all new mortgages in the U.S.” were, for all practical purposes, created out of thin air.
Therefore, the CEOs of these two giant lenders began making exceedingly risky investments, raking in fabulous profits without, necessarily, personally suffering the consequences when borrowers began defaulting on a massive scale.
Morgenson again points the finger of blame for the whole sorry business where it belongs. She writes:
“...[W]e are in dangerous territory today where bailouts are concerned, and not only because they feed Americans’ suspicions that only the rich and powerful get help in our country.... So asking Main Street to bail out Wall Street leads to this inevitable question: Weren’t the financial folks the ones who helped create the mess we are in?...
“Which returns us to the dispiriting divide between those who receive help and those who don’t....
“‘The banks are too big to fail and the man in the street is too small to bail,’ said John Bogle, the founder of the Vanguard Group, the mutual funds giant who is a philosopher of finance.” I say LET THEM FAIL! AND FROM FAILURE THEY WILL LEARN!
Neither do the powers-that-be need worry too much about its impact on the richest taxpayers—supposedly taxed at a higher rate than most, but in reality, at lower rates than wage earners on all levels of the economic ladder.
For instance, “Warren Buffett, the third-richest man in the world, has criticized the U.S. tax system for allowing him to pay a lower rate than his secretary and his cleaner. (From The Times, of London, June 28, 2008.)”
Meanwhile, the justification for everything from bailouts to government subsidies to troubled giant corporations is the bipartisan capitalist government’s rationalization, “they’re too big to fail”! I say LET THEM FAIL!
The most obvious refutation of this absurdity is the Great Depression. After all, everyone knows that the entire global capitalist economy collapsed and remained stagnant until World War II, proving that nothing is too big to fail.
The Socialist movement is as wide as the world and its mission is to win the world, the whole world, from animalism, and consecrate it to humanity. What a tremendous task, and what a royal privilege to share in it. To win a world is worthy of a race of gods, and in the winning, men and women develop god-like attributes since all men and women are potential gods. What a madhouse the earth seems today in the frenzy of Capitalism before the light of Socialism. What Alpine peaks of wealth and what desert wastes of poverty, despair, and death. What man, unless his heart be adamant, can contemplate this awful scheme and be content? What man, unless his brain be atrophied and his vision blinded, can fail to perceive the impending crisis?
In the presence of this vast and terrible phenomenon how satisfying to be enlisted in the Socialist movement, to understand this doubt-dispelling social philosophy, and to interpret passing events in the clear light of its science. The productive mechanism in contemporary technology—vast, complex, marvelous beyond expression—burns the impotent touch of the individual hand but leaps as if in joy to its task when caressed by the myriad fingered collective hand of contemporary labor.
The mute message of technology—could but the worker understand, and would he but heed it—child of his brain, technology has come to free and not to enslave, to save and not to destroy the author of its being. Technology and industry compels the grand army of labor to rally to its tenders, to recognize its power, to surrender body-breaking and soul-devouring tasks, to join hands in sacred fellowship, to sub-divide labor, to equalize burden, to demand joy and leisure for all. And emancipated from the fetters of the flesh, rise to the sublimest heights of intellectual, moral, and spiritual exaltation.
To realize this great social ideal is a work of education, and organization. The working classes must be aroused. They must be made to hear the trumpet call of solidarity: economic solidarity and political solidarity. One great all-embracing industrial and technological union and one great all-embracing political party, and both revolutionary to the core: two hearts, with but a single soul. The contemporary tool of production must belong to those who make use of it, whose freedoms…no…whose very lives depend upon it.
Two hundred years ago, the collective ownership of the individual tool would have been absurd. Today, the private ownership of the collective industrial tool is a crime. This crime is at the foundation of every other that disfigures society and from its warehouse cellars exudes the festering stenches of all sweat-shop civilizations. EDUCATE THE WORKING CLASS. The ever-shrinking middle-class sees their doom in Capitalism, and must soon turn to Socialism. The handwriting is on the wall of the universe. THE WORST IN SOCIALISM WILL BE BETTER THAN THE BEST IN CAPITALISM.
The historic mission of Capitalism has been to exploit the forces of nature, place them at the service of man, augmenting his productive capacity a thousand-fold, to turn as if by magic, the shallow, sluggish dreams into rushing, roaring avalanches of wealth, leaving to the workers who produced it, a greater poverty, insecurity, and anguish than before. The MISSION of Socialism is to release these imprisoned productive forces from the vandal horde that has seized them, that they may be operated, not spasmodically, and in the interests of a favored class, as at present, but freely, and in the common interest of all. Then the world—the world the Socialist movement is to win from Capitalism—will be filled with wealth for all to have and to enjoy in its abundance.
When enough have become Socialists and each day is augmenting the number and making them more staunch and resolute, they will sweep the country on the only vital issue before the nation. A new power will be in control: the people. For the first time in all history, man at last will be free!
Comrades, friends and fellow-workers, to speak for labor; to plead the cause of the men and women who work; to serve the working class, has always been to me a high privilege; a duty of love.
I ask you to Google “arrested for exercising freedom of speech” and you will find many loyal comrades that are paying the penalty for their devotion to the cause of the working class. They have come to realize, as many of us have, that it is extremely dangerous to exercise the constitutional right of free speech in a country fighting to make democracy safe in the world.
