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SATUKDAY, OCT. 16tb, 120
The Death of a Social System
By S. Macaulay
In his book, "The Economic Consequences of
the Peace," J. M. Keynes, at one time a represent
ative of the British Treasury at the Paris Peace
Conference, has the following passage:
"In continental Europe the earth heaves and
no one but is aware of the rumblings. There
it is not just a matter of extravagance or
"labor troubles"; but of life and death, of
starvation and existence, and of the fearful
convulsions of a dying civilization "
There is a possimistic note in Mr. Keynes' writ
ing which is perhaps natural to one who has not
experienced the keen pleasure of arriving at the
solution of the riddles and paradoxes presented by
the economic chaos of Europe.
Mr. Keynes may have heard of Marx, but he
says nothing in his book to indicate that he has
considered the application of Marx's theories. The
remedies he proposes are of the usual type put for
ward by the bourgeoisie, and futile.
In one point, however, Mr Keynes is in
agreement with Marx; he speaks of the death of"
a civilization. Socialists have pointed out, have
been pointing out for the last half century, that
social systems have no permanency, that they rise
and fall with the changes produced by the improve
ment in the methods of production. The case in
point is hardly the death of a Civilization; it is
the demise of a social system, and the demise is
closely connected with the birth of a new system.
I propose, therefore, to substitute the expres
sion "social system" for the world Civilization.
The History Of Class Struggles.
The history of the human race has been a
history of class struggles, the manifestations of
which have been different in different countries,
and under different economic conditions. But there
has (since the institution of chattel slavery) al
ways been the confliction of interests upon which
the class struggle is based.
Assyrian, Chaldean, Egyptian, Greek, Roman,
Aztec economic history all present the same spec
tacle of rise and fall. What is the canker that lay at
the root of them all, that lies at the root of the
present system? What is the common factor of
It is SLAVERY. The enslavement of one class
But why, it will be asked, should slavery be a
disintegrating force? Is it not true that thousands
of slaves were not only contented, but happy as
slaves? It is perfectly true. The position of the
chattel slave of the old days was infinitely better
than that of the industrial slave of today; his
master was also his owner, he had a personal in
terest in keeping him in good repair, the.slave was
an investment of so much money, and so must be
looked after. But the slavery of the wage-worker
is a different type; it is a concealed slavery; it
has the appearance of freedom; the slave is not
bound to one master, he is the slave of a CLASS,
he belongs to a slave CLASS.
The industrial slave of today is driven at a
rate unknown in the days of chattel slavery; the
cut-throat competition for markets compels an in
tensification of exploitation Which makes the life
of the chattel slave appear a holiday in compari
son. It is this very intensification which is at the
root of the "industrial unrest" which is making
itself manifest in all capitalistically developed
countries. Consciously or unconsciously, the slaves
are' beginning to feel the gall-sores. They are be
coming class-conscious. In most cases they ,are in
utter darkness as to both the disease and the re
medy, and it was not until Marx exposed the dis
ease that the remedy was also made plain.
"Concessions" To The Workers.
During recent jears the various Government s
have been frantically making concessions to the
workers. Unemployed insurance, old age pen-
-i!i, profit sharing, etc. etc., hayc boon the
sops thrown to the "animals" to pacify them.
But. they refuse to be pacified. Distrust of Gov
ern me i it. ami Parliament, National Assemblies
and Cabinets is oxmly expressed, and in some
cases they have been overthrown. Disgust at
the futility of "parliamentary action" is plain
ly manifested in the strikes and resorts to in
dustrial mas-s action which are prevalent.
These expressions of discontent on the part