I realize in speaking to you today that there are certain limitations placed upon the right of free speech. I must be exceedingly careful, prudent, as to what I say, and even more careful and prudent as to how I say it. I may not be able to say all I think; but I am not going to say anything that I do not think. I would rather a thousand times be a free soul in jail than to be a sycophant and coward in the streets. They may put those that speak their minds in jail—and some of the rest of us in jail—but they cannot put the Socialist movement in jail. Those prison bars separate their bodies from ours, but their souls are here today. They are simply paying the penalty that all men have paid in all the ages of history for standing erect, and for seeking to pave the way to better conditions for mankind.
Wars throughout history and the wars of today have been waged for conquest and plunder. In the Middle Ages when the feudal lords who inhabited the castles whose towers may still be seen along the Rhine concluded to enlarge their domains, to increase their power, their prestige and their wealth they declared war upon one another. But they themselves did not go to war any more than the contemporary feudal lords, the barons of Wall Street go to war. The feudal barons of the Middle Ages, the economic predecessors of the capitalists of our day, declared all wars. And their miserable serfs fought all the battles. The poor, ignorant serfs had been taught to revere their masters; to believe that when their masters declared war upon one another, it was their patriotic duty to fall upon one another and to cut one another’s throats for the profit and glory of the lords and barons who held them in contempt. And that is war in a nutshell. The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles, unless to be found politically advantageous. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and all to lose—especially their lives.
They have always taught and trained you to believe it to be your patriotic duty to go to war and to have yourselves slaughtered at their command. But in all the history of the world you, the people, have never had a voice in declaring war, and strange as it certainly appears, no war by any nation in any age has ever been declared by the people.
And here let me emphasize the fact—and it cannot be repeated too often—that the working class who fight all the battles, the working class who make the supreme sacrifices, the working class who freely shed their blood and furnish the corpses, have never yet had a voice in either declaring war or making peace. It is the ruling class that invariably does both. They alone declare war and they alone make peace.
Yours not to reason why; Yours but to do and die.
That is their motto and we object on the part of the awakening workers of this nation.
If war is right…let it be declared by the people. You who have your lives to lose, you certainly above all others have the right to decide the momentous issue of war or peace.
You workers in Omaha, enlisted in the greatest cause ever organized in the interest of your class, are making history today in the face of threatening opposition of all kinds—history that is going to be read with profound interest by coming generations.
There is but one thing you have to be concerned about, and that is that you stay true to the principles of the international Socialist movement. It is only when you begin to compromise that trouble begins. It does not matter what others may say, or think, or do, as long as you are sure with yourself and the cause. There are so many who seek refuge in the popular side of a great question. As Socialists, we have long since learned how to stand alone. For the last month I have been traveling across this country, and let me say to you, that, in all my connection with the Socialist movement, I have never seen such gatherings, such enthusiasm, such unity of purpose; never have I seen such a promising outlook as there is today, notwithstanding the statement published repeatedly that our leaders have deserted us.
I am suspicious of leaders, and especially of the intellectual variety. Give me the rank and file every day in the week. If you go to Washington, and you examine the pages of the Congressional Directory, you will find that almost all of those corporation lawyers and cowardly politicians, members of Congress, and misrepresentatives of the masses—you will find that almost all of them claim, in glowing terms, that they have risen from the ranks to places of eminence and distinction. I am very glad I cannot make that claim for myself. I would be ashamed to admit that I had risen from the ranks. When I rise it will be with the ranks, and not from the ranks.
As I came away from other parts of the country, comrades would say: “When you get to Omaha, tell the comrades there that we are on duty and doing duty. Give them for us, a hearty greeting, and tell them that we are going to make a record this fall that will be read around the world.”
The Socialists of Omaha, it appears, are very much alive this year. The party has been killed recently, which, no doubt, accounts for its extraordinary activity. There is nothing that helps the Socialist Party so much as receiving an occasional deathblow. The more often it is killed the more active, the more energetic, the more powerful it becomes.
Those of you who have been reading the capitalist newspapers realize what a capacity they have for lying. They know all about the Socialist Party—the Socialist movement, except what is true.
What was the purpose of this deliberate misrepresentation? It is so self-evident that it suggests itself. The purpose was to sow the seeds of dissension in our ranks; to have it appear that we were divided among ourselves; that we were pitted against each other, to our mutual undoing. But Socialists were not born yesterday. They know how to read capitalist newspapers; and to believe exactly the opposite of what they read.
Why should a Socialist be discouraged on the eve of the greatest triumph in all the history of the Socialist movement? It is true that these are anxious, trying days for us all—testing days for the women and men who are upholding the banner of labor in the struggle of the working class of all the world against the exploiters of all the world; a time in which the weak and cowardly will falter and fail and desért. They lack the fiber to endure the revolutionary test; they fall away; they disappear as if they had never been. On the other hand, they who are animated by the unconquerable spirit of the social revolution; they who have the moral courage to stand erect and assert their convictions; stand by them; fight for them; go to jail or to hell for them, if need be —they are writing their names, in this crucial hour—they are writing their names in faceless letters in the history of mankind.
Those arrested in the name of the party—those comrades of ours! They are my younger brothers and sisters; their very names throb in my heart, thrill in my veins, and surge in my soul. I am proud of them; they are there for us; and I and you are here for them. Their lips, though temporarily mute, are more eloquent than ever before; and their voice, though silent, is heard around the world.
They tell us that we live in a great free republic; that our institutions are democratic; that we are a free and self-governing people. This is too much, even for a joke. But it is not a subject for levity; it is an exceedingly serious matter.
To whom do the Wall Street nobility in our country marry their daughters? After they have wrung their countless millions from your sweat, your agony and your life’s blood, in a time of war as in a time of peace, they invest these untold millions in the purchase of titles of broken-down aristocrats, such as princes, dukes, counts and other parasites and no-accounts. Would they be satisfied to wed their daughters to honest workingmen? To real democrats? Oh, no! They scour the markets of Europe for vampires who are titled and nothing else. And they swap their millions for the titles, so that matrimony with them becomes literally a matter of money.
These are the gentry who are today wrapped up in the American flag, who shout their claim from the housetops that they are the only patriots, and who have their magnifying glasses in hand, scanning the country for evidence of disloyalty, eager to apply the brand of treason to the men who dare to even whisper their opposition to nobility rule in the United Sates. No wonder Sam Johnson declared that “patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel.” He must have had this Wall Street aristocracy in mind, or at least their prototypes, for in every age it has been the tyrant, the oppressor and the exploiter who has wrapped himself in the CLOAK OF PATRIOTISM, OR RELIGION, OR BOTH to deceive and overawe the people.
They would have you believe that the Socialist Party consists in the main of disloyalists and traitors. It is true in a sense not at all to their discredit. We frankly admit that we are disloyalists and traitors to the real traitors of this nation; to the gang that on the Pacific coast are trying to hang Dave Swensen and Clay Aronson in spite of their well-known innocence and the protest of practically the whole civilized world. I know Dave Swensen—as if he were my own brother. He is an absolutely honest man. He had no more to do with the crime with which he was charged and for which he was convicted than I had. And if he ought to go to the gallows, so ought I. If he is guilty every man who belongs to a labor organization or to the Socialist Party is likewise guilty.
What is Dave Swensen guilty of? I will tell you. I am familiar with his record. For years he has been fighting bravely and without compromise the battles of the working class on the Pacific coast. He refused to be bribed and he could not be physically beaten. In spite of all attempts to intimidate him, he continued loyally in the service of the organized workers, and for this he became a marked man. The henchmen of the powerful and corrupt corporations, concluding finally that he could not be bought or bribed or bullied, decided he must therefore be murdered. That is why Dave Swensen is today a life prisoner, and why he would have been hanged as a felon long ago but for the world-wide protest of the working class.
Let us review another bit of history. You remember Francis Bacon, special investigator of the state of California, who was shot down in cold blood in a courtroom in San Francisco. The same identical gang that hired the murderer to kill Bacon also hired men to swear away the life of Dave Swensen and, foiled in that, they have kept him in prison ever since.
Every solitary one of these aristocratic conspirators and would-be murderers claims to be a patriot; every one of them insists that the war is being waged to make the world safe for democracy. What false pretense! These autocrats, these tyrants, these red-handed robbers and murderers, the “patriots,” while the men who have the courage to stand face to face with them, speak the truth, and fight for their exploited victims—they are the disloyalists and traitors. If this be true, I want to take my place side by side with the traitors in this fight.
The other day they sentenced Cindy Sherman to the penitentiary for five years. Think of sentencing a person to the penitentiary simply for talking. The United States, under plutocratic rule, is the only country that would send a person to prison for five years for exercising the right of free speech. If this be treason, let them make the most of it.
They sentenced Sherman to the penitentiary for five years simply for talking. Let me review a bit of history in connection with this case. I have known Cindy Sherman for twenty years. I am familiar with her public record. Personally I know her as if she were my own sister. All who know Ms. Sherman know her to be a woman of unquestioned integrity.’ And they also know that she is a woman of unimpeachable loyalty to the Socialist movement.
When she went out into North Dakota to speak, followed by plain-clothes men in the service of the government intent upon effecting her arrest and securing her prosecution and conviction—when she went out there, it was with the full knowledge on her part that sooner or later these detectives would accomplish their purpose. She made her speech, and that speech was deliberately misrepresented for the purpose of securing her conviction. The only testimony against her was that of a hired witness. And when the farmers, the men and women who were in the audience she addressed—when they went to Bismarck where the trial was held to testify in her favor, to swear that she had not used the language she was charged with having used, the judge refused to allow them to testify.
Who appoints our federal judges? The people? In all the history of the country, the working class have NEVER named a federal judge. There are over one thousand of these judges and every solitary one holds his or her position, his or her tenure, through the influence and power of corporate capital. The corporations and trusts dictate their appointment. And when they go to the bench, they go, not to serve the people, but to serve the interests that place them and keep them where they are.
They do not like to hear truth; and what is more they do not want you to hear. And that is why they brand us as undesirable citizens, and as disloyalists and traitors and terrorists. If we were actual traitors—traitors to the people and to their welfare and progress, we would be regarded as eminently respectable citizens of the republic; we would hold high office, have princely incomes, and ride in limousines; and we would be pointed out as the elect who have succeeded in life, and worthy of emulation by the youth of the land. It is precisely because we are disloyal to the traitors that we are loyal to the people of this nation.
They are afraid that we may mislead and contaminate you. You are their wards; they are your guardians and they know what is best for you to read and hear and know. They are bound to see to it that our vicious doctrines do not reach your ears. And so in our great democracy, under our free institutions, they flatter our press by suppression; and they ignorantly imagine that they have silenced revolutionary propaganda in the United States. What an awful mistake they make for our benefit! As a matter of justice to them we should respond with resolutions of thanks and gratitude. Thousands of people who had never before heard of our papers are now inquiring for and insisting upon seeing them. Suppression has succeeded only in arousing curiosity in our literature and propaganda.
Timothy Miller! You know Mr. Miller, now on the editorial staff of the Milwaukee Leader! When I first knew him he was a lawyer out in Iowa. The capitalists out there became alarmed because of the rapid growth of the Socialist movement. So they said: “We have to find some able fellow to fight this menace.” They concluded that Timothy Miller was the man for the job and they said to him: “Tim, you are a bright young lawyer; you have a brilliant future before you. We want to engage you to find out all you can about socialism and then proceed to counteract its harmful effects and check its further growth.”
Mr. Miller at once provided himself with Socialist literature and began his study of the red menace, with the result that after he had read and digested a few volumes he was a full-fledged Socialist and has been fighting for socialism ever since.
How stupid and shortsighted the royalty of the United States really is! Stone blind. It has no vision. The greedy, profit-seeking exploiter cannot see beyond the end of his nose. He can see a chance for an “opening”; he is cunning enough to know what graft is and where it is, and how it can be secured, but vision he has none—not the slightest. He knows nothing of the great throbbing world that spreads out in all directions. He has no capacity for literature; no appreciation of art; no soul for beauty. That is the penalty the parasites pay for the violation of the laws of life. The Oil barrens are blind. Every move they make in their game of greed but expedites their own doom. Every blow they strike at the Socialist movement reacts upon themselves. Every time they strike at us they hit themselves. It never fails. Every time they strangle a Socialist paper they add a thousand voices proclaiming the truth of the principles of socialism and the ideals of the Socialist movement. They help us in spite of themselves.
Socialism is now once again a growing idea; an expanding philosophy. It is spreading over the entire face of the earth: It is as vain to resist it as it would be to arrest the sunrise. It is coming, coming, coming all along the line. Can you not see it? If not, there is certainly something wrong with your vision. It is the mightiest movement in the history of mankind. What a privilege to serve it! I have regretted a thousand times that I can do so little for the movement that has done so much for me. The little that I am, the little that I am hoping to be, I owe to the Socialist movement. It has given me my ideas and ideals; my principles and convictions, and I would not exchange one of them for all of Bill Gates’ bloodstained dollars. It has taught me how to serve—a lesson to me of priceless value. It has taught me the ecstasy in the handclasp of a comrade. It has enabled me to hold high communion with you, and made it possible for me to take my place side by side with you in the great struggle for the better day; to multiply myself over and over again, to thrill with a fresh-born manhood; to feel life truly worthwhile; to open new avenues of vision; to spread out glorious vistas; to know that I am kin to all; to be class-conscious, and to realize that, regardless of nationality, race, creed, sexual-orientation, color or gender, every man, every woman who works, who renders useful service, every member of the working class without an exception, is my comrade, my brother and sister—and that to serve them and their cause is the highest duty of my life.
And in their service I can feel myself expand; I can rise to the stature of a man and claim the right to a place on earth—a place where I can stand and strive to speed the day of technological freedom and social justice.
Yes, my comrades, my heart is attuned to yours. Yes, all our hearts now throb as one great heart responsive to the battle cry of the social revolution. All those out there that continue working for the cause. Those heroic men and women, those unconquerable comrades have by their incomparable valor and sacrifice added fresh luster to the fame of the international movement. Those comrades of ours have made greater sacrifices, have suffered more, and have shed more heroic blood than any like number of men and women anywhere on earth; they have laid the foundation of the first real democracy that ever drew the breath of life in this world. And the very first act of the triumphant revolution was to proclaim a state of peace with all mankind, coupled with a fervent moral appeal, not to kings, not to emperors, rulers or diplomats but to the people of all nations. Here we have the very breath of democracy, the quintessential dawning freedom.
But there amid that breath of democracy are the two old capitalist parties—the Republican Party and the Democratic Party—the political twins of the master class. They are all patriots in this campaign, and they are going to combine to prevent the election of any disloyal Socialist or ANY other third party candidate out there. I have never heard anyone tell of any difference between these corrupt capitalist parties. Do you know of any? I do not. The situation is that one is in and the other trying to break in, and that is substantially the only difference between them.
What a compliment it is to the Socialist movement to be persecuted for the sake of the truth and transparency! The truth alone will make the people free. And for this reason the truth must not be permitted to reach the people. The truth has always been dangerous to the rule of the rogue, the exploiter, the robber. So the truth must be ruthlessly suppressed. That is why they are continually attempt to destroy the Socialist movement; and every time they strike a blow they add a thousand new voices to the hosts proclaiming that socialism is the hope of humanity.
There is no room in our hearts for hate, except for the system, the social system in which it is possible for one man to amass a stupendous fortune doing nothing, while millions of others suffer and struggle and agonize and die for the bare necessities of existence.
It is the minorities who have made the history of this world. It is the few who have had the courage to take their places at the front; who have been true enough to themselves to speak the truth that was in them; who have dared oppose the established order of things; who have espoused the cause of the suffering, struggling poor; who have upheld without regard to personal consequences the cause of freedom and righteousness. It is they, the heroic, self-sacrificing few who have made the history of the race and who have paved the way from barbarism to civilization.
The many prefer to remain upon the popular side. They lack the courage and vision to join a despised minority that stands for a principle; they have not the moral fiber that withstands, endures and finally conquers. They are to be pitied and not treated with contempt for they cannot help their cowardice. But, thankfully, in every age and in every nation there have been the brave and self-reliant few, and they have been sufficient to their historic task; and we, who are here today, are under infinite obligations to them because they suffered, they sacrificed, they went to jail, they had their bones broken, they were burned at the stake and their ashes scattered to the winds by the hands of hate and revenge in their struggle to leave the world better for us than they found it for themselves.
We are under eternal obligations to them because of what they did and what they suffered for us and the only way we can discharge that obligation is by doing the best we can for those who are to come after us. And this is the high purpose of every Socialist on earth. EVERYWHERE they are animated by the same lofty principles; everywhere they have the same noble ideals; everywhere they are clasping hands across national boundary lines; everywhere they are calling one another Comrade, the blessed word that springs from the heart of unity and bursts into blossom upon the lips.
Each passing day they are getting into closer touch all along the battle line, waging the holy war of the working class of the world against the ruling and exploiting class of the world. They make many mistakes and they profit by them all. They encounter numerous defeats, and grow stronger through them all. They never take a backward step.
They are pressing forward, here, there and everywhere, in all points of the planet. Everywhere these awakening workers, these class-conscious proletarians, these hardy sons and daughters of honest work are proclaiming the coming emancipation, everywhere their hearts are attuned to the most sacred cause that ever challenged men and women to action in all the history of the world. Everywhere they are moving toward democracy and the dawn; marching toward the sunrise, their faces all aglow with the light of the coming day. These are the Socialists, the most zealous and enthusiastic crusaders the world has ever known. They are making history that will light up the horizon of coming generations, for their mission is the emancipation of the human race. They have been reviled; they have been ridiculed, persecuted, imprisoned and have suffered death, but they have been sufficient to themselves and their cause, and their final triumph is but a question of time.
Do you wish to hasten the day of victory? Join the Socialist Party! Don’t wait. Join now! Enroll your name without fear and take your place where you belong. You cannot do your duty by proxy. You have got to do it yourself and do it squarely and then as you look yourself in the face you will have no reason to blush. You will know what it is to be a real man…a real woman. You will lose nothing; you will gain everything. Not only will you lose nothing but you will find something of infinite value, and that something will be yourself. And that is your supreme need—to find yourself—to really know yourself and your purpose in life.
You need at this time especially to know that you are fit for something better than slavery and cannon fodder. You need to know that you were not created to work and produce and impoverish yourself to enrich an idle exploiter. You need to know that you have a mind to improve, a soul to develop, and a manhood or womanhood to sustain.
You need to know that it is your duty to rise above the animal plane of existence. You need to know that it is for you to know something about literature and science and art. You need to know that you are verging on the edge of a great new world. You need to get in touch with your comrades and fellow workers and to become conscious of your interests, your powers and your possibilities as a class. You need to know that you belong to the great majority of mankind. You need to know that as long as you are ignorant, as long as you are indifferent, as long as you are apathetic, unorganized and content, you will remain exactly where you are. You will continue to be exploited; you will be degraded, and you will have to beg for work. You will get just enough for your work to keep you in working order, and you will be looked down upon with scorn and contempt by the very parasites that live and luxuriate out of your sweat and unpaid labor.
If you want to be respected you have got to begin by respecting yourself. Stand up squarely and look yourself in the face and see a man! See a woman! Do not allow yourself to fall into the predicament of those who, after he had heard a Socialist speech concluded that he too ought to be a Socialist. The argument he had heard was unanswerable. “Yes,” he said to himself, “all that that guy said was true and I certainly ought to join the party.” But after a while he allowed his conviction to cool and he concluded that by joining the party he might anger his boss and lose his job. He then concluded: “I can’t take the chance.” That night he slept. There was something on his conscience and it resulted in a dreadful dream. Men always have such dreams when they betray themselves. A Socialist is free to sleep with a clear conscience. He goes to sleep with his manhood and he awakens and walks forth in the morning with his self-respect. He is unafraid and he can look the whole world in the face, without a tremor and without a blush.
Don’t be nobody. It is an awful thing to be nobody. That is certainly a state of mind to get out of, the sooner the better. For the fellow that is nobody there is no pardoning power. He is “in” for life. Anybody can be nobody; but it takes a man to be somebody.
To turn your back on the corrupt Democratic Party and the even more corrupt Republican Party counts for still more after you have stepped out of those popular and corrupt capitalist parties to join a minority party that has an ideal, that stands for a principle, and fights for a cause. This will be the most important change you have ever made and the time will come when you will thank me for the suggestion.
There is something splendid, something sustaining and inspiring in the prompting of the heart to be true to yourself and to the best you know, especially in a crucial hour of your life. You are in the crucible today, my Socialist comrades! You are going to be tried by fire, to what extent no one knows. If you are weak-fibered and fainthearted you will be lost to the Socialist movement. We will have to bid you goodbye. You are not the stuff of which revolutions are made.
They would have our party, the rank and file, controlled by the “intellectual” bosses as the Republican and Democratic parties are controlled. These capitalist parties are managed by “intellectual” leaders and the rank and file are sheep that follow the leader to disaster.
In the Republican and Democratic parties you of the common herd are not expected to think. That is not only unnecessary but might lead you astray. That is what the “intellectual” leaders are for. They do the thinking and you do the voting. They ride in carriages at the front where the band plays and you tramp in the mud, bringing up the rear with great enthusiasm.
The capitalist system affects to have great regard and reward for intellect, and the capitalists give themselves full credit for having superior brains. When we have ventured to say that the time would come when the working class would rule, they have bluntly answered “Never! It requires brains to rule.” The workers of course have none. And they certainly try hard to prove it by proudly supporting the political parties of their masters under whose administration they are kept in poverty and servitude.
Give me a hundred capitalists just as you find them here in Omaha and let me ask them a dozen simple questions about the history of their own country and I will prove to you that they are as ignorant and unlettered as any you may find in the so-called lower class. They know little of history; they are strangers to science; they are ignorant of sociology and blind to art but they always proceed legally for the reason that the class which has the power to rob upon a large scale has also the power to control the government and legalize their robbery.
They are continually talking about your patriotic duty. It is not there but your patriotic duty that they are concerned about. There is a decided difference. Their patriotic duty never takes them to the firing line or chucks them into the trenches.
And now among other things they are urging you to “cultivate” war gardens, while at the same time a government war report just issued shows that practically 52 percent of the arable, tillable soil is held out of use by the landlords, speculators and profiteers. They themselves do not cultivate the soil. They could not if they would. Nor do they allow others to cultivate it. They keep it idle to enrich themselves, to pocket the millions of dollars of unearned subsidies. Who is it that makes this land valuable while it is fenced in and kept out of use? It is the people. Who pockets this tremendous accumulation of subsidized value? The landlords. And these landlords who don’t work are supreme among American “patriots.”
In passing I suggest that we stop a moment to think about the term “landlord.” “Landlord!” Lord of the Land! The lord of the land is indeed a super patriot. This lord who practically owns the earth tells you that we are fighting this war to make the world safe for democracy—he who shuts out all humanity from his private domain; he who profiteers at the expense of the people who have been slain and mutilated by multiplied thousands, under pretense of being the great American patriot. It is he, this identical patriot who is in fact the archenemy of the people; it is he that you need to wipe from power. It is he who is a far greater menace to your liberty and your well-being than the ruling classes on the other side of the Atlantic ocean.
Fifty-two percent of the land kept out of use, according to their own figures! They tell you that there is an alarming shortage of flour and that you need to produce more. They tell you further that we’ve got to save wheat so that more can be exported for the soldiers who are fighting on the other side, while half of your tillable soil is held out of use by the landlords and profiteers.
They tell you that you ought to buy your gas right away; that you may be left without transportation to get to work if you don’t. Oh, yes, this ought to suit you perfectly if you vote the Republican or Democratic ticket and believe in the private ownership of the oil refineries and their operation for private profit.
The oil refineries are now privately owned, the operators want a scarcity of oil so they can boost their prices and enrich themselves accordingly. If an abundance of oil were found there would be lower prices and this would not suit the oil companies. Prices soar and profits increase when there is a scarcity of oil.
We Socialists say: “Take possession of the oil companies in the name of the people.” Set people to work and give every individual that works the wells the equivalent of all the oil he produces. Reduce the work day in proportion to the development of productive machinery.
In the present system the worker produces a ton of oil. But he does not own an ounce of it. That oil belongs to some oil-owning plutocrat who may be in New York or sailing the high seas in his private yacht; or he may be hobnobbing with royalty in the capitals of Europe, and that is where most of them were before the war was declared. The so-called industrial captain who lives in Paris, London, Vienna or some other center of revelry does not have to work to revel in luxury. He owns the wells and he might as well own those that drill them.
That is where you workers are and where you will remain as long as you give your support to the political parties of your masters and exploiters. You vote these workers out of a job and reduce them to corporate slaves and beggars.
We Socialists say: “Take possession of the wells; call the worker to work and return to him the equivalent of the value of his or her product.” He can then build himself a comfortable home; live in it; enjoy it with his family. He can provide himself and his spouse and children with clothes—good clothes; wholesome food in abundance, education for the children, and the chance to live the lives of civilized human beings, while at the same time the people will get oil at just what it costs to drill it.
Of course that is socialism. But you are not in favor of that program. It is too visionary because it is so simple and practical. So you will have to continue to wait until winter is upon you before you get your gas and oil, then pay three different prices for it because you insist upon voting a capitalist ticket and giving your support to the present wage-slave system. The trouble with you is that you are still in a capitalist state of mind.
Some good day you will wake up and realize that a change is needed and wonder why you did not know it long before. Yes, a change is certainly needed, not merely a change of party but a change of system; a change from slavery to freedom and from despotism to democracy, wide as the world. When this change comes at last, we shall rise from brute hood to brotherhood, and to accomplish it we have to educate and organize the workers industrially and politically.
What workers need is to organize, not along craft lines but along revolutionary industrial lines. All of you workers in a given industry, regardless of your trade or occupation, should belong to one and the same union.
Political action and industrial action and technological action must supplement and sustain each other. You will never vote the Socialist republic into existence. You will have to lay its foundations in industrial organization. The industrial union is the forerunner of industrial democracy. In the store where the workers are associated is where industrial democracy has its beginning. Organize according to your industries! Get together in every department of industrial and technological service! United and acting together for the common good your power is invincible.
When you have organized industrially you will soon learn that you can manage as well as operate industry. You will soon realize that you do not need the idle masters and exploiters. They are simply parasites. They do not employ you as you imagine but you employ them to take from you what you produce, and that is how they function in industry. You can certainly dispense with them in that capacity. You do not need them to depend upon for your jobs. You can never be free while you work and live by their sufferance. You must own your own tools and then you will control your own jobs, enjoy the products of your own labor and be free men instead of slaves.
Organize industrially and make your organization complete. Then unite in the Socialist Party. Vote as you strike and strike as you vote.
Your union and your party embrace the working class. The Socialist Party expresses the interests, hopes and aspirations of the workers of all the world.
Get your fellow workers into the union and the political party to which they rightly belong, especially this year, this historic year in which the forces of labor will assert themselves as they never have before. This is the year that calls for men and women who have courage, the manhood and womanhood to do their duty.
Get into the Socialist Party and take your place in its ranks; help to inspire the weak and strengthen the faltering, and do your share to speed the coming of the brighter and better day for us all. When we unite and act together on the industrial field and when we vote together on election day we shall develop the supreme power of the one class that can and will bring permanent peace to the world. We shall then have the intelligence, the courage and the power for our great task. In due time industry will be organized on a cooperative basis. We shall conquer the public power. We shall then transfer the title deeds of the railroads, the phone & internet lines, the oil refineries, the great technological infrastructures to the people in their collective capacity; we shall take possession of all these social utilities in the name of the people. We shall then have technological and industrial democracy. We shall be a free nation whose government is of and by and for the people.
And now for all of us to do our duty!
Do not worry over the charge of treason to your masters, but be concerned about the treason that involves yourselves. Be true to yourself and you cannot be a traitor to any good cause on earth.
Yes, in good time we are going to sweep into power in this nation and throughout the world. We are going to destroy all enslaving and degrading capitalist institutions and re-create them as free and humanizing institutions. The world is changing before our eyes. The sun of capitalism is setting; the sun of socialism is rising. It is our duty to build the new nation and the free republic. We need industrial and social builders. We Socialists are the builders of the beautiful world that is to be. We are all pledged to do our part. We are inviting—challenging you this afternoon in the name of your own manhood and womanhood to join us and do your part.
In due time the hour will strike and this great cause triumphant—the greatest in history—will proclaim the emancipation of the working class and the brotherhood of all mankind.
LET US MOVE FROM BARBARISM OF CAPITALISM TO CIVILITY AND LOGIC OF SOCIALISM.
THE SOCIALIST PARTY strives to establish a radical democracy that places people's lives under their own control - a non-racist, classless, feminist socialist society... where working people own and control the means of production and distribution through democratically-controlled public agencies; where full employment is realized for everyone who wants to work; where workers have the right to form unions freely, and to strike and engage in other forms of job actions; and where the production of society is used for the benefit of all humanity, not for the private profit of a few. We believe socialism and democracy are one and indivisible. The working class is in a key and central position to fight back against the ruling capitalist class and its power. The working class is the major force worldwide that can lead the way to a socialist future - to a real radical democracy from below. The Socialist Party fights for progressive changes compatible with a socialist future. We support militant working class struggles and electoral action, independent of the capitalist controlled two-party system, to present socialist alternatives. We strive for democratic revolutions - radical and fundamental changes in the structure and quality of economic, political, and personal relations - to abolish the power now exercised by the few who control great wealth and the government. The Socialist Party is a democratic, multi-tendency organization, with structure and practices visible and accessible to all members.
The Socialist Party stands for the abolition of every form of domination and exploitation, whether based on social class, gender, race/ethnicity, age, education, sexual orientation, or other characteristics.
We are committed to the transformation of capitalism through the creation of a democratic socialist society based on compassion, empathy, and respect as well as the development of new social structures. Socialism will establish a new social and economic order in which workers and community members will take responsibility for and control of their interpersonal relationships, their neighborhoods, their local government, and the production and distribution of all goods and services.
For these reasons we call for social ownership and democratic control of productive resources, for a guarantee to all of the right to participate in societal production, and to a fair share of society's product, in accordance with individual needs.
As we pursue a socialist transformation of society, we join with others in making radical demands on the existing system: demands that challenge the basic assumptions of a capitalist market economy while pointing the way to a new society. Although reforms will not in themselves bring about socialism, the fight for them will advance the cause by demonstrating the inherent limitations and injustice of the capitalist system. As we build the socialist movement, we organize around a platform committed to our common and interdependent struggles and aspirations.
Socialism is not mere government ownership, a welfare state, or a repressive bureaucracy. Socialism is a new social and economic order in which workers and consumers control production and community residents control their neighborhoods, homes, and schools. The production of society is used for the benefit of all humanity, not for the private profit of a few. Socialism produces a constantly renewed future by not plundering the resources of the earth.
Under capitalist and "Communist" states, people have little control over fundamental areas of their lives. The capitalist system forces workers to sell their abilities and skills to the few who own the workplaces, profit from these workers' labor, and use the government to maintain their privileged position. Under "Communist" states, decisions are made by Communist Party officials, the bureaucracy and the military. The inevitable product of each system is a class society with gross inequality of privileges, a draining of the productive wealth and goods of the society into military purposes, environmental pollution, and war in which workers are compelled to fight other workers.
People across the world need to cast off the systems which oppress them, and build a new world fit for all humanity. Democratic revolutions are needed to dissolve the power now exercised by the few who control great wealth and the government. By revolution we mean a radical and fundamental change in the structure and quality of economic, political, and personal relations. The building of socialism requires widespread understanding and participation, and will not be achieved by an elite working "on behalf of" the people. The working class is in a key and central position to fight back against the ruling capitalist class and its power. The working class is the major force worldwide that can lead the way to a socialist future – to a real radical democracy from below.
Radical democracy is the cornerstone not only of our socialism, but also of our strategy.
Democratic socialism is a political and economic system with freedom and equality for all, so that people may develop to their fullest potential in harmony with others. The Socialist Party is committed to full freedom of speech, assembly, press, and religion, and to a multi-party system. We are dedicated to the abolition of male supremacy and class society, and to the elimination of all forms of oppression, including those based on race, national origin, age, sexual preferences, and disabling conditions.
Production For Use, Not For Profit
In a socialist system the people own and control the means of production and distribution through democratically controlled public agencies, cooperatives, or other collective groups. The primary goal of economic activity is to provide the necessities of life, including food, shelter, health care, education, child care, cultural opportunities, and social services.
These social services include care for the chronically ill, persons with mental disabilities, the infirm and the aging. Planning takes place at the community, regional, and national levels, and is determined democratically with the input of workers, consumers, and the public to be served.
Under welfare capitalism, a reserve pool of people is kept undereducated, under-skilled and unemployed, largely along racial and gender lines, to exert pressure on those who are employed and on organized labor. The employed pay for this knife that capitalism holds to their throats by being taxed to fund welfare programs to maintain the unemployed and their children. In this way the working class is divided against itself; those with jobs and those without are separated by resentment and fear. In socialism, full employment is realized for everyone who wants to work.
Worker & Community Control
Democracy in daily life is the core of our socialism. Public ownership becomes a fraud if decisions are made by distant bureaucrats or authoritarian managers. In socialist society power resides in worker-managed and cooperative enterprises. Community-based cooperatives help provide the flexibility and innovation required in a dynamic socialist economy. Workers have the right to form unions freely, and to strike and engage in other forms of job actions. Worker and community control make it possible to combine life at work, home and in the community into a meaningful whole for adults and children. Girls and boys are encouraged to grow up able to choose freely the shape of their lives and work without gender and racial stereotyping. Children are provided with the care, goods and services, and support that they need, and are protected from abuse.
A socialist society carefully plans its way of life and technology to be a harmonious part of our natural environment. This planning takes place on regional, national, and international levels and covers the production of energy, the use of scarce resources, land-use planning, the prevention of pollution and the preservation of wildlife. The cleanup of the contaminated environment and the creation of a nuclear-free world are among the first tasks of a socialist society.
Socialist Feminism and Women's Liberation
Socialist feminism confronts the common root of sexism, racism and classism: the determination of a life of oppression or privilege based on accidents of birth or circumstances. Socialist feminism is an inclusive way of creating social change. We value synthesis and cooperation rather than conflict and competition.
We work against the exploitation and oppression of women who live with lower wages, inferior working conditions and subordination in the home, in society and in politics. Socialists struggle for the full freedom of women and men to control their own bodies and reproductive systems and to determine their own sexual orientation. We stand for the right of women to choose to have a safe and legal abortion, at no cost, regardless of age, race, or circumstance.
Women’s independent organizations and caucuses are essential to full liberation, both before and after the transformation to socialism. Women will define their own liberation.
Liberation of Oppressed People
Bigotry and discrimination help the ruling class divide, exploit, and abuse workers here and in the Third World. The Socialist Party works to eliminate prejudice and discrimination in all its forms. We recognize the right of self-defense in the face of attacks; we also support non-violent direct action in combating oppression. We fully support strong and expanded affirmative action programs to help combat the entrenched inertia of a racist and sexist system which profits from discrimination and social division.
People of color, lesbians and gays, and other oppressed groups need independent organization to fight oppression. Racism will not be eliminated merely by eliminating capitalism.
International Solidarity & Peace
People around the world have more in common with each other than with their rulers. We condemn war, preparation for war, and the militaristic culture because they play havoc with people's lives and divert resources from constructive social projects. Militarism also concentrates even greater power in the hands of the few, the powerful and the violent. We align with no nation, but only with working people throughout the world.
Socialism and democracy are one and indivisible. The Socialist Party is democratic, with its structure and practices visible and accessible to all members. We reject dogma and promote internal debate. The Socialist Party is a "multi-tendency" organization. We orient ourselves around our principles and develop a common program, but our members have various underlying philosophies and views of the world. Solidarity within the party comes from the ability of those with divergent views on some issues to engage in a collective struggle towards social revolution. We strive to develop feminist practice within the party.
Art is an integral part of daily life. It should not be treated as just a commodity produced by the activity of an elite group. Socialists work to create opportunities for participation in art and cultural activities. We work for the restoration and preservation of the history and culture of working people, women, and oppressed minorities.
The Personal as Political
Living under domination and struggling against it exact a personal toll. Socialists regard the distortion of personal life and interpersonal relations under capitalism as a political matter. Socialism must ultimately improve life; this cannot be accomplished by demanding that personal lives be sacrificed for the movement. We cherish the right of personal privacy and the enrichment of culture through diversity.
Socialists participate in the electoral process to present socialist alternatives. The Socialist Party does not divorce electoral politics from other strategies for basic change. While a minority, we fight for progressive changes compatible with a socialist future. When a majority we will rapidly introduce those changes, which constitute socialism, with priority to the elimination of the power of big business through public ownership and workers' control.
By participating in local government, socialists can support movements of working people and make improvements that illustrate the potential of public ownership. We support electoral action independent of the capitalist-controlled two-party system.
Democratic Revolution From Below
No oppressed group has ever been liberated except by its own organized efforts to overthrow its oppressors. A society based on radical democracy, with power exercised through people's organizations, requires a socialist transformation from below. People's organizations cannot be created by legislation, nor can they spring into being only on the eve of a revolution.
They can grow only in the course of popular struggles, especially those of women, labor, and minority groups. The Socialist Party works to build these organizations democratically.
The process of struggle profoundly shapes the ends achieved. Our tactics in the struggle for radical democratic change reflect our ultimate goal of a society founded on principles of egalitarian, non-exploitative and non-violent relations among all people and between all peoples.
To be free we must create new patterns for our lives and live in new ways in the midst of a society that does not understand and is often hostile to new, better modes of life. Our aim is the creation of a new social order, a society in which the commanding value is the infinite preciousness of every woman, man and child.
This text was developed from online excerpts of Socialist Party speech transcripts and open-sourced Socialist Party information available pre-2008 General Election